Monthly Archives: December 2017

David, Wallis and the Mercenary Chapter Twelve


Woodcut illustrating Shanghai Massacre
Previously in the novel: Leon, a novice mercenary, is foiled in kidnapping the Archbishop of Canterbury by a mysterious man in black. The man in black turns out to be Edward the Prince of Wales. Soon to join the world of espionage is Wallis Spencer, an up-and-coming Baltimore socialite.
(Author’s note: this chapter contains mature situations.)
Lady Elvira Chatsworth could not contain herself. At the exact moment of climax with the Prince of Wales, she emitted a scream, a glass-shattering scream. Not that it mattered because it was eight o’clock in the morning in the prince’s stateroom aboard the HMS Wyndemere one day out from Shanghai. They had danced and drank champagne all night. Her husband, the ambassador, went back to his cabin because he had an important diplomatic strategy session that morning, which allowed her to have an experience of a lifetime—being bedded by the future king of England. And no one could hear a sound.
David nuzzled her neck. “I am pleased the British ambassador was so preoccupied with his staff that I had the opportunity of entertaining his wife.”
“Yes, he’s quite upset,” Elvira said, trying to keep her body from tingling for the third time. “Everyone at Downing Street is in a dither over this Shanghai Massacre scandal.”
“Massacre?” David asked as his tongue darted into her bellybutton, tasting her body. “What massacre?”
“Don’t you know about the Shanghai Massacre? It’s the current world crisis!”
“That’s why the Royal Family has prime ministers, ambassadors and such to worry about unpleasant matters.”
“Unpleasant indeed.” Elvira tried to continue even though her breath was becoming labored. ‘The embassy in April overreacted to a student protest and ordered soldiers out onto the street. Several students were shot down. Now we are in a fix. If we relieve the ambassador in charge it would been an admission of guilt which Great Britain cannot do. But we cannot ignore the entire incident. The empire’s reputation is in shambles.”
“And when did this happen?”
“April.”
“Of what year?”
“This year, 1925.”
“I’m shocked.”
“Of course! The whole world is shocked.”
“I thought it was still 1924.”
“You are such a naughty boy.” She giggled.
David drew himself up and planted a kiss on her lips. “Those things have a way of resolving themselves.”
Elvira turned her face. “You mean you don’t care?”
“My dear, I don’t care much about anything.” He smiled. “Right at this moment I care about you.”
“And why is that? Why are you always involved with married women? Why weren’t you interested in Princess Stephanie of Germany? What a diplomatic coup that would be. A royal wedding between Britain and Germany. But no. You’re mad about women who belong to other men.”
“But, right now in this place, aren’t you glad?’
“You cad.”
“That’s what my father calls me.”
“I know very most of the women you romance believe you will demand they divorce their husbands and marry you.”
David nibbled at her ear. “Gossip.”
“I loathe gossip,” Elvira announced.
“Rot. You love gossip. You did nothing but gossip about the affairs of London high society from midnight until the sun rose. You almost bored me to tears. Most of what you said was wrong.” He clucked her under the chin. “I know you can’t wait to disembark at Shanghai, have tea with the other ladies of the embassy and tell them you have slept with the Prince of Wales.”
“You are a scoundrel.”
“In fact, why don’t you tell them I am ill equipped to mount any woman and you spent the entire evening listening to me complain about my father?”
“How low can you be?”
“Oh, much lower. Tell them I’m a homosexual and am using all these wives as a cover.”
She slapped at his bare shoulder. “Why would you spread such lies about yourself?”
“If people keep busy spreading the lies they can’t figure out the truth.”
“And what is the truth?” For a flickering moment Elvira anticipated hearing some truly outrageous admission by the Prince.
“I want to make love to you one more time before breakfast.”
She studied his lean, tanned, handsome face. One eye squinted more than the other, making him more intriguing. She didn’t know why she pretended to be indignant. His reputation was as clear as a polished goblet. He traveled the world shaking hands for his country. And he shook hands like an expert. That was no gossip. Sliding down under the covers, Elvira smiled.
“As you command, Your Majesty.”

