Buddy Shively

shivelyBuddy died in his sleep last night. Heart related, I assume. From his page on The Basement Diaries:

Buddy (did we call him Shive?) always seemed more grown-up than everyone else. Sure, confident, directed. Buddy helped me get my first job in high school (at Liberty Supermarket). While the rest of us were farting away our lives during the Basement years, Buddy was building a career. He played with us but I always felt like it was the way an adult plays with a child. Another very good poker player. Here’s his first entry in The Basement Diaries:

“I remember when we first started playing poker it was for real money and for some pretty big money (for the time, at least) and then the markers started, and got worse and worse (for some reason I blame Larry Miller for starting the markers) and after a while, every time you lost some money, you dug into your wallet and picked out an appropriate IOU and used it like money. I remember once piling up all my IOU notes out of my wallet and having 50 or 60 IOU’s totaling more than two hundred dollars! Occasionally (not often) we declared an “actual cash” game and didn’t allow the IOU’s. Someone discovered that whenever Mullen was bluffing, he’d say “up a buck,” and when he had it, he’d say “up a dollar”. He lost lots of IOU’s before we told him.

What history can be complete without mention of THE BROWN DERBY. I’m talking about the original Derby across the street from the Cotton Bowl Hotel. It was run by an old man named Kirk who made a great bowl of stew and grilled delicious hamburgers. Kirk had a cute little trick where he pretended to flatten the burger patty by squeezing it in his armpit. I’ll bet no one knows his last name or what ever happened to him.

Mullen was the best at snooker… Miller was a wannabe. The best shooters at the Brown Derby were “Sudsy” Southern and Steve Reagan’s older, left-handed, red-headed brother, shooting those $5 games of nine-ball on the back table.”

Buddy correctly points out that most of the early poker games and snooker/ nine-ball games at the Brown Derby took place while we were still in high school and predate The Basement Years. These events are, however, very much in the spirit of the The Basement Diaries.

The Brown Derby

Have we talked about the Brown Derby. I don’t think so. It was a pool hall in Kennett, MO. There might still be a place called “Brown Derby” but the special place I remember is long gone. It was on First Street across from the Cotton Boll Hotel (also long gone).

When I was a young boy there were a couple of pool halls on the downtown square. In the summer the doors were open and I could peer into the cool darkness. I imagine I can still hear the clicking of the balls. And the smell. Not a bad smell, but a smell I still associate with pool halls. Where was I? The Brown Derby.

I think my friends and I started going to the Derby during high school. It was important to get there early in order to get a table. Larry Miller and Larry Mullen (usually referred to as “Miller and Mullen”) were the superior players in our gang. And they took it very seriously.

photoI’m sure there are no photos of the Derby so I’ll try to describe it for you.

If you entered through the front door (on First Street) there were two snooker table just to your right (I’ll include a sketch later). Along the left side of the room was a low counter, probably with stools. On the other side of the counter, a grill where Kirk Rowland (?), the owner, made great hamburgers.

I’m fuzzy on this but I think there were four (maybe six) regular pool tables. Two across and two or three deep. These were magnificent old tables with the braided leather pockets. Not the cheap coin-operated tables that came along later. At the very back of the room was a really nasty bathroom. I don’t recall there being a MEN’s and LADIES but then don’t recall ever seeing a female in the Derby.

I remember Kirk Rowland as a crusty (literally) old guy with a twisted sense of humor. This was pre-patty so making a hamburger involved grabbing a handful of meat and flattening it for the grill. For Derby first-timers, Kirk would pretend to make the patty by flattening it in his arm pit. He sold candy bars and every time someone asked him for a Snicker, he’d hold his hand over his mouth and make this creepy little laugh. Snicker? Get it? You had to be there.

For those who have never played snooker, I won’t try to explain it. For those who have, you probably remember the wire suspended from the ceiling. It was strung with small wooden… what would you call them? … markers? When you scored a point, you’d reach up with your cue and slide a marker from one end of the wire to the other. I’ll never forget the sound.

On the regular pool tables we played nine ball, some times rotation. I want to say it cost a quarter a game. When a game was concluded, one of the player would shout, “RACK!” and the “rack boy” (I’m almost certain that’s what we called him) would bring a rack to the table and collect the money.

The only rack boy I remember is Larry Whitledge. Larry was a classmate so it was awkward — for me, at least — to shout RACK! to summon Larry. Don’t think it bothered him a bit but I never asked.

The Derby must have been full of interesting characters but I don’t remember them. Adults were invisible to us at that point in our lives. The only name that comes to mind is Gene Overall. Gene was only a year or two older than I but he seemed like a grown-up even in high school. I don’t recall ever being in the Derby when Gene wasn’t there.

As a child Gene had contracted polio (pre-vaccine) and had lost most of the use of his left arm. This, however, did not prevent him from becoming wickedly good snooker player (I never saw him play anything but snooker). Gene would slowly circle the snooker table and when he was ready to shoot, he’d swing his bad arm up the table and make a bridge. Then that slow, smooth stroke the good snooker players all had. Click. The over to the wire and zing!

