Chattanooga’s Live Music Scene – The Old Guys, Me, Ray Price, The Greatest Honor

Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - by Bob Payne
Bob Payne
Bob Payne
- photo by Rick Bonner

Most mornings, I go to Wally’s Restaurant in East Ridge and have breakfast. I usually sit by myself, minding my own business and enjoying the most important meal of the day. The auburn-haired beauty Tina, or her pretty mom Janice always make sure customers get the very best service at Wally’s. That’s two generations that work at Wally’s, and Tina’s daughter-in-law works there from time to time, too. That makes three generations.

For quite some time, I noticed a table of older gentlemen, but never paid them much attention, except maybe to chuckle at something funny they might say. One day, out of the blue, one of the guys asked if I would like to join their group. It sounded like fun, so over to their table I went. When I say they are older gentlemen, for the most part they are way older than practically anyone else. I would guess their average age to be around 85. Some are older, and some are a tad younger. There is Jack, and Wes, and Ed, and Ray, and John, and Rick, and a few others from time to time. Most are WWII veterans, and a few are even Freemasons, like myself. I was honored to be sitting with them on that day, but my life has been enriched even more, as I now spend most mornings with these guys at breakfast.

This is America’s greatest generation. I didn’t give that name to folks from this time period – lots of people more important than I did that long before I just wrote it a few minutes ago. My Dad, who would have been 101 years old this year was a part of that generation. My Uncle Bob, a veteran of three wars – WWII, Korea, and Vietnam was from this generation. He used to say that he was born at precisely the wrong time to be eligible to fight in three different wars.

My new friend Jack was in the U.S. Navy. He spent two years on a 200’ flat bottom ship that carried armored equipment and personnel. These were kind of like the ones you see in movies at the Normandy Invasion, where the fronts open up and out come jeeps and tanks and such. Two years – that is how long Jack was on that boat, without getting off. He went to Okinawa on one, by way of the Panama Canal to get there, too.

At 19, Wes was on a ship from America to Europe with 10,000 other service members. I just spent 11 days on a luxury cruise ship and to be honest it got a tad old after a week or so. Wes spent weeks on one, crossing the rough Atlantic Ocean, eating practically nothing but hard-boiled eggs. He remembers crossing near the point where the Titanic went down 30 years prior to his voyage.

Ray pulled up a picture of himself on the internet – it was from WWII and showed a baseball team of servicemen, including Ray. Ray loves baseball and even has a grandson that plays Major League ball. The apple really doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Remember, the 50th anniversary of WWII was 20 years ago. There aren't many WWII vets still around, but there is a whole table full right there at Wally's in East Ridge every morning, and I have the privilege to sit with them. Some days, I have aches and pains that come with getting older, but I look forward to seeing these gentlemen every day. At 80-92 years of age, they manage to get themselves there without complaining, so I can too. They have some great stories to tell. I can tell you this - there is no better honor for me than being in their company.

Since this is the music column, I will add that one of them said he would like to see Ray Price at Riverbend. I will sure pass that on.

For local music info, try www.chattanoogaentertainers.com or www.chattanooganightscope.com. They both have great local music info and schedules. For local info on Country music, try Jim Boles’ site www.chattacountry.ning.com.

Email Bob Payne at davrik2000@yahoo.com or catch him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/davrik2000 .


Auditions Are April 26,27 For Midsummer Night’s Dream

Auditions for the Shakespeare Chattanooga’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream will be held Saturday and Sunday, April 26 and 27, at the Ripple Theater in Brainerd. This show will officially reopen the Ripple space, dark for nearly four years, and kick off the partnership between Shakespeare Chattanooga and Ripple Productions. Performances will be June 20-22 and 27-29 and ... (click for more)

Lee Has Masterworks Concert April 25

The Lee University Choral Union and Symphony Orchestra will present a concert of masterworks on Friday, April 25, at 7:30 p.m. in the Conn Center.    The program will feature Haydn's “Missa in Angustiis,” Beethoven's “Choral Fantasy,” as well as a selection of choruses from Handel's “Messiah.” This performance will be conducted by Dr. Cameron F. LaBarr, assistant ... (click for more)

Man Shot On Cannon Avenue Early Saturday Morning

A man was shot early Saturday morning on Cannon Avenue. At approximately 5:30 a.m., Chattanooga Police responded to 2300 Cannon Ave. for shots fired.  Shortly after receiving the call, officers learned that a victim arrived at a local hospital.  The victim suffered a gunshot wound to the right leg and is undergoing treatment. The injury is not considered to be life-threatening.  ... (click for more)

Child Playing With Cigarette Lighter Starts $25,000 Mobile Home Fire

A child playing with a cigarette lighter started a mobile home fire on Saturday morning. At 9 a.m., the Chattanooga Fire Department responded to a mobile home fire at 6561 Cassie Lane. It took four fire companies about 10 minutes to get the fire under control. The fire was contained to one bedroom. No injuries were reported. Damage to the home is around $25,000. (click for more)

When The City Was Silent

I don't know how to say this without getting my head handed back to me on a platter as is often the usual case. But at least I no longer receive the hateful (even threatening) emails and insults I became accustomed to. So I'll just bite and say it: I honestly don't see anything expressed by the NSM that hasn't been said locally on some level at one time or another, and ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: A Nudge By Angel Kilbride

Way above us, high in the heavens, a handsome angel everybody calls Ben yelled to Saint Peter on Thursday and told him, “Better send me a couple of rubies and maybe an amethyst … Dad’s crown just got bigger.” To you such a scenario may sound silly and foolish but Bill Kilbride, a dynamic genius who has just been named as president-elect of Chattanooga’s Chamber of Commerce, knows ... (click for more)