A Civil War Christmas


Mary Louise and Santy
Mary Louise could hardly contain herself as she sat by candlelight, sitting as still as a child on Christmas Eve could sit while her mother brushed out her hair. It was the middle of the Civil War and their plantation home in South Carolina was in ruins, but Mary Louise just knew Santa Claus would answer the letter she wrote.
“Now, don’t you go wishin’ for the moon, young lady,” her mother lectured her as she began to tie pink ribbons in Mary Louise’s brown hair, making two, perfectly divided pigtails.
“But if Santy got my letter….”
“I didn’t send Santy’s letter,” her mother said abruptly. “He couldn’t run the blockade anyway if I had sent the letter.” She finished tying the second ribbon. “Blame the Yankees if you don’t get no Christmas this year. It’s their fault.”
Mary Louise knew not to argue with her mother when she got into one of those moods, and she seemed to be in one of those moods all the time recently. After her mother left the bedroom, she scrambled to her desk and pulled out a piece of paper and a pencil and proceeded to write the very same letter over to Santa Claus. She had but one wish.
“Please, Santy, let me see my daddy one more time.”
Folding the letter neatly, Mary Louise went to the window, opened it and tossed it out in the cold night air. Her mother always told her Santa Claus was magical so she knew her letter would reach him on the winter wind of Christmas Eve. Content she had done all she could do to ensure a merry Christmas, Mary Louise closed the window and ran to her bed where she buried deep underneath the many layers of down-filled quilts. No time had passed since she closed her eyes, it seemed, when she felt a cold blast, a gentle ho ho ho and the familiar baritone chuckle of her father.
“Daddy! Santy!” Mary Louise whispered excitedly.
Jumping from bed she ran to give her father a big hug. She knew it had to be her father because no one could hug as well as he did. She sniffed. Yes, it was the smell of his sweat and a slight hint of his favorite Cuban tobacco. But Mary Louise detected another scent, unfamiliar, acrid, almost taking her breath away.
“I can’t stay long, darlin’,” her father said. He pulled her away. “Let me look at you. You’ve grown an inch since I last seen you. And still got that purty smile.” He hugged her again. “Always keep that purty smile, darlin’.”
“Oh, Daddy, I just have to give you a Christmas present!” She turned to Santa Claus. “Isn’t that right, Santy?”
“Yes, Mary Louise, that’s right,” Santa replied.
“And I know just what to give!” Mary Louise stuck out her hand. “Give me your tobacco pouch, Daddy.”
Her father pulled a leather pouch from his tattered, soiled gray trousers and handed it to her. Mary Louise ran downstairs to the parlor and opened a drawer in a large old desk. She gently lifted the lid off a humidor and carefully scooped out the last of the fragrant Cuban tobacco into her father’s pouch. She quickly returned and proudly presented it to him.
“It’s the last, Daddy. I knew you would want it.”
“That’s mighty kind of you darlin’. I’ll never forget it.”
“It’s time to leave,” Santa said.
“But I have to give my little darlin’ something.”
“Oh, Daddy,” Mary Louise said in a soft voice, “just you being here is all the Christmas I need.”
She watched her father’s eyes fill with tears as he pushed his long dark hair from his forehead. Her nose crinkled as she noticed his hair had begun to turn just a touch of gray. Mary Louise’s head cocked when he pulled his pocket knife out and opened it.
“I know. This will be from me to you for all the Christmases in your rest of your life.”
The next morning Mary Louise jumped from her bed and flew down the stairs to the kitchen. She felt one side of her neatly parted hair fly free of the pink ribbon, but she did not care. She had to share with her mother the happiness of her visit with her father, all thanks to Santa Claus.
“Oh Mommy, Mommy! It was wonderful last night! He came! He came! Santy came and he brought Daddy with him!”
Her mother looked up from her cup of coffee as she sat at the table. Her hands covered a letter.
“What on earth are you talking about, Mary Louise?”
“After you left me last night, I wrote another letter to Santy and threw it out the window. And he got it. He woke me up with his ho ho ho and when I opened my eyes I saw Daddy!”
“You were dreaming, child.”
“No, I wasn’t dreaming! It was real!”
“That’s foolishness! Now sit down and eat your breakfast.”
“No! I’ll prove it!” Mary Louise ran to the parlor, brought back the humidor to the kitchen table and put it down. “See, all the tobacco is gone.”
“That was the last of your father’s favorite tobacco. Very expensive tobacco from Cuba. What did you do with it?”
“I gave it to Daddy. I put it in his pouch. I wanted him to have it,” Mary Louise said softly.
“You dreadful child! You threw away your father’s tobacco as part of this cruel joke that he was here last night!”
“But it’s not a joke, Mommy. Daddy was really here. Santy brought him.”
“That’s impossible!”
“Why, Mommy?”
She watched her mother sink into the chair, dissolve into tears and hold up the letter on the table.
“Because this letter says the Yankees killed your father at a place in Maryland called Antietam. I got this letter three weeks ago, so there’s no way your father could have been in this house last night! And why would he have come home and not….” Her voice choked. “…and not visited me?”
“Maybe,” Mary Louise whispered, “because you didn’t write a letter to Santy.”
Her mother arose abruptly and shook Mary Louise’s shoulders.
“You terrible child! How can you be so mean to me, especially here at Christmas?” She stopped and reached out to touch the loose strands of hair on the side of Mary Louise’s head. “And you lost one of the ribbons from your hair. Do you know how expensive ribbon is now?”
“I’m sorry, Mommy.”
“I’m so angry I can’t stand the sight of you! Go to your room and stay there all day!” She stepped away, picked up the letter and folded it. “I shall spend the day in prayer, asking God to give me the strength to forgive you. Perhaps all will be better tomorrow.”
Mary Louise turned and without another word went to her room. There she decided she would never write another letter to Santa Claus again. It was not that she no longer believed in Santa; no, it was because she decided there was no use in asking Santa to give her something if no one believed her when it happened. She pulled out a lock of dark hair streaked with gray tied with a pink ribbon. It was her present from her father. Mary Louise was afraid to show it to her mother because she might throw it away, and Mary Louise wanted to keep it forever.
Her mother forgave her the next morning and gave her extra jam to go on her biscuits. Her mother never celebrated Christmas as long as she lived. This is not to say Mary Louise never had a merry Christmas again. She had a life-long love affair with Christmas, starting with her eighteenth year when she relented and wrote another letter to Santa Claus on Christmas Eve, folded it and tossed it out in the winter wind.
“Dear Santy, Since Mommy hates Yankees so much, please bring me a nice Yankee boy to marry.”
On Christmas Day, a school friend, who knew Mary Louise’s mother never celebrated the holiday, invited her over for dinner. In the parlor was a tall, willowy young man with long straight dark hair and soulful eyes.
“Mary Louise, I want you to meet my father’s new assistant, Thomas. He’s from Ohio.”
Mary Louise was impressed with Thomas’s strong but gentle handshake. By that evening they were sitting close to each other by the parlor fireplace. Instinctively she leaned into him and he placed his arm around her shoulder. With her head on his chest she sniffed. His sweat smelled like her father’s. She sniffed again.
“Do you smoke a pipe?”
“Yes,” Thomas said. “It’s my only vice. I buy the tobacco from Cuba.”
Mary Louise and Thomas were married by the next Christmas. On Christmas Eve she pulled out the strand of hair tied with the pink ribbon and told him the story of her Civil War visit from her father. She also told him about her letter asking for a nice Yankee boy. He believed her. They had five boys and three girls, each carefully taught to write letters to Santa Claus, fold them neatly and throw them out the window onto the winter wind of Christmas Eve.

