Monday, January 26, 2009

January 26, 1952

57 years ago today at about this time of the day I was born. I had no idea what a wonderful family I had joined. A Mother and Father that taught me right from wrong, two sisters, Kathy and Vicki, that were wonderful and a neice, Cristen Hamm and two nephews, Brikk and Gage Bennett to come. Its been a great life.

Doug Hutchens 2009

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A Lesson that has lasted a lifetime

In 1959 I was 7 years old.
In those years during tobacco planting time, kids would “carry water”. This was in the days before the tractor drawn equipment, when a hand planter, some called it a setter was used. It was fabricated from sheet metal and had a reservoir that would hold about 2 1/2 or 3 gallons of water with a cylindrical tube where the plants would be “dropped”. The bottom of the planter would be set on the ground then pushed into the ridge we call the ‘list’ where the fertilizer had been put. When the trigger was pulled on the handle, the bottom of the planter would open like a
fish’s mouth and release a predetermined amount of water with the plant.

Our family ran a little country store and there was an older gentleman who lived just up the road , Mr. Jess Knight.
When he came by the store on Sunday He ask me if I would carry water for them the next afternoon when I got in from school, he said he would give me twenty five cents an hour. When I got home that day one of my cousins got off the bus with me and we ran to ask Mr. Jess if he could use both of us. He said that he could.
On the back of the farm trailer he had three or four 55 gallon barrels filled with water. We would fill up our buckets and carry them across the field and pour them in the planters as they needed it, it took a bucket to completely refill the planter. I would pour my water in the planter and immediately go back and get another in order to have it there when Mr. Jess and his wife Miss Mag would run out. After a few trips I had it timed pretty good. Those buckets filled with water would probably weigh about 20 to 25 pounds and walking through the plowed land being off balance with the bucket was a little tough.
Mr. Jess was swapping work with his brother Hamp and his wife (Practically all who planted tobacco swapped work with another family to save money in those days) my cousin was to carry water to them. Several times he would get back and fill up his bucket then “bat rocks” (in those days all kids batted rocks, Just get a stick and pitch a small rock up in the air and hit it like you would a baseball. (I probably batted at least 25 dump truck loads while I was waiting for the school bus) Hamp would have to call him to bring water. I kept Mr. Jess and Miss Mag supplied.
We worked for 3 hours that afternoon and when we finished Mr. Jess called us over to “settle up”. As he reached into his pocket he called my cousin by name and said now I am going to give you what I told you I would, but I’m disappointed that Hamp had to stop and call for you several times; then he gave him 3 quarters. Then he said “Now Doug, I’m going to give you the seventy five cents I promised but I’m going to give you a bonus because we never had to call you once and you even filled Hamp's planter two or three times, you were there every time we looked around. He promptly pulled his billfold from his bibbed overalls breast pocket and gave me a clean crisp dollar bill.
That dollar bill was only a quarter more, but to have folding money, that felt like a lot more. Then he said “let this be a lesson to you boys“.
This was a wonderful early lessons that has served me each day of my life and I have Mr. Jess Knight to thank for it.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Committing ideas to a readable form instead of being stored in my head, heart and soul.


Clarence Hall, Mike Longworth and Marion Hall at Martin Factory in 1977.
I have been asked many times the past several years “do you have this stuff written down”?
Well some things happened January 10th 2009 in Maryville, Tennessee that showed me that I should be getting my house in order, including writing some things down.
In January 2003 I lost a wonderful friend Mike Longworth.

I first met Mike Longworth in Bean Blossom Indiana in the June of 1970. He and Ken Cagle a Martin Sales Rep were at Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Festival.

In talking to them, they were not in an official capacity from Martin Guitars in any way, but on vacation.
When it was made known that two guys from the Martin Guitar Company were on the grounds they became very, very popular. Mike had been well known for years for his pearl inlay capabilities that allowed guitar enthusiast to own a re-creation of a model that Martin Guitars did not offer at the time, the D45. He had worked as a part time craftsman for years before Martin hired him to come to the factory in Nazareth Pa to inlay and oversee the production of the D45 reintroduction in the late 1960’s.

