Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Shelby Hughes Beasley - RIP

Everyone has a relative who has helped shape their life.  I have had about five such uncles.  One died many years ago.  Another one died last Friday.

Shelby H. Beasley Obituary

Date of Birth:

Wednesday, November 5th, 1930

Date of Death:

Friday, July 25th, 2014

Shelby Beasley

Shelby H. Beasley, 84, peacefully passed away the afternoon of Friday, July 25, 2014 surrounded by his loving family.

Shelby was the pillar of his family, a devoted father and grandfather. He had an unselfish and forgiving heart and most enjoyed storytelling with his friends and family gathered around. He will be remembered for his love for God, his sound advice, his country heritage, and his passion for the outdoors.

Shelby was born November 5, 1930. He is preceded in death by his parents, George Shelby and Cora Alice Beasley and his grandson, Jeremy Tyler Bump. He is survived by his beautiful wife of 64 years, Margie Jean McMillin Beasley; his daughters Charlotte Ann Bump and husband Milo of Tampa, FL; Shelley Jean Edmonds and husband David of Birmingham, AL; Margie Marie Butler and husband Glenn of Alexandria, LA; and his son Brent Beasley and wife Cindy of Coppell, TX. He is also survived by his eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Shelby was a lifelong resident of Harrisonburg, LA, a graduate of Harrisonburg High School and Louisiana State University, College of Agriculture. He began his lifelong career as a farmer and also worked at the Catahoula Parish Sheriff’s department. He was a passionate member of his church, Pleasant Grove Baptist, where he graciously served as Director of Music, Deacon and Sunday School teacher.

Visitation will be held on Sunday, July 27th from 5-8:00 p.m. at Pleasant Grove Baptist Church located at 385 Hwy 126, Jonesville, LA 71343. Funeral services will be held on Monday, July 28th at 10:00 a.m. at Pleasant Grove Baptist Church with Rev. Craig James and Rev. Mickey Hudnall officiating. The family will receive visitors at 9:00 a.m. Burial to follow at Harrisonburg Cemetery. Reception to follow after burial at Pleasant Grove Baptist Church. 

That's what the obituary says, but there was so much more to the man. The kind of 'stuff' that makes you proud to be a nephew or a friend or even an acquaintance.  He just came across as a person everyone instantly liked the moment they met.

Judy and I drove over to Louisiana for the funeral.

It was only about a 500 mile round trip but it involved a lot of stressful stuff, including driving mostly 2-lane roads, seeing people I haven't seen in decades, listening to Baptist preachers go on and on about how wonderful a man Shelby was, followed by the parade of cars, walking up steep hills in the Harrisonburg Cemetery and standing in the dreadful heat listening to the preacher say some final words. And that was followed by the traditional eating the huge amount of wonderful food that everyone brought to the church.  And then saying goodbye's to people we may never see again. 

But it was worth it. 

When it was over we volunteered to drive Uncle Charlie (another of the five) back home to Tioga so a cousin could return directly to Baton Rouge rather than have to go to Tioga first.

We also stopped by my parent's and my sister's graves to place flowers. Taking Uncle Charlie home added another 30 or so miles and at least a couple of hours to the trip, that included visiting an ancient cemetery in the hills between Manifest and Jena where my g-grandparents were buried.  They came to America from Ireland with nothing but each other and hope for a better life than what they had in Ireland.  We didn't get out of the car but I'll one day return to spend some time visiting their graves.

As for my Aunt Margie, she was noticeably happy that we came.  I was a favorite nephew and knew it all my life.

Naturally, I saw a lot of people who knew me from childhood who just wanted to say hi. . 

All in all, I'm glad we went.

Funerals in Catahoula Parish haven't changed a bit in my lifetime.  If you belong to a church you get the full package, but you get even more if you were someone who was obviously liked and loved as much as Uncle Shelby. 

Cars and trucks didn't just slow as the funeral procession passed, they pulled over and stopped and waited until all of our cars passed.  Even a tractor in a field came to a full stop, the driver obviously someone who knew Shelby and respected him.

I worked for him one summer driving a combine to harvest the hundreds of acres of soybeans on his farm.  I had never driven a huge combine in my life but he showed me how and turned me loose on his field.  It's not easy.  But one day he said I was his best combine driver.  Hot, dirty and really tired, I was extremely proud to hear that from him.  I think it was a few days later when I realized that I was his 'only' combine driver.  Even so, when I see a combine working a field, I take great pride in my knowing how to operate one.