Lincoln in the Basement Chapter Thirty-Six

Previously in the novel: War Secretary Edwin Stanton held President and Mrs. Lincoln captive under guard in basement of the White House. Duff and Alethia find pretending to be the Lincolns difficult, especially with Tad coming down sick. Stanton interrupts their dinner to make sure Duff is not eating too much.
“Sit down and resume eating.” Stanton paused to smirk. “Enjoy it while you can.” He pulled out his notepad and handed it to Duff. “This is what you’ll say at the Cabinet meeting in the morning.” Going to the door, he stopped and turned to look at Alethia. “Oh. How’s the boy doing?”
“The boy?” Alethia looked up, a bit distracted.
“Yes, the Lincoln boy. Tad. Is he well?”
“Yes, he’s fine.” She paused. “His forehead was hot tonight, and he said he didn’t feel well, so he went straight to bed.”
“Oh.”
“I’m so glad you cared to ask,” she said, trying to smile at a man she both feared and loathed.
“I don’t care.”
“Oh.”
“His mother asked.” With that, Stanton left as quickly as he had appeared.
When Phebe arrived with a tray of fried chicken, potatoes, and collard greens, Duff put on a good show of not being hungry. Alethia noticed a glint in Phebe’s dark eyes. Was it a recognition that something was wrong? Feeling panic rise from the pit of her stomach, Alethia tried to control her emotions while deciding what to do. Out of her chair she bustled to Phebe and placed an arm around her shoulders and squeezed.
“Dear Phebe,” she said, “we work you to death, and for what? Willy-nilly appetites. We’re so sorry.”
“That’s all right, Mrs. Lincoln.”
Again seeing the cloud of doubt cover Phebe’s eyes, Alethia pulled away.
“Of course, we do pay you well to accommodate our peccadilloes.”
“Yes, ma’am.” Phebe bit her lip and then looked at Alethia. “I hope you don’t mind my being so bold, ma’am.”
“What is it, Phebe?”
“I’m just glad to see you feeling better, since the passing of little Willie,” she cautiously said.
Alethia was taken aback by Phebe’s observation, knowing true mourning continued in the basement. Momentary shame crossed her mind for not grieving for Tad’s brother.
“I didn’t mean to upset you, Mrs. Lincoln,” Phebe said. She turned to leave. “I probably shouldn’t have said nothing at all.”
“No, thank you.” Alethia reached out to touch her. “Not too many people care how I feel anymore.” She smiled. “No one much really likes me. Mrs. Keckley, and now you. I can count you as a friend, can’t I?”
“Of course, ma’am.” A grin flashed across her dark face.
After Phebe left, Alethia sat and looked across at Duff, who was staring at his empty soup bowl. “Did I do right?”
“What?”
“What I said to the cook. Did I blather on too long? I worry my own personality comes out instead of Mrs. Lincoln’s.”
“Oh. No. You were fine.” His voice sounded hollow.
“What’s wrong?” she asked.
Duff shook his head, refusing to look up. Before she knew what she was doing, Alethia was in the chair next to Duff, hesitantly touching his large, bony hands, becoming aware how sensitive they seemed, despite the calluses and scars.
“Please, tell me.”
“I can’t eat like this no more.” He raised his head, his cheeks wet with tears. “It reminds me too much of Libby Prison. I can’t go on. Mr. Lincoln may be able to live on vegetables and fruits, but I can’t.”
“Libby Prison?”
“In Richmond. I spent a year there before me and a handful of others escaped.”
“That’s where they sent you after you were caught as a spy?”
“Yes.” Taking his napkin, Duff wiped his eyes, averting them from Alethia.

Santa On The Move

A lot of people don’t know this, but Santa Claus hasn’t always lived at the North Pole.
Way back in the Middle Ages, he lived in the Netherlands. His original name was Sinter Klaus which was Dutch. He got started carving those wooden shoes for the children. Soon he found out kids weren’t all that keen about shoes. Their parents got them shoes all the time. Who cared if he carved them to look like squirrels, rabbits and deer? Then he wised up and started carving toys and making dolls. The word got out, and Santa became a fan favorite in December.
All was cool for a couple of hundred years until the Goths and Visigoths began raiding the Low Country. He kept trying to tell them they didn’t have to steal the toys. He was going to deliver them to the Goth and Visigoth children anyway. At least some of them. Goth and Visigoth kids can be real little brats if truth be told.
“We don’t accept charity,” the leader of the pack said. “If our little boys and girls want a toy for Christmas I’ll get it for them.”
“Even if you have to steal it,” Santa said.
“That’s right. Even if I have to steal it. At least I know what they really want. They don’t have to settle for what you decide to give them.”
Now Santa knew why the Goth and Visigoth kids were horrible. Their parents were horrible. So Santa decided it was time for a change of scenery. Each Christmas Eve as he flew his sleigh and eight tiny reindeer around the world he noticed Florida was a nice place. Lots of sandy beaches, very warm and not so many people to crowd his space.
He, the elves and the reindeer packed up their stuff and moved right after the first of the year in 1492.
Bad timing. The Spanish were on the way, but he didn’t know it then. He knew when children were naughty or nice, but Santa didn’t have a clue about adults. When people got to be adults, they were apt to do anything, especially anything naughty.
Santa and the gang managed to last a couple of hundred years before the Europeans started to settle in. The worst part of living in Florida, however, was that the elves were completely distracted by the sandy beaches. It was too cold in Holland to do much except make toys; but in Florida the sun was out and the surf was up.
The big guy himself didn’t care to spend the day at the beach. His cheeks were rosy enough without getting sun burned. And that little round belly might look cute when all covered up in a red suit and white fur, but when it was exposed in a pair of cargo pants, well, fuhgeddaboutit.
The elves, on the other hand, loved splashing in the water and body surfing. They found a new use for coconuts. Santa thought it was cute to carve them to look like gorilla heads, but the elves liked to chop them open and pour in rum. Few people know the fact that an elf named Ralph invented the pina colada.
When the United States pushed the Spanish out Santa decided it was time to move on. First he considered the South Pole but there were too many penguins and walruses. They waddled around and knocked over all the tables, and they have extremely poor hygiene. The North Pole, on the other hand, was nice and secluded.
The elves, by the way, have never forgiven Santa for leaving Florida.
Especially Ralph.

James Brown’s Favorite Uncle The Hal Neely Story Epilogue

Epilogue

The intention of this biography was not to evoke pity for a man with a successful career whose final years were not lived in the same economic circumstances as the vast majority of his life. While others of his music contemporaries may have had more creature comforts, none were surrounded by warmer friendships.
While actual court records do not support Neely’s claim of a lawsuit, the underlying feelings about James Brown are nevertheless true. Brown was sued over royalties by an agent, but that agent was Ben Bart and not Hal Neely. Bart’s son Jack said Brown had a habit of “using, abusing and discarding” people throughout his career.1 Both Neely and Bart provided Brown with more than their expertise in the music business; they became surrogate fathers to him who consoled and counseled him during the rough times of his life.
One theme repeated by the many people who moved through Neely’s life was his generosity to artists coming up through the industry and to ordinary people he casually met along the way. Many people related their Neely stories with a smile and a tear. Some thought his generosity was a weakness in business, and perhaps it was. Better to be remembered as someone with a big, foolish heart than as a successful bastard.
As Neely himself said in his last interview, “The human brain remembers the good things…the good times…it rationalizes the rest.”
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Rarely are people privileged to help another person fulfill the dying wish of a dear friend. I thank Roland Hanneman for allowing me to help keep his promise to Hal Neely to have his memoirs completed. Roland spent many hours with me relating Hal’s stories and supplying names of other friends and acquaintances to fill in the enigmatic blanks of Hal’s life. I also thank Roland for introducing me to Hal at his nursing home so I could interview him for a local newspaper article the year before his passing. Roland’s devotion to his friend inspires me to be a better person.
Dr. Art Williams graciously spent several hours telling me about Hal’s years in Nashville and in Florida and providing valuable insights into Hal’s life and the inner workings of the music industry.
Some of Hal’s most vivid memories are of his second wife Victoria Wise and of her beauty. She agreed to meet me at a Tampa restaurant in 2011. I had seen only one photograph of her so I was concerned I would not recognize her, but when she walked in the door I instantly knew this was the woman who had enthralled Hal many years ago. I thank her for sharing her personal memories and for being the first person to challenge Hal’s claim he had sued James Brown in 2005. Victoria has recently remarried and I wish her all the happiness in the world.
I also appreciate the time and information from Al Nicholson, Buddy Winsett, Vic McCormick, Abe Guillermo, Sarah Nachin, and Bruce Snow whom I interviewed in Florida. I thank Ellen Paul of Brooksville, Florida, for her editing skills in preparing the final draft of this biography.
Those who spoke to me by telephone who provided assistance were Jack Bart, John Rumble, and Brian Powers. Mr. Rumble and Mr. Powers were kind enough to send me information from the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Cincinnati Public Library which proved invaluable.
Equally important were the e-mail communications shared with Mr. Bart, Randy McNutt, William Lawless, Nathan Gibson, John Broven, Cliff White, and Mike Stoller. Mr. Lawless, as Hal’s attorney, confirmed there had never been a lawsuit against James Brown. Mr. Gibson revealed hard feelings among Starday-King staff toward Hal. Mr. Stoller discounted Hal’s claim that he lost a coin toss and thereby lost his position at the Tennessee Recording Company. Mr. Stoller was the only celebrity who replied to my requests for information. As I said in my e-mail to him, I enjoyed his music and respected him for being a gracious human being.
In closing I thank my wife Janet for her memories about her grandmother’s fascination with Oral Robert’s radio program and about how she had ordered the small vial of Jordan River water which actually came from Hal Neely’s tap at home.