The image above is Sublette’s Pool Hall in Hasskell County, Kansas. It nicely captures the feel of the Brown Derby

Sublette’s Pool Hall in Hasskell County, Kansas

Sublette’s Pool Hall in Hasskell County, Kansas

Junior-Senior Prom


With prom season upon us (already over?) here’s Ms. Betty Jane Lowrance, Kennett High School Prom Queen of 1965. Pictured with Ms. Lowrance is Junior Class President Steve Mays.

Turns out I was the only one that didn’t know the junior class president was responsible for decorating the gym for the prom. (I thought the field of candidates seemed a bit sparse) Note the manly confidence with which I hold the prom queen’s hand.

High school transcripts

One of the many treasures unearthed while cleaning out my parents attic was my high school transcripts. I scanned, filed and then forgot about them but they popped up recently so I decided to add them to this record.


I was a little surprised to see I was 8th in a class of 152. I take that to mean lots of folks were having more fun than I was. My grades in math don’t reflect what I really took away from those classes. (Thank you John Robison for letting my copy your work).


I vaguely recall taking some of these tests, in preparation for college but I don’t think I ever saw the results. With an IQ of 121 (high average?) I probably should have tried harder in life. Next time.

Casting call for actors and zombies

“Collapse,” a SAG feature film from Iowa-based production companies Iowa Film Production Services/Storybench, will be casting in Coralville Sunday for feature parts, extras and zombies.

Open call with PMS Casting of Pella will be noon to 5 p.m. at production office 805 Second Street, Coralville (the old Scandinavian Design building across from Dairy Queen.)

Principal photography begins Sept. 30 and will run for five weeks in Johnson and Iowa counties. Compensation for speaking parts is equivalent to SAG low-budget scale of $268/day.

Non-agented actors can email a small photo in jpeg format to pmsfilmcasting@aol.com with resume and contact information.

This is Storybench’s third feature, following “The Offering” and “Splatter.” “Collapse” was written by Ottumwa’s Mike Saunders and will be directed by Saunders and fellow Ottumwan Jason Bolinger. Producing is Bruce Heppner-Elgin of Washington.

Characters being cast include:

ROBERT MORGAN – in his 40’s. A care-worn farmer doing his best to take care of his family. Teetering on the edge of losing his farm and dealing with a sick wife, his world is spinning out of control. When the zombies begin to attack the farm, he deals with them brutally and efficiently.

MOLLY MORGAN – Robert’s much-loved wife suffers from spells of pain and exhaustion. She is a loving, dutiful wife and mother but the stress is becoming too much for her.

WILL MORGAN – 13-14 years old and doesn’t quite fit in at school. A quiet child who feels a great deal of responsibility toward his family. Tired from the burden of helping his father and Hank with the farm chores and distracted by his parent’s absence in the stands, he loses his track event.

HANK – Mid-late 20’s, Hank has worked for the Morgans for about 10 years and is more like family than a farm hand. He is a surrogate big brother to Will. Tough and loyal, he is forced to give notice because he has his own bills to pay.

COACH BELL – Female, athletic and fit in her 40’s-50’s, she recognizes that Will is a kid in trouble and needs encouragement. Coach Bell speaks with his parents about her concerns for Will.

Dr. CHARLES MCFARLAND – Small town doctor in his 40’s. A contemporary of Robert’s, he knows that Molly’s illness is not something he can treat and tries to convince Robert to take Molly to a psychiatrist.

NURSE -30’s – She runs Dr. McFarland’s office and is efficient, yet motherly. Fits well into this small farming community and probably knows everything about everybody.

SHERIFF RHODES – Rough and tough local guy who has spent his entire life in this community. Late 40’s -early 50’s, he was probably a high school football hero in his youth. Rhodes is good at keeping his small town running smoothly because he knows everybody and is fair to them all. He wears cowboy boots and an exterior gruffness.

DEPUTY COOPER: An average nice guy in his mid-late 20’s. Single and easy going. Likes the relative peace of working in a small town and never thought he would have to deal with anything like this.

DANA – Just out of high school, Dana is a small town girl who attends community college and works at the local convenience gas mart. Robert rescues her but is later forced to kill her when she is bitten.

MR. LYNN A prosperous neighboring farmer in his 60’s, Mr. Lynn is losing his sight. Molly reads to him on occasion. When he hires Hank away from the Morgan farm, he adds to Robert’s troubles.

EDGAR HENNENLOTTER – A banker in his late 20’s. Because he is a city boy with a business degree, he considers himself to be better than the farmers his bank serves and has an air of arrogance and insincerity about him.

For more information visit PMS Casting’s web site.

New release that came into one of our newsrooms a couple of days ago. Golly, but I’d love to make up to Iowa just two talk with those waiting to audition. I mean, how does “Dana” feel about being “forced to kill her when she is bitten?” Or, how does “Robert” plan to deal with the zombies “brutally and efficiently?”

If you see this movie, leave us a comment.

R.I.P. Whitey

Richard Whitehorn died last week. Following a long slug-fest with cancer. Richard was just a year ahead of me in school and we weren’t close growing up. But I have lots of memories of him.

