Home! The Final Report


Home! The Final Report

Greetings from Orangeburg. I got back home this afternoon and I can't tell you how good it feels to be back home. Nice Road trip, but I'm glad to be back.  I'm a complete day behind with my whole life, so I'll use tomorrow to catch up. I haven't even looked at the Scripture lesson for Sunday yet (I normally do that on Monday) so I have no Idea what I'll be preaching yet. Mercy!

Oh - before I forget. I got a note from someone saying he liked the pictures but they were kind of small. I forgot to mention - if you click or tap on the picture you'll see a much larger version of the picture. Now you can go back and look at them all again. :)

Let's get back to the Road Trip. Monday. 8:30 Central Time. After a good nights sleep and my morning prayers, I headed out for Greenville, SC to see my brand-new granddaughter Sarah who was born on Sunday night. Did I show you a picture?


Yeah, I know. But if this was your blog and that was your grandchild, you'd do it again too!


8:30 am. It's rush hour as I head from West St. Louis eastbound. Great way to start the morning, crawling along at 15 mph or so.


15 miles later. Still cruising at 5 to 20 mph with an occasional stop here and there. 


I said "cruising". Not cursing.

Although the idea does enter one's head occasionally...


Downtown St. Louis.

And yes, it does look this brown in real life.


Busch Stadium is right there off the main interstate.

Think quickly - when you drive out of St. Louis, Missouri and across the river, what state do you drive into?


Do you recognize it?

That's right. Illinois - The Land of Lincoln. This picture was taken about 15 miles outside the Illinois border, about 15 miles outside the St. Louis city limits. 


Somehow, I thought Illinois would look like Chicago. But most of it is farmland - like this. Notice the clouds?  It gets worse.


Welcome to Kentucky. This is about all I saw of Kentucky.


This was what the the rest of Kentucky looked like. And yes, my wipers were on full blast. Needless to say, it took a l-o-n-g time to go a fairly short distance.

And then, just before the Tennessee state line...


Somebody had an accident. So we sat. and sat.

One hour of my life that I'll never get back. Mercy.


The weather cleared a bit just before Nashville.


But not for long. Mercy!


Here we go again! 

The rain slacked up just outside Knoxville, and then started up again, finally stopping shortly after the North Carolina state line. Here's something interesting I saw while in Knoxville:


Can you make out what's on the truck?


Chickens! Real Live Chickens, being blown with 60 mph winds. I'd hate to eat the eggs from these hens!


Welcome to North Carolina. And the first dry roads Since Illinois!


Oh boy! A tunnel!




Oh, look! Another one!


The proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.

The rest of the trip to Greenville was uneventful, and yes, I was a bit tired when I pulled into my daughter's driveway.

Tuesday Morning - I slept late, then played with my grandson John for about an hour and then head to the hospital to see Baby Sarah.

That's my son-in-law Matthew. The blue haze around Sarah is to decrease her bilirubin levels. She's fine - all is well. She might get to go home on Wednesday.

After the hospital, I cranked up the car and pointed it south. Home!  Of course.... Yesterday's rains seemed to be following me.




Finally, there it is. HOME!

Thank you Lord for a safe journey.

And so ends the great Road Trip of 2016. I enjoyed having you along. See you Sunday!


Monday - Still one day behind!


Monday - Still one day behind!

Well, I spent Sunday's post catching you up on Saturday, and it looks like today's post will be about Sunday. As I write this, I'm in Greenville, spending the night at my daughter and Son-in-law's home. Elizabeth is in the hospital with baby Sarah and Matt will be spending the night with here there. Sylvia is here at their house taking care of baby John.

I'm worn out from 11.5 hours of driving. I went ahead and drove all the way from St. Louis today, and it was a messy, rainy trip for over half the drive. The rain and related stops and slowdowns for accidents added about and hour and a half to the travel time.  I'll finish up the posts tomorrow. God willing.


We had a great morning of worship at Trinity in the Fields. My sermon was about the Church, the Church's ministers, and the Church's ministry.  About noon I got a text from Deacon Mike informing me that we had 110 in attendance at Orangeburg's Redeemer. Well done! I guess I need to be away more often so that we can keep those numbers growing. :)


On the way out of Marion, it started raining. First rain I've run into on this trip.


Eastern Arkansas is flat and farmland. All the way up to Missouri.


