Do You Remember Jewell?

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There was only one down side to those home jam sessions and small shows at places like local schools. Someone in the band invariably would say, “C’mon up here, Davey, and sing.”

I was always painfully shy and would decline, filled with fear and self-loathing. I would have loved to have been part of the band. They were all heroes – the steel guitar player, the rhythm guitar guy, the lead guitar player. I was in awe of those who played the immense stand-up bass.

At Red Sovine’s local shows, there would be a break for a “syrup-soppin’” contest. Red would invite youngsters to come forward to a long table laden with stacks of white bread next to plates poured full of Johnnie Fair syrup, a Shreveport product and one of the Hayride sponsors. Never occurred to me that’s why a jar of Johnnie Fair was always in our cupboard.

The idea was for kid contestants to try to gobble the most slices of bread plunged (sopped) into the Johnnie Fair in an allotted time. To make sure the contest hurried along, the band would kick off finger-snapping, quick-time riffs that ended with a flourish and applause when a winner was declared. The prize was a free jar of Johnnie Fair.

As Red would begin to call for entrants, he would look over at my brother and me, and I would cringe with dread.

“Davey. Ricky. Y’all come on up here,” he’d say with a big smile. “C’mon now.” We’d stay put, repulsed by the thought of debasing Johnnie Fair with simple white bread instead of hot pancakes or mother’s heavily buttered homemade biscuits. But there was never a shortage of kid contestants.