What Historical Person Would You Like to Share a Dram With?

As published in the Bourbon Zeppelin Newsletter .

Since I was a young boy I have been fascinated with the old west characters. Heroes who tamed the cow towns and brought justice to a new big land. People like Wyatt Earp, Wild Bill Hickock just to name a couple. But If I had one chance to sit down and have a drink and a cigar with someone, I would like to have done that with John Wayne.john_wayne

John Wayne has always been at the top of the list not just because of his iconic movie roles, but that he had stated that his portrayals of lawmen in his movies came in part from meeting and talking with Wyatt Earp when he was a young man working as a prop boy in early movies.

I would have to say at first, I know I would be awestruck and mention how much I loved his movies and the no-nonsense way he took care of business. Above all, I would like to sit and talk about just being a cowboy. In my mind, no one ever paid homage to the Wild West like he did. I would tell him how much I appreciated the fact that he had Cowboy Ethics, and lived by that code, even in life. In the movies, he never shot a man in the back and was very adamant about that. He treated people with respect until he was disrespected and that stayed with me my whole life.dw_jw

I think that before we had that drink, I would ask Mr. Wayne if he would take a ride on horseback with me and maybe take in some target practice, just so I could say that I shot alongside of him. We would then sit down and discuss everything from movies, politics to horses and shooting. Then I would ask him one thing, “Tell me about Wyatt Earp.”

John Wayne was a man above men, back when handshakes meant something and you didn’t talk unless you had something worth saying.

We could use a few more like John Wayne these days.

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Stand Up for Something or Someone Everyday

Today I shared a photo from Cowboy Ethics FaceBook page that struck a cord with me and I wrote something that is true to what I believe.

“I may not have the opportunity to do this everyday, but when I do, I make it count! One thing in my life I regret is not actually going with my heart, instead I went with the money and spent the rest of my life working to get back to my heart!”

What I said had a couple meanings, one was that I often try to stand up and help out those less fortunate whenever I see someone in need. Last year I was in the checkout line at the Wal-Mart  store that I shop at and an elderly African American woman was in front of me and had a few items in her cart for Thanksgiving dinner. Now I could not tell if she was fixing dinner for herself or if she had someone visiting that she was going to cook for, but she was checking the prices for each item she put on the belt. She got down to three items that she said she could not afford and so I told the checker to ring it up and I would pay for it. She pleaded with me and said, “No, it is ok, I really don’t need those.” But I replied to her that if she had it in her cart, that she evidently had a use for them. Well, she was beside herself thanking me and I gave her a big hug and told her that I hoped she had a very happy Thanksgiving and we went on our way. I have not seen her since, but I can tell you, it made me feel very good to be able to help someone out who had lived a long life and didn’t need to walk away from a checkout without things she needed.

Now, let me be clear, I am not looking for people to say how good a person I am, or how it was so nice I did that because, in my mind, this is something all of us should do every time we see someone who might not have enough money to enjoy a holiday, or even eat something that they want to eat on a daily bases. We all should strive to help out someone in need without anyone asking us to help. It is how I was brought up and it is how I live my life.


The other part of what I wrote, ”  One thing in my life I regret is not actually going with my heart, instead I went with the money and spent the rest of my life working to get back to my heart!,” was because I was one of the people who left my home to travel and work and look for the big deal in life that would make me rich.

Did I find it? Well, I am living, I have a roof over my head, food on my table, but am I happy where I am? No! While many have moved on from our childhood homes, I have pined for the day that I can return, with all I have learned and experienced, to help out the folks where I grew up. Now I am not saying that I want to “Bring sunlight to the wilderness” as some have stated. They are only in it because they want more money, prestige and power. What I would love to do, is be closer to family, lifelong friends and be able to help out a community that raised me. I don’t want to bring huge manufacturing back, I don’t want to bring back ideas from another part of the country. What I would love to do is bring back a simple life and possibly help some folks along the way.

I have thought of many ideas, talked to some folks and have even put some ideas out there that if they work, could help out. Right now, of course I am still planning, and trying to think of ways I can help, because without that little area in West Virginia, I would not be the man I am today and if I can help give back just a little bit of what I was given when I was growing up, it would only amount to a small fraction. Thank you Sistersville, for helping to make me who I am.

I guess what I am saying is, most of us leave with our eyes on making it big, on making money, owning land and that is fine, but I think that if we thought just for a minute as to where we grew up and some of the struggles people face, giving back is not such a bad idea. As a matter of fact, giving back every day to those less fortunate does more than any of us could imagine.

I always think of one person that I grew up with who did more for others than anyone I know. Kevin Ritchey, was that man. We grew up together, played sports together and when we graduated high school, Kevin decided that he wanted to help others. He joined the volunteer fire department and was also a member of the EMT. Once he had a few years in, he decided to move to another community where he worked as an EMT and one icy night while on a call, he gave the ultimate sacrifice when he died trying to help others. Kevin will always be a hero to me, always be someone I would strive to be like. He has been missed, but what he did for others will live on.

Remember your heart, where you came from and where you go. There are always people in your past that got you to where you are.

So, I guess in all of this, my one thing that I wanted to say is, “Stand Up for Something or Someone Everyday!”