Epilogue
1 Bart Interview.

David, Wallis and the Mercenary Chapter Eleven


Felipe Espil, one of Wallis’s lovers
Previously in the novel: Leon, a novice mercenary, is foiled in taking the Archbishop of Canterbury hostage and exchanging for an anarchist during the Great War by a mysterious man in black. The man in black turns out to be Edward the Prince of Wales. Soon to join the world of espionage is Wallis Spencer, an up-and-coming Baltimore socialite.
Wallis stopped abruptly when she heard his subtle mention the words “hat pin.” Now how the hell would some little bastard from England know about that? She fumbled with her purse as she pulled out another cigarette. For the first time in her life, her fingers trembled. The man offered her a light.
“What did you say?”
After lighting her cigarette, he remained uncomfortably close and whispered, “We’ve read the military dossier on you and Win. The American jackasses don’t believe it, but we do. Also we’ve had collaboration from the Argentinian Embassy. Don’t worry. Felipe Espil is very discreet, but he did think we’d be interested in your many talents. And we are.”
“I’m sorry. You’re confusing the hell out of me. I am an American in Paris who is attending a party at the American Embassy. You tell me you know about my—shall we say friendship with an ambassador from Argentina. So just the hell are you?” She blew smoke in his face.
He took her by the elbow. “Let’s take a stroll in the gardens. Americans are very clever at growing flowering bushes, if not anything else.”
Wallis yanked her arm away and resisted the temptation to inflict permanent harm on his little British body. “You have some bollocks to manhandle me like this!” she spat.
“His Majesty’s secret service.”
They maneuvered their way through the crowd, onto a broad balcony and down marble steps to a garden reeking with lilacs and filled with dark shadows perfect for talking espionage.
“Let me properly introduce myself. I am Gerry Greene and officially a member of the diplomatic corps, but my actual affiliation is with MI-6. You do know what MI-6 is, don’t you?”
“Why should I?” She blew smoke in his face again.
“Oh dear. I have to be blunter with you than I had wished.”
“I prefer it that way.”
“The British Empire has two sections to its intelligence organization. Domestic cases are handled by MI-5. International cases are handled by MI-6. And MI-6 wants you to spy for Britain.”
Her high pitched guffawing broke the proper atmosphere of the embassy garden as if a firecracker exploded. “You must be kidding!”
“We know about your Uncle Sol, Winfield Spencer and many others. You have invented a new singular use for a hat pin that will never be patented. Life in the woods of the Blue Ridge Mountains taught you what can be accomplished with exotic plants. Your memorable methods of mayhem are quite impressive. The finest part is like a deadly virus. You are uniquely bereft of morals.”
“That’s a nasty way of putting it.”
“But still true.”
Wallis threw down her cigarette and smashed into the garden dirt. She took an extra moment to find the best words to respond.
“I’m American. I’d love to be British but sadly I’m not.”
“It makes no difference to us. Your country clings to old-fashioned ideas about patriotism and a woman’s place—“
“But I’m not a woman,” she interrupted.
“We know. That’s why you captivate us.”
His smile annoyed Wallis. “What’s in it for me?” She didn’t know if she were tiring of the conversation or being sucked into the possibilities of an even more glamorous and profitable lifestyle.
“Money unlimited. Enough to buy all the pretty things you love. Living in the finest hotels and mansions in the world is possible.”
The word money hooked Wallis’s attention. “When does this money start showing up in my bank account?”
“Immediately. Greene stepped closer. “And more important than money, this job offers you the opportunity to torture and kill men to satiate your intrinsic hatred and lust.”
She loathed this man for knowing what lurked inside. Like a peeping tom he saw into her soul. “So what do I have to do? Pass some dreadful test or something?”
“First you have to reconcile with Win and move with him to China. Don’t worry. We have a more suitable cover for you. In a couple of years you can divorce your husband. Marry someone else but eventually you will marry the man who will become your partner.”
“You’re choosing the men I will marry?”
“Does it make any difference? You haven’t done that well on your own.”
“How rude of you to remind me.”
“I must impress upon you. This is a life-long commitment which requires enormous amounts of patience. And that life time may be very short.”
“Thank God. I’d hate to be bored.” Wallis shrugged her shoulders and glanced around the garden as if she were bored right now.
“Then listen carefully.” Greene lowered his voice close to a whisper. “You will receive a telegram from Win begging for reconciliation. Don’t ask how but recently someone has convinced him an impressive promotion would be his if he proved himself to be happily married.”
“Is it really true? About the promotion, I mean?”
“Do you care?”
“No.”
“Once you join Win in China you will meet a charming man by the name of Robbie who will offer you a guided tour of China’s most fascinating—and might I add, most sinful—cities where you will be taught the most intricate of oriental martial arts.”
“I hope it involves something kinky.”
“The Chinese do not have a word for kinky. “
“Oh.”
“Just because they don’t talk about it doesn’t mean they don’t know what it means.”

Which Tree?




