I recently did a concert in Sanford, NC., a small city in the geographical center of the state and a few miles from where I spent my formative teenage years and walked down the aisle to the melancholy strains of Pomp and Circumstance at Goldston High School with the twenty-one other stalwarts who made up the class of 1955 and entered a world we knew little about.
I'm sure we all had our personal ambitions and aspirations and I can only hope that each and every one of my classmates has been able to pursue his or her dream to the extent that I have.
I have spent my life, at least the last 55 years of it, doing exactly what I wanted to do. Not always on the level that I do it now; I've had my lean seasons and numerous disappointments but, with a good wife and God's help, I've been able to stay the course and bring home a regular paycheck in my chosen profession.
Since Russell Palmer taught me those first couple of chords on his old Stella guitar, all I really wanted to do was pick and sing and make people happy with music.
Back in the early fifties when I first started learning how to play, the odds of making a living as a professional musician were pretty slim. You did good to play a regular square dance on Saturday night and the occasional fiddler's convention.
But I was not to be dissuaded. I took advantage of every opportunity that came my way, working a steady day job and playing six nights a week in beer joints until the summer of 1958 when I finally cut the apron strings, quit my day job and went into the entertainment business full speed ahead.
I will be 77-years-old on October 28 of this year and I am still excited about the prospect of walking on stage with my band and entertaining a crowd of people.
When people ask me about retiring, I tell them that word is not in my vocabulary.
When I leave the concert stage, it will be because there is no other alternative and until then I intend to be rolling down the highways from coast to coast playing my music for the folks.
I know physical condition has got a lot to do with the length of my career, but I try very hard to take care of my end of that situation; the rest is up to God.
I have decided to ride this horse till he can't go no more. If I can't run, I'll walk. If I can't walk, I'll crawl, but I love my life and intend to wring out the last drop of it.
I guess seeing old friends and visiting old familiar places has made me be somewhat retrospective, a good time to count my blessings, to review the exciting and fulfilling life I've lead and am still leading, to remember good times and good friends and a period of my life when things didn't seem so serious, when my world was small and warm and safe.
It was good being among old friends this weekend and it made me realize just how much that period long ago helped formed the person I became and how I look at life.
I'll be looking forward to going back again.
America is a wonderful place. If a nearsighted, chubby, mediocre fiddle player from rural North Carolina can follow his dreams until they come true, you can, too.
Go for it.
What do you think?
Pray for our troops and the peace of Jerusalem.
God Bless America