Sunday, August 29, 2010

Hank Snow's Rainbow Ranch Dressing

Hello my little buckaroos! How's tricks? I hope that you've all been whooping it up!

It's that time again - time to showcase the home of a legend. This time up, we're off to see the late, great Hank Snow's home. Here's Hank!

Undoubtedly fabulous! After finding fame, Hank joined in with some of the other great stars of the time in wearing beautiful handmade suits, most of them by the famous tailor, Nudie. I'm going to put some of those photos here because I'm bursting to show them.



Well, hello!

Okay, that's the "dressing" part of Ranch Dressing. Thanks for letting me get that out of the way. I'm pretty sure that those would be what you kids these days call "bling".

And I'd like to dedicate this post to my "son", Shane (the illegal adoption is pending) who inspired me to do Hank's home next in the series after seeing that he was spinning one of Mr. Snow's albums. That boy does me proud. You can click on the link to his website "Retrophile Diaries" over in my blog roll and follow it to not one but three of his awesome sites. Y'all visit!

Now on to this week's topic. I've had a sweet spot in my heart for Hank Snow for a long, long time and strangely enough, his grave is close to the Kitschderosa. Mister Kitsch and I were visiting the cemetery one day when all of a sudden, we came across Hank's grave. That's Nashville for you.

If you're unfamiliar with the late Mr. Snow, here's a little back story: He was born in 1914 in Brooklyn, Nova Scotia, Canada. At just eight years old, his parents divorced and Hank was sent to live with his grandparents. Even though his grandmother was abusive and forbid him from seeing his mother, Hank often sneaked out at night and walked the railroad tracks to visit her. Afraid of the beating that he would take for visiting his mother, Hank often slept in the railway station. At the age of 12, he ran away from an abusive stepfather and joined a fishing boat as a cabin boy. Wow, that part sounds like something out of a novel!

At age fourteen, he took his first earnings and bought his first guitar from the Eaton's mail order catalog for $5.95 and taught himself to play. He was a huge fan of Jimmie Rodgers and copied his style until he found his own voice. He played his first show in a church basement at the age of 16. He then sang at local bars, radio stations and picnics and in 1933, he got his own radio show and changed his name to "Hank, The Yodeling Ranger" because it sounded more Western. (I'll say!)

In 1935, he was married to his wife Minnie and soon had a son, who he named after his idol, the aforementioned Jimmie Rodgers. This Thursday would have been Hank and Minnie's 75th wedding anniversary.

A successful appearance on a local radio station led to Snow's audition with RCA Victor and in 1936, he signed with the label. A weekly CBC radio show brought him national recognition, and he began touring Canada until the late 1940s when American country music stations began playing his records. Along the way, he changed his name to "Hank, The Singing Ranger" as his voice was becoming more baritone with age.

He was included in an American tour throughout the early 1940s and then moved to Nashville, Tennessee in 1945 and was invited by Ernest Tubb to play at the Grand Ole Opry in 1950. Hot dog! What an honor! His first few appearances received lukewarm appreciation, until he wrote and recorded the song "I'm Movin' On" which became the top country song of that year and stayed at the top for 22 weeks, setting the all-time record for the most weeks at number one.

This success enabled him to buy his family's first home and property which he called "The Rainbow Ranch" in Madison, Tennessee. This was the only home that he ever owned. Reportedly, he referred to a place called "The Rainbow Ranch" for years before he ever bought the home.

Here he is with his beautiful trick horse, Shawnee at the home. At one point, Hank did shows with Shawnee where he'd showcase the horse's tricks and daredevil stunts. He also briefly tried to forge a movie career but never found success in that area. When I went out to photograph the house, I could barely see from the road that the barn is still painted just like this. I love that.

He followed that hit with "Don't Hurt Anymore" which remained at the top of the charts for almost the same period. Other number one hits included "Fool Such As I", "The Rhumba Boogie", "I've Been Everywhere" and "Hello Love."

He became a regular at the Grand Ole Opry, and in 1954 Snow persuaded the directors to allow a young Elvis Presley to appear on stage. Hank used Presley as his opening act and introduced him to Colonel Tom Parker.

Here's a shot of Hank with Elvis.

And here is a show bill showing Hank as the top act and look down there at the bottom...Elvis! You'll also notice Hank's son listed below Elvis. For a while, he launched a music career as well.

In August 1955, Snow and Parker formed the management team, Hank Snow Attractions. This partnership signed a management contract with Presley but before long, Snow was out and Parker had full control over the rock singer's career. By all reports, Hank was ousted in some pretty dirty dealings by Parker. We all know how that career worked out for Elvis!

During the late '60s, Snow's career slowed down - reportedly because he wasn't able to make the transition to the new, heavily orchestrated country-pop sounds. His singles placed in the lower edges of the charts, but his Grand Ole Opry appearances continued to be popular. In 1974 he scored another number one hit called "Hello Love" at the age of sixty-one, and holds the record for being the oldest country performer ever to have a number one hit.

