Author: Rhynes, J.D.

Some random thoughts of the good 'ol days gone by

Here lately a lot of thoughts of times past have been a'wanderin' through my 'ol wore out mind. Mostly good times, 'cause I dont like to dwell on the bad times we all have in life. As Lester sang so aptly, " the good times have outweighed the bad", and I've always followed that theory fer most of my natcheral borned days. I keep a small notebook of events and things that I've experienced goin' down life's road, and every time I think of one, I'll jot it down so's I can have stuff to write fer my 4th Thursday Welcome Column fer y'all. Goin' over the list this mornin', I figgered that I should tell of a few small things on my list, things that all alone would make fer a very small story column, so here we go with the first one.

Back in 1976, I had a chance to play a guitar that was built by Lee Personius, of Sacramento, Ca. . His brand on the guitar was Black Forest Guitars. I had been looking to buy a good guitar, and since this was without a doubt the finest guitar I had ever played, I had him build me one. I ordered it in the spring of 1976, and in the fall of that year, I was the proud owner of #3 Black Forest Guitar. She was the pretttiest lady I'd ever seen, so I HAD to name her "Miss Lovely". She was and still is the most beautiful lady of my life, even though she now lives in Georgia with my good friend Russell Moore. But that's another story fer another time. SOOO, here's the "rest of the story". Lee got through building Miss Lovely , and I got to take posession of her at a BIG jam session in Sacramento. BUT, previous to the jam session, I had a bunch ot tee shirts made up with the Black Forest logo on them, and Vern, Delbert, Keith, and I all wore one to the jam session. When Lee saw those tee shirts, he got all excited and asked jes where in the heck did we git 'em? Vern told him that I'd had 'em made up and he was pretty sure I had one fer him too. Well, here comes Lee through the crowd lookin' fer me and he sez: Where's MY tee shirt? Right here it is ol pal, sez I, and hands him a paper bag with said shirt inside, ONLY to find it one of the smallest tee shirts in existence, and would only fit his SMALL dog! Ha ha ha hahahahahah! Lee's response: Gee J.D., I'm under whelmed! BUT, here's the clincher on this story. Later on in the week, I sent him a shirt that fit him. On the day he got it, he called me and cussed me fer 30 minutes without repeating one word! We laughed about that one fer years to come.

Buying a guitar from Lee was akin to adopting a child. We were all at the county fairgrounds in Placerville, playing fer a fund raising benefit in the spring of '77. We had a great jam goin' in the parking lot, and Lee was standing next to me playing a guitar he had made fer hissownself . That one was so fancy, it had Abalone inlays in the Abalone inlay's! NO JOKE. It was Abalone from end to end! Vern said there was so much Abalone on the fret board, he doubted if there was room fer some note's! Anyway, a stranger walked up to that jam, stood there jes starin' at Lee's axe, all the time droolin' like a hound dog on a hot July day. When the song ended, the stranger asked jes WHO built that beautiful instrument. Lee said, I did. The stranger then introduced himself, said he was a professional guitarist, and might he pick it some? Lee said sure, handed it to the stranger, and sure enough, he picked the "far" out of it. After a minute 'er so, the fellow asked jes how much would Lee charge him to build him one exactly like this one? Knowing that Lee didn't like to build guitars fer strangers, I told him kinda quietly: Look ya dummy, this guys got a pocket full of Franklin's, so put a real high price on one and make you some MONEY! It's only a guitar, NOT a child! Lee said, yer right J.D., and turned to the guy and said fer $5,000.00 I'll build you one. The guy never batted an eye and pulled out his check book and asked how much of a deposit did Lee require. Lee said, the full amount pal, all the time thinkin' this'll run him off, so the guy wrote him a check fer five grand on the spot. Lee's standing there with a check fer five grand in his hand, and kinda in a state of shock when the guy said; Oh, I forgot to tell you, I want the KNOBS fer my pick up right here on the top. Lee looked at him in disbelief, tore up the check, handed the peices to the fellow and said, I DONT build Rock and Roll guitars, then turned to me and said; Jes who in the hell does he think I am? The guy jes stumbled off mutterin' to hisself! True story!

Sadly, Lee got out of the guitar bulding business fer many years due to personal reasons. He was gittin' back to doin' it again, but last fall he succumbed to cancer, so fer the folks that are lucky enought to own one of his creations, are blessed indeed. Lee was a genius when it came to working with wood, and it's too bad that guy didn't keep his mouth shut that day, or he'd have one of the best instruments ever made . I remember Vern tellin' Lee that day, you sure gave away a LOT of Jack Daniels today boy! We all laughed, and kept on pickin'! Good memories of good times long gone.

Posted:  7/22/2010

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