The Legend-News

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Monday, 2011 February 7 : Volume 14, Number 2
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What We Got Here

Skywalker (aka T.A. (Alan) Chafin) has produced a mini-DVD of six Old Home / Mama Kern’s Bread commercials: “Kern’s Is Good Buns”, “Kern’s Is Good Bread”, “Kern’s Is Good Rolls”, “Kern’s Is Far Out”, and “Old Home Is Good Buns”; plus a commercial announcing the return of Kern’s Bread, “Kern’s Is Back”.

Contact Skywalker if you would like a copy of this mini-DVD. It’s just $1.50.

For those of you who came it late, the original Old Home Bread commercials were altered slightly and re-used to advertise Kern’s Bread in the 1970s. Old Home Bread was only available in the six-state area near the Missouri River in western Iowa / eastern Nebraska — Metz Baking Company was based in Sioux City, Iowa — and Kern’s was based in Knoxville, Tennessee. The widely-separated market areas should have meant that consumers in either area would not be aware of the similar advertising campaigns; but then C.W. McCall released an album…

For the Kern’s commercials, the name of the trucker was changed to “A.J. Tucker” and the truck stop was “Mama Kern’s Filler-Up An’ Keep On A-Truckin’ Café”; but the waitress at the truck stop was still named Mavis.

David Frederick, of ConvoyTM (dedicated to CONVOY the movie, and other trucking movies) has started a YouTube page of “Convoy” videos.

Gary Hardwick, C.W. McCall fan since 1976 and currently living in Alaska, tells us

Reading through Four Wheeler magazine (March 2011 issue), I couldn’t help but read to my amazement, an article entitled “What is the Greatest Wheeling Song of all time?” In the nine-paragraph article, quite a few songs were mentioned. Three paragraphs were dedicated to C.W. McCall, “Convoy”, and “Black Bear Road”.

C.W. still lives on!!!

Hey, Joe, That’s Not Smog; That’s the Milky Way

by Doug Cloud

(From a message to Ed.)

I have been a huge fan (and subscriber) of The Legend-News for some time now. I have been a fan of C.W. McCall for even longer (back when dinosaurs roamed the earth). Recently I had the great opportunity to find some of C.W.’s original vinyl LPs on this vintage record selling site. When they arrived I sat for a long time holding them. The album covers brought back a flood of memories. I used to have all of C.W.’s albums, but I had given them to a friend’s dad when I was younger (and obviously more foolish).

Having the albums in my possession again inspired me to write the short little piece below. It’s been floating around on my computer for ages so I thought I would send it your way in case you might find a place for it somewhere.

In the seventies when I was a young lad I became a big fan of a man named Bill Fries. To most of the planet he is best known as C.W. McCall. McCall is actually a handle which Fries dreamed up while working on a marketing campaign for the Metz Baking Company. These ad campaigns became so popular that he decided to take his gig on the road and the rest, as they say, is history.

Combining the work of Bill Fries, Chip Davis (of Mannheim Steamroller fame) and a number of other talents, C.W. McCall produced a number of songs that were quite popular, including the hugely overplayed hit Convoy. His songs have always captivated me with their down-home anthologies and simple unfiltered truths. So to honor this unique and often overlooked talent I thought I would post one of my favorite C. W. songs.

Aurora Borealis
(from the 1976 Polydor LP, Wilderness)

One night last summer we were camped at ten thousand feet up where the air is clear, high in the Rockies of Lost Lake, Colorado. And as the fire burned low and only a few glowing embers remained, we laid on our backs all warm in our sleeping bags and looked up at the stars.

And as I felt myself falling into the vastness of the Universe, I thought about things, and places, and times.

I thought about the time my grandma told me what to say when I saw the evening star. You know, Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight. I wish I may, I wish I might, have the wish I wish tonight.

The air is crystal-clear up here; that’s why you can see a million stars.

I remember a time a bunch of us were in a canyon of the Green River in Wyoming; it was a night like this. And we had our rafts pulled up on the bank an’ turned over so we could sleep on ’em, and one of the guys from New York said, “Hey! Look at the smog in the sky! Smog clear out here in the sticks!” And somebody said, “Hey, Joe, that’s not smog; that’s the Milky Way.”

Joe had never seen the Milky Way.

And we saw the Northern Lights once, in the Bitterroot Mountains of Montana. They’re like flames from some prehistoric campfire, leaping and dancing in the sky and changing colors. Red to gold, and blue to violet… Aurora Borealis. It’s like the equinox, the changing of the seasons. Summer to fall, young to old, then to now. And then tomorrow…

And then everyone was asleep, except me. And as I saw the morning star come up over the mountains, I realized that life is just a collection of memories. And memories are like starlight: they go on forever.

(C.W. McCall, Bill Fries, Chip Davis)

Doug Cloud does character design, graphic design, and illustration. His site is Doug Draws.

Over the Double Nickel

Don’t Fence Me In

Most people have a need to define their property. This is mine; that is yours; and don’t invade my space. We erect fences to keep us in, and to keep other people out.

