Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Johnny Cash; Dyess, Arkansas and Grandma's Guest Room

Recently our paper ran an article on a Sunday about the Legacy of Johnny Cash and a town's future. That town would be Dyess, Arkansas. I read the article and immediately turned to my book, Cash by the editors of Rolling Stone to compare the stories. Then I tried to reconcile the facts with tales of my grandma and my dad about how Johnny Cash grew up in Kingsland, Arkansas and slept in the guest room of the house in Rison.

The Rolling Stone book says, Johnny Cash remembered the first house he lived in which was near Kingsland, Arkansas. He was just a boy back then.

I have been to Kingsland and I was just boy then too. It was a little town at the end of gravel road we took south out of the bottoms near Bob and Neely's. That would be the Saline River bottoms. There were a few houses or shacks might be a better word. I think I even saw something that looked like a high school. Okay, it was the sixties and it was Arkansas so anything out of brick with more than one story, a patch of grass and goal posts would pass for a high school!

I pictured that was where Johnny Cash went to school and he probably came to Rison on Friday night for football. Afterwards he and the boys from Kingsland probably got in a fight with my dad and the Rison Tigers. Afterwards, Johnny Cash stayed the night in Grandma's guest room lickin his wounds from the lickin he took.

Well I don't think it happened that way and then again it may not have happened at all.

The paper said Dyess was a town developed by the Federal Emergency Relief Administration which farmers like the Cashes who were ruined by the Depression could resettle on land the government had bought. You could buy twenty acres of land with no money down, and a house, a barn and they would give you a mule and a cow. They would even furnish groceries through the first year. When your crop came in you could pay it back. The paper referred to it as a socialistic experiment.

Johnny Cash's brother died there after an accident in the community saw mill. Johnny went fishing on that day and his daddy never forgot it. Johnny Cash graduated from high school there in Dyess. (Guess that blows that childhood fantasy.) Johnny left Dyess to join the air force and eventually fell in love with June Carter, greatest love story told 'cept me and gawilli!

In the Rolling Stone book it says that Cash remembers it took them two days to travel the gravel roads from Kingsland to Dyess. That would be from southeast Arkansas to northeast Arkansas. They had to stop overnight by the roadside in the truck the government had sent for them. I bet that was when Johnny Cash slept in my grandma's guest room. I bet she and JW seen 'em on the side of the road and said, "Why don't ya'll come to our house over here to Rison where you'll be more comfortable."

Oh well, may be not. Knowing my family they probably just made that story up because they knew that had a gullible grandson. But if that ain't a great spin on the story you can always settle for the greatness of the tale of socialism in America. You know that dirty little thang that saved us from the Depression and the Dust Bowl that latter came to be something that would keep you from teaching school in Indiana, but that's another story!



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love to hear your stories and I usually learn something besides! Sometimes I still see that gullible little boy, but I bet there's some truth in that tale someplace. I bet there are a lot of people that don't know that there was a place, and a good place at that, for socialism in America even way back then.

9:17 PM  
Blogger daddy d said...

Stories don't have to be factual in order to be true. Johnny Cash was real so the stories about him have some element of goodness. It is nice to hear that someone knows someone that knows a person of note such J.Cash. There are connections.

7:36 PM  
Blogger Molly said...

I believe every single word, and it is more fun that way. I look forward to more true tales.

8:00 AM  

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