Snow then had two other top 10 hits before 1981 when RCA dropped him after a 45-year relationship. Snow was very upset with the label's treatment of him, and reportedly with the direction that country music was taking. He claimed that "eighty percent of today's country music is a joke and not fit to listen to." He was also quite angry that "country's roots are being diluted by pop and rock production values." (Just when I thought that I couldn't love him more..)

He never recorded again. All in all, Snow had a career covering six decades during which he recorded over 100 LPs, sold more than 80 million albums and had 40 songs in the country music Top 10. He remained as a regular on the Grand Ole Opry for 46 years. He also operated a music school in Nashville, a publishing house in New York and owned two radio stations. Due to his sad childhood, he established the Hank Snow International Foundation For Prevention Of Child Abuse.

Now on to the "ranch" part of ranch dressing! Here is a photo of his home as it appears today. A little bit ranch and a little bit bungalow.

It's a little worse for the wear but I bet that it was pretty sweet in it's heyday. You can see the original striped, metal awnings over the windows.

The home still has the arbor intact.

From this angle, you can see the old signal light. Hank did many railroad songs and along with his other nicknames was called "The Railroad Man". You can also see the old stone walls and carriage lighting

Those window bars are pretty popular around here so I'm not certain if those are original or put on later. I do wish that I could see this house in all of it's glory and without them though!

Though the home is close to the street, you can see from the aeriel view, that the property is quite large and has a pool. I bet this place was really something back in the day!

Hank lived out his life at his Rainbow Ranch home and passed away there on December 20th, 1999 at the age of 85. His wife, Minnie lived there until her death four years later. His gravestone is engraved with a take on his famous song title which is very fitting:

And I'll leave you with Hank in 1967 wearing one of his beautiful suits, performing that song with his Rainbow Ranch Boys. Glorious.

Until next time,
x's and o's,

Friday, August 13, 2010

Kitschcock does Hitchcock

We here at the ranch are huge fans of Alfred Hitchcock and since today would have been his 111th birthday, I thought I'd post a video that I made a couple of Halloweens ago, recreating the shower scene from "Psycho" with Jack the mannequin boy.

We've done a couple of horror shoots but this was the only one where Jack took on tons of water. The poor kid oozed plaster for a week! I had parts of his body propped up on heating vents all over the house!

It was fun to dissect this scene from Psycho frame by frame to recreate it. It made me admire Mr. Hitchcock even more as I noticed subtle nuances that I'd never noticed before.

Side note: Black and white filming allowed us to substitute pancake syrup for blood. Boy, did the house smell good after a day of throwing pancake syrup into a steamy shower!

By the end, I was soaked, the kid was soaked, the bathroom was flooded and the whole joint smelled like a pancake house. Not to mention the sticky syrup in my hair and on the camera. All in all, a good day. It was one of those (many) days where I called Mr. Kitsch at work to warn him what he'd be coming home to. I know he loves those days!

What about you? What's your favorite Hitchcock movie or scene?

Oh! And with Halloween coming up, anyone have any good ideas for a scene from a movie that I should put Jack in this year? We've already done this one from "Psycho" and young Danny losing his Redrum! Redrum! marbles in "The Shining". I'd love to hear your ideas!

Until next sure and lock the bathroom door,
x's and o's,

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Every little bird in the tall oak tree: the wise old owl, the big black crow - flappin' their wings singing, "go bird go!"

As you may have gathered, this post is all about birds. I'm mad for birds. Real birds. Fake birds. Classy birds. Tacky birds. I love them all!

On the road this weekend, we came across this guy! I've named him Pete.

Isn't he wild? I'm guessing that he's a tie-in to the St. Louis Cardinals. I found this guy waaaaaay underneath a shelf in a junk shed, completely matted with old sticky cobwebs and covered in black dust. There is no telling how long he'd been under there! I got him for a song(bird) - three bucks!

And look! He's real live "art". Because the bottom says so!

He's a real sweet chalk ware piece. I've been collecting chalk ware for quite some time now. He's only my third bird. One of my other two birds is an interesting piece. I found him in a junk shop in Kentucky (like I keep telling y'all - Kentucky is THE place for junking). I was immediately interested in him just for his looks.

Then I tipped him over to see if there was a price on the bottom and was surprised to find a handwritten note scrawled way up inside of him - not on the bottom mind, you... but someone had taken the time and energy to scrawl these words on the inside of the bird:

and these:

Pretty creepy, huh? I would give anything to know the story behind who wrote those words and why! I was intrigued and fascinated and of course, brought him home. Thankfully, we haven't had any trouble out of him for the most part. Well, there was one little incident at our old house where I caught Mr. Lying Bird in our basement lying to all of the other residents of Kitschville.

Look at how dazed they look! He told them that I was going to put them all out at a yard sale! Mean old lying bird! He spent quite some time in isolation after that. Actually, he still IS in isolation. He's been sentenced to living with the holiday decorations in the garage.

(Mary looks like she spends a lot of time meditating since he came around.)

