Sunday morning, March 4, 1952, the Cajuns headed home from Nashville as I sipped a beer while sadly staring out the window.
“Cheer up, Lee,” Dudley said. “You sang on key and on beat, just like I taught you,” he added with a broad smile.
“Yeah, Dud,” I answered, “but nobody heard me. I had no time to call my friends and relatives back home.”
When Vin Bruce sang on the Grand Ole Opry, Galliano’s Manuel Toups hired a sound truck to announce it throughout South Lafourche. The “Jamboree” was less important, but still a great showcase for country singers.
Eventually five people admitted having heard the show.
We got back from Nashville and Reilly Pitre returned to his father’s (Burke Pitre) oyster business, Harry Simoneaux, Sr. to his job as Golden Meadow’s Post Master, Leonce “Fee Ran” Duet to boat building and Dudley and I to Dudley’s “Southern Serenaders”.
I met Ernest Tubb again in 1954 and 1955 at the Jimmie Rodgers Memorial days in Meridian, Mississippi. He had organized but missed the first one in 1953 due to an illness he got in Korea. He brought back hundreds of telephone numbers and personally called everyone’s family.
The last time we met was on his bus, April 1, 1970, at the Stage Coach Lounge in Galliano. It was sad. He had emphysema from his cigarette habit and had to retreat every 20 minutes for oxygen. I saw the tank and wanted to leave but he insisted and inhaled as we spoke. That was Ernest Tubb.
I showed him a book. “Wow,” he said, “that’s a first edition of Carrie’s 1935 biography of Jimmie signed April 28, 1947.”
I answered. “I also have the picture record.” (I later donated it to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1973.)
I asked him, “Would you please sign the face page under her?”
“Gladly” he answered, “But I might just diminished its value.”
“No sir, you will only enhance it,” I proudly answered.
As I was leaving, he said, “You know, son, you, me and Carrie’s daughter are the only people in the world who own both that book and the picture record.”
Just as I got back to the club an old family feud erupted into a fight, stopped the show and cleared the hall. After the fight Ernest insisted that the show resume. Later that night I was in club owner Harris Pitre’s office and he was apologizing while settling business.
“Mr. Pitre,” Ernest said, “I’ve played Honky Tonks most of my life and things wouldn’t be normal without a fight now and then.”
We all laughed and called it a night. What a guy!
While writing this column, I wrote a poem about him. It’s not Longfellow, Yeats or Poe, and a bit corny, but it’s from the heart.
Gentle on your mind let linger, once there was a country singer
That the world did so adore, they beat a pathway to his door
He sang of loves and wars and fears, of lonely hearts and mothers’ tears
He sang of his “Blue Eyed Elaine”, and “Walked the Floor” to ease the pain
And when the Allies beat the Axis, he “Waltzed Across the State of Texas”
May the legend long endure, about “The Texas Troubadour”
Thank you E.T., “Thanks a lot”, for making Nashville “Camelot”.
I got a phone call on September 7, 1984.
“Mr. Martin, this is Justin Tubb. Dad gave a list of friends to call when this happened. Dad died yesterday, September 6, 1984. I thanked him and hung up. The rest of the day was blurry
Ernest called me when Mrs. Jimmie Rodgers died; his son called me when Ernest died. I wonder if anyone will call for me.
Next week will conclude my columns about my early music career and I will explain the reason about, and the results of our trip to Nashville, and how we “Cajunized” Music City, U.S.A. (It’s ok, we made bail.)
Comments are welcomed at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Songs “Blue Eyed Elaine”, “Walking the Floor Over You”, “Waltz Across Texas” and “Thanks a Lot” are copyrighted by Ernest Tubb Music Publishing.
Posted on Tue, January 19, 2016
by Leroy Martin, Contributing Writer