Life now goes on without one really nice person, Shelby Hughes Beasley.

The Road to Enterprise - A book about success

My life long friend Emmilee Green in Harrisonburg, Louisiana gave me a book to read that was written by a former Harrisonburg resident, Arch Aplin, Jr., who now lives in Freeport, Texas.

The book is a detailed accounting of his life from when he was a child in Harrisonburg, followed by dangerous years as a Sailor in both the Atlantic and Pacific campaigns in WWII, and on to a successful career, each step of the way making good use of employment and business opportunities as they came his way. He went on to instill that business savvy in his son, Arch Aplin III, who came up with the idea for the highly successful Buc-ee's chain of conveniently located stores throughout Texas.

I took a picture in front of his old family home in Harrisonburg, with me holding a copy of his book and wearing a Buc-ee's shirt.

It didn't take long to read it, mostly because he wrote about people, places and events that I grew up knowing and experiencing myself, only a few years later.

I'll write a full review of the book later.  I'm still trying to catch up on a lot of things going on right now, including writing to him and thanking him for telling his story the way he did.  It's a good read.

Well, I can now add to this post.

I wrote to Arch Aplin, Jr., explaining who I was and that I enjoyed his book 'immensely.'  I also inclosed a photo copy of a picture that my uncle Charlie McMillin gave me shortly after my visit to Harrisonburg. The picture was of Arch Aplin, Jr's maternal grandparents, William Sanford Terry and Nancy Catherine Scarborough Terry.  As it turns out, my grandmother was a Terry, and sister to Arch's Mother.

Small world...

He wrote back saying that it was a surprise and a pleasure to receive my letter.  He went on to say he was very familiar with my Dad and Mom, and some of my aunts and uncles.

He closed by saying we should keep in touch and meet in the near future.

Needless to say, it would be a thrill to sit and talk to him.  So that's high on my plans.

I can fully understand why Emmilee and Joe Green thought so highly of him.

A Visit With An Old Friend

After driving the Natchez Trace Parkway, Judy and were in Natchez, Mississippi and very close to where I grew up in Harrisonburg, Louisiana.  So we decided to call my life-long friend, Emmilee Johnson Green, in Harrisonburg so see if we could stop by to see her.

Not only did she say yes, but invited us to spend the night and cooked a wonderful dinner of fish and shrimp, made even more perfect by the abundance of memories told and re-told of our growing up.

We ended up staying two nights.

Here's a short video collection of some photos.  They include visiting with my brothers.


Natchez Trace Parkway

On the return from the Porkopolis Eggfest in Cincinnati, I decided to do something I always wanted to do - drive the full length of the Natchez Trace Parkway, all 444 miles of it.

Historically, the Natchez Trace was the first 'Interstate Hwy' of any significance in America.  People of all walks of life traveled it for hundreds of years, perhaps even thousands of years.

I grew up in Louisiana near Natchez and spent a lot of time exploring the Natchez end of the Trace after a short segment was made into a Parkway.  Eventually, the Parkway extended all the way to Nashville, Tennessee and became, in my opinion, a treasured asset for the future and a wonderful way to explore the past.

I  took lots of photos along the way and I'm still sorting them.  I will add them to this post very soon.  I promise.

I'm back.  It took a while but here's a little 5 minute video collection of some of our photos of the Natchez Trace Parkway drive.


By the way, it was worth every mile of it.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Porkopolis Eggfest - Cincinnati, Ohio

We go to a lot of Eggfests around the country. Over 50 so far.  All are different with totally different personalities.  Naturally, we've met a lot of people over the years and we see them often on the Eggfest circuit.  But we also meet a lot of new people too.  And since we all share the same enthusiasm for the Big Green Egg, we get along great.

We were told by many people that the Porkopolis Eggfest was a good one and we should attend as soon as we can.  So this year we decided at the last minute to go.  We left Tuesday morning last week and drove to Lewisville, Arkansas to spend a few days with our friends Charlotte and Richard Harris, aka Kolb Driver.  You can read about that part of the trip in the previous post.

Then on to Cincinatti, via Memphis to Nashville where we stopped for the night, and then on to Cincinnati.


