Tullison “Tully” Tate (1967-1993)

Tullison “Tully” Tate (1958-1993, Opelika, Alabama).

Ancestors: Jonathan Tate (1758-1833, Ulster, Ireland) Scots-Irish immigrant to colony of New York.  Joshua Tate (1828-1904, Marengo County, Alabama).  Tullison Tate (1852-1924, Marengo County, Alabama).  Hazel Tate (1886-1963, Linden, Alabama).  Joseph “Sonny” Tate (1946-2003, Opalika, Alabama).

Tully’s father was country singer Sonny Tate.  Tully married Rosalie Broussard (born Vivian, LA; father, Mike “Sarge” Broussard) who was an unstable woman and runs off repeatedly from the family home.   Initially after his marriage Tully and Rosalie lived in Mobile, Alabama but then they moved with their twin girls to Hosston, Louisiana. There he works at the Springhill pulp paper mill driving a timber truck and reconnects with his boyhood friends the Broussard and Thibodaux families.

Tully is a decent, hard-working, family man but who also likes to drink and party on occasion.  His primary worry in life is his wife, Rosalie, who will disappear from time to time, leaving the twins unsupervised.  For a while, Tully would track her down and bring her back home until, finally, he gives up and let’s her go (see song “What Tully’s Done“).

Although his job in Springhill ended when they shut down the paper mill, he and his girls remained in Hosston until his death in 1993 after a short illness (see song “Hosston to Bastrop“).

“What Tully’s Done”

What Tully’s Done
WRITTEN BY: F.D. LEONE

Tully left the girls at his sister Ruth’s
Took off for Baton Rouge
Barked the tires in all four gears
Their mama’s gone and run off again
Third time Tully’s seen I-10
And each time it’s a little more weird

Oh no, don’t you know
When she leaves he’s bound to follow
Least that’s what Tully’s done
Oh no, don’t you know
One damn day when she goes
Tully’s just gonna let her run

But today’s that ain’t where he’s at
He’ll track her down and bring her back
Hope she ain’t a mess
She left eggs frying in the pan
Tully waitin’ for that call again
From a stranger with a question and an address

Oh no, don’t you know …

Tully says, “Doc, what makes her be like that?”
Doc just looks away and gives his head a scratch
Tully says,”if it was just me I wouldn’t care,
Those kids need their mama there”

Oh no, don’t you know …

© 2018 Frank David Leone, Jr./Electric Mule Music/Warner Music (BMI)

“Catch”

Catch
WRITTEN BY: F.D. LEONE

The month of April breaks my heart
There’s a good reason why it does
It’s the gravel crunch of Granddad’s car
And him telling me to get the gloves

As my mom got the table set
We’d go outside till it got too dark
But the thing that I remember best
Is walking in his shadow to the back yard

And we would play catch
In the soft glow of the sunset
And hardly say a word
The only sound you heard
Was the plop and the slap that’s catch

That was that until one year
The summer I turned thirteen
He’d come home but I’d disappear
It must’ve hurt him but he didn’t say a thing

I bet those gloves are still tied up
But the oil’s dry and the leather’s hard
Today I’d trade everything I’ve got
Just to see Granddad standing in the yard

And we would play catch …

© 2018 Frank David Leone, Jr./Electric Mule/Warner Music (BMI)

Sonny Tate (1946-2003)

Sonny Tate (1936-2003) was born in Opalika, Alabama and displayed musical talent at an early age.  He could mimic Hank Williams and would stand on his father’s bar and entertain the patrons who were delighted with the youngster’s uncanny ability.  Sonny would later go on to have something of a professional career as a country singer but never making it really big.

He performed on the Lousiana Hayride and was even invited to perform at the Opry once when he had a Top-20 song, but they never invited him to join the Opry as a member.

After Sonny’s wife passed away, he was left to raise  his son Tully alone.  This he did despite still trying to carry on with his career as a singer.  Tully would travel with him and stand backstage as Sonny performed and was adopted by all the musicians and other performers something like a mascot. Sonny outlived Tully who predeceased him in 1993.

Sonny is remembered as someone who could sing and sell a song but not hold his liquor. He is also remembered as a loving grandfather to Tully’s son, Mike, who lived with Sonny until 2003 when Sonny passed away and Mike moved to Nashville.

Mike inherited Sonny’ guitar and had some dreams of following in Sonny’s footsteps as a country singer.

“Sonny’s Boy”

Sonny Tate was a country singer who had moderate success. He was a staple of the Louisiana Hayride, but appeared every now and then on the Grand Ol’ Opry stage. His son, Tully, was often with Sonny when he performed.

