Archive | January 2012

Introducing Robert Elias Ballard Otherwise known as Fiddleman






It is my pleasure to introduce you to one of my favorite authors, Robert Elias Ballard otherwise known as Fiddleman. I met Robert on Hubpages and found his writing  to be so warm and inviting. It was like getting a healthy dose of the “good ole days.” If you want a taste of home town goodness this is your man. He writes from the heart and shares many stories about his family. I hope you will enjoy learning more about  Fiddleman.

On October 25, 1948, a son was born to Wilkie and Mary Ballard. He was named Robert after his dad’s brother who had died as a teenager, the first of his family which numbered 14 siblings to die. He was given a middle name, Elias after a favorite uncle. This is a brief autobiography of Robert Elias.

I grew up in a small rural area of Henderson County, North Carolina where I still reside with my wife, Jane and son, Gary. My dad was a textile mill worker and worked in the same mill until his 70th birthday. My mom also worked for the cotton mill but after the mill had a Union campaign and strike, the mill closed and later was sold to a big textile company. My mom never returned to work and remained a homemaker.

Following high school graduation in 1967, I worked briefly in the cotton mill. The Viet Nam War was raging and those of us able-bodied young me who had the classification. I soon found a letter in the mail from our dear Uncle. I knew it was only a matter of time before the draft caught up with me and I made decision to join the USAF and in June, 1968 I was sworn in to serve my country for the next 4 years.

I have never regretted that decision. For a country boy who was poor, it gave me a whole lot of new clothes and shoes and the opportunity to travel to places I would have never imagined.

My first duty assignment brought me to the Big Apple by way of Long Island and Suffolk County AFB. Seeing fighter airplanes and knowing the base had nuclear weapons was almost more than a hick from the sticks could fathom.

Soon after my arrival to SCAFB, I was assigned to Special Services. These were a group of Airmen who traveled to the national cemetery and conducted military funerals; provided color guards for various civic and governmental organizations and other functions such a parades where we performed as a Drill team. I have several wonderful memories of marching in parades in the Big Apple.

Following my Air Force enlistment I came back to my beloved Blue Ridge mountains and   the small cotton mill village of Tuxedo. Using my GI Bill of Rights, I enrolled in the community college and began working on a degree in business administration. It took me several attempts but I graduated in 1976. I never pursued further education and began to work for General Electric Outdoor Lighting Systems in Hendersonville, NC where I worked until my retirement in 2003.

In November of 1972, I married my wife, Pearlie Jane and in October of 1974 our first son, Jason was born.Garycame next in June of 1976 and is our special son.Garywas born with retinitis pigmentosa which has left him blind. Finally, the last of the Ballard Boys as we call them, Joshua, was born on June 3, 1980. Josh is the only son who is married and he and his wife, Autumn have given us two precious grand sons.

I am blessed to have grown up being around string instruments and family who enjoy playing music. As a teenager, I learned guitar. Later, the five string banjo intrigued me. I learned Scruggs style picking. The fiddle has always been a favorite of mine and about 12 years ago, I took up playing the instrument. My son Gary also is a musician and he and I jam regularly. We play a lot here at home but we also have a jam at my son Joshua’s barber shop on Saturday mornings. We play at church and sometime at restaurants or charitable functions.

Some of my you tube videos:

When I retired from General Electric in 2003 I helped our local branch library to complete a short book of history. What I learned most about that project was I had discovered that I enjoyed writing. Soon after I sat down at my computer and began to write my memories of growing up in the cotton mill village of Tuxedo. With the help of a friend I learned of Lulu Publishing and soon had my files uploaded for my first book. My Tuxedo Doesn’t Fit Me Anymore-Memories of a Mill Village Brat. I revised that book over 10 times. I learned much and am still learning.

My Tuxedo Doesn’t Fit Me Anymore

I grew up in a small cotton mill village called Tuxedo NC. In this book are my memories about the mill, the village and people I knew and loved. I include stories about my family, the businesses in Tuxedo, and how our fire and rescue department had its beginnings

My authors spotlight is and my books can be previewed or purchased:

I have published all my books in e-book and they are available at Amazon Kindle books. My books are all stories and tales and some with inspirational views shared.

Chit Chat-Stories Told Around the Hearth

This is a collection of 42 stories and tales of life experiences. Many I heard as a boy sitting around listening to the grown ups talk while others are simply life situations about the everyday situations we all experience.

Recently I became interested in genealogy and have just completed a book about my family’s genealogy.  Using Create Space publishing.