Three fir trees on the edge of the forest were chatting one morning in early December.
A huge fellow, about twenty feet tall and wide at the base, ruffled his limbs. “I don’t know what you two guys are planning for Christmas but I expect to be center of attention downtown this year. Oh yeah, on the square overseeing the Christmas parade. Anybody who is anybody will be there with their kids watching the parade pass in front of me. I’ll be lit to the max with lights and a star on top.”
“That’s nothing,” a ten footer with lush green boughs replied. “I mean, if you go for that common man scene where they let absolutely everyone near you, I suppose that’s okay. As for myself, I’m selective about my company. Not saying I’m better than anyone else, but let’s just say I have discerning taste. I’m winding up in the grand foyer of a millionaire’s mansion, decorated with only the most expensive ornaments and lights. I’m talking Waterford crystal here, and I’ve got the branches to hold them.”
The third tree, not more than three feet tall and with scrawny limbs, just stood there without much to say.
“What about you, junior? What do you expect to be doing on Christmas morning? Brunching with the chipmunks?” The middle-sized tree blurted forth a forced ha-ha-ha. A nice baritone but shallow as could be.
“Now, now,” the largest tree chided. “We shouldn’t make fun of our inferiors. We all can’t be the best, most important Christmas trees in town. Not even second best, like you who will be charming to a small group but not as the official town tree.”
The littlest tree felt like he was about to ooze sap out of sadness but knew it wouldn’t do any good. The other trees were right. Who would want him except for kindling for the fire? He wasn’t big enough to make a decent Yule log.
Just at that time a caravan of cars leading a large tractor-trailer truck pulled up in front of the three trees. A group of important-looking dignitaries crawled from their cars and circled the largest tree as the crew pulled its equipment from the truck.
“Oh, yes, I think this one will do fine,” a large bald man announced as though he was thoroughly practiced at making important decisions.
“Oh yes, Mr. Mayor, this one will be more than fine.” The others standing next to him quickly agreed with him.
The crew started its chain saw, chopped the fir down and laid it on the flatbed truck.
“See you never, suckers!” the biggest tree called as the municipal procession disappeared.
“Commoner!” the middle-sized tree replied.
A couple of hours passed before a long limousine with shaded windows rolled up to the two remaining firs. A chauffeur jumped from the driver’s seat and opened the door for a couple elegantly dressed in fur and leather. The woman, with her artificially colored blonde hair piled on her head, sipped from a champagne glass, while the man fixated on his cell phone.
“Oh, Maxim,” the woman cooed. “You did a wonderful job scouting out the most beautiful tree in the forest.” She ran her fingers across the chauffeur’s broad shoulders. “Of course, you do everything well.” She turned to the man on the phone. “So, what do you think Joey? Is it big enough for our grand staircase?”
“Yeah. Sure. Whatever.” The man didn’t look up from his phone. “Max, cut it down.”
The chauffeur cut down the middle-sized tree, carefully tied it to the top of the limousine and they got into the car to drive away.
“Good luck, shrimp! You’ll need it!” the tree called out as the car disappeared around the bend.
At the end of the day, the sky darkened, and a small old car rambled up to the small tree and stopped. Three small children poured out of the back seat and ran to the little tree.
“Oh, daddy, this one will be perfect!” they sang as a chorus.
“That’s good,” a young man in ragged overalls said. “Anything bigger wouldn’t have fit in the car.”
A wispy haired young woman came around the car. “Stand back, children. I don’t want you close when your daddy starts using that axe.”
“Oh, Mommy, you worry too much,” one of the children said with a laugh.
On Christmas Eve, everyone in town gathered on the square to watch the Christmas parade and ooh and ah over the beautiful lit giant tree. Floats rolled by, and the people on them pointed and shouted at the town’s big Christmas tree. Bands with drummers, tubas and more marched past. Each one made the tree feel prouder and prouder.
On Christmas Eve night, elegantly dressed couples gathered in the millionaire’s mansion and oohed and awed over the beautifully decorated tree by the grand staircase. They all drank champagne and nibbled on appetizers served on a silver tray by Maxim who also turned out to be the butler. The ladies in their lovely gowns asked the millionaire’s wife when they were leaving for their estate in the Bahamas.
“Midnight,” she replied. “We always spend Christmas day in the Bahamas. It’s our family tradition.”
Also on Christmas Eve night, across town in a small wooden house, the family decorated the little tree which they placed on a table in the corner of the living room. The room smelled delicious from the freshly popped corn which they strung and hung on the tree. The children kept busy coloring, cutting and hanging the new ornaments on the little tree. The room was alive with the constant giggling of the children, and the little tree decided this wasn’t a bad place to be.
The next morning, everyone in town was home, opening presents and enjoying Christmas dinner with family and friends. The large tree downtown had already been forgotten. It kept hoping to hear another oom pa pa coming down the street but it didn’t. The enormous fir shivered first from the cold wind and then from the loneliness. It couldn’t decide which was worse.
In the millionaire’s mansion, everything was dark and still. All the elegantly dressed people were gone. Numbing silence replaced the insincere wishes for a happy holiday season. The middle-sized tree decided all that Waterford crystal was making its branches droop. Not even Maxim was there.
Meanwhile, in the small house across town, the family gathered around the tree to open presents. The children tore away wrapping paper to see new socks and underwear and hugged their parents gratefully for it. Then they cooked their modest Christmas feast and settled back around the tree with their plates in their laps and ate every bite of it.
Now you tell me. Which was the grandest Christmas tree of all?

Lincoln in the Basement Chapter Thirty-Five


Doorman Thomas Pendel
Previously in the novel: War Secretary Edwin Stanton held President and Mrs. Lincoln captive under guard in basement of the White House. He guided his substitute Lincoln through his first Cabinet meeting. Then he told Lincoln’s bodyguard Ward Hill Lamon that Lincoln and his wife were in hiding because of death threats. Lamon comes to the White House to find out for himself.