Speaking of Missouri, Here it is. We're beginning to get some slightly rolling hills now to break the monotony.


As we get nearer St. Louis the terrain begins to look a little like Pittsburgh, with roads blasted out of hills.  And even the overcast sky of Pittsburgh is here.

Welcome to St. Louis.


This is St. Luke's hospital in West St. Louis. I visited with Bishop Salmon in his room. He's battling cancer and he is so weak he can't move. I believe he's not going to be with us too much longer. Heartbreaking as the visit was, I'm so gland I got to see him.

Strengthen your servant Edward to do what he has to do and bear what he has to bear. Good Lord, deliver him.

Well, that's all for tonight. Sylvia says it's time to go to sleep. I'll finish up tomorrow, God willing. Let me leave you with a look at Sarah Marie Jones:

Goodnight from Greenville!


Sunday - Yesterday's full report and today's surprise


Sunday - Yesterday's full report and today's surprise

Good evening from St. Louis! Yep, I'm getting farther away, not closer. I found out that Bishop Salmon is hospitalized and near the end of his life. Being this close (280 miles away) I decided to come on up.  Also, as I begin writing this tonight, I received word from Sylvia that the physicians have decided to go ahead and deliver Elizabeth's baby tonight. She'll be early, but they expect things to be just fine. I'll probably have more before this report is over.

Catch up time. Being rushed yesterday, I didn't get to give you much of a report on Saturday, so here goes. Pinckney and I spent Saturday morning teaching the leaders of Trinity in the fields. As I did mention previously, Pinckney did you proud. Having been a farmer, Pinckney just naturally related to the congregation. 

The shots above were taken from the Trinity Facebook page.  I owe you a couple more photos of the Trinity building, so here you go:


We finished up about 1:30 and Horace drove us into downtown Memphis. I wanted to visit the Stax/Volt museum on Macklemore avenue, which was the site where all the other great soul songs were recorded, if it wasn't Motown or Muscle Shoals. 

It turns out there are two bridges going into and out of Memphis. This is the new bridge, as it's called.

The view from this bridge is so much better. From this vantage point, the Mighty Mississippi looks fairly impressive.


This is the world's largest Bass Pro Shops location in the world. It was the arena where the Memphis basketball team played, but the team made them build a bigger venue.


On the way to Macklemore Avenue. One block away. This is the "bad" section of Memphis, where a whole lot of murders happen in the evening hours. Mercy.

Welcome to Stax.  Booker T. & the MG's were the house band here playing for folks like Otis Redding, Wilson Picket (Midnight Hour) Sam and Dave, Carla and Rufus Thomas, Eddie Floyd, and on and on. The Bar-Kays also backed Otis and recorded "Soul Finger" here. Issac Hayes wrote most of the songs for the Stax artists and also recorded here (remember "Shaft?")  Dusty Springfield even recorded an album here (Remember Son of a Preacherman?)

The museum is really well done. they have a lot of stage costumes and clothing from the artists as well as a lot of the original master tapes, recording gear and master tapes.

The smaller of the two tape decks was used to mix down the multi-tracks into plain two-track stereo. I recorded commercials on an identical Scully two-track when I worked at WNOK in Columbia in the early 70's.


This is Al Jackson, Jr.'s Drum kit. You might not know the name, but you know him. He was the drummer for Booker T. & the MG's (remember "Green Onions"?). He was also Al Green's drummer. The drum kit at which you are looking was used on every Al Green song. Next time you hear one of his song's listen to the drumming. Al Jackson, Jr.  was one of the best in the business.


This is Booker T. Jones' Hammond organ that was used on Green Onions and after that on just about every Stax record that Booker T. and the MG's played on in the 60's.


This is Issac Hayes' gangsta ride from the days when he wrote and sang "Shaft." It has fur for carpeting an a 5-inch black & white television. State-of-the-art in 1972.


Speaking of Al Green, Here's his yellow leather outfit he wore while singing in concerts. Oh my.

Al Green still lives in Memphis, and these days, he serves God as a preacher. No kidding.


From the Stax museum, we went to the heart of downtown, but first we drove by the famous Sun Studio where Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash first recorded.

Next, we went to the world famous Peabody Hotel. The home of the Peabody ducks. If you don't know the story behind the Peabody ducks, Click or Tap on THIS LINK and read about them. There's also some great pictures there. Better than mine :)

Here's my shots...

