Clise’s Cornucopia- Tidbits and West Virginia


he West Virginia Strawberry Festival is just around the corner.  Soon our town will be full of guests visiting from far and near.

The Strawberry Festival has been a tradition since 1936 in Buckhannon and Upshur County. It continues to grow and thrive each year.

I remember attending it as a kid back in the 1970s. It was always such an exciting time. I was a kid, but it seemed like there were a million people here. I guess that’s just the perspective of 10 year-old in 1976.

I think I’ve always enjoyed the parades the most. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of fun and exciting events to attend during the festival. I like them all. The parades just seem to strike a chord with me.

Hopefully the weather will be good, and the attendance will be high this year. I always say when it comes to fairs and festivals… the more the merrier.

The Easter Bunny must be an avid reader of The Record Delta because sure enough he brought me everything I wrote about last week including fishing lures.

There are a lot of upcoming events coming besides the Strawberry Festival.

The Buckhannon-Upshur Christmas Store is ready to celebrate with its annual elimination dinner set for tomorrow, Sat., April 27, from 5 to 7 p.m. and probably longer when you factor in dancing and all of the fun that goes along with helping out the community.

The evening will offer entertainment to all in attendance with live music from the Soda Pop Gypsies. Social hour is from 5 to 6 p.m.  Dinner begins at 6 p.m.

The Upshur County Farm Bureau has set its annual farm-city dinner for Mon., April 29 at 6:30 p.m. at Chapel Hill United Methodist Church. That should be another fun time to talk shop and learn more about farming in the state and in Upshur County.

I’m working on my list of my favorite West Virginians. People actually born in West Virginia. I’m a stickler on that point, being a native West Virginian myself.

Right now, I’m just compiling a list of possibilities, but I think this guy will make the finals list.

James Cecil Dickens (December 19, 1920 – January 2, 2015), better known by his stage name, Little Jimmy Dickens, was an American country music singer and songwriter famous for his humorous novelty songs, his small size (4’11” [150 cm]), and his rhinestone-studded outfits (which he is given credit for introducing into country music live performances). He started as a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 1948 and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1983. Before his death he was the oldest living member of the Grand Ole Opry.

Dickens was born in Bolt, West Virginia. He began his musical career in the late 1930s, performing on radio station WJLS in Beckley, West Virginia, while attending West Virginia University. He soon quit school to pursue a full-time music career, traveling the country performing on local radio stations under the name “Jimmy the Kid.”

In 1950, Dickens formed the Country Boys with musicians Jabbo Arrington, Grady Martin, Bob Moore, and Thumbs Carllile. It was during this time that he discovered future Country Music Hall of Famer Marty Robbins at a Phoenix, Arizona television station while on tour with the Grand Ole Opry road show. In 1957, Dickens left the Grand Ole Opry to tour with the Philip Morris Country Music Show.

In 1962, Dickens had his first top-10 country hit since 1954 with “The Violet and the Rose”.

In 1964, he became the first country artist to circle the globe while on tour. He also made numerous appearances on television, including on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. In 1965, he released his biggest hit, “May the Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose”, which reached number 1 on the country chart and number 15 on the pop chart.

Harold Franklin Hawkins (December 22, 1921 – March 5, 1963), better known as Hawkshaw Hawkins, was an American country music singer popular from the 1950s into the early 1960s known for his rich, smooth vocals and music drawn from blues, boogie and honky tonk. At 6 ft 5 inches tall, he had an imposing stage presence, and he dressed more conservatively than some other male country singers. Hawkins died in the 1963 plane crash that also killed country stars Patsy Cline and Cowboy Copas. He was a member of the Grand Ole Opry and was married to country star Jean Shepard.

Woodrow Wilson “Red” Sovine (July 7, 1917 – April 4, 1980) was an American country music singer and songwriter associated with truck driving songs, particularly those recited as narratives, but set to music. The most noted examples are his 1965 number one hit “Giddyup Go” and his 1976 number one hit “Teddy Bear”.

Sovine was born as Woodrow Wilson Sovine in 1917 in Charleston, West Virginia, earning the nickname “Red” because of his reddish-brown hair. He had two brothers and two sisters. Sovine (whose last name was pronounced So VINE) was taught to play guitar by his mother. His first venture into music was with his childhood friend Johnnie Bailes, with whom he performed as “Smiley and Red, the Singing Sailors” in the country music revue Jim Pike’s Carolina Tar Heels on WWVA-AM in Wheeling, West Virginia. Faced with limited success, Bailes left to perform as part of The Bailes Brothers. Sovine got married, and continued to sing on Charleston radio, while holding down a job as a supervisor of a hosiery factory. With the encouragement of Bailes, Sovine formed The Echo Valley Boys.

After a year of performing in West Virginia, Sovine moved to Shreveport, Louisiana, where the Bailes Brothers were performing on KWKH-AM. Sovine’s own early morning show wasn’t very popular, but he gained greater exposure performing on the famed KWKH radio program, Louisiana Hayride. One of his co-stars was Hank Williams, who steered Sovine toward a better time slot at WSFA in Montgomery, Alabama, and toward a contract with MGM Records in 1949. That same year, Sovine replaced Williams on Louisiana Hayride when Williams jumped to the Grand Ole Opry. Over the next four years he recorded 28 singles, mostly following in Williams’ honky tonk footsteps, that didn’t make much of a dent on the charts but did establish him as a solid performer.

That’s just a start. If you’d like to share some of your favorite West Virginians with me, send me an email to [email protected]

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