Anyway, Clarence Hall my longtime friend, and banjo building partner happened to be at Bean Blossom as well. It was something!! Ken and Mike talked, talked, and talked, they were treated by the guitar players and collectors as royalty.
After Clarence and I returned home Clarence suggested that we write the president of Martin Guitars and thank them for sending Mike and Ken to Bean Blossom; knowing full well the guys were on their vacation. We sent the letters and didn’t think anymore about it until the first week in August that year. I was standing in front of the Liberty Banjo booth at the Galax Old Time Fiddlers Convention where I had traded Bob Flesher a National Metal bodied guitar for a banjo resonator that they had built and was trying to decide which one to take. Mike walked up tapped me on the shoulder and I ask him which of the purfling was more Gibson like. He pointed to one and that is the one I chose. Mike said that he wanted to thank me for writing the company and he was looking for Clarence who came by in a few minutes. He said that when he got back to Nazareth that some of the guys in the front office had kidded him about what he called “The Glory Letters”. He didn’t know what they were talking about for a few days and finally ask one of the secretaries about them. She got the letters from the file and let him read them. He said that Mr. Martin had ask him about possibly attending some additional events around the country as an Official Martin Representative and the Galax trip was his first one. Over the next several years Martins promotion “Meet Mike” graced the back cover of some of the Blue Grass periodicals like Blue Grass Unlimited. Little did I know that about 18 years later I would have a similar job with the Gibson Guitar Company, Not the flair of Full Page back covers, but I spent a couple of years doing a very similar thing.
Mike and I became great friends; for the summer of 1971 I worked the road as bass player with Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys and Mike was at many, many of the events we performed at.
In the late 1970’s he called me while I was living in Kentucky and working at Alice Lloyd College asking if I would be interested in becoming an authorized Martin Guitar Repairman. He said that they had a huge number of instruments in the region with no repairman to service them. I had no idea of the honor that was until I talked to some well respected repairmen and hear what they had to go through to become authorized, and mine was a simple as a call from Mike. I used to kid the guys at Gibson about being only Authorized Martin Repairman working for Gibson.

This past Saturday I was at an event called the Banjothon in Maryville, Tennessee and on Saturday evening as the event was closing a friend, Wayne Holcombe brought in a box that he said that Paul Hopkins another friend, had said for him to take care of. This box was one of those boxes that we all have stashed back in the closet, up on the shelf and under the benches of the areas where we squirrel things away. He had some case covers and asked if I would be interested in one of them. I thought they were tenor case covers and had little interest except for the fact that they had belonged to my friend Mike. After getting back to the hotel room I realized that the cover was not for a tenor but a 5 string and I began to get a feeling that this was just something that was supposed to be…..The last time I spoke to Mike was a few months before his passing he was somewhat rushed as he said he had to go because they had just taken the last box of his stuff out to the truck to be put into storage and they were waiting for him to come out, and this would be the last time I would be able to reach him there as he was moving into an assisted living facility. He was to contact me soon about a new phone number soon…I did not know how sick Mike was….he never did.
The longer I live, the more I feel that we are not alone on this earth. As Buckminster Fuller once said “Sometimes I think we're alone. Sometimes I think we're not. In either case, the thought is staggering“.
I feel that I have been shown some things and now its my time to follow….
I guess what scares me the most about this undertaking is that after all my remembrances are no longer stored in my body, someone will find what is left of me; a few bones in a bag of skin, for who I am is not of my making. Many, many wonderful people have a lot of time, effort and friendship invested in who I am, and after all my thoughts, feelings and words are released, there might be very little left.
Its been a wonderful trip so far, and I’m going to share if for anyone who wishes to read it.
January 16, 2009 334 b1