Sunday, March 23, 2008

He Won What?!

I have known Phil Collingsworth for a long time. Many years ago, I sold him his first car. It was a bright blue 1976 Chrysler Cordoba. Now, this was way back, before those gray streaks started showing in Phil's hair. Of course, he might say that this was back when I had hair. That was a special car of mine. It was my honeymoon car. I am married to his sister, Rena, and we drove it to Gatlinburg in 1980. Now, he has paid me back many times over, by allowing me to drive his bus, Big Red, occasionally.
Phil has always been a city boy. He was raised in Dayton, Ohio, lived in Cincinnati and then Indianapolis. Then it was on to Rabbit Hash, Kentucky. So, it has always been the big city for him! Last year, we drove to Pennsylvania for a concert. We were making our way through the picturesque countryside, when Phil spotted a farmer out in the field beside the road. He was kneeling at the back of a cow lying in the grass. He said, "Lowell, pull this bus over to the side of the road." Phil jumped out, climbed the fence and went over to the farmer. He asked if there was something he could do to help. The farmer told him to grab hold of the little leg that was protruding from the cow and help pull! In a short while, a beautiful new calf was born. Phil was in awe, and the farmer asked if he could pay Phil for assisting. Phil, being the helpful man that he is, declined but said, "I do have one question. About how fast do you suppose that calf was going when he ran into the back of that cow?" I did say he was a city boy, didn't I?
OK, maybe some of that was not exactly accurate. The truth is that he grew up in Dayton, Ohio, and he entered a contest at WFCJ radio. They were giving away several gospel albums. This reminded me of my good friend Daniel Downing, who entered a similar contest in Cincinnati. They announced that the third caller would win the prize. Dan called. First caller, sorry. He redialed. Second caller, sorry. Once again he dialed. He won! But, I digress. Guess who won all those albums! I forget how many there were. Twenty-five or maybe fifty. There were a bunch of them. And, now look who is producing recordings today.
We are very proud of The Collingsworth Family. I know Grandma and Grandpa Collingsworth were very proud of them before they left us. It is easy to be proud of them when you see them singing on stage with gospel greats like Bill Gaither, Ben Speer, The Talleys, Lynda Randle and all the others. We were watching a live Gaither production on Daystar. Russ Taff was singing. As he finished, Bill came to the microphone and began the introduction for the next group. He said, "We'll start with the mother." And, Phil's wife, Kim came to the piano to play "How Great Thou Art" in front of the thousands at the Dallas-Ft Worth Gaither Concert. Next, Phil, Brooklyn, Courtney, Phillip and Olivia joined her on stage and sang "Not The Same". They are making a splash in the Southern Gospel Music world. If you haven't noticed, you will soon, if you are paying attention.
If you are interested, ask me about the windshield wiper problems on our last trip from Texas. Quite the picture I have in my mind - looking out the windshield at Phil with his hands thrown in the air and a look of confusion on his face.
Check out "" for pictures and info if you are not familiar with this group.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Dream Teams

Paul Lavy reminded me of the great softball excursion from many years ago. Someone in Indiana, don't even remember who or what city it was, challenged some of the Lavys to a softball game. I believe they assured someone that they would handle the Lavy team rather easily. That was all it took for the team to jump in their vehicles and head for Indiana on a Saturday.

I don't recall all of the members, but it was mostly Lavys and one Chester Beatty. All of them were a rather competitive group as you might imagine if you know any Lavys. There was one major obstacle to the day, as we soon found out on I-70 somewhere west of Richmond. It was the worst traffic jam in history. At a dead stop, many of the team members got out and warmed up for the game in the median. Finally, they routed traffic on to Rt. 40 and hours later we arrived at the game site.

I think we had two games scheduled, but due to the fact we were hours late, we only got one game in. If I remember correctly, the score was something like 19-1. Indiana did not win.

That got me to thinking about the athletic ability of the Lavy/Welbaum tribes. Of course, it doesn't work this way, but what if you could put everyone on a team in their prime! Here is a possible starting lineup for a softball game. Who's on first, What's on second, I Don't Know is on third...never mind, that's Abbott and Costello. You probably knew that from their famous radio dialogue.

Start with Don Lavy at catcher. I'll tell you why at the end. Let's put Harold Fourman at shortstop. Merrill Lavy in center. Dean Welbaum in left. Paul Lavy in right. Wayne Lavy in short field. Deon Welbaum at second. Duane Lavy at first. Lowell Lavy at third. Tom Welbaum pitching. There could be a lot of variations there, I realize. However, that team with reserves like Kevin Lavy, Dave Welbaum, Steve Lavy and Dan Welbaum would be formidable. I have probably forgotten somebody, also.

Why Don at catcher? One last quick story. We were in a close softball game at old Laura Stadium. In Laura, on 571, there once was a field by the water tower. We were playing the Old Order German Baptists. Someone from their team drilled one over Merrill Lavy in center field. An easy homer, right? Not so much. After retrieving the ball from near the water tower, he fired to Harold Fourman standing somewhere behind short. Harold relayed a perfect strike to Don at home plate. The batter had circled the bases with an apparent homer. The ball arrived at nearly the same time as the runner. Don was blocking the plate. The runner ran into Big Don, bounced backwards a few feet, and Don walked over to him and tagged him out! One of those instances you never forget.

Well, there you have it. Oh, by the way, I also remember years ago, when someone Don worked with at Hobart Brothers wanted to bet his paycheck that his basketball team could beat Don, Merrill, Harold, Deon and Dean. I think I was a sub then. Too bad Don wasn't a betting man or we could have all gone out to eat at Frisch's!

Saturday, March 8, 2008


Grandma Lavy and I were the only survivors of the boating accident that took place on Painter Creek many years ago. We were on board a fishing craft that was trying to dock. When it sank, we were able to save ourselves by flopping around in the six-inch deep water until we could get to our feet. Actually, no one else was on board the USS Lavy for that expedition. We sailed on the creek behind Grandpa's house in search of the great carp that live in those waters.

When I was about twelve, G and G Lavy and I went to supper at Gene and Mary Shields' house. Somehow the conversation got around to their Florida fishing trips, and Mary invited me to go with them. Fortunately, Grandpa loved to travel, so it was fairly easy to get him in the mood. For several years after that, we went to Ft. Myers, Florida yearly in February.

Fishing in the Gulf of Mexico is slightly different than Painter Creek fishing. We would fish in 50-60 feet of water, bouncing our shrimp-baited hooks off the bottom as we drifted. When a grouper, sheephead or red snapper hit, you had your work cut out for you pulling him to the surface. It was a great feeling to land them in the boat. On the way back to the marina, Gene would pull over to an island where he would fillet the fish and throw the scraps to the pelicans.

A few times we would tie up at an island, jump out of the boat and fish while wading in the surf. One of the most memorable times was when Bill Kuhnle and I stood next to each other in the surf while fishing for snook. I hooked a nice one and reeled him in. I think it was about a 24-inch fish. Those silver fish with a black stripe down the side are among the most delicious salt-water fish I've ever tasted (you should try a fried fish feast prepared by a pro like Mary Shields after an all-day fishing trip).

My fish looked like something out of Painter Creek next to the one Bill brought in right beside me. It was thirty-six inches long and I could put my fist in its mouth. Then, it was back in the boat and in to Four Winds Marina. Perhaps that night we had some blowfish and sheephead livers to add to the snook and snapper. What a feast it was!

Thanks, Grandpa, for taking me to Florida in February and providing me with some great memories. I came back to school with a suntan in the middle of winter. Gene and Mary are gone now, I believe. They were a big part of those memories, also.