Old Tom Pendel walked down the hall on the second floor, lighting the gas lamps as the last rays of the sun faded, creating vague, sad shadows lurking around the corners. Giggling, Tad ran in front of him, trying to trip him up. Alethia stood in the doorway of her bedroom and watched. Pendel was kind, patient, and understanding to the little boy with a lisp. She knew she should not, but she was falling in love with the Lincolns’ son. She and Tad had come to a silent agreement: he knew she was not his mother, nor the man his father, but they both were kind and meant no harm to him, so he accepted them and went along with the “game.”
“Taddie, it’s time for supper,” she said as the boy approached.
“Aww, do I have to?” Tad scrunched up his face.
“It’s best that you eat, Master Tad,” Pendel said as he continued down the hall lighting the lamps. “Or else you’ll end up funny-looking like me when you grow up.”
Tad giggled as Alethia ran her fingers through his hair. She could not help but think how wonderful it would have been if she were married and had children.
“You know, he’s right. I don’t know why you have to put up a fuss.”
“But tonight I really don’t feel good, honest.” He looked up earnestly with his light brown eyes.
“Have you been into your father’s licorice again?”
“No, honest.”
“Very well.” She felt his forehead, and he did seem a little warm. “But if you don’t eat, you must go straight to bed.”
“That’s all right by me.” And Tad scampered down the hall to his room, stopping only to pull on Pendel’s coat one last time, which caused the old man to put up a comical protest, eliciting more giggles from the boy as he closed his door.
“So Tad isn’t eating with us tonight?” Duff said as he stepped from his bedroom.
“No, Father, he says he’s not feeling well.” She smiled, and her eyes lit. Here was another person of whom she felt herself growing fond. When Duff stood close and towered over her, she imagined it was how the Virgin Mary felt when she was overcome by the Holy Spirit, and conceived.
“Then we’d best be on our way,” Duff said with a smile.
Alethia took his arm, and they went down by the service stairs. She leaned into him as they crunched on the straw mats.
“Do you imagine I could get away with eating his dinner too?” he asked.
“I don’t see why not.” Alethia laughed, squeezed his hand, and chose to ignore his stiffening at her show of affection.
They settled into the dining room chairs and graciously thanked Phebe as she placed bowls of potato soup before them. Their sipping of the chunky broth and chatting about the day’s events abruptly ended when the door opened and Stanton marched in.
“Stand up,” he ordered.
Duff meekly put down his spoon and stood. Alethia watched as his eyes glazed over with acquiescence. Her heart ached to see him humiliated.
“Unbutton your coat.”
Duff obeyed the order, and Stanton brusquely placed his small hand on the long expanse of Duff’s abdomen. Alethia turned her head away, unable to watch the ritual the war secretary had been conducting for the past two months. Her eyes closed as she heard Stanton’s low grunt.
“You’re gaining too much weight.” Stanton glanced at the bowl of soup. “You may finish the soup, but tell the cook you don’t want the main course. The same tomorrow night also.”
“Yes, sir.”

James Brown’s Favorite Uncle The Hal Neely Story Chapter Thirty-Three


Brooksville, Florida, Hal Neely’s last home
Previously in the book: Nebraskan Hal Neely began his career touring with big bands and worked his way into Syd Nathan’s King records, producing rock and country songs. Along the way he worked with James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, who referred to Neely as his favorite uncle. Eventually he became one of the owners of Starday-King, until the other owners bought him out. He found himself sitting further back in music industry room. He eventually moved to Florida.

