Friday, February 10, 2012

An Old Ozark Friend . . .

A few years back, on August 8, 2008, to be precise, my old Ozark friend Tommy Sutherland sent me a photo of him at 51 -- "that really old guy is me at 51" -- with family, in-laws, and friends, which means that the photograph had been recently taken despite what the date says in the lower right hand corner. I was thinking about Tommy just the other day and recalled that I had intended to post this picture at the time he'd sent it, but I must have been busy with other topics, for I somehow neglected to follow through. I hadn't seen Tommy for about 30 years, and I was amazed to see how much he resembled his dad.

Life goes on without us, of course, but change in others reminds us of change in ourselves. Tommy tells me that after we finished high school in Salem, Arkansas (1975), with me heading off for Waco, Texas to study at Baylor University, he went on to graduate from culinary school in 1976, which I recall hearing about, and I think that was at a vocational school in Melbourne, Arkansas. He tells me that he then married a local Salem girl named Tommi Henry in June of 1977 and got serious about work, so he joined the Army National Guard in January of 1978 and went into active Army service in January of 1980. That's the same time that I left Baylor for the San Francisco area to pursue graduate studies at Berkeley.

Tommy got started a bit earlier on family than I did -- I guess I was too busy with my intellectual pursuits -- for he and Tommi had a daughter named Alisha on August 10, 1980. One year later, the family moved to Panama, and a son named Matthew was born there on December 15, 1981. The family was still in Panama three years later, for his youngest son Nathan was born there on June 19, 1984, after which the family moved back to the USA, also in 1984, and lived in Kentucky, Tennessee, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, and Alaska!

He left military service in 1987 and moved back to the Salem area for what he describes as "two loooonnng years" before moving to Fayetteville, Arkansas in January 1990, where he's been ever since. That was about the time -- I mean the latter 1980s -- that I headed for Europe, and while Tommy went on to see his family expand to include three grandchildren -- Talon, Serephyna, and Ariana -- I was meeting and marrying Sun-Ae, with whom I soon started a family, and heading for Korea.

But life isn't only about increase. There's also loss, for Tommy tells me in that email of 2008 that he and his wife had separated some years earlier and that his father had passed away, but that death must have been even more years ago, though recent enough for my brother John to perform the funeral service. Tommy "was very impressed with his sermon" and praised John as "an excellent speaker."

That brings us up to the present, with me wondering what Tommy is up to these days. I suppose he's still working as a cook around Fayetteville. I don't know if I'll get back to the Ozarks again even for a visit, but now that nearly 40 years have passed, seeing Tommy again would be great.

If not in the Ozarks, then here on this blog . . .

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At 2:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"JK to the rescue" again Jeff Ol' Pal (that "Ol'" you realize is just...)

Anyway - if you need his address I'm pretty sure I can get it to you pretty quick.

Incidentally, that comment you alerted me to? I was sure enough last weekend I took her over to Tuck and the wife's home and introduced as, "My ........" Nice visit incidentally.

One thing we - not you perzactly - needs verifying, but that's in the process. But so long as you're posting this "Old Salem stuff" there "MAY" be another. But that'll depend on how "we" think somebody else might react.

(Only reason I'm posting on your most recent is 'cause I know somebody from Tommy's area who watches for JK comments.)


At 2:50 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Well, JK, let me know when you know. I'm always glad to post Ozark material.

As for Tommy, I have his email address, and I sent him an alert, so I'll soon learn if he's happy to be online.

By the way, I do wonder if David Lynn Jones is making an album . . .

Jeffery Hodges

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At 5:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

On that last.... indications seem to be pointing, "Yes."

It is my understanding the helm was directed toward a certain guitar player whose fingers were never affected by "this or that" - as I understand it - some of that sessioning is "canned" (whatever that means). All I know is the specific guitar player is too young to be affected by the unpliability which sometimes accompanies the more mature "set in his ways" sort of guy.

Of course you and I both know, JK is not so knowledgeable where actual production times and release date stuff is concerned. We share a common friend who is more likely to be experienced with that sort of stuff. But too, we know something of "complicated."

If JK was forced to guess - JK would be tempted to reply, "Sometime pretty close to the Vernal Equinox."

Then again - one should always recall - JK is very often full of shit.

One might take a wheelbarrel load of the realiest steamiest shit to the bank - but that doesn't mean the load of shit will be accepted as collateral for the smallest galvinized bucket of cold piss.

One can hope of course - but as any PhD of The History Of Science would know - even Steven Hawking isn't sure about everything.

Especially true for an un-degreed (even an Associate's degree) holder of 164 credit hours.