Living the old way (kinda)

As I sit here 24 hours without power I have to think how it was in the days before electronics. I woke up this morning at 7am and didn’t realize what time it was. As I am sitting here now, it is 8pm and I am felling like I need to go to bed. It is dark in here, except for the light of the fireplace and very quiet. I can’t help but think of days before television, computers and things that keep me up late.

I also have to think of what families did in those days, without tv and video games. Kids had to entertain themselves, maybe reading or playing some sort of board game, or imagine this, family time!

Now I know I am not roughing it, I have a gas fireplace, I have a propane cooking stove, running water and this iPhone to keep me “in touch.” But it seems to me that this is just what we as people need once in a while. We need jolted Back to a simpler time, a time when families talk, a time when it got dark, it was bed time and when daylight came it was time to get up. Sometimes I wonder if technology has killed the way you should live. Yeah, I am writing this on my iPhone, and yes I am bored silly, but really I think if families did this once a month, maybe everyone would appreciate what we have just a little more.

Many people without power are swearing at the power companies, me, as much as I would love to have my power back, would thank them for the job they do and sash “no rush, it is peaceful here tonight.”

Rednecks Vs City folk: Why I am Proud to be a Redneck!

Yes folks, I am a redneck from West Virginia and proud of it. I have never claimed to be anything else. In the past 31 years since I graduated high school and moved around the country, my status as a redneck has stayed with me.

Now, before I go any further, let me explain to those who think that the term Redneck is a bad word, it is not. It actually came to be known because of the coal wars (1920 – 1921) in southern West Virginia, when the coal companies were forcing the miners to work in unsafe conditions and the coal miners wanted to join the union. A fight broke out, and several company thugs were killed in Matewan, WV. Then the union coal miners from northern West Virginia marched south to help the miners against the coal companies. The northern coal miners wore red bandanas so that they would be recognized as the good guys and thus, the term Redneck was coined. Yes, I know there are a thousand and one other thoughts as to where the term was coined, but I am pretty sure that this is the one that is the true meaning of the word!

Now that we know where the term Redneck came from, we can discuss the differences between them and city folk. We rednecks are tough, resilient and resourceful! We all like to laugh at someone who puts a metal watering trough above a fire and then uses it for a hot tub, but really, how many city folk would think to do that? Instead of spending $4,000 to buy a heated tub, the redneck used what he had and it worked just fine (maybe after a few comedy of errors).

The point is, Rednecks are not dumb people. They know what they have and they solve problems using what they have.

Now, I recently got into a conversation that was started from the Duck Commander’s suspension being lifted (I won’t get into the whole A&E thing) and one person who was clearly from the city (when I use city, I am talking about NYC size, not small town) and he was so appalled by all the redneck reality shows on TV now and how the world would be better off without rednecks. That is where I entered into the debate.

I explained to all who read that if ever something happened to our infrastructure, electric grid, electronics etc… that those people would be complaining about not having any food, TV, or any modern convenience that they enjoy now and that many who live in the city would perish! Well, I set off a firestorm with that comment!

He went on to say “Shouldn’t you be off researching what seeds Glenn Beck thinks are best to have for when the apocalypse comes ?”

When I explained to him that being ready is not a bad thing and that most rednecks do not need to have anyone tell us what we need to survive, it only got worse in the debate as another city person stated this:

Oh yeah – I forgot all about Doomsday Preppers (mostly just paranoid ignorant rednecks too).

You don’t fool me. Most people on welfare, sucking off the teat of the government, are white – and almost all of those who aren’t black or Hispanic are white trash rednecks or southern hillbillies.

The “lazy ignorant Southerner” label is more than just a stereotype – for many it’s a fact. Many blame it on ‘the humidity’. As transplanted yankee living in the South, I realize that could very well be.

Well, after I quit laughing at them, I said, well, I am not a prepper, I am prepped! Meaning that I know what to do when the time comes. I do not need to watch reality TV to know what to do and I certainly do not need anyone else giving me advice when they think that “the meat in grocery stores are from animals that are not harmed!”

So, the city folk quit debating me when I asked them what they would do if ever something happened. Not one could answer and they clammed up. I ended by saying:

“I know exactly what to do, I don’t have to research anything. unlike people like you. You will go steal what you want, or try to. Won’t make it far, because the people who are able to survive will not put up with looters like you.”

Well, maybe I was a little harsh, but such is life and if you want to survive, you learn how to take care of yourself. I have no problem in saying that if anything ever happened, I would still be fat and happy as I am right now. City folk, not so much. If nothing else, it will be interesting to see how things go!

So, with that being said, I am very proud to be a Redneck from West Virginia!


The Unity Party (Shameless Plug)

My first attempt at a political thriller. I started writing this in 2002, but got my first writers block. By the time I wanted to start writing again, I was afraid that it was coming too close to the truth and people would think I was using current events. I really made it up, honest. The Unity Party  is now available as an E-Book on Amazon.com.


There is a new kind of government taking over and everyone comes together. But togetherness is not always good. Spies, and conspiracy for a larger world order is happening. Can a small group protect and save the entire country?