Free Press Archives
BEING BORING IS UNFORGIVABLE
John Day asked me to write a column on some
colorful characters I have known, not "cookie cutter people."
I have often said, "I am a collector of interesting people." Not only do
I seek them out, they seem to be drawn to me.
One time a songwriter asked if he could pitch my songs in Nashville. He
had just come off a huge hit by Eddy Arnold so I agreed to give him half
credit on any songs he got recorded. A few months later a friend
notified me that Eddy selected one of my songs for his next session. I
called RCA and discovered my name was not on the song. The guy with whom
I had made a deal was going to steal it.
In retrospect I should have let Eddy record it and then make my case for
authorship. I had plenty of proof that I wrote the song. I had even
recorded it myself for a small independent Nashville label. Not thinking
well, I called RCA and the song was dropped from the session.
Later, the would-be song thief needed a very substantial favor from me
and I bestowed it. A friend who knew the whole "stolen song caper"
asked, "Why would you do a favor for a crook like that?" I answered,
"Because he is interesting. The only unforgivable fault a person can
have is to be boring."
I saw some buried good in the man and sure enough, later on he did me a
In my bookazine Long John Cardinal and the Best of Dalton Roberts I
wrote about evangelists P.E. Kirkendall and Wilson Douglas - two of the
most colorful preachers I have ever known. Kirk rattled chains and
Wilson ran the backs of pews but you would never go to sleep on them.
In one revival Kirk preached on "Whatsoever you do, do all to the glory
of God." He said, "This morning I was tiptoeing around the house to keep
from waking anyone up and I decided to tiptoe for Jesus. You must try
it." At this point he tiptoed all the way across the front of the church
and back. He had a double-jointed way of walking and it was hilarious to
A little shy man who carried that rabbit-looking-at-a-shotgun expression
on his face at all times was sitting in the second pew. Kirk walked over
to him and took him by the hand saying, "Come on brother, let's tiptoe
for Jesus." The man begged, "Oh no, Brother Kirkendall!" but Kirk pulled
him out and they tiptoed across the front of the church several times.
Some of the saints were horrified but many shared my great glee at the
incident and the lesson he taught.
Cecil Null of "I Forgot More Than You'll Ever Know" fame and possibly
the world's greatest autoharp player got Nat Stuckey to record my "Don't
Pay the Ransom" but I loved him long before he did anything for me. He
and wife Annette booked as "The Wildwood Angels." When I was county
manager he dropped by my office for a surprise visit and decided to use
my phone. County Judge Don Moore was not exactly Mr. Hilarity and he
dropped by my office and found Cecil with both big cowboy boots on my
desk, talking on my phone.
Moore sternly asked, "Who are you?" and Cecil got up and shook his hand
answering, "Sir, I am the Wildwood Angel, Cecil Null. Such a pleasure to
make your acquaintance."
Cecil sits proudly in my Hall of Fame of Colorful Characters along with
LaMance Dorgan who once got us a free beer by standing on a bar on one
foot and touching the ceiling with the other.
John Day, I would have to write a big book to cover all my colorful
characters. And I would enjoy every second of writing it.