Family Roots-The Ballard’s of Zirconia, NC

Kinfolk and Short Stories from the Journey

An article I have published about me on Bukisa.

I am a Christian and serve as a deacon in my church.

My favorite Bible verse:

Quotations II Corinthians 5-21 “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin: that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”

I enjoy the books of Nicolas Sparks and am a pushover when it comes to romance movies.  The Note Book and Sweet Home Alabama is two of my favorites.

Bluegrass and gospel are my two favorite types of music.

Our family link on Reverbnation:

Thank you Robert for allowing me to share your story. Wishing you and your beautiful family many blessings.



Introducing Wayne Brown

Wayne and his beautiful wife, Barbara

 It is my honor to introduce Wayne Brown, a wonderful poet and tremendously gifted writer.

I have been blessed like many others to read Wayne’ s work on Hub pages. It is my hope that you will learn a little more about the man behind the gifted pen. This is an open window into Wayne’s life that he  so graciously shared with us.

“I grew up in a small town of about 2,000 people in the middle of Central Mississippi during the 1950-60’s.  Both my parents had farming backgrounds but had chosen to move to the “big city” a few years after I was born so my life on the farm was short-lived.  Over the years I was exposed to both life on the farm and in town so I have an appreciation of both really.  Now that I live in the heart of the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area, there are many days when I long for a return to that simplicity and solitude.

I have two siblings, my brother Larry…the middle child, and my sister Debra who has been a big factor in getting me off my rear to write.  I am the oldest of the bunch and I was the first to do many things in my family including graduate from college and fly in an airplane.

My childhood was one of playing a lot of cowboys n’ Indians while riding across the plains of our neighborhood on a stick-horse made from a bean-stick from my parent’s garden.  My brother and I got western style cap pistols for Christmas every year up to the time that we were old enough to get bicycles.  I suppose that is why the old west is still an interesting subject for me even today.  It also did much for my imagination processes.

My teen years fell in the mid-1960’s amid the strife of the civil rights issues and the ever-growing conflict in Southeast Asia known as the “Vietnam War”.   I gained a very special insight to the issues of civil rights and watched folks struggle on both sides trying to sort out the right and wrong.  I observed a large majority of both black and white people caught up between acts of violence on both sides by those who wished to stir the pot in their particular direction.  I learned a lot about people, their fears,  and prejudices.

I graduated from high school in the spring of 1966 and entered college the following fall.  All my life I had been told by most of my relatives that I would “go to college” so I expected to go whether I desired to or not.  At the same time, we only had two choices…college or war.  I decided that war could wait.  I first entered what is now known as community college for two years and then transferred to the University of Southern Mississippi my junior year.  I graduated from USM in the spring of 1970 with the Vietnam War still ever-present in my life.

My draft lottery number was relatively low so no one would hire me for a job after graduation.  They all realized that I would be drafted soon.  Rather than let that happen, I volunteered and attempted to become an officer in the United States Air Force.  The only slots they had were for flying personnel so all of a sudden I was confronted with signing up for five years of a flying job and I had never been in an airplane in my life.  I didn’t worry about that much as I figured that I would never pass the flying aptitude test which the Air Force administered.  Amazingly, I was wrong about that scoring higher on the test than anyone had before me.  Still, my dad offered his advice based on his experience from his Army days.  He said, “Son, never sleep outside if you can find a bed and never walk anywhere that you can otherwise ride.”  I took him at his word and signed the papers for the Air Force.

For the next year and a half, I was occupied with earning my “butter bar” as a lieutenant in the USAF.  From that training I went directly to flight school to be trained as a navigator.  I didn’t know what a navigator was at the time so I asked.  The recruiter explained it in a manner that made sense the first time, “you see,” he said, “the navigator cannot see well enough to fly the airplane so he tells the pilot where to go.”  Made sense to me…I liked being in control.  My eyesight was less than 20/20 so the pilot’s seat was not available to me.   Later I took great pride in finding out that scientist had proved that monkeys can be taught to fly airplanes but they do not grasp the art of navigation.  Pilots looked upon the art of navigation with a jaded eye claiming that it was black magic accomplished with strings and worry-beads.

I spent a little over six years on the flight deck of the C-130 Hercules flying both the “E” and “H” model aircraft in the cargo versions and the EC-130E airborne command post as well.  I walked away from that world in 1977 and joined the civilian labor force.  I spent the next seven years in sales, then took on a field engineering position and eventually ended up in my current job in research and development.  That was almost 35 years ago now and I suppose my next career change will be looking to retirement.

