On Wednesday, March 15, 1950, I had lunch at Antoine’s in New Orleans with Mrs. Jimmie Rodgers and we were to have dinner at Arnaud’s, but my day was interrupted with a call to National Guard duty.
We would meet again May 26, 1953 in Meridian, Mississippi, but this column is about my visit with her and her daughter Anita Rodgers Court and grandson Jimmie Dale Court in San Antonio, Texas, in 1961.
In March of 1961, my employer, Lafourche Parish Assessor Hubert Robichaux, sent me to represent him in the Annual I.A.A.O., (assessor’s), convention in Phoenix, Arizona. He couldn’t attend but allowed me to take a side trip providing any expenses beyond those allowed were to be paid by me.
I boarded a plane in New Orleans and deplaned in San Antonio, Texas, where I rented a car. I had phoned Mrs. Jimmie “Carrie” Rodgers a few days earlier and she had insisted I stop for a visit.
I arrived at her address and she met me at the door with a hug and introduced her daughter Anita Court and grandson Jimmie Court. Anita was about 40 and Jimmie about 10. Both ladies were charming but Carrie, at 60 years old, looked frail and weak. I learned that Anita had moved in as caregiver so I knew she was sick.
We sat, reminisced, laughed and viewed old pictures and Jimmie’s only movie, “The Signing Brakeman”.
Carrie whispered something to Anita who returned with a guitar I recognized from hundreds of pictures of Jimmie and Ernest Tubb.
“Would you like to strum it?” Carrie asked.
“I’d be too nervous, I might drop it,” I answered.
“Don’t worry, Ernest banged it up pretty good the years he used it and I had it re-finished,” she answered.
I carefully cradled it and as I strummed it I sang two lines from a song Jimmie had recorded, “The Home Call”.
“We’re just as happy, as happy could be, in the evening just Carrie, Anita and me.”
As I sang their names I pointed the guitar to Carrie, then Anita, and on me I pointed it to Jimmie’s picture on the wall. There were tears in all our eyes and everyone was silent for awhile.
It was a pleasant two-hour visit and as I was leaving I asked for directions to her former mansion in Kerrville, Texas, which they lost during the Great Depression. It was 60 miles north and on my route to Phoenix.
“I’ll do better than that,” she said as she handed me a note. “This will introduce you to the owners, very nice folks who allow me this privilege which I use only a few times a year.”
With that, we bid goodbye and I drove to Kerrville. Following Carrie’s direction, I found what I recognized as the “Blue Yodeler’s Paradise”, their dream home, built at the top of his career.
The owners were nice and welcomed me in. They were proud of their home and its history and pointed out a picture of Jimmie and Carrie Rodgers hanging on the wall. They said they only did this for Carrie and asked me not to mention my visit since the state wanted it for a museum which they opposed.
I kept that promise for many years. I declined a tour and after 20 minutes I told them how grateful I was to be able to say: “I’ve been here”!
Little did I know I would be telling my readers all about it 55 years later!
I boarded my rented car and drove to the Kerrville airport where I took the Phoenix flight. I remember little about the convention, but as I was flying back a tune lingered gentle on my mind … “In the evening, just Carrie, Anita, and me.”
Sadly, I never saw or heard from Carrie again. But on November 29, 1961, I got a phone call which even today is still hard to believe.
“Is this Leroy Martin? This is Ernest Tubb and your name and phone number is on a list given to me by Carrie Rodgers.”
I felt sick!
Next week the phone call and aftermath. BYE NOW!
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Posted on Tue, December 8, 2015
by Leroy Martin, Contributing Writer