First timer? In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now more-or-less a once or twice a week blog), I have my computer select a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48). I call this “landing.” I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town I land near. I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location. To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is and what the various numbers and abbreviations mean in the first paragraph), please see “About Landing,” (and “Abbreviations” and “Cryptic Numbers”) above.
Landing number 2124; A Landing A Day blog post number 552.
Dan: Two out of three – I’ll take it, thanks to this USer landing . . . TX; 157/186; 3/10; 10; 148.3. Hey, if I get two more USers in a row, it’ll be a new record low Score. We’ll see . . .
Here’s my regional landing map:
My local landing map shows that I landed close to some small, hookless towns, but not all that far from Clarksville (I’m about 20 miles east):
I actually landed in closer proximity to DeKalb, but wouldn’t you know, I featured DeKalb when I landed close by (landing 2002, April 2013):
Remember DeKalb? I featured Dan Blocker (Hoss Cartwright from “Bonanza”) as well as Ricky Nelson, who was killed in a plane crash near DeKalb. I just reread the post. Of course, it’s great. You, too can enjoy it once again – just type “DeKalb” in the search box . . .
Anyway, I landed in the watershed of Young Creek; on to Anderson Creek; on to the Sulphur River (2nd hit); to the Red (57th hit); to the Atchafalya (64th hit). The Atchafalaya was tied with the Nelson for 9th place on my river hits list. Thanks to today’s land, the Atchafalaya now stands alone in 9th place. The Atchafalaya has a long way to go to catch #8 on my list, the Snake River, with 75 hits.
Here’s a streams-only map. (You’ll have to take my word for it that the Sulphur discharges into the Red.):
My Google Earth shot shows that I landed behind some outbuildings (out in a pasture?) that appear to be part of a farmette:
Oops. I’m in Texas. Ain’t no way they call it a “farmette” in Texas . . .
Anyway, you can see that GE Street View coverage is available for the little road that runs along the farm. Here’s the shot:
Amazing that there’s Street View coverage on such a tiny road. Check this out – here’s a shot of the road itself (where I took the above shot):
If Google drives their GoogleCam here, they’ll drive it anywhere & everywhere!
So, let’s head on over to Clarksville. Let me start by saying that I desperately hoped that Clarksville was of “Last Train to Clarksville” fame. ‘Twas not to be. The famous Monkees’ tune (written by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart) was inspired by Clarksdale AZ (a town Bobby Hart knew), and the name changed to Clarksville because it sounded better.
Staying with the Monkees for now, I came upon a piece in Cracked.com by Adam Tod Brown entitled “5 Upbeat Songs You Didn’t Realize Are Depressing (Part 2).” One of the featured songs is, of course, “Last Train to Clarksville.”
Adam says that the Monkees were professionally light-weight pop stars, and had no choice but to be anything besides upbeat. Here’s a quote:
They basically got to become one of the biggest bands in the world by looking the part and letting people like Neil Diamond write their songs.
You can’t really blame them for any of this, of course. They were a band built around a television show. This stuff was completely out of their hands. And they didn’t look like they were particularly sad about anything that was happening around them. Why, just check out the video for “Last Train to Clarksville” for proof of that:
Here are the lyrics:
Take the last train to Clarksville,
And I’ll meet you at the station.
You can be there by four thirty,
‘Cause I made your reservation.
Don’t be slow, oh, no, no, no!
Oh, no, no, no!
‘Cause I’m leavin’ in the morning
And I must see you again
We’ll have one more night together
‘Til the morning brings my train.
And I must go, oh, no, no, no!
Oh, no, no, no!
And I don’t know if I’m ever coming home.
Take the last train to Clarksville.
I’ll be waiting at the station.
We’ll have time for coffee flavored kisses
And a bit of conversation.
Oh… Oh, no, no, no!
Oh, no, no, no!
Take the last train to Clarksville,
Now I must hang up the phone.
I can’t hear you in this noisy
Railroad station all alone.
I’m feelin’ low. Oh, no, no, no!
Oh, no, no, no!
And I don’t know if I’m ever coming home.
Back to Cracked.com:
The problem with being a band built for television is that you have to tread carefully when it comes to delivering any sort of message. . . for the Monkees, the joyful antics of the “Last Train to Clarksville” video are hiding something pretty damn dark. Like Vietnam War dark. “Last Train to Clarksville” is actually a song written in protest of the war in Vietnam. It tells the story of a man who’s taking a train to an Army base in the morning and wants to see the love of his life one last time. You know, in case you ever wondered why, in a song so seemingly filled with happiness, this line pops up:
“And I don’t know if I’m ever coming home.”
Vietnam is never specifically mentioned in “Last Train to Clarksville,” but Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, the duo who wrote the song, have a pretty solid excuse for that, saying in an interview, “We couldn’t be too direct with the Monkees. We couldn’t really make a protest song out of it — we kind of snuck it in.”
It’s exactly that kind of subversiveness that gets you applauded in a Cracked article, Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart. Here’s hoping the rest of the songwriting world follows your lead.
Click HERE for the whole Cracked.com article (there’s some pretty funny stuff here).
Notice how I was totally sidetracked (so to speak) by the Monkees, even though Clarksville TX has nothing to do with “Last Train to Clarksville.” Hey – I was 16 when the song was released, and I really liked it. I hung around with some kids who were too cool to like the Monkees (only the Beatles and Stones would do for them), but I was a cultural light-weight. But I was cool enough to disdain the TV show . . .
So, finally getting around to the real Clarksville TX (pop 3,800) – I found that for such a small town, they have quite the list of famous favorite sons.