I gained first-hand experience in divorce in early ’86 and started life over in many ways. I lost a lot of trust and questioned my values a time or two in that process.  As a result, I remained a bachelor for about seven years.  I met my present wife, Barbara, in 1993 and we eventually married in 1997.  So far, that relationship has held together although we are very different people. Maybe that is the secret.  Between us, we each have two children from a previous marriage giving us two boys and two girls and all of them are out of the nest.  Our oldest Libby lives with her husband, Brian, and our only granddaughter, Reese, in Colorado.  Zach is married to Siri and now lives in the Seattle area.  Daughter, Dorothy and her husband live in L.A., and our youngest son, Brooks, still lives here nearby in Texas.

We also have two dogs that have become our “children” of sorts.  Calamity Jane Lucille (“Callie”) is a Shih Tzu and one bundle of affection who really hangs with me most of the time.  John R Cash Money (“Cash” or “Cash Money”) is a Yorkie and considers himself quite the watchdog. He is very territorial and quick to alert when a stranger shows up. Cash surrounds the intruder and Callie licks them to death. They are great friends and have loads of fun together.

Retirement is certainly on the horizon for me and I look forward to it although the poor economy and the shaky outlook in the near term have me sweating the decision when it comes time to make it.  I would like to have more time to write and to play around with my music. I don’t feel that I have yet tortured the world enough in either venue so I will continue in those pursuits.

Barbara is involved in commercial property management and leasing and enjoys working all the time it seems.  I do not expect that she will retire any time soon as she is a bit of a workaholic and a miserable failure at the “art of doing nothing”.  There is a silver lining in all that in that if she did retire, she would shop 365 days a year…who could afford that?

I visited my sister, Debra, for the Christmas holidays this year.  She has a 3”-inch ringed binder with nothing but the poems that I have written in it arranged in chronological order.  The other material that I have written while here on HubPages will fill another 3” binder and half of another one.  I was amazed to see the binder of poetry.  It was my first real opportunity to see the volume of the work.  I always see it in the electronic format so it does seem like much to me.  I guess I have written a few more poems than I realized over the past two years. I guess I had a lot to say.

Will I turn my focus to writing a book someday?  I sure hope so but I am also cautious to say that I want it to be a labor of love rather than an indenture that I push myself into only find myself struggling and dying to be done with it as soon as possible. I have some ideas but I am just not ready yet.

I grew up in the south; lived in Texas and saw much of the world; then lived about five years in Washington State trying desperately to adjust to slow, agonizing rain which blanketed the area for days at a time. When I initially moved there I would say, “Wow, it’s raining…I’m depressed.”  After I had lived there for three years, I would say, “Wow, I’m depressed but I don’t know why!”  Luckily I got my chance to come back to Texas in 1985 and was glad to go. Washington was a good experience but I like to be able to see the far off horizons.

My life has given me a wealth of experiences on which to draw when I decide to write in almost any vein. Life is like a good book that you don’t want to put down as each chapter holds something new and undiscovered.   Reading has also brought a lot in terms of expanding my imagination and my base of knowledge.  We should all read until the day that we cannot as there is always something new to learn and experience.

My time here on HubPages has been very enjoyable for the most part.  I have been lucky enough to garner some attention and gain some readership which keeps me in the game.  Occasionally I become frustrated with some of the changes but it is still the overall best site that I have come across for the aspiring writer.  I have also made lots of friends here who have offered much support over the past two years.  I always try to remember the people who nurtured me when I first showed up on the scene.  When I see a new writer, I like to offer some encouragement to let them know that they need to keep trying and always strive to get a bit better than before.

I guess you could say that is “Wayne Brown” in a nutshell…”simple yet complex” just like the wines that I enjoy.  Some of you know that a bit of my inspiration comes from “The Little Penguin” Chardonnay…one of my few vices in this life.

I asked Wayne to share one of his favorite poems. Enjoy!

