Portugal 1979

Sleeping on the beach? Legal.

Two things I remember about the towns along Portugal’s south coast: fish (fresh sardines, I believe) grilling on small sidewalk barbecue grills, billowing acrid blue smoke singeing the air and . . . packs of barking dogs racing through town. Which, if not prepared, imperil those lugging backpacks and other traveling paraphernalia. And anyone else caught unawares. One, two, three, four, 10, 11, 14 . . . who counts that fast?

The dog thing wasn’t so bad. The first time, I thought: “Wow, that was weird.” The next time, I noticed shopkeepers and restaurant owners – including the sardine grillers – pressed up against a wall, staring as the dogs raced past. Complacent. No stress. So the next time I heard barking dogs approach, I pressed against the nearest wall – and watched as the four-legged pack streamed around the corner on to . . . wherever. A man standing in a storefront across the street looked at me, smiled and waved. I did the same, feeling almost Portuguese.

As for the grilled sardines, that smell is with me still – almost 35 years later.

The next part is from my journal.


Sept. 17, 1979.

Albufeira, Portugal

“17-9-79 Albufeira, Portugal Sunny & warm (but windy)

Arrived here late last night with a woman named Joy, who now lives outside La Crosse, Wis. It has been many days since I last wrote so I must try to catch up.

At the moment, I am sitting on a wall by the beach, it is late morning and I am waiting for my hunger to build to try a local cafeteria’s paella. I am using a bottle of
wine in an attempt to help my appetite along.


Morning – Looking west toward Albufeira, Portugal from our beachfront hideaway



I am officially in Algarve now, and it has to be the most expensive region in Portugal. Whereas up north (Peniche) I got one egg, pork chops, chips, bread & a beer for
less than two dollars, here the same meal would be 4-5 American dollars.


Albufeira, Portugal – Fishermen Pulling A Boat Up The Beach


Joy and I slept on the beach last night – she slept better than I, being a bit more paranoid about losing my possessions. Everything worked out fine. We built a fire and soon
it was morning.


Sunrise On The Beach – Looking East



Joy On The Beach In Portugal – some people just look good waking up, even after sleeping on the beach


Joy left for Spain today – she is to meet her friend Shirley, who is a real case – actually Algeciras. We arrived yesterday on the train from Sagres, after spending two
nights at the youth hostel there. It was crowded; but fun. The water was magnificent – cool and clear and refreshing.


Sagres, Portugal


The hostel was in a “fort,” which used to serve as a navigation school for the likes of Vasco de Gama and Magellan. We went out at night to look at the stars, and we could
see why that spot was chosen – a promontory with horizon lines on three sides, “essential for navigation by the stars,” said Joy.


Road To The Hostel On The Southwestern Tip Of Mainland Europe (we were walking)


Sagres, Portugal – Navigation School Turned Hostel




Before Sagres, I was in S. Martinho – for three nights. A Canadian woman with a mustache named Janet who was also kind of fat and I hitch-hiked around one day to a town call Peniche, where the only nice thing was a cheap lunch, and then to a town called Obidos, which was lovely. It is an old walled city, with hanging gardens and nicely kept homes and stores.


Obidos, Portugal

It was easy hitching – again proving Let’s Go Europe wrong and we never waited longer than ten minutes for a lift.


Colourful Homes In Obidos, Portugal

Right now, life seems easy, and America seems so far off. My plans for the immediate future – today and tomorrow morning – are to stay here one more night, sleep on the beach, have lunch, perhaps buy a few things, build a fire tonight, and then attempt to catch the 8:04 train east tomorrow. But I do not know to where. Oh yes, and the beach this afternoon. Today is the 17th, and I imagine that it shall take at LEAST one full day to reach Malaga, but I have no choice. Anyway, what that means is that I will not find out when Lou and LIz are coming until the 19th, or 20th, and I hope that they have not arrived already. This is so strange, perhaps I should call. (?)”

[End journal entry.]


Joy and I met in a hostel in a small beach town north of Lisbon. We had monumental arguments about, of all things, the so-called free-market economic system. Could I charm the ladies, or what? I won’t bore you – except to say I think events proved us both right, in different ways. Joy was headed to grad school in business; she’d become a free-market convert. We crossed paths by chance once more a few days later – on the TALGO – then the only fast train in Spain – from the Costa del Sol to Madrid. She probably runs a bank somewhere.

One final thing: the suntan lotion, oil, or whatever it was. Beach shops on the Algarve sold this aromatic mixture of lemon and oil and I don’t what else (if anything). Thick, slick and smelling like freshly squeezed lemons. That bottle traveled to Greece, including Crete, where I maxed out on beach time. To this day, my favorite suntan lotion. Ever.




Lisbon – When you’re young and backpacking, you brush your teeth wherever you can. Here by a city center fountain.

Circa 1950



Red Star At Cain’s Ballroom, Tulsa, OK 2014


The ‘Cain’s’ features a ballroom that measure[s] 79 feet by 90 feet. The highlight of the ballroom is the historic, spring-loaded, curly maple dance floor that is laid in a ‘log cabin’ or concentric square pattern. The historic, painted, white, drop ceiling is ornamented with painted red diamonds. Lighting the dance floor is a four foot, blue and red neon star which was likely added circa 1950 when other changes were made including the addition of photographs of noted musical artists that line the walls. These photographs include Bob Wills, Johnnie Lee Wills, Ernest Tubb, Ted Williams, Kay Starr and Tennessee Ernie Ford.” The Tulsa Preservation Commission

I’m not sure what happened to the blue in the “blue and red neon star”. But, my cell phone is ancient and takes crappy pictures – so this is all I got. I’m sure better photos are out there.