Brooksville, Florida, became Hal Neely’s best friend; both the town and the man were old, mellow, and had come to terms with their pasts. This friendship came about by accident. In 2005 Hanneman was returning to his home in Orlando from an appointment in Tampa when he took a wrong highway and wound up in this small town with old homes and streets canopied with Spanish moss-strewn oak trees. Brooksville’s out-of-the-way serenity struck a chord with Hanneman so he decided to build a house there. He realized that Neely’s health was failing and wanted him to move to Brooksville, too. After his doctor confirmed his condition, Neely agreed to give Hanneman power of attorney. At first he lived in a small apartment but soon moved to an assisted living facility called Tangerine Cove, a block from the old brick courthouse.1
Brooksville was founded in 1856, and citizens decided to name the town in honor of U.S. Representative Preston Brooks of South Carolina after Brooks took a cane to U.S. Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts during an impassioned debate on slavery. Sumner made a disparaging remark about Brooks’ uncle, which provoked the gentleman from South Carolina to attack the older man from Massachusetts. Sumner took refuge under his desk as Brooks repeatedly swung his cane at him. Finally Sumner tried to crawl from the chamber but Brooks continued his assault. Blood stained the marble floor of Congress. Everyone in the north was horrified. Some historians pointed to the incident as the first bloodshed in the Civil War. Folks in the south, however, applauded Brooks, and the residents of a new Florida village took his name.2
By the first decade of the new millennium Brooksville had left its history behind with an integrated city council and bestowed its highest honor “The Great Brooksvillian” on a black civil rights leader of the 1870s who had been shot to death after performing a marriage ceremony between a black man and a white woman.3
Neely maneuvered about Main Street in his motorized chair, making friends along the way. The second Saturday of every month Neely rolled across the street and down a block behind the county library to a band shell. The local fine arts council received a grant to put on free concerts, and Neely attended every one of them, whether they featured garage bands, nostalgia rock groups composed of local teachers or special evenings of former stars, like the Coasters. When the grant money began to run out, Neely became a cheerleader throughout downtown to raise money to keep the concerts going.
One night he went to a downtown home decor shop where a martini reception was being held in honor of Carl Gardner, one of the original Coasters. Gardner was promoting his autobiography, “Yakety Yak I Fought Back.” Neely spun his wheel chair up to the desk where Gardner sat signing books and copies of CDs of his all-time hits, “Charlie Brown,” “Along Came Jones,” and “Little Egypt,” Every time a guest tried to take a picture Gardner put on his signature grin and gave a thumbs up. Neely, on the other hand, continued his conversation as though photographers were part of his everyday life.
“The music industry was filled with producers who were out to cheat you,” Gardner told the group. Then he pointed at Neely. “But this is the nicest man in the world.”
Because Neely was never voted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame or the Country Music Hall of Fame, he appreciated personal statements of gratitude like the one accorded him by Gardner, but many of his old friends and business associates–the ones who saw Neely in his prime–were disappearing.
His chief rival in claiming the discovery of James Brown, Ralph Bass, died March 5, 1997. Bass was inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 1991.4 His associate at King Records, Henry Glover, died April 7, 1991, and was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2013.5 Loyal King associate Jim Wilson died Jan. 30, 1996.6 The brothers who brought about his demise at Starday-King, Johnny and Freddy Bienstock, died in 2006 and 2009, respectively.7 Songwriter Jerry Lieber died in 2011, survived by his partner Mike Stoller.8 Moe Lytle, whom Art Williams said Neely absolutely hated, was still running Gusto Records in 2013.9
In April of 2005 Don Pierce, with whom he had worked at Starday-King in Nashville died at age 89. He had not been voted into the Country Music Hall of Fame either.10 However, Pierce expressed feelings toward the end of his life about Neely that were less than friendly.
Nathan Gibson, author of “The Starday Story,” said Pierce specifically asked him not to involve Hal Neely in his project.
“As I understand it,” Gibson said, “when Hal took over at Starday, many believed he was the cause of Starday’s downfall…excessive spending, poor recording choices, clashing personality with many artists , business/personal relationship woes, and an overall carelessness for the business. Several individuals told me they loved Starday, best job they ever had, but they quit because they couldn’t stand working for Hal.”
During several interviews Gibson said participants told him that if he wanted to know about Hal Neely, he would have to turn off his tape recorder, and they would tell him about Hal Neely. The general feeling among those being interviewed was one of animosity and uneasiness.
“He remains a great mystery to me,” Gibson said, “and to many others.” 11
Those feelings were not shared by everyone. Author Randy McNutt said, “Hal was a good record man, and he was very helpful to me when I was writing the chapter on King Records for ‘Little Labels—Big Sound.’”12
On his birthday a call came into Tangerine Cove for Neely, and the staff could not believe it was Dolly Parton, who had done business with Neely and Starday-King. She wished him a happy birthday.13
Another fan was Al Nicholson, road manager for the Platters when the group toured in 1970 as part of the world’s fair in Okinawa. He also worked with the Drifters and the Coasters. By the middle 2000s Nicholson was entertaining in nursing homes in Florida, and during a performance at Tangerine Cove he looked into the audience to see a familiar face. He had met Neely while working with the Coasters. They renewed their friendship and spent many hours talking about old times, especially with Neely emphasizing his lawsuit against James Brown.
Ever the deal-maker, Neely used his influence with the organizers of the town’s band shell concert to feature Nicholson as an opening act.
“The crowd was screaming, and I had an autograph session with a line of thirty people.” Nicholson continued his visits to Tangerine Cove for long chats with Neely. “He was quite a character,” Nicholson said. “Sometimes he would get confused about his groups. But Hal’s stories were always consistent which gave the impression they were true.”14
Among his new friends were the members of the Brooksville Church of Christ which was about four or five blocks south of downtown. Neely’s grandfather was the first Episcopalian minister west of Mississippi. He grew up as a Methodist in Nebraska away from the influence of tobacco and booze. He was a self-described Irish/Scotch Protestant, joining and supporting the Presbyterian Church for many years. He felt right at home at the Brooksville Church of Christ.
One of his favorite activities in Brooksville was going to a Bible class taught by Abe Guillermo, long-time church member and lay minister. Neely called Guillermo the best damn Christian scholar he ever met.
After three months of going to church, Neely told Guillermo he was ready to be baptized. Neely said he had been raised in a Christian family and belonged to churches but never learned about Jesus until Guillermo taught him. Seventeen church members gathered at a member’s home for the baptism which was conducted in the family’s swimming pool. Neely approached the pool using his walker and gave a two-minute talk about his conversion. Guillermo gently guided him into the pool and immersed him in the water. Neely emerged exultant.
“I did it! I did it!”
If any of the church members thought Neely’s conversion was going to change his life-long use of common profanities, they were in for a disappointment. At the luncheon served afterwards, Neely spouted “damn this” and “damn that” a few times before Guillermo interrupted.
“Hal, we’re going to have to baptize your dictionary.”15
Neely had some regrets in his life, church minister Vic McCormick said he told him, but they were mostly in his private life. His first marriage ended in divorce, and there was a lot of bad feeling in his separation from his second wife. But he expressed no regrets in his business life.16
“Money was not my priority,” he told Guillermo. “You can’t change a thing. Now I have a new life.” He also told them he had warned James Brown not to go back to his same old crowd which had gotten him into trouble in the first place.
Brooksville accepted Neely as one of their own, albeit a man with a mysterious and exciting past. “To see him (Neely) you wouldn’t have known he had been big in the music business,” Guillermo said.
Another thing Neely told him was that he had his music catalogue in a warehouse. Originally he was going to leave it to University of South Florida, but he decided to give it to the Bible teacher instead. And he had royalties being held by a Memphis music company. Those would go to the church. His lawyer was a member of the Brooksville Church of Christ also. After Neely passed on, they were to contact the lawyer.17
***
James Brown died Dec. 25, 2006 of congestive heart failure and pneumonia at the age of 73. In his final years Brown was still performing and still the Hardest Working Man in Show Business. He scheduled eighty-one shows for 2006–including stops in Europe, Morocco, Tokyo, Estonia, Turkey and the United States.
