Sickbed Scientology and country crooners

Published 9:28 pm Thursday, September 25, 2014

By Frank Roberts

This ‘n that, here ‘n there, now ‘n then — a potpourri, a smorgasbord, starting with animals, as inspired by my Siamese, Beetsie, who stayed extra close these last few days while I was stretched out on my sickbed.

If you are into L. Ron Hubbard’s Scientology, you might be interested in the story of Charlie Reisdorf, who captained a small ship owned by this phony religion. To entertain his wife and 11- and 12-year-old daughters, he ordered the crew to race around, pushing peanuts with their noses.

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“They all had bloody noses. Not enough for the cap’n who kept yelling, “Faster! Faster!” The men, of course, were in extreme pain, the wife and kids, forced to watch all this, were sobbing and yelling.”

Pulitzer Prize winning author Lawrence Wright wrote about this in his bestseller, “Going Clear.” The next time you read about John Travolta or Tom Cruise talking about their delight in this so-called religion, remember this incident.

Let’s turn now to one of my favorite things — country music — and my favorite entertainer, Marty Robbins. I was reviewing his concert and, during the opening act, was bemoaning to my wife that I had never met him.

In the row in front of us sat two gents who got up and came back a few moments later, saying they had heard my moans and arranged for me to meet him. I told them I was reviewing the show, and they said, “That’s fine.” Marty would give me 15 minutes.

The charismatic showman was “private and not very sociable offstage,” according to Robert K. Oermann, who has written oodles about country stars. When I got backstage and met Robbins, I was in country music heaven.

The upshot was that we spent about 30 minutes together. It was a career highlight.

On that subject, I have noted previously that the country singer I was closest to was the irascible Faron Young, who visited Michael’s Club in Virginia Beach many times. He lived by the creed of one of his big hits, “Live Fast, Love Hard, Die Young and Leave a Beautiful Memory.”

He bemoaned what passes for country music these days (most of it is closer to pop). Talking about the big acts, he said, “They have big buses and airplanes to travel in. We drove around with cars pulling trailers. We were more of a family. We’d get together at each other’s homes and have cookouts and things like that. We toured in package shows together. It was a family affair, but ain’t no more. There’s no camaraderie about it anymore.”

As the scene changed, Faron stopped recording. “I don’t have the heart to do it,” he told me.

If you want to remember those days, check Bill Anderson’s shows on RFD-TV.

Let’s close with a nice-nice, but somewhat deep thought: “Nothing beats love at first sight, except love with insight.”

During a 60-year career spanning newspapers, radio and television, Frank Roberts has been there and done that. Today, he’s doing it in retirement from North Carolina, but he continues to keep an eye set on Suffolk and an ear cocked on country music. Email him at froberts73@embarqmail.com.