Gramps and I took some time off the past two weeks to celebrate our wedding anniversary and to visit friends who live in the middle of Kentucky–another world away from our farm in Oklahoma.
On our return, we headed west out of Oklahoma City onto the open prairie and I was reminded of an old John Denver song from the last century–1970’s, I believe–called Back Home Again. And that in turn, reminded me of some John Denver trivia.
Now, if you don’t know who John Denver was, you’re probably under forty-years-old and you’ll just have to Google his name. For those over forty, you might best remember him as a hippie-type from Colorado who sang such songs as Take Me Home Country Roads, Annie’s Song, Rocky Mountain High, and Thank God I’m A Country Boy. I’ve loved his music all my life and was sad when his life took a crummy turn with drugs and alcohol and his personal life apparently in shambles. He ended up crashing his airplane and died in his fifties.
So, getting to the trivia. On a bluff overlooking the Washita River not far from our house, there used to be a tall, old-style Oklahoma farmhouse with a single chimney and a wrap-around porch. Uninhabited for many years, the house’s board siding had weathered to grey and the wind had torn off much of the roofing and beat on the house’s south side so that it leaned toward the north a little.
Every time we drove past that place with my late father-in-law, he would say, “John Denver used to live there. Name was Deutschendorf then.” I was always skeptical because my father-in-law (wearing his denim overalls and Farmer’s Co-op cap) was hardly an expert on popular culture. However, he always declared John Denver had lived in that house on the bluff with his grandparents.
One day, I Googled it. John Denver’s name was indeed Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr., he apparently had an unsettled childhood, his grandparents lived in Oklahoma, and his grandmother allegedly gave him his first guitar. Putting all that together, I can see how he might have lived in that house on the bluff overlooking the Washita River with his grandma and where his song, Thank God I’m A Country Boy, might have come from.
Sadly, a few years ago that house burned down. Big rolls of hay are usually stacked there, now, but Gramps keeps the memory of the old house alive. Every time we drive past he says, “John Denver used to live there. Name was Deutschendorf then. House burned down a few years ago…”
Thanks so much for reading and I hope you enjoyed that bit of trivia, for what it’s worth. Until next time, God bless all y’all and enjoy John Denver singing Back Home Again.
Oh, why not…Here’s Thank God I’m A Country Boy, too.