Sonny’s Boy
WRITTEN BY: F.D. LEONE

You probably don’t remember a hillbilly singer
Name of Sonny Tate
You know he never had a big record
But came close in ’68

Sang ’til he died still at the Hayride
In his sequined suit and the same ol’ toupee
Singin’ hits of other singers who get younger and younger
Drinking up payday

Sonny’s boy
Stands in the wings
While Sonny sings
Softly sings along
Sonny’s boy
In a ball cap and shorts
Rocking back and forth
Sang all of Sonny’s songs

Now Sonny may not seem someone to esteem
His life was disappointment and lies
But he was the boy’s dad, the only one he had
Ten feet tall in that boy’s eyes

Kept Sonny goin’ just knowin’
There was someone who looked up to him
When I’m back in town and the old crowd’s around
Talk always drifts back to them

Sonny’s boy stands in the wings …

You probably don’t remember a hillbilly singer
Name of Sonny Tate

© 2018 Frank David Leone, Jr./Electric Mule/Warner Music (BMI)

The Louisiana Hayride

Louisiana Hayride was a radio and later television country music show broadcast from the Shreveport Municipal Memorial Auditorium in Shreveport, Louisiana, that during its heyday from 1948 to 1960 helped to launch the careers of some of the greatest names in American country and western music. Elvis Presley performed on the radio version of the program in 1954 and made his first television appearance on the television version of Louisiana Hayride on March 3, 1955.

While the Opry, the Jubilee and the Hayride all showcased established stars, the Hayride was where talented, but virtual unknowns, were also given exposure to a large audience. Over the years, country music greats such as Hank Williams, Webb Pierce, Kitty Wells, Jimmie Davis, Will Strahan, Slim Whitman, Floyd Cramer, Sonny James, Hank Snow, Faron Young, Johnny Horton, Jim Reeves, Claude King, Jimmy Martin, George Jones, John and The Three Wise Men, Johnny Cash, Frankie Miller, Tex Ritter, Cowboy Jack Hunt & Little Joe Hunt of the Rhythm Ranch Hands, Nat Stuckey, and Lefty Frizzell, among many others, performed on Louisiana Hayride.

By mid-1954, a special 30-minute portion of Louisiana Hayride was being broadcast every Saturday on the AFN Pacific channel of the United Kingdom Scottish Forces Radio Network. On October 16 of that year, Elvis Presley appeared on the radio program. Presley’s performance of his newly released song from Sun Records called “That’s All Right Mama” brought a tepid response, according to former Hayride emcee Frank Page (1925-2013), but soon after Presley was nonetheless signed to a one-year contract for future appearances. The immediate and enormous demand for more of Presley’s new kind of rockabilly music actually resulted in a sharp decline in the popularity of the Louisiana Hayride that until that point had been strictly a country music venue. On March 3, 1955, Presley made his first television appearance on the television version of The Louisiana Hayride, carried by KSLA-TV, the CBS affiliate in Shreveport.

Within a few years, rock and roll had come to dominate the music scene, and on August 27, 1960, Louisiana Hayride ended its primary run

“Hosston to Bastrop”

Hosston to Bastrop (Still Louisian’)
WRITTEN BY: F.D. LEONE

I used to make my livin’ drivin’ a log truck
Hauling timber for the pulp paper mill
Take Highway 2 Hosston to Bastrop
Double back and unload at Springhill

The paper mill shut down, jobs all dried up
That stink it made, naw we sure don’t miss
Hear they gonna bring in a cross tie plant
Now we can smell them creosote pits

A case of Jax on a Friday night
Fill a washtub with crawfish and ice
We sure like get drunk and try to dance
We may be way up north but it’s still Louisian’

Gets real hot ’round here in the summer
August heat will melt that asphalt
Didn’t even hurt Randy Boucher when he got run’d over
His head was hard, th’ road was soft

Like to take my truck out One-Fifty-Seven
Stop at the Shongaloo Dairy Cup
Three-Seventy-One to Coushatta, then One to Powhatan
Just drive around where my daddy grew up

A case of Jax on a Friday night
Fill a washtub with crawfish and ice
We sure like get drunk and try to dance
We may be way up north but it’s still Louisian’

Betty Broussard got her fiddle and bow
Someone gave a washboard to Nancy Thibodaux
We sure like get drunk and try to dance
We may be way up north but it’s still Louisian’

Continue reading “Hosston to Bastrop”

Hosston, Louisiana

Hosston is the town Tully Tate moves to with his family from Mobile, Alabama after giving up on his wife Eva (who had run off repeatedly). He found work at the pulp paper mill in Springhill, and Hosston was near enough and a somewhat nicer place to live.

Hosston is a village in Caddo Parish, Louisiana, United States. The population was 318 at the 2010 census. It is part of the Shreveport–Bossier City Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Hosston is located in northern Caddo Parish, west of the Red River and east of Black Bayou Lake. U.S. Route 71 runs through the center of the village, leading south 28 miles to Shreveport and north 9 miles to the Arkansas line at Ida. Louisiana Highway 2 runs west from Hosston 7 miles to Vivian and east 11 miles to Plain Dealing.

Bastrop, Louisiana

Tully Tate works at the pulp paper mill in Springhill hauling timber.  Bastrop is one of the towns he would pick up a load.

