Author: Rhynes, J.D.

Merle Sightings
(Editorís NoteóOnce again we bring you a recollection from that master recollector, J.D. Rhynes. Does he make this stuff up? Are the stories true or are the stories figments of his fertile imagination? Since theyíre always good ones, guess it doesnít really matter.)

Back about 1980, Rose Maddox was scheduled to play at our Fathers Day Festival. Come festival weekend, and we all gathered there at the Fairgrounds to once more enjoy each otherís company, to play and listen to the greatest music in the world. Of course I was happy to see my dear friend Rose again, and to hear her sing, as only she could! During the course of one of our conversations, she mentioned that her and her brother Fred had worked a couple of shows with her dear friend merle Haggard. I donít know what possessed me to do this, [probably just to see how long it would take folks to really get it going,] but I told a couple of my good friends a little "secret". I took them to one side, and told them; Now keep this to yourself, but Rose told me that maybe, just maybe, her friend Merle Haggard is gonna show up and maybe do a song or two on stage with her. Now keep this to yerself, 'cause Rose isn't sure if he's gonna be able to make it. But, if he does, he's got an old Green '56 Ford truck with a white camper shell on it that he likes to drive around, so's folks wonít know who it is. You know, kind of you might say, incognito. [I saw the truck drive in earlier that day]

Well, it wasn't more than two hours when it got back to me that Merle hisself was at the festival! There had been at least two dozen "Merle sightings". One of the friends that I told the little "secret" to, came and told me; Well J.D., he's here somewhere, 'cause I just spotted his Green '56 Ford pickup way out in the parking lot! I'm pretty sure that I spotted him over in the Vendors area, and he has an old slouch hat and a pair of shades on, so's folks wont know who he is, but he couldnít fool me! Heck, I'd know Merle anywhere! That was on Friday, and by the time Saturday rolled around, about 30 or 40 people had seen "Merle"!

Well, this was just too good to keep to myself, and I just HAD to tell Rose. When I did, she got the biggest kick out of it! There were about 6 or 8 people there back stage when I told her, and after she got through laughing, she winked at me and said, you know, he did mention something about trying to get down here and do a couple of songs with me, if he could get away. I'll bet he shows up for tonight's show. Boy! That's all it took! You talk about the Merle sightings! They shot up to over a hundred in about 4 hours! Needless to say, Merle was a no show, darn it! Rose and I laughed about that for years to come. She was really a fun person, and one of the best friends I've ever had in this life.

What made me remember this little episode of Grass Valley history is the fact that I am going to go see Merle's show, Monday, January 8, at the Jackson Rancheria. If I get a chance to talk with him, I'm gonna tell him about the time he was spotted several times at our Fathers Day Festival, in June of 1980, and how disappointed Rose was that he couldnít make it. There you have the other side of the story, as to why Merle didnít make it to Grass Valley in 1980.
Posted:  1/7/2007

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