Staying In Toon

Saturday mornings used to be for kids.

Weekdays as a kid on Beech Street in Ashdown, Arkansas, started with the two captains. Captain Kangaroo and Cap’n Crunch. Saturdays were for all of the other shows made for children..

You felt ownership of the TV on Saturday. Cartoons were on all three channels. You didn’t have to worry about your parents coming in and switching the dial to some educational show that actually made you learn.

Yes, Saturdays belonged to the youth of America. ...

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The Best Radio Reception

It was Flag Day 1987. I was opening the mic for the first time as a new announcer on KTBB AM 600. It was the early part of my radio journey, and I was excited to be moving up in the industry.

KTBB was the second radio station to be licensed in Tyler, Texas. A station located at 1490 on the dial was the first, but KTBB would ultimately dominate the market. A strong award-winning news department, excellent on-air talent, and ...

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Knowing Beans About Chili

“Oh, waiter. There’s a bean in my chili.”

So goes the encounter every Southerner dreads when he orders a bowl of red, and is served chili with beans.

There are certain missteps in the South that are unforgivable. Asking a girl out without clearing it first with her daddy is a no-no. Bringing a guest a glass of tea without sugar in it is a big no-no.

But serving chili with beans is a no-no on the level of giving someone ketchup when ...

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In A Jam

I don’t know whose idea it was to make the sweet substances that graced the biscuits of my Southern upbringing, but when I meet them in Heaven I’m going to shake their hand.

I say Heaven because whoever concocted blackberry jam, pear preserves, or other sweet fruity options must be currently receiving their eternal rewards.

Same goes for grape jelly, apple butter, and plum jam. Come to think of it, they’re all plum good.

From birth, most Southerners are fed a steady breakfast ...

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A Pizza History

The old question, “Where would you go first if you had a time machine?” is an easy one to answer for me. I’d visit all of my favorite long-since-gone childhood cafes, diners, and restaurants.

Not all, but one stop may soon be possible, without the help of H.G. Wells.

Growing up in Ashdown, Arkansas, we had some great places to eat. Ms. Mac’s served the best chicken fried steak ever. Mesamore’s had a plate lunch that was great. And the Tastee-Freez chili ...

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Let Them In

In life, there are people and situations that stand at our door and ask to be let in.

We have a choice to make. Let them in or don’t answer the door.

Often, either choice has a profound impact on our lives. Many a person has spent the rest of their days wishing they’d done the opposite of what they did.

It might have been a romantic relationship they wished they would have started or continued – or one that was a bad ...

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Going Dutch On The Homestead

My first exposure to cooking in the great outdoors was in Cub Scouts. I saw biscuits made in a cast iron dutch oven over the coals of a campfire.

Until then, I had no idea that food could come from anywhere else other than moms kitchen or the school cafeteria.

Sure, Id seen my grandfather make hamburgers over charcoal at those little highway roadside parks that the state built in the 50s and 60s, but cooking ...

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Taking The Fall

You meet people in the South who like spring, summer or winter, but virtually everyone below the Mason Dixon Line loves fall.

I can speak to my affinity for the fall season, which in Ashdown, Arkansas, is at least three weeks. Four if you’re lucky.

Fall is that time of year when it goes from hot to not. It’s not really cold (it’s never really that cold in the South), and it’s not really warm.

Fall is just right.

Now I’m not going to ...

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The Screening Process

Movies were better in a theater. A theater filled with people.

Such was the case before the Internet. Before HBO. Before people holed up in their living rooms and away from their neighbors and friends.

A time when pay-per-view meant you bought a ticket to watch a movie. You also grabbed a large Coke and a bucket of popcorn bigger than your head so you could share with your sister.

Movies were better in a theater because that was the only place you ...

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Service Calls

When you grow up in a Southern church, you learn quickly how things are done. And how they’re not done.

Some kids learn early. Some kids never get it.

Bethel Missionary Baptist Church was a small, white frame structure. Like many churches of mid-20th Century America, it was plenty big enough to accommodate the 75 or so who went there. It was a lot like a weekly family reunion since many attendees were kin to each other.

That’s one of the first things ...

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