Anyway. As much here for my recollection as anything else. And to finally get it off my cell phone – an adventure in itself. :-)



Another Pointless Shooting

Whatever else I might have written or posted today – I cannot. Because of the most-recent shooting at a U.S. university – this time early Thursday morning at Florida State University in Tallahassee, the state capital.

Writing anything would exploit another senseless shooting. Here is a story from my current hometown paper. Many others exist.

Sadly, this will happen again. And again. And then again. People I know – people I never expected – carry guns.

This is madness.



Bob Wills Song Of The Day 1.7: New San Antonio Rose & Some More History

Bob Wills might have remained a popular regional performer had it not been for one song: New San Antonio Rose. The original, San Antonio Rose, drew the attention of someone from big-city music promoter Irving Berlin Inc. in early 1940. Wills received a $300 advance with the promise that he’d write some lyrics for the song – the original being an instrumental.

At the time, traditional “swing” music – Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller and the like – raged across American concert and dance halls. Wills and his band lent a Texas and prairie edge to what had been mostly brass-based jazz, adding the fiddles, vocals and honky-tonk piano that distinguished western swing. Not to mention the lyrics.

Music snobs downplayed Wills as a “hillbilly” musician. Wills himself said he played jazz and later, when rock ‘n roll arrived, Wills said his bands had been playing that music since the 1920s.

Either way, New San Antonio Rose took Wills “from hamburger to steak”. His words, supposedly. The song, based on a traditional song called “Spanish Two Step”, rocketed Wills and his music to national prominence – especially after Bing Crosby released his version in 1941 and it sold more than 1 million copies.

It’s important to note the changes from San Antonio Rose to New San Antonio Rose. When Wills released New San Antonio Rose, the fiddles and guitars vanished. Instead, the backing was pure brass and drums – and it sounded like a swing jazz band doing a western tune. There was a fight about how the song would sound – with Wills winning that battle. Most of it, anyway.

Still, Crosby’s version could not match the intergalactic airplay New San Antonio Rose received when astronauts Alan Bean and Charles Conrad sang it aboard the Apollo 12 spacecraft as it circled the globe in 1969 as part of the second U.S. space expedition to land men on the moon.



New San Antonio Rose


Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys




 San Antonio Rose


Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys

The original 1938 instrumental version – fiddles, guitars, bass and piano.



Bing Crosby croons it up on

  New San Antonio Rose [1941]


Minus Bing, all this gets a little fuzzy for me. Bob Wills had his musical roots in Texas and that always showed.

For the sake of comparison, listen to this 1946 hit song by “Texas Troubadour” Ernest Tubb, a Bob Wills contemporary and (yes, another) country music legend.


Ernest Tubb

Drivin’ Nails In My Coffin



Ernest Tubb And His Band – Cain’s Ballroom, Tulsa, OK

Click on photo or here to arrive at Cain’s Ballroom: The Bob Wills Connection



The difference is more notable in Tubb’s biggest hit, from 1941. The rhythm and tempo are distinctly country; the arrangement, sparse. Not the fiddle-playing, jazzy swing style of Bob Wills at all.

Walking The Floor Over You


Ernest Tubb

[Walking The Floor Over You does sound a little less like a love song title in 2014.]

In 1948 or 1949, Tubb had the first commercial hit recording of Blue Christmas – a song most people associate with Elvis Presley.

Blue Christmas


Ernest Tubb & The Three Troubadettes




Last – but never least – is this version by Johnny & The Hurricanes.

Why include a release by an almost-forgotten band from the late 1950s and early 1960s?

Because Johnny & The Hurricanes had European fans.

In 1962, Johnny & The Hurricanes played at a dive in Hamburg, Germany called the Star-Club.

The opening act?

A little-known band called The Beatles.


San Antonio Rose


Johnny & The Hurricanes




 Yakety Sax!



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The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers

Bob Wills Breakdown

Before continuing the Bob Wills 1.1-1.10:

Many bands cover hits by Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys and other Bob Wills bands.

Including Asleep At The Wheel. For the sake of brevity and laziness, I stole this from Wikipedia:

“In 1969, Ray Benson and Lucky Oceans (Reuben Gosfield) co-founded Asleep at the Wheel in Paw Paw, West Virginia, and soon after they found themselves opening for Alice Cooper and Hot Tuna in Washington, DC. A year later, they moved to East Oakland, California at the invitation of Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen. After being mentioned in Rolling Stone magazine by Van Morrison, they landed a record deal with United Artists.In 1973, their debut album, Comin’ Right At Ya was released by United Artists. At the request of Willie Nelson, they left Oakland for Austin in 1974.”

I suppose if Willie Nelson asks you to move, you move. And I have not thought of Commander Cody in ages.

Anyway, this is one of my favorite Bob Wills songs done by Asleep At The Wheel with country music legend George Strait on vocals. From the Tribute To The Music Of Bob Wills And The Texas Playboys CD.

Big Ball’s In Cowtown


Asleep At The Wheel



ASCAP blah blah blah blah


Philae Lander

Methinks . . . oh I’m sure you can figure this one out on your own.

From today’s main Wikipedia page.

“The Philae lander, deployed from the European Space Agency’s Rosetta probe, reaches the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko (pictured pre-landing).”

“Rosetta probe” . . .

This is deliberate. :-)


And, yes, I’m kidding. Mostly.

“Philae is named for a former island in the Nile River where an obelisk was discovered that was covered in hieroglyphic writing that helped to demonstrate the valuable clues of the Rosetta Stone.” (From Merriam-Webster online.)