WAKE FOREST — If you want to see Jerry Ammon’s face light up, just ask him about cowboys of yesteryear like I did last Thursday at breakfast.
Noticing the numerous cowboy pictures displayed on the walls at his Border Restaurant, I asked him who was his favorite cowboy. Without even a moment’s hesitation, he replied, “Tex Ritter.”
I asked why and he said, “His singing!”
And then Jerry said he would be right back and he walked toward his office area, returning seconds later with a neat, little book titled, Bobby Copeland’s B-Western Boot Hill, from Empire Publishing, Inc. of Madison, N.C. On the bottom cover it read: A final tribute to the cowboys and cowgirls who rode the Saturday matinee movie range.
I was fascinated by the little book and immediately started leafing through it, finding names of many well-known movie stars.
An obituary listed for Jerry’s favorite cowboy read:
“Tex Ritter, 67, singing cowboy of screen and records, is dead. The country western star sang Jingle, Jangle, Jingle and ran for a Senate seat.
“He made some 78 Western films, playing more or less the same character, the singing cowboy. The songs that bear his stamp included ... the title theme from the western High Noon (Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darling).
“A reviewer in The New York Times remarked just a week ago. ‘It makes the listener realize just how distinctive a performer — in voice and mannerism — Mr. Ritter is.’
“Nevertheless, Mr. Ritter’s movies regularly earned critical disapproval. Most of them were ignored or given a brush-off.”
There is loads more about cowboy and cowgirl movie stars in this 216-page book, but if you’re interested in buying one, you will need lots of luck. Jerry said he found it in a book store, but another copy was not available.
Another Purple Heart winner
If you want to get inspired about our country, you should attend next year’s annual Wake Forest Purple Heart Dinner.
Saturday night, the fifth dinner was held at Wake Forest Presbyterian Church with several hundred attendees honoring 38 Purple Heart recipients (several with two or three awards).
Printed on the program were the stirring words that accompany the proclamation accompanying the award: Let it be known that he who wears the military order of the Purple Heart has given of his blood in the defense of his homeland and shall forever be revered by his fellow countrymen.
From the 38 who were individually named, I only knew one, James W. (Jimmy) Lyles, who worked as an apprentice in our newspaper shop in the 1960s before he joined the Marines.
He received two Purple Hearts, 1967 and 1968, while serving in Vietnam.
I didn’t know Benny Jackson, killed in 1969 Vietnam action, but I know his mother, Tessie, very well from her writing Stony Hill news for many years. She represented her son at the ceremony.
A breathtaking moment
I couldn’t pass up this heart-warming human-interest story without sharing it with you: “A Breathtaking Moment” by Stephen Crotts in The Pointed Pencil column in The Alamance News.
“So I’m sitting in a local cafe with a good friend who is a court judge. We’re deep in thoughtful conversation and a plate of scallops when our reverie is shattered.
“A woman walks in, spots the judge, and in a loud, tearful voice shouts, ‘Oh, my good Lord, this is the man who took my children and put me in jail three years ago. I was messed up on crack. I neglected my children. And when I had to stand before him, he took my children away from me and put them in foster care.’ Every fork in the cafe fell to the table or floor. Mouths gaped. Eyes stared.
“She continued, ‘This here judge gave me a choice between two years in jail or two years in rehab. I took the rehab. That was over three years ago. I’m clean now. My family is back together and I got a job.’
“Then she walked over to my friend and gave him a bear hug, all the while exclaiming ‘Thank you, Jesus, thank you, Jesus!’
“Just as quickly, she was gone. The judge and I stood up and clapped. The entire cafe joined us.
“Ah, tough love. Oh, bitter pain that speaks hard truth and narrows our choices! Moments of gratitude. Moments of grace — priceless.
“We did not need any dessert.”
—Bob Allen, publisher emeritus of The Wake Weekly, welcomes and encourages your comments or suggestions at 919-556-3059 or [email protected].