I don’t know if Richard was a bully or I was just intimidated by him. But he projected a kind of tough guy image. He and his BFF Tommy Crunk were like Butch and Sundance, tooling around town in Whitey’s ’57 Chevy. When the Honda motorcycle craze hit, Crunk and Whitey were among the first to own them. Yes, they were dashing.

One hot summer night during high school, my friends and I pooled our money and gave it to Whitey to buy us the beer we were not quite old enough to purchase ourselves. We also gave him a detailed list of what each of us wanted. He returned with a case of Champagne Velvet. Nasty stuff that was much cheaper. (“You guys had just enough money.”) A really bad guy would have just taken our money. Whitey gave us beer and a little lesson in free enterprise.

As an adult, Richard (I don’t know if anyone still called him Whitey by then) became a crop duster. Hard to imagine a more fitting occupation. Our friend Pam attended Richard’s funeral this past  weekend in Kennett.

“It was sad as hell. They had visitation starting at 11:00 and a graveside service at 2:00.  The funeral was over, the preacher had just said “amen” and closed the Bible when I heard someone say “here they come” and I wondered, who’s coming? I looked in the direction I heard some noise and here came 3 Pawnee crop dusters in formation, streaming smoke like they were Blue Angels, tree top high right over the funeral tent. Once past the left and right planes peeled off and the middle plane pulled up. I think everyone lost it at that point.”

To which Richard would have growled, “What are you pussies crying about?”

Webcasting high school football games

“Beginning this Friday, Gannett will have 12 live high school football games showing on widgets posted to USAToday.com and many of our local broadcast and newspaper sites. The games are being produced by our broadcast and newspaper sites as well as a high school AV department. Most of the games are single cam, laptop, aircard + Mogulus productions.” — Liz Foreman, Lost Remote:

Rediscovering high school football

Cover story on Broadcasting & Cable looks at how some local TV stations are “rediscovering” high school football:

“Vital to high school football’s rise in popularity is the fact that technology has finally reached a point where the typical teen, raised on YouTube, can easily upload video and share highlights from that night’s game. Station managers say the interactive nature of new media — whether it’s user-generated video, scores or trash-talking — is a critical component of their school content.

Hearst-Argyle Television has taken the interactive concept a step further, training students in seven markets to be “sideline reporters” for its social-networking platform High School Playbook. A total of 60 students shoot high-def cameras, edit and post their work on the Web site.”

The good news –and the bad news– is this is no longer the turf of any medium. I know TV, cable and newspapers are jumping in. I hope there are radio stations doing them same. How hard would it be?

Let’s say there are 10 HS football teams within the range of my station’s signal. I recruit and train 10 reporters (and 10 back-up’s) on how to shoot/edit game highlights. They upload same to the station YouTube channel (sponsored, of course) and we promote like mad. Incentive? Maybe some pocket money. Best video of the season wins a video iPod (others get iPod Shuffles and iTunes gift cards).

Now Buddy can go steady again

I received the following email last week:


“My name is Mike McGuire. While camping at Lake Wapapello a few years ago, I came across a class ring from Kennett HS lying in the rocks. The year is dated 1966 and the initials on the inside of the ring are BDS. I looked up the students on classmates.com and found a Buddy Shivley. I sent an email through classmates.com and received no response. I then did a google search on “Buddy Shivley”, “Kennett” and “MO” and came up with your site.Do you have any way to contact Buddy or his family? I would like to get in contact with him to determine if the ring is his and return it. I know this is “out there”, but it is a true story. Thanks in advance for any help you can provide.”

I grew up with Buddy and went to highschool with him. If you know how to get in touch with him, let him know he can stop searching for his senior ring.

Update: 9/25/07 — One ring to rule them all. Thanks to Mike McGuire, Google, and a lot of luck, Buddy Shively will soon be reunited with his Kennett High School senior ring. Email from Buddy:

“Did you go on a trip to Lake Wappappello around the time we graduated HS? (not to be confused with the (in)famous float trip) I remember about 15 or 20 of us went. I remember riding in a boat with Ronnie Carnett pulling in toward shore in water over my head. All of a sudden Pat Brooks was in the water in front of the boat and Ronnie was setting there with his foot pumping an imaginary brake pedal with the boat going on toward Pat. (I think it was Pat and Ronnie – it may have been someone else – but I was still a hero!) I dove into the water (rather heroically, I might add) and pushed the boat away from Pat.  When I came up my ring was gone and I really hadn’t thought about it much in what  41 years.”

And today, out of the blue, a Mike McGuire called and said he had found the ring and traced me down.  He is sending it to me.  What a deal.”

Yes, what a deal. And no, I wasn’t on that trip. But I love the Lord of the Rings flavor of this story. The story of my high school ring was one of the early posts here at smays.com.

Update: 10/11/07
— Bud Shively has his high school ring back.

“Who said it wouldn’t fit?  It is as good as new. It sure hasn’t been worn much.  I cannot believe it. Mike McGuire, of near St Louis, found my Kennett High School Class ring that I lost about 41 1/2 years ago and graciously had it cleaned at Randy’s Jewelry (you did a great job, Randy’s) in O’Fallon MO and kindly returned it to me.”