He had also become a fixture in the charitable community of Augusta, Georgia. At Thanksgiving he gave away turkeys to poor families. On Dec. 20 he participated in a toy giveaway. He went to a dental appointment immediately after the toy distribution event, but when the dentist saw his physical condition he ordered Brown admitted to Emory Crawford Young Hospital where he died on Christmas Day.
Brown had three funeral services, one of which was at the Apollo Theater in Harlem where he had produced his live album with the help of Hal Neely.18
***
Guillermo said the London Times called Neely after Brown’s death and asked him how he was doing.
“Oh,” Neely replied, “I’ve found Jesus.”19
***
James Brown was inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 1987 as was Syd Nathan in 1997, but the old King Records building in Cincinnati fell into disrepair and eventually into oblivion.
“In Cincinnati,” Larry Nager of the Cincinnati Enquirer said, “it’s as if King and Mr. Nathan never existed. There’s no museum and even a proposed historical marker remains controversial. Many say it’s because Mr. Nathan’s crudely direct style and the rawness of King’s music don’t fit Cincinnati’s refined, blue-chip self-image.”
“I’ll be surprised if the city recognizes the building,” Howard Kessel, an original King partner, said, “They never wanted anything to do with us. To them, we were just making records for hillbillies and black people.”20
***
Neely’s health continued to worsen, and Hanneman visited with him every day and ensuring he made all his doctor’s appointments. Sometimes Neely resisted going to see a new doctor.
Hanneman would walk in and say, “Come on, we’re late to your doctor’s appointment. You know the one. You’ve had it for months.”
He also showed up for meals just to make sure Neely made it to the dining room. Hanneman’s devotion to Neely stirred some suspicion among the personnel at Tangerine Cove. A staff member confronted him one day.
“Why are you being so nice to him?” she demanded. “You know he doesn’t have any money.”
“Of course, I do,” Hanneman replied, taken aback.
“So why are you doing this? People aren’t nice just to be nice.”
“He’s my friend.”
And he was. Hanneman bought Neely a laptop computer and encouraged him to write his memoirs. He listened patiently to all the stories, over and over again. There was a consistent theme. James Brown owed his success to Hal Neely, but never wanted to admit it. Brown was guilty of a “convenient memory.”21 Eventually, Neely wrote about 80 pages of memoirs.
The last interview Neely granted was in February of 2008 to a biweekly newspaper in Brooksville. The headline was “When Vinyl Was King.” He told the newspaper he first heard Frank Sinatra sing when the entertainer was 16 years old at a high school dance. “I asked him what he was going to be, and he said he was going to be a star. I told Harry James to sign him.”
He related how a man from Seattle had introduced Patsy Cline to him, and he signed her to a contract and produced many of her hit recordings. He said James Brown chose to forget him and his associations with him and repeated his story that he sued Brown in federal court in 2005. The article ended with Neely saying, “The human brain remembers the good things…the good times…it rationalizes the rest.”22
He developed stomach problems arising from the medications he was taking. As he slept Neely rolled over and fell out of bed catching his head between the nightstand and bedrail. He was taken to the hospital, and Hanneman was at his side as death drew near. Their eyes connected.
“I want my memoir completed,” Neely whispered to Hanneman. “People have to know that James Brown had a convenient memory. He didn’t want to admit that I had been the driving force in his early career. But I forced him to admit he knew me. It was in open court, and Brown had to face the facts.”23
When Neely died, many record industry officials came to the funeral service at the Brooksville Church of Christ on March 4, 2009.24 Neely’s cremated remains were left with the church, Hanneman said. Neely’s friend Art Williams did not attend; he was hospitalized in Phoenix, Arizona, for heart problems at the time. Williams said he felt hurt that Neely did not call him much in the last months of his life and he felt sad about the way he died. “Hal was genuinely interested in other people, optimistic and generous to a fault,” Williams said. “The pot of gold always eluded him.”25
Neely’s estranged wife Victoria Wise did not attend the funeral either. When she tried to file for benefits from his life insurance policy she ran across a clerical roadblock. When Neely’s death certificate was filled out, someone stated on it that he was divorced, even though they were only separated. Wise delayed filing the divorce papers. Neely’s friends had urged him to sue her for divorce in order to receive a monetary settlement from Wise, but the divorce never actually occurred. The insurance company chose to accept the death certificate as proof they had divorced.
“How do you prove a negative?” Wise said. “Hal always wanted to be appreciated and felt cheated he wasn’t recognized for what he did,” she said. When asked about the lawsuit against James Brown, she shook her head and replied, “There was no lawsuit.”26
After the funeral Hanneman went to Neely’s warehouse unit and discovered mementos of his career, which attorney Bruce Snow of Brooksville said were of no value.27 There was no record catalogue to be bequeathed to Abe Guillermo, which Guillermo said did not bother him at all. He just was pleased to have met such an interesting man from the record industry in the final years of his life, sharing their love of big band music.28 The Brooksville Church of Christ took possession of Neely’s ashes, Hanneman said. Snow also doubted there were any disputed royalties with a company in Memphis, as Neely had told his church friends.
“Hal’s recollection of events was colored by age,” Snow said. “His current and future plans were as mingled in thought as his history. Hal was not out to create grandeur that was not there. He had his grandeur, but it was a blend of reality and memory.”29
Snow’s hypothesis on the lawsuit was confirmed by William Lawless who represented Neely during the years he lived in Florida.
“The situation with James Brown happened a long time ago,” Lawless said, “In the early days of Hal’s career he represented James Brown as an agent. Brown shifted agents, and I think Hal sued on breach of contract. I do not know the results of that litigation.
“The lawsuit I handled was about compensation he earned while in the employ of a company (United Buyers of America). That lawsuit occurred more than thirteen years ago. My memory is poor on that subject. By the way, the arrangement with Hal regarding the lawsuit judgment collection was that Hal had so many friends in the business that he was going to locate the main assets and I was to seek a Writ of Execution to attach the assets.” He never found any assets.
“The last time I saw Hal, he was in western Florida in a place he was renting. There was a man with him who was cleaning and transferring music from albums to tape. This music is the music which Hal claimed he owned. One time I asked for documentation to see his ownership interest. He said he did not have any. Some of this was Frank Sinatra and other named singers.”30
An article in the Nov. 15, 1993 edition of the Orlando Sentinel reported that Neely, at that time 72 years old, filed a breach of contract suit in state Circuit Court in Orlando for $200,905 for pay from Jan. 1, 1989 to March 5, 1991 from United Shoppers of America Inc., a video duplication company.
Neely told the newspaper he did not press for his salary payment while working for the company because it was having financial problems. He was the corporation secretary, treasurer, chief operating officer and chief financial officer. He said he quit in March, 1991, because of not being paid and differences with management. After leaving United Shoppers of America Neely said he had worked part-time as a television writer and producer.
Roland Hanneman, when told that the lawyer involved with Neely during the time of the alleged James Brown lawsuit said the courts never had such a case before it, paused a moment and ran his fingers through his hair. The lawsuit was not important, he decided. The memoirs of Hal Neely’s long career in the music industry were more than one lawsuit against a singer.
Neeley’s memoirs were the cultural history of the United States in the last half of the 20th century. They represented in one man what life was for everyone: each person did his best according to the talents given to him and along the way he earned a few friends and made a few enemies.
In the end of his life Hal Neely was surrounded by friends, which was all that truly mattered.
1 Hanneman Interview.
2 www.fivay.org/hernando1.html.
3 www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CREC-2007-10-10/html/CREC-2007-10-10-PgE2115-3.html.
4 King of the Queen City, 93.
5 www.discogs.com/artist/308467-henry.glover.
6 John Rumble Interview 6/26/13.
7 www.legacy.com/NYTimes/obituary.aspx?n=freddy.bienstock. www.allmusic.com/artist/johnny.bienstock-mn0001010454/biography.
8 www.lieberstoller.com/abouthml.
9 The Starday Story, 166.
10 Ibid., 168-169.
11 Nathan Gibson Interview December 2010.
12 Randy McNutt Interview March 2011.
13 Hanneman Interview.
14 Al Nicholson Interview, June 2011.
15 Abe Guillermo Interview, March 2011.
16 Vic McCormick Interview, March 2011.
17 Guillermo Interview.
18 Life of James Brown, 197-198.
19 Guillermo Interview.
20 King of the Queen City, 191-192.
21 Hanneman Interview.
22 Cowling, Jerry, When Vinyl Was King, Brooksville Belle, Brooksville, FL, Feb. 21-March5, 2008 edition.
23 Hanneman Interview.
24 Neill, Logan, Grammy Award Winning Producer Dies, St. Petersburg Times, www.tampabay.com/news/article983842.ece.
25 Williams Interview.
26 Wise Interview.
27 Bruce Snow Interview.
28 Guillermo Interview.
29 Snow Interview.
30William Lawless Interview.