“As for a favorite poem, it has to be the one my sister, Debra, loves so much. It is her favorite and therefore one of min”

Cold Winter Wind

I did not see your leaving coming; to me a surprise

I could not feel it in my heart or see it in your eyes

It seems that we had just started then suddenly it ends

Your leaving brought the chill of the cold winter wind

We promised each other eternity; a love for all our life

My happiest day on earth was when I took you for a wife

But things don’t seem to stay the same; changed so suddenly

The cold winter wind blew you away and put a chill in me

You could bring me happiness just sending a smile my way

You always brought me sunshine; seldom a gloomy day

Then without a single word I looked up and you were gone

Left me standing in the cold to face this winter wind alone

The pain of your absence is heavy on my heart each day

I yearn for your presence more the longer you are away

Though I pray for your return, memories are all that I hold

To shield me from the winter wind and keep away the cold

My days are long and endless, running together, indistinct

Time passes in syncopation like water dripping in the sink

Your love holds my heart and your memory fills my soul

Keeping away the chill of the winter wind so cold

Love is such a fleeting thing; seldom can we hold it in our heart

The fabric of it strains and tears when the seams are ripped apart

My life is now a lonely one without you in your normal place

The cold, winter wind chills my heart and fills its every space

Good things end all too quickly; time passes with such speed

We never know what we want until we lose what we need

Each day I place a rose on your headstone marker once again

Then walk on alone with my collar turned to the cold, winter wind

© Copyright WBrown2011. All Rights Reserved.

Please also check out two of Wayne’s  Stories,  which you may also find on hub pages.

Gin House Blues

Let’s have one more, Maggie” I say to the middle-age bartender as she wipes down glasses from the washer. Maggie lifts the bottle of Beefeater and heads my way. “You want more ice?” She asks picking up the ice scoop. “Oh, hell no!” I shoot back. “You know I don’t like that shit. It fogs up the drink. Besides that, you know what fish do inwater,” I chuckle. Maggie smiles and tips the Beefeater to my glass. “Pour it like you don’t own it, honey” I muse as I watch her pour it deep.

One of the virtues of living two doors down from the corner bar is not having to worry about driving. Hell, I hardly have to worry about walking. Maggie knows that. She’s been around for years and so have I. In some sort of ways, we are friends. We have a lot in common as she pours it and I drink it. We both have a relationship with the gin. She uses it to make money. I use it to drown the rats that gnaw at my brain. They still gnaw but the gin dulls the pain. Maggie and I are both happy with the results. She’s got a good living and me, well, it keeps me drunk and that’s all I care about.

I’m a gin man. I have been for a long time now. I like the Beefeater but truth be known and times be hard, I’d drink paint thinner if it smelled like gin. I’d like to think I discovered gin and told the world of its wonderful benefits. That’d be a lie. Gin found me. It found me curled up inside myself. It found me hiding in the dark; fearing my thoughts; pitying my past and at a loss for a future. Gin found me and took me away from all that. It took away everything that hurt except maybe the rats that gnaw. It only dulls their bite as they chew my brain.

Hey, Maggie, whatever happen to the good ol’ girl, anyway?” I asked swallowing yet another large gulp of the Beefeater. “Not a goddamn thing” She replies and laughs. “Why don’t you find one of them good ol’ girls, Mike, and settle down?” She adds. I laugh. “You gotta be shittin’ me, Maggie,” I say, “You mean there’s still some of ‘em out there?” I add looking confused. “You know I already found my lady, Maggie, and she lives in that bottle right over there on the shelf” I say as I point toward the Beefeater. “Now bring her right on over here and let me give her a little kiss” I plead pointing once again to my empty glass. Maggie says nothing. She grabs the bottle and pours it deep once more.

Maggie and I talk a lot. Most times she and I are about the only ones in here during the daylight hours. I don’t know much about this place at night but I think there are probably more folks around. I don’t care for them much. By the time the sun has set, my mood has changed. By then I will have climbed off this stool and crossed the street to the liquor store to pick up my night bottle. By then, I just want to be alone with my lady and make love to her while she drowns the rats. She’ll spend the night by my bed comforting me and in the morning I will toss her empty glass carcass into the dumpster by the steps on my way back down here to spend some time with Maggie. I guess you could say that I got myself a routine.

To look at me, you probably wouldn’t think of me as a successful man but I did all right when I was out there. I gave that shit up not too long after gin found me. Work was gettin’ in the way of duties to my lady. I needed time to savor her warmth and bathe in her fluid kisses. We can’t get enough of each other. I got a little money put away and my Social Security and that about covers my needs most of the time. Maggie pours me a free one or two every day and I drink the cheap stuff at night so it all works out. There ain’t much of anything that I want so I might as well spend it on some gin. Everybody needs a reason to get out of bed. I guess that’s mine.