Just thinking, "it'd be nice if the jonquils bloom early (or on time)" doesn't mean the jonquils won't skip a year. Or the swallows won't forget where the hell Capistrano is.


At 8:47 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, JK, you're a veritable fount of information!

Jeffery Hodges

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At 10:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Back when I was trying to start the project of finding as many email addresses of our class, Tommy was one of the few I actually connected with. He was working as a chef for a restaurant named "Mermaids" in Fayetteville at the time. You can peruse their offerings here

Sadly, my "project" did not garner much else.


At 5:08 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Jay, I think I may have been the one who gave you Tommy's email address. I didn't learn of Mermaids until two minutes before seeing your comment -- Tommy sent me an email telling me where he works.

Here's the link: Mermaids.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 9:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I must note a highlight in my memory of life in high school at Salem, and Jeff and Jay I THINK both of you were also present and may be able to corroborate this, but I have a distinct memory of a particular day in the life of Larry Brown's US Government class. Mr. Brown, who I don't think was overly enamored with teaching USG, was nonetheless diligently plugging away at reading the "McGruder's Government" textbook aloud to us as we all fought to stay alive, I mean, awake. Suddenly, with no warning whatever, Tommy sprang up next to his desk and declared in a loud and clear voice, "If God had meant for Man to wash his hair,...there'd be WATER up there!!" and sat back down like nothing had happened. We all sat there stunned like fish after a stick of dynamite in the pond, and then proceeded to come completely unglued, including as I recall, Mr. Brown. It's one of my all-time favorite moments in high school period, and so I sincerely hope it did actually happen. I hope Tommy is doing great, Fayetteville is certainly my favorite place in all of Arkansas.

At 10:11 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Pete, that's a great anecdote. I'd forgotten it, but I do clearly remember Mr. Brown -- who preferred coaching to instructing -- and his style of teaching by reading aloud.

His example was what inspired me to become a teacher . . .

Jeffery Hodges

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At 5:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


"Mr. Brown, who I don't think was overly enamored with teaching USG, was nonetheless diligently plugging away at reading the "McGruder's Government" textbook aloud to us as we all fought to stay alive, I mean, awake."


"His example was what inspired me to become a teacher..."

'Jeffery Hodges' PhD

Just curious Jeff. Do the folks who grant that tenuring stuff over in the holler you live in nowadays have access to this Gypsy blog-thingie?

If so - post their numbers (International Code essential) - JK is pretty sure the ROK's tenure awarding board will be far more impressed with this steamy stuff than FNBC will ever be.

(Don't worry - I won't be calling ahead of my arrival - I just need their office-door labels so's to do my best for you.)


At 5:26 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Everyone has access to Gypsy Scholar, JK, but I don't know any International Code, and in my particular line of work, there's no question of tenure, anyway.

Life is not fair, but I'm glad of that, or I'd be far worse off . . .

Jeffery Hodges

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At 1:25 AM, Anonymous Tom Sutherland said...

I do not recall the incident Pete related but do not deny it happening.I do remember Mr. Brown & liked him as a teacher. My anecdote from his class was the day I took a padlock off one of his lockers,requested a restroom break & used said lock to padlock Mrs Benton's French class in the room as period bell sounded. She was so furious. Was worth the punishment.

At 5:55 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Rightfully was she wrathful, for had God meant that a padlock be on that door, He'd have supplied one Himself!

Unless, of course, Tom was an instrument of God's will . . .

Jeffery Hodges

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At 12:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ha, I remember the padlocking, too. RE: the water-up-there thing, it's starting to sound like something I WANTED you to have stood up and said! ha. Hi Tommy, good to hear you're doing well in NWArk, we'll have to make it to Mermaids the next time we're in Fayetteville! (can't just go to Hugo's over and over and over...). I'm holding down the fort near Boulder CO since 1987 with wife Leigh, 14 yr old kid John, and about-to-leave-maybe-for-good 24 yr old kid James. One more original-issue kid Ben (28 I believe he is), now off in NY. See you--Pete

At 12:39 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I thought that Ben was off somewhere this semester as writer-in-residence . . .

Jeffery Hodges

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At 4:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jeff, re: Ben, yes, he's off residing at Bard College in upper-NY, in I believe Annandale (of Steely Dan song fame). Enjoying immensely (I mean jeez, what's to not enjoy...). Feverishly working on book #2, which seems to have a lot to do with 1700's Caribbean slavery.--Pete

At 5:14 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

The 18th century, eh? That's a bit early for Bruno to make an appearance . . . unless there's a time machine involved. Is there?

Jeffery Hodges

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