I grew up on the north side of Chicago. My family moved to a new (to us, anyway) house in 1963. There were no fences around this house; the only border between us and our neighbors on either side was a short hedge on the south side of our lot. To the north there was no defined boundary, and we (the not-yet-adults in my family) treated these three yards as a common space.

The neighbors never complained, either. With three lots side-by-side, we had enough room for a small touch football field (the hedge wasn’t much of an obstacle). But after about three years, my dad decided that we needed a fence; so he installed a typical four-foot-high, dull grey, chain-link barrier along the open sections of our yard.

Before that fence, our neighbors often came over to our house on a whim, just to visit or chat. My mom was at home then, and she always welcomed the company during the day. But after the fence appeared, those visits grew less frequent. Where before a neighbor could just stroll from their back door to ours, they now needed to walk all the way to the front (or back) of their lot, then over to our house and open the gate and walk to our door. They needed to travel over three times as far, just because we had put up a physical definition of our previously ephemeral border. That extra distance was, on the whole, miniscule; but it was enough to dissuade quick visits.

Where I now live, there are no fences; and the Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions says that we can’t erect any, for any reason except to protect an in-ground swimming pool. So after forty years I can once again walk across the property of a neighbor without needing to follow a fence. But as the average age of the residents of this area is over 50, I doubt that we’ll be playing touch football anytime soon.

Which is not to say that we the subdivision have embraced the idea of the freedom of open land. We still have a metaphorical fence, but this time it’s not between us as neighbors, but between our subdivision and the rest of the town: we don’t have any sidewalks. Because sidewalks would encourage non-subdivision people to walk past our houses, and that would reduce our safety. Gotta keep the riff-raff out, you know.

I ought to put a sidewalk along the street in front of my house, just to see how many miscreants I can attract.

— Ed.

“Over the Double Nickel” is an occasional column by Ed. Floden, who refuses to accept your reality. Collect them all!

Previously, in The Legend-News

The original version of this article appeared in the 1999 October 11 issue of The Legend-News.

There The Heck Was Wall Drug

My first visit to Wall Drug was in May 1977, as I was driving from Idaho Falls, Idaho to Groton, Connecticut. I had spent the past seven months in Idaho Falls as a guest of the United States Navy, learning how not to glow in the dark while operating a nuclear power plant. My next permanent duty station was the USS Alexander Hamilton, SSBN-617, a Lafayette-class Fleet Ballistic Missile submarine whose home port was in Groton.

Ted, Bill & Rick Hustead's Wall Drug Store

Anyway, the route from Idaho Falls to Chicago passed through Yellowstone National Park; Cody, Wyoming; Rapid City, South Dakota; and other points east. I had heard of Wall Drug before; strangely enough, it had been a mention in Playboy magazine. (Yes, an article. With words. There weren’t any pictures.) That mention, plus the numerous signs that I saw along the way, convinced me that I had to stop.

So late one Monday afternoon, I pulled into the parking lot of a $7.50-a-night motel in Wall. (Yeah, $7.50. Ah, the good old days.) I was tired — did I mention that I was riding a Honda 750F motorcycle? — so I crashed early. The next morning I got up at six, and by seven I was at the famous Wall Drug, which was located a whole two blocks from the motel. I had breakfast in the restaurant with the tree in the middle, and several cups of the five-cent coffee.

Then I wandered around the gift shops (there’s more than one) and bought a few trinkets for the folks back home, all the while marvelling at the eclectic collection of Old West photographs and art, and not a few stuffed animals on the wall. I’ve seen touristy places before — I live not too far from Wisconsin Dells — but Wall Drug was the best. Everyone to whom I spoke was nice, and that’s including the store staff. I didn’t find a single buy-‌the-‌cheaply-‌made-‌in-‌Taiwan-‌authentic-‌Indian-‌souvenir-‌and-‌get-‌outta-‌here attitude in the entire place. All-in-all, a great trashy place to visit.

At the time of my first visit, the sign out from still said “Ted and Bill Hustead’s Wall Drug Store”. When I got another chance to go out West, in the summer of ’97, the sign had changed to “Ted, Bill & Rick Hustead’s Wall Drug Store”, reflecting the addition of Rick to the management of the family business. The store had grown larger, and there were more “kiddie” attractions, like the animated Tyrannosaurus Rex imprisoned behind a Jurassic Park-like containment fence. Every fifteen minutes, the T-Rex would begin a fight to escape, triggering loud warning buzzers and flashing red lights, punctuated by some very scary (if you’re a kid) roars. But the people were still the same, and just as nice as they were twenty years earlier.

Yeah, I’m going back again some day. I haven’t hiked all of the trails in Badlands National Park, and I have an urge to legally drive at 75 miles per hour.

The Legend-News is published almost monthly by TechRen Enterprises, first in war, first in peace, first out of the door when the 5 o’clock bell rings. Copyright 2011 TechRen Enterprises. Send subscription requests, unsubscribe demands, complaints, kudos, suggestions, news and other contributions to Almost everything in The Legend-News has been written by Ed. Floden, except for the stuff that he blames on someone else. Lieutenant Jacoby: Pete, I’ll go after you as fast as I go after Fallon. Peter Gunn: Then I’ve got nothing to worry about.