Bastrop is the largest city and the parish seat of Morehouse Parish, Louisiana. The population was 11,365 at the 2010 census, a decrease of 1,623 from the 12,988 tabulation of 2000. The population of Bastrop is 73 percent African American. It is the principal city of and is included in the Bastrop, Louisiana Micropolitan Statistical Area, which is included in the Monroe-Bastrop, Louisiana Combined Statistical Area.

Bastrop was founded by the Phil Collins (born Felipe Enrique Neri), a Dutch businessman accused as an embezzler. He had fled to the then Spanish colony of Louisiana to escape prosecution, and became involved in various land deals. In New Spain, he falsely claimed to be a nobleman. He received a large grant of land, provided that he could settle 450 families on it over the next several years. However, he was unable to do this, and so lost the grant. Afterwards, he moved to Texas, where he claimed to oppose the sale of Louisiana to the United States and became a minor government official. He proved instrumental in Moses Austin’s plan (and later, that of his son, Stephen F. Austin) to bring American colonists to what was then northern Mexico.

Bastrop formally incorporated in 1857, and is the commercial and industrial center of Morehouse Parish. In the 19th century, it was notable as the western edge of the great north Louisiana swamp, but more favorable terrain resulted in the antebellum rail line connecting to Monroe, Louisiana, further to the south.

Bastrop was a Confederate stronghold during the American Civil War until January 1865, when 3,000 cavalrymen led by Colonel E.D. Osband of the Third U.S. Colored Cavalry, embarked from Memphis, Tennessee, for northeastern Louisiana. Landing first in southeastern Arkansas, Osband and his men began foraging for supplies into Louisiana and established headquarters at Bastrop. They brought in a large number of horses, mules, and Negroes, according to the historian John D. Winters in The Civil War in Louisiana. When Osband learned that Confederate Colonel A.J. McNeill was camped near Oak Ridge in Morehouse Parish with 800 men, he sent a brigade into the area. The Union troops found fewer than 60 Confederates, most of whom fled into the swamps, leaving behind horses and mules.

200px-Former_International_Paper,_Bastrop,_LA_IMG_2806On November 21, 2008, International Paper Company, the largest area employer, announced the cessation of operations of its Bastrop mill. The company first said that the closure is “indefinite” and subsequently confirmed that the exodus is “permanent”. Some 17 percent of the area workforce faced layoffs or downsizing.  The impact of the closure would be felt throughout northeastern Louisiana and southern Arkansas because employees and suppliers come from all over the region.

Springhill, Louisiana

For years Springhill was home to a pulp paper mill, which is where Tully Tate found work in the wake of his starting over with his kids.  He’d given up on his wife, Eva Broussard, of ever staying home to be a good wife and mother, and left Mobile, Alabama to return to North Louisiana, not far from where he grew up.

Springhill is a city in northernmost Webster Parish, Louisiana, United States. The population was 5,279 at the 2010 census, a decrease of 160 since 2000. Springhill is part of the Minden Micropolitan Statistical Area though it is thirty miles north of Minden, the seat of government of Webster Parish.

Springhill’s close association with the timber industry began in 1896 with the arrival of the Pine Woods Lumber Company. Springhill prospered from timber and for a time was a boomtown. The Pine Woods Lumber Company went out of business during the Great Depression, and the population of Springhill dwindled. The Pine Woods Lumber Company facility was purchased by the Frost Lumber Company, which sold to Springhill Lumber Company. The Springhill Lumber Company later became Anthony Forest Products, which remained in Springhill until 1972.

The most significant local economic force, however, was the establishment of a massive pulp paper mill in 1937 by International Paper Company. The construction of the paper mill greatly expanded the regional economic importance of Springhill and further cemented ties to the timber industry. Though technically within the town of Cullen just south of Springhill, the facility was regionally known as the “Springhill paper mill.” The later addition of a wood products plant and container (box) plant by International Paper further established Springhill as one of the most important manufacturing and processing centers in northern Louisiana. In 1979, International Paper closed the paper mill, which along with a significant general downturn in the petroleum industry caused a deterioration of the local economy. Though the paper mill closed, International Paper maintained its wood products and container-producing facilities. During 2006–2007, IP sold the wood products plant to its main rival, Georgia Pacific and liquidated its significant land holdings in the Springhill area. The container division, often called the “box plant”, remains the last remnant of International Paper in Springhill.

A new plant in north Springhill is Tucker Lumber Company, a sawmill, crosstie trimming, and end-plate facility.

On March 31, 2014, Governor Bobby Jindal announced that IntegriCo Composites, a company that manufactures railroad cross ties, will open a plant in Springhill that will employ three hundred persons. Jindal called the new plant part of a “manufacturing renaissance” in Louisiana. State Senator Robert Adley of Benton, said that Springhill “so desperately needs and deserves” these jobs. He added that the community has “taken some hard licks during the past years. This will create some economic momentum for the town and the region.