I'm thinking now though that since we have defender Pete the Cardinal around, we might just let that bird come back into the house. I think that Pete can handle him!

Until next time...I hope that all of your birds are good birds,
x's and o's,

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Whole Lot of Doo-Whacka-Doo

Some shots from one day junking in a small Kentucky town:

First up, Watkins Cookbook for Kids Inside

Is it just me, or do you immediately think the worst? Why the scrawled font? Why are the kids inside? Air raid? Nuclear attack? Are they all in a bunker somewhere? And what about the dog? Dear God...WHAT ABOUT THE DOG??!

Now on to something less disturbing:

Well, how you doin'?

My first thought was of Andy Taylor's Aunt Bea. Maybe it's the hat. Or maybe I have some issues that need to be resolved.

And since we're on the "Naked For No Good Reason" train:

Just your average Saturday night.

Her eyes pierce through me. And I want to give that entire guitar a good scrubbing with Simple Green cleaner. Maybe another unresolved issue on my part. Anyone keeping count? I think we're up to two.

Now back to disturbing:

Holy hellfire. This was an apron. A plastic apron with this design over the entire thing repeatedly. This exact same illustration with text screaming, "Soup's On!" and "Come and Get It!" Blekkk..

After that I think that we should lighten up the mood a little. More pig, but this time:

There. I hope that I've redeemed myself.

Oh lord, now I have to spiral back down into horrible:

When Mister Kitsch first showed me this knife holder, I squealed, "Ooh! A rooster! I want it!" Then he said, " you see what is happening?" Soon enough, I did surmise what was happening. Poor Mister Rooster!

I'd make a heck of a detective, don't you think?

And now...

Here comes the bride! Or...something.

For our final stop, I'd like to show you who our backup Ranch Dressing mascot will be if for some reason, Swiffer McCluster can't perform his duties:

Basement dweller, Bizzy Beaver!

I hope that y'all have enjoyed this (mostly disturbing and eye opening) tour of one little Kentucky town.

Until next time..(say your prayers, check your window locks and keep saving up that junkin' money!)
x's and o's,

Monday, August 2, 2010

Kitty's Ranch Dressing

Hey there, my little buckaroos! I hope that you had a great weekend!

Today, I'd like to show you another beautiful ranch home belonging to an amazing star, right here in Nashville - the fabulous Kitty Wells! You all may know her from her best known hit "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels" or from one of her many other wonderful songs.

Ahh...Kitty! She's SO great! Kitty was born under the name of Ellen Muriel Deason, in 1919 in Nashville, Tennessee but was given her new showbiz name of Kitty Wells in 1943 by her husband, Johnny (Johnnie) Wright who is also a performer. Johnny reportedly got her name from an old folk ballad recorded by the Pickard Family, entitled "Sweet Kitty Wells".

Kitty and Johnny married in 1937 and are still together after 73 years!

From the Tennessean newspaper: "The couple is no longer touring. They prefer to stay at home together in Madison, though the tour bus is still parked in the driveway, ever-ready in case they decide to hit the road again.

'We stayed on the road for years, and then come home and just looked at each other,' Wright sometimes says. Apparently, they still like what they see."

And here that home is. I LOVE their house.

Just like Patsy Cline's house that we saw last time, the home is in a nice but modest subdivision area. Property records show that it has four bedrooms and four baths and approximately 4,379 square feet and was built in 1965.

The Mister and I had driven past this house for years, each time swooning over it. We didn't know for most of that time who the house belongs to. Once we learned, the house doubled in specialness for us. We'll go past and say, "Look at Kitty and Johnny's Christmas tree in the window!" or wonder if we could just stop by with some 78's and sit a long spell with them.

The home is always beautifully manicured and just like the newspaper article says, usually has their tour bus parked around back. Here is an aerial shot that I took from my invisible plane (oh, okay...that I got from the internet):

And how about this photo that I also found in the Tennessean of Kitty in her kitchen back in 1965 with her late daughter, Ruby and her little granddaughter, Kitty Elizabeth?

Isn't that a sweet photo? And is anyone screaming out, "Pyrex!" along with me?

Kitty and Johnny had three children but sadly, Ruby (who is shown above) died in 2009 at the age of 70. She also was in the music business and may be best known for her songs "'Billy Broke My Heart at Walgreens" and "Dern Ya" which was an answer to Roger Miller’s “Dang Me” .

It's so hard to believe that Kitty will be 91 years old this month. She's one of those ladies who is just so timeless to me. Here's beautiful Kitty in 1957 singing "There's Poison In Your Heart".

I tell ya, I want to holler out along with the others in the room with her. And how about that dress? Hot dog!

As a bonus for you, here is a current photo of Kitty and Johnny's first rental home in Nashville. They paid five dollars a month back in 1937.

You've come a long way, Kitty and Johnny!

And as another bonus, here is the song that Kitty took her name from (not by the Pickard Family but by another performer who also does a nice job):

Until next time,
x's and o's,