I’ll start with Tommie Smith, since amazingly enough I featured him in my most recent post (Doland SD)! That post features Hubert Humphrey, but also features events that occurred in 1968. An event that I mentioned was the black-gloved raising of fists on the medal podium by two U.S. sprinters during the 1968 Mexico City Olympics. The winner of that event (the 200 meters, in a world record time) was none other thanTommie Smith. John Carlos finished third. Here’s the iconic photo:
The 1968 Olympics Black Power salute was an act of protest by the African-American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos during their medal ceremony at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. As they turned to face their flags and hear The Star-Spangled Banner, they each raised a black-gloved fist and kept them raised until the anthem had finished. Smith, Carlos and Australian silver medalist Peter Norman all wore human rights badges on their jackets. In his autobiography, Silent Gesture, Tommie Smith stated that the gesture was not a “Black Power” salute, but a “human rights salute”. The event is regarded as one of the most overtly political statements in the history of the modern Olympic Games.
Smith and Carlos were largely ostracized by the U.S. sporting establishment and they were subject to criticism. Time magazine showed the five-ring Olympic logo with the words, “Angrier, Nastier, Uglier”, instead of “Faster, Higher, Stronger”. Back home, they were subject to abuse and they and their families received death threats.
Smith continued in athletics, playing in the NFL with the Cincinnati Bengals before becoming an assistant professor of physical education at Oberlin College. In 1995, he helped coach the U.S. team at the World Indoor Championships at Barcelona. In 1999 he was awarded the California Black Sportsman of the Millennium Award. He is now a public speaker.
Carlos’ career followed a similar path. He tied the 100 yard dash world record the following year. He later played in the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles until a knee injury prematurely ended his career. In 1982, Carlos was employed by the Organizing Committee for the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles to promote the games and act as liaison with the city’s black community. In 1985, he became a track and field coach at Palm Springs High School. As of 2012, Carlos works as a counselor at the school.
Smith and Carlos received an Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the 2008 ESPY Awards honoring their action.
Norman, who was sympathetic to his competitors’ protest, was reprimanded by his country’s Olympic authorities and ostracized by the Australian media. He was not picked for the 1972 Summer Olympics, despite having qualified 13 times over. Smith and Carlos were pallbearers at Norman’s funeral in 2006.
Time heals all wounds, eh? It also helps that Smith & Carlos went on to lead productive lives.
Next in line on the Favorite Son list is Euell Gibbons. He was an early (and very public) proponent of eating wild natural foods. He became quite the celebrity, with appearances on The Tonight Show and Sonny & Cher. He was also a spokesman for Grape Nuts Cereal, and made many commercials. Here’s one:
Also from Clarksville was Office J.D. Tippit, the police officer killed by Lee Harvey Oswald during the brief time he was on the run after JFK’s assassination. From Wiki:
On November 22, 1963, Tippit was fatally shot on a Dallas street approximately 45 minutes after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. According to five federal government investigations, Tippit was shot by Lee Harvey Oswald. Oswald was initially arrested as a suspect in Tippit’s murder but later became a suspect in the shooting of President Kennedy. Oswald was charged with both crimes shortly after his arrest. Before Oswald could be tried for either crime, he was shot and killed by nightclub owner Jack Ruby on November 24, 1963.
On the evening of the assassination, both Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and the new President, Lyndon B. Johnson, called Tippit’s widow to express their sympathies. Jacqueline Kennedy wrote a letter expressing sorrow for the bond they shared. The plight of Tippit’s family also moved much of the nation and a total of $647,579 (worth $4,988,470 today) was donated to them following the assassination. One of the largest individual gifts was the $25,000 (worth $192,582 today) that Abraham Zapruder donated after selling his film of the assassination.
A funeral service for J.D. Tippit was held on November 25th, the same day as those of both President Kennedy and Lee Harvey Oswald.
An historical marker was placed at the scene of his murder in 2012:
And finally, also from Clarksville is a novelist John Williams. He is best known for his novel Stoner. I was vaguely aware of the author and the novel, but am now determined to read it. The book (originally published in 1965) was re-released in 2003 and has since become an international bestseller.
Here’s what Wiki has to say:
In a 2007 review of the recently reissued work, Morris Dickstein wrote that Stoner is “a perfect novel, so well told and beautifully written, so deeply moving that it takes your breath away.” A 2013 BBC article reported that it was named Waterstones Book of the Year and also said that Tom Hanks called it “one of the most fascinating things that you’ve ever come across” and noted that The New Yorker had called it “the greatest American novel you’ve never heard of.”
Steve Almond praised Stoner in The New York Times Magazine, writing, “I had never encountered a work so ruthless in its devotion to human truths and so tender in its execution.”
Other reviews I read are equally effusive. Unfortunately, Mr. Williams isn’t around to enjoy the resurgence. He died in 1994.
Update: I wrote the draft of this post about a week ago, and have since read Stoner. I might not be as effusive with my priase, but I really enjoyed the book, and recommend it. I liked it enough that I’m now reading another of his books, “Butcher’s Crossing,” novel about buffalo hunters in Kansas and Colorado in the 1870s. I’m really enjoying this (even more than Stoner). He has another book “Augustus,” (yes, about Caesar Augustus) which I’m sure will make my list. The three books are incredibly different from one another.
Back to my original draft . . .
I couldn’t find any GE Panoramio shots up to ALAD standards, so I’ll just close with some back-in-the-day shots (old time post-cards), courtesy of TxGenWeb.org:
First, a picture of “Watermelon Row.” “Get your watermelons here, get your watermelons . . .”
And then, this shot of a Long Staple Cotton wagon (Long Staple Cotton was a business mainstay in the town):
I’ll close with this chaotic downtown marketplace shot from 1910:
That’ll do it.
© 2014 A Landing A Day