More Nominees for a Dade Hall of Fame part2
Jan. 29, 2014
Donna M. Street
My favorite non-fiction book of the 21st century (so far) is a small volume by Malcolm Gladwell entitled Outliers: The Story of Success. I like all of his books but this volume hit home with me (and many others, for it stayed on the New York Times Bestsellers list for MONTHS). If you haven’t read it then I recommend it to you. Malcolm’s parents are a sociologist and a mathematician, so his writing is like a very concise and well thought-out reference book. He quantifies factors relating to success which are very hard to quantify. One maxim that stays with you long after you put the book away is that in order to be a success in your field, you must at the very least, complete 10,000 hours of practice. The nominees for this week are all outliers.
When I finished the book, I immediately thought of Ashley Houts, who at the time was burning up the backboards with three pointers and tearing up the floor at the University of Georgia by stealing everything that came her way, just as she had at Dade County High School. I immediately got on line and ordered a copy of this book to be shipped to her. I have never before or since been moved to do something like that. I was compelled to send the book to her because her skill, talent and work ethic were exactly what Gladwell was proclaiming as truth in Outliers. In a conversation that I shared with her one morning, in the commons of DCHS, I inquired why she did not choose to play softball as well as basketball. We talked for a bit and I could quickly see that she had set her goals and was going to be single-minded in attaining them. No hour was too early or late to find Ashley working at her craft in the gym. She was focused, persistent and undaunted. Those qualities made her a champion on the floor and in the classroom, paid her way through college and gave her a career as a professional athlete. I expect that there are still mountains that Ashley will climb. Ashley has a family which expects excellence and provides support. All of the Houts kids (Emily and Andrew) travel to the beat of the excellence drum that Greg and Joanie taught them to play. They know how to succeed. At least half of success is hard work. Ashley Houts is my hall of fame nominee of the first years of 21st century.
The military is often a way in which the young people of Dade County find a way to travel and to find a career. And to be really honest, sometimes they just want to get out of Dade County. After completing a 32 year tour of duty in the United States Navy in September 2012, we find that Rick West is truly an outlier. 10,000 hours may not cover all of the time that he spent attaining a goal that probably wasn’t in his vocabulary when he boarded the bus for boot camp. He left Dade County shortly after graduation from Northwest Georgia H. S. in 1981. Rick joined the Navy; worked hard, spent years protecting our country, advancing through the system and on December 12, 2008 for his dedication to excellence, he was named as the 12th Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON). He holds status that only 12 other Sailors have held. There is more information on the internet about Rick than any other nominee. In all that I read, he is humble, matter of fact and always is proud to claim Rising Fawn as his home. He is our own American Hero.
I admit that I am a member of the Forester Sisters Fan Club. The “girls” were famous at home for years before the rest of the world got to hear their golden harmonies. The home folks knew that these girls were something unique and that if anyone could make it, then it had to be these special women. Kathy, June, Kim and Christy Forester along with a couple of their husbands and friends in the band made a few demo recordings at Muscle Shoals in the mid-80’s. Soon, they got a contract with Warner Brothers and for the following decade they were out of Dade County more than they were home. They got a couple of Grammy nominations, had 15 songs in the top ten (five of which were number one), saw the world and decided that it was time to come home and raise some kids. In the tradition of outliers, two restarted teaching careers and two moved on to new dreams. They were inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 2013. Nothing makes me happier than riding down the road listening to the radio and to suddenly recognize the voices of my friends, The Forester Sisters.
Lester and Chester Buchanan, The Buchanan Brothers were not born in Dade County, but they got here as quick as they could. Ephraim Shadrack Buchanan moved the family from Indiana to Trenton during the depression and made his living farming. The 1940 Census shows that Chester is 16 and living with his parents, brothers and sisters in Trenton. Lester is 19, married, working as a welder and living south of his parents on Highway 11 or Magby Gap. The census taker changed locations in the middle of a page. Maybe their sister, Delores Smyth, can remember and let me know. One of their most famous songs, Atomic Power, was not a favorite of the brothers. In an interview they admitted that it ‘stunk’. It is a tragic “come to Jesus” hymn/ballad about the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I found almost all of their songs on the internet and spent some time listening. Tight harmony and a southern twang, that was the standard before country music went all pop, made listening to them compelling. I also found it interesting that they did most or all of their recordings in New York City. They gave their last concert in Chattanooga in April of 1949 at the Memorial Auditorium. They donated most of their music mementoes to the Country Music Hall of Fame, so if you visit make sure to check them out. One of their songs, “When You See (Those Flying Saucers)”, was featured on the soundtrack of the 2009 Dream Works Animation film, Monsters vs Aliens. Pretty good for a tune recorded in the 1940’s.
Lester retired to Florida in 1973 and Chester raised his family in Dade where he lived until his death in 1992.
As I read my article from last week in print, some of the wording of the Shorty Bradford tribute bothered me. I wrote that he died of “heart break and failure”. Hopefully you did understand what I meant, because Shorty was anything but a failure. He did suffer from heart disease and with the death of his only son at age 13 in April of 1966, his heart disease also became heart break. My heart breaks for any parent who outlives a child. Not having been blessed with children of my own and living alone for many years, I often wonder what challenge would cripple me. My mind thinks that losing a child (to illness or accident) would be the absolute worst. Thus I end this week’s musing with condolences to the Gregor family on the death of their 19 year old son, Davis. Peace and grace to your family.