After we left the Peabody we walked over to Beale Street - the home of the blues. Two blocks of bars.


In-between two buildings a local band set up shop, playing for whomever passed by. As we passed by, they were singing "Le Chic"


The guitar player saw me taking their picture (I was at least 250 feet away) and he waved for the camera.

We capped off the afternoon with an early supper at the Majestic, a restaurant located in what was one of the great old movie theaters of the 30's and 40's. Great food!

One more shot of the Mississippi, taken on the way back to Marion.


This is rice. It turns out that Arkansas produces more rice than anywhere else in the United States.

And that was it for Saturday.  It's getting very late, and I'll do Sunday for you tomorrow as well as Monday.

Monday, I'm going to try to drive to Greenville, South Carolina. Elizabeth just had her baby! Say hello to baby Sarah and her happy parents!

So goodnight from St. Louis. And thank you Lord, for a really great weekend and a safe delivery. 

See you tomorrow!










Saturday - To be continued...


Saturday - To be continued...

It was a wonderful day today. That you for praying! I believe we made quite an impact with our teaching. Pinckney hit the ball out of the park today - he was brilliant.

I humbly apologize, but I've got a sermon to finish tonight and I can only post a few pictures. God willing, I'll make it up to you tomorrow with the compete story behind today and a whole bunch of pictures. Tune in tomorrow evening or Monday morning.

Have a great day at church. Pray for my preaching!  See you back here tomorrow. Blessings!



Friday - Marion, Arkansas


Friday - Marion, Arkansas

Thank you for your prayers! Tonight's meeting with the leadership of Trinity in the Fields went so well! I could feel your presence, and let me tell you - Pinckney made ya'll proud tonight. Were your ears burning? He was bragging on you. (Of course, I was too.)

This will be an abbreviated version of our Road-Trip Report, because I have more to prepare for tomorrow's presentation in the morning.


Woke up before my alarm, said my morning prayers, packed up and headed up the road to Memphis. Looked like it might rain. It did but only for a brief while.    I took Highway 72 - 4 lane all the way. reminded me a lot of 301, especially as it went through some of the smaller and more forgotten towns in Mississippi.  


What does it look like as you cross the Mississippi river from Tennessee to Arkansas?


I'm serious - you can't see the water. I couldn't begin to tell you how big the river is. I don't know! The bridge was reminiscent of the old Cooper River bridge - the old one.  

Welcome to Marion Arkansas - 10 miles from Downtown Memphis. It's mostly farmland everywhere you look. Beautiful land - flat as a pancake - not a hill to be found anywhere.

Horace took us to his family farm for lunch with his brothers who still farm the land. They have about three thousand acres on the island that was know as devil's elbow before the Mississippi shifted in the 1800's. (See Huckleberry Finn) It's now called Centennial Island. It's been in his family since the 1830's.  I am not exaggerating when I say it is crops as far as the eye can see.


Here's Horace's brothers - John and Charles. The younger man is John's son. They farm the family land.


Here's the Trinity in the Fields church building. It really is a beautiful.  I'll show you a lot more tomorrow.

Have a great Saturday.  I'll try to have you a report before 10:00 your time. Goodnight from Marion!


Thursday - Muscle Shoals!


Thursday - Muscle Shoals!

7:09 - Greeted the day with my daily opener - "Good morning, Lord. Where are we going today?" I've been awakening with those words for decades now. The Bishop says a better way to say it would be, "Where are You going today, Lord - may I come, too?"   He has a point, but the Lord knows what I mean.


9:00 - The car's all packed and here we go - off to Muscle Shoals, Alabama, the first stop on this trip to Marion, Arkansas.   I went the back way through North, then Wagner, to I-20.


Crossing the Savannah River into Georgia, reminded me of Sylvia's famous statement to me: "We can live anywhere you like John, as long as it's east of the Savannah River!" 



12:10 - I see that it takes three hours and a few minutes to make it to Atlanta from Orangeburg. 

Seems to be a lot broken-down trucks on the road today. I've seen four on the side of the road so far. And something interesting. Every time another 18-wheeler in the right lane passes by an 18-wheeler on the side of the road stopped for repairs, they automatically move over to the left-hand lane (whether you are there or not) as they pass by - even though there's plenty of room in the right-hand lane. And they don't move over for cars stopped on the side - they seem to only move over for other trucks. Must be a trucker ritual, paying their respects to a fallen comrade. Who knows?