After arriving and unpacking in Cincinnati, we found a grocery store and bought a few items to cook at the Eggfest.  Simple stuff, just some bourbon meatballs.  We really hadn't planned to cook but quickly jumped in to assist when a friend didn't have time to pre-process the items she wanted to cook.  We just kept the Egg warm for about an hour, served it, and then spent the rest of the day meeting people and tasting food.

I took about 800 photos and almost immediately edited those down to 400 (mostly duplicates and really bad shots).  I'm still working on a video collection of the remaining photos and will add the YouTube link here as soon as I finish it.  Meanwhile here are a few memorable moments.

I'll be back with more photo and updates as soon as I finish them.

Friday, July 18, 2014

First Stop on the Road To Porkopolis

We have had many Egghead friends tell us that we should attend the Porkopolis Eggfest in Cincinnati, Ohio.  They said it was a lot of fun and it would give us a chance to meet people we've chatted with on facebook and the forums.  We always said maybe one day.

Well on Monday of last week, Judy said, "Let's go to Cincinnati and the Eggfest."  We quickly packed and left the next morning for the 1,057 mile trip with planned stops in Lewisville, Arkansas to stay a couple of days with Charlotte and Richard, aka Kolb Driver.

They fed us well, took us to Texarkana to the Mall to shop for candy, then a tour of the town to show us the famous Town Hall that sits on both Arkansas and Texas soil.

Richard drove us all over Texarkana, telling us the history of many of the places.  It was definitely an interesting tour.

They also took us to a restaurant right on the Red River near their home.  I was roaming around looking at the assorted stuff on the walls (mostly Arkansas Razorbacks related) and happened on a newspaper article about a huge catfish caught on Tew Lake in Catahoula Parish, Louisiana, right where I was born and raised.  I told the restaurant owner about what I found and she asked if it was a true story.  I told her no, but it was a fun story, and that some folks back in Catahoula Parish still think it's true.  In truth, it was just a couple of local boys having fun.  The Catahoula News, the local weekly newspaper there ran the story and it instantly became the stuff of legend.

By the way, the Catahoula News (now called Catahoula News Booster) operates out of Jonesville, Louisiana.  But it's roots can be traced back to the mid-19th century (1854 I think).  My maternal grandfather was the owner and publisher back in the 1930's.  The offices were in Harrisonburg, Louisiana at that time.

On Thursday left them there at their house on the lake and headed to Hope, Arkansas to pick up I-35 to Memphis and then on to Nashville by dark on Thursday.  We made it and slept soundly in the hotel.

The next morning (Friday) we drove on up through Louisville, Kentucky to Cincinnati.  Found our suite at Residence Inn on the north side of Cincinnati and went looking for a grocery store to purchase what we needed to cook the next day at the Eggfest.

The story about the Porkopolis Eggfest picks up in the next post, hopefully with a video collection of the many photos I took.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

New Smart Phone

After many years of see-sawing back and forth over which new smart phone was a good replacement for our First Generation iPhone (yes, first generation), we finally decided to go with a Samsung Galaxy S5.  We already had our account at AT&T, so we kept the account but had to contract for two years.

It's pretty cool.  Definitely cooler than our iPhone I.  And it's larger too, something both of us need really bad these days.

It's taking a bit of adjusting to the latest Android technology but we're coming around.

We get so few calls on our cell phone that when it rings (Rooster Crowing ring tone, naturally), we look at each other with that, "What do we do now?" look.  It's even funnier when we're in the car with the cell phone and car phone speakers ringing at the same time.  

And being as though I'm driving, I'm not about to answer the thing.  By the time I collect myself enough to turn off the ringing sound coming out of the car speakers by using the button on the steering wheel, Judy has pressed the wrong button on the phone and we're disconnected anyway.  Fortunately, nine out of ten of the calls are from someone trying to sell us something.  If it's someone we know, they know enough to call us back and be patient while we figure it out.  

Maybe the new phone is smart enough to recognize that old people are using it and automatically switches to "Old Phart Mode" or something.  

Heck, we still talk loud because our brain says the caller is from far away and may have trouble hearing us.

We didn't buy any accessories yet but if the standard battery starts to lie, I might upgrade to one that doesn't lie.  I hate it when the phone says it won't rain and then it rains.  Lying SOB!

I'll keep you posted on our progress.