Howdy Old Soldiers!

Soldiers Home

The Soldiers Home in Chelsea (photo from YellowPages.com, HERE. © infoUSA.)

A week ago Saturday I received this delightful e-pistle:

From: Debbie [email deleted]

To: hillbilly@whrb.org

Sent: Saturday, September 5, 2015 12:18 PM

Subject: Thank you

I am a second generation fan of your Saturday broadcasts. My father, a devoted and looong time listener, is 97 years old and is a patient at the Chelsea Soldiers Home 2 Center. One of my dad’s nurses, Jeff , often plays your station for my Dad. You wouldn’t believe how many of the “guys,” all Veterans, will gather at his bed and listen. Many seem disconnected and unaware of much UNTIL Hillbilly at Harvard broadcasts!! I feel I’m with my Dad in our kitchen listening with him when I listen in as well.
I have been concerned for the health of Cousin Lynn over the last couple of months and so happy that you are playing prerecorded shows. I hope this stalwart effluvianado of Bluegrass is well and that you keep the beat going. We love you all and your show lights up the day of the staff and Veterans at Chelsea Soldiers Home 2 Center! Thank you for everything.
Sincerely, Debbie O’Connor, daughter of Walter Edmonds.

To which I responded,

Howdy Debby–
Many thanks for your heart-warming note.  I am glad to report that I am well, but had to spend some time away from the show to help clean out my parents’ house so that it can be sold (my mother passed away this spring at the age of 101).  I’ll be back next Saturday.
I can’t tell you how gratified I am that many of our veterans are gathering in your father’s room at the Old Soldiers’ Home to listen to Hillbilly at Harvard.  I know we have had listeners there for many years (a gentleman named Bill Hughes used to write often with requests), but it is wonderful to have your first-hand account.  Let me know of some of your father’s favorite songs, and I’ll try to work them into the show in weeks to come.
With all best wishes for you, your family, your father, and the guys in Chelsea,
/Lynn Joiner
Host/Producer

And I asked her for permission to reprint her letter here.  It was gratifying to get her assent:

I am thrilled to receive your wonderful reply to my email! I would be honored for you to publish my letter.
Your show this morning is exceptional and I called the Chelsea Soldiers Home  2 Center, to tune in for Dad, staff and guys! Just returned from errands so looking forward to rest of show, hopefully.
My Dad’s favorites include anything Hank Williams (especially Honky Tonk Blues, Jambalaya, Cheating Heart.  Lonesome Whistle?  He loved also Lefty Frizzell, Hank Snow, Tex Ritter.  The songs “Found Her Little Footprints in the Snow,” Little Jimmy Brown?  Something about a chapel ????
You’d be heartbroken to know how many precious 78 records my dad tossed years ago!!! A treasure trove I would’ve been happy to give you. 😦
All the best in this time of loss and transition.
Thank you again!
Debbie O’Connor

I can’t tell you how rewarding it is to hear from listeners who enjoy the show, and it is especially gratifying to know that many of our elder veterans like to listen.  I’ll make an effort to feature more of the older country classics for them.  Of course there are others who like more bluegrass, and still others who need a does of Sturgill Simpson; the watchword is always a mix of old and new, familiar and unfamiliar—but always leaves on the tree nourished by country roots.

As for the 78s, Debbie: At WHRB we have not had turntables that play 78s for some years now.  I don’t even have one here at home, and I fact I left my father’s in Maryland last week, after finding that the 78 cartridge was missing.  We donated a heavy pile of 78-rpm classical albums to the Friends of the Montgomery County Library Store (they actually take them!).  The 78-rpm singles that WHRB had many decades ago, when I was an undergraduate, have disappeared. Some, I regret to say, were used as Frisbees; some ended up in Ol’ Sinc’s mother’s house; others with Pappy Ben in California.  Fortunately, most of them were popular recordings, so most of the songs have been reissued on LP and CD over the years.

Note: I touched up a few of Debbie’s hasty Internet typos, like lower-case ‘i’.  I am a little puzzled by what seems to be a new word: ‘effluvianado’.  ‘Effluvium’ generally refers to an unpleasant emission of some sort, but since we know Debbie meant it only positively, I will take it to mean ‘scintillating purveyor’.  Perhaps I should add it to my business card: ‘Bluegrass Effluvianado Par Excellence’.

Thanks, Debbie, for the terrific feedback.  /CL

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This entry was posted in Hillbilly History, Radio Talk, Who Listens? and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Howdy Old Soldiers!

  1. Peter Kinder says:

    Lynn, Debbie: Thanks for sharing your exchange.

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