Next up, Birmingham.  It may be just me, but the skyline from I-20 looks a lot like the skyline of Indianapolis, and also a bit like Richmond Virginia. (Like I said, it may be just me.)

Heading north now - about a hour till I get to Muscle Shoals. This is rural Alabama - Farming country. - And it's absolutely gorgeous!


Welcome to Muscle Shoals. Left at 9:00, got here at 3:15. Well, 3:15 Central Time. 


There's the reason I came - Fame Studios.  They have a tour this afternoon at 4:00, and I'm going.


 I also stopped by the other famous recording studio in town - This is the place the Rolling Stones recorded "Brown Sugar" and where Lynard Skynard recorded "Sweet Home Alabama"  and where Paul Simon recorded "Loves me like a Rock."

But this place is the whole reason I came - Welcome to Fame Studios. Home of Rick Hall and the original Muscle Shoals Swampers.


This is the place where Wilson Picket recorded all of his hits except Midnight Hour. (That was done in Memphis.) This is where Clarence Carter recorded all his songs. This is where Joe Tex recorded his hits. The Staple Singers recorded all their hits here. This is where Aretha Franklin recorded "Chain of Fools" and "Baby I Love You" and "I've Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You." Oh I'm just getting started. This is where James and Bobby Purify recorded. The Commodores recorded here. "What Kind of Fool Do you Think I am" by the Tams was recorded here.  Mac Davis recorded his 1970's hits here. The Osmonds (remember "One Bad Apple?) recorded all their hits here along with All of Donny Osmond's hits. And Marie's.


And this one really blew me away - Paul Anka recorded "You're having my Baby" right here at Fame.  Mercy!


This is the main recording board. 32 inputs. 

This is a friendly town! Everybody you walk past says "Hi!"  I really like this little town. Reminds me of home. (Orangeburg.)

So that's the first day. Tomorrow, it's on to Marion for the our first of two days with Horace and the fine folks at Trinity In the Fields.  Thank you for your prayers, and pray tomorrow.  Pinckney and I make our first presentation to them tomorrow about 7:00pm (6:00, your time.).  Talk to you tomorrow!




Wednesday (6/22/16) - What's this all about?


Wednesday (6/22/16) - What's this all about?


Pinckney Thompson and I are taking the Redeemer’s show on the road this weekend, June 24th-26th. We’re heading to Marion, Arkansas which is just across the Mississippi from Memphis.

Pinckney’s long-time friend Horace Tipton is the rector of Trinity in the Fields in Marion and he’s asked us to come up and pass along some of the ways we’ve learned to revitalize and grow a church. We’ll be there from Friday night through Sunday, and we’d love to have your prayers.

I’m taking a camera, and the idea will be to update you right here, every evening. Each post should be ready by 10 pm, and I may be posting a couple of times a day.  Oh - If 10:00 is past your bedtime, then check it in the morning.  ;)

Here's a picture of the Rev. Horace Tipton:


He's a really great guy. He's personable and loves the Lord. Horace and his family just got back from spending close to a decade as a missionary in Africa. He grew up farming (like Pinckney) and he spent his missionary time helping his people cultivate the land and grow good crops.

Here's a nice shot of the front of his church building in Marion, Arkansas.

Pinckney and I will be sharing the leadership principles we've initiated here at Orangeburg's Redeemer and our hope is to encourage and inspire Trinity in the Fields with the good news we've found. We'll have three sessions with the church - Friday evening, Saturday morning and a brief time after lunch on Saturday. I'll also be the preacher on Sunday morning. I'll try to record the sermon for you. 

The Road Trip

As I mentioned in the newsletter, Pinckney will be flying, (he'll arrive in Memphis Friday morning) but I’m going to be making a road trip out of event. I’m driving - leaving tomorrow (Thursday morning).  Since I'm going to a town that's famous for music (Elvis Presley, Stax-Volt Records, Al Green, Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, Eddie Floyd, Booker T & the MG's, King Curtis, Carla Thomas, etc (the kind of stuff you love me to play when I DJ for you), I thought I'd check in on some of the music sites while I'm there.  I also decided to stop for the first night in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.  You know Muscle Shoals?  

Click on the Picture.

Click on the Picture.

I'll send you some pictures when I get there.

That's all for right now. Again, do keep us in your prayers. See you tomorrow!