Hey Maggie, how long is it to Christmas?” I sputter with a stream of gin running down my chin. “Wipe your face” She says, “I would say about four cases of Beefeater” Maggie adds with a grin. I laugh out loud and slur my words, “That’s pretty goddamn funny, Maggie. You pretty funny girl” I say laying my head on the bar and gazing back at her. “What time is it, Maggie?” I ask draining the last remnants of gin from my glass. “Time to pack your ass home, Mike” she replies, “It’s five o’clock.” “All right then” I say pulling myself from the stool. I’m just gonna head over to the liquor store and then get along home. I see you tomorrow, Maggie” I add. “Yeah, Mike, see ya’ tomorrow” Maggie replies. I head off to get into my night mood and drown some rats once more.


Henry’s Last Letter

Tuesday PM 6 May 1945

Dear Jane,

You will probably never see this letter as I am quite sure the mail never gets outside this asylum. Criminal insanity has no place in the communications structure of ordinary people like yourself. Still, I will write the letter anyway because there are things you need to hear. If indeed you do read this at some point, take comfort in knowing that I will long since have gone.

Agnes Perkins is dead now. Enough of my peers felt that I was the guilty party who took her life in a drunken, insane rage; thus, I am here in this place and will be for many years to come I am quite sure. I suppose the souls of all involved are salved by this outcome. Agnes’ death is no longer unrequited and those who would accuse can take comfort in knowing the perpetrator carried out his hideous act under some fictional delusion that blinded his reason and judgment. Thus I am here and will one day understand my mental illness as opposed to sitting on death row awaiting the day of my execution.

You are the one person that I thought that I could count on to help me through this mess. If you will only look at the facts, I am absolutely sure you will understand the circumstances and how things evolved to such an untimely end for Agnes. As I have said to you before, Agnes is not of our world. Never was. Agnes was a lie; a cruel façade played out on us by those who would come here from other worlds and attempt to infiltrate our culture and then execute their treason upon us at the proper moment.

Agnes was one of those people. She was an alien being hiding in the body of a middle-aged woman. It was imperative that Agnes be stopped and exposed before it was too late for all of us. Agnes was an agent of a plot from another world. Had I not exposed it when I did, our demise was upon us. Agnes’ death stopped that process and now they have to begin again. And begin again they will. Another Agnes will come. These are the things that you must get your mind around and understand. Once you do, I am sure you can clear up this matter without hesitation. I am counting on you.

I will wait just two more weeks for your response. Know that while I sit here and wait that I am awash in the human insanity that surrounds me. There truly are some crazy people in this place capable of acts beyond the scope of human perception. I see it daily. Their obsessions, their ticks, compulsions, delusions. I suffer for them yet find their behavior unbearable in my presence. My royal blood boils in anger that I might be considered one among these loons of humanity. I am troubled that you might think such of me for you are all that I have left. I will wait just two weeks, Jane, and not one moment more.

You shall never know the grief I suffered once I learned of Agnes’ deceitful ways. She had lured me into her bed and caused such a stir in my groin only to turn out some ugly three-eyed beast from the worlds beyond hiding behind the pretty face of a woman. She had used me in the worst way and extracted information from me as we enjoyed our sexual escapades in the cool sheets of her bed. Her deceit was beyond my ability to forgive. She betrayed me then laughed in my face when she was unmasked. What an evil bitch she was!

Possibly your awareness that I have fully planned my own demise will stir you to action to resolve this atrocity that has so tragically occurred in my life. Yes, the plan is in place and I might add it is one that cannot be stopped thus I do not fear speaking of it openly here in a letter that I am quite aware my keepers will read. My death will come in spite of their efforts to curb it. It will come at the most inopportune moment for them and one so not thought of by them. I will reserve the element of surprise in my death plan and my keepers can only stand in awe as the witness thereof. Two weeks. Two weeks are all you have to right this insidious wrong to which I have been irrationally exposed.

And now my dear, darling sister, I beseech you to move forward with this process and relieve me from this incarceration among the mindless twits of our society. Do not think that I will not act for this is my last letter to you. Any action that I may take beyond the limits I have raised in this letter will be on your conscience for time here on, my dear. Please be prudent, and take action on my behalf at once.

As Always, Your Loving Brother,


Please stop by and read one of Wayne’s most read hubs.


Lastly, please check out other wonderful stories and poems that Wayne has written.

Thank you Wayne for letting me share your talent and a glimpse into your life.

Wishing you  many blessings in the upcoming year.


This entry was posted on January 4, 2012. 5 Comments