The Uncle I Knew

I returned home last night from a bittersweet reunion.  My dearest Uncle Chip went to his eternal home Saturday December 20, 2014. The funeral was yesterday. The pastor talked about “Remember when…” so this is my remember when tribute to the Uncle I loved dearly.

Chip Young may have been “legendary” in the Nashville music industry, but to me, he was legendary because he was my Uncle.  I love all of my Uncles (I have 5 on that side of the family, and one Aunt) and have special memories of each one.  But my Daddy and Uncle Chip were only 1 1/2 years apart in age, and lived 3 hours from the other for most of their adult lives.

  So, Uncle Chip.  Well, he holds a special place in my heart.   I guess he always has and he always will.

kissin uncle chip 001I was 4 in this picture.  He was newly married , but it looks like I got the 2nd kiss.

And it started before that:

uncle chip and me 001But, I remember the days on the farm best.

As a child, my family and I spent countless weekends at his Antebellum home in Murfreesboro, TN, aptly named Boxwood Farms after the magnificently tall Boxwoods that lined the brick walk to the front entrance of the home.  (The entrance that was was never used).

boxwood farms

This was during the years Chip Young was doing what it took to become legendary in the music world…he had many gold albums hanging on the wall. I’m sure most of them were newly acquired, it was the early to mid 70’s. These albums hung on the wall in the back entrance to the house that everyone used.  Those gold records had no prominent place.  They hung in what we would call the mud room today.  Yes,  Elvis’s gold records (and others, that I honestly don’t remember, probably some Dolly, and The Gatlins) hung on a mud room wall.  And I thought nothing of it. And I don’t think many others did either.

That’s just the kind of man my Uncle was.  He worked hard, played hard and rarely talked about what he did. He was humble even back then.  He was hob-knobbing with ELVIS, THE one and only ELVIS! And my little girl mind didn’t care.  Although I do remember going to Felton Jarvis’s home when I was a little older, and being amazed at the jewelry Elvis had given his wife, the movie room, etc.  I also fondly remember meeting Ray Stevens, and sleeping in Kris Kristopherson’s office once…

I met Billy Swan, I heard the story about Bowser tugging on Billy’s pants leg as he was playing the organ while they recorded “I Can Help.”  I’d tell people, that’s my Uncle picking, when it was in the #1 spot on the country and then the pop charts, but I it wasn’t a big deal to me.  It was life as I knew it with Uncle Chip, not “Chip Young, thumb-picker, producer, Nashville Tennessee legend”  In fact, until 2 days ago, I had never thought of him as a legend.

This is just how dumb I was to the fame of my Uncle in the Nashville circle.  A few years ago,Shane, the kids and I were in Branson, and had tickets to the Gatlin’s show (thanks Bott Radio).  I didn’t go talk to them because I wasn’t sure they’d know who he was!  Can you believe that?  Uncle Chip produced “All The Gold in California” and they sang at the funeral, and I didn’t think think they’d know who I was if I told them I was Chip Young’s niece.  Not only would they have known, they were dear friends to my Uncle. But he didn’t talk about it.  In fact, yesterday, Larry remembered my Daddy from the sessions he’d sat in on at the studio over the years.  And I was afraid I’d embarrass myself in Branson.  Heck, I could have probably mentioned Uncle Chip’s real name, and they would have known who I was.  (That’s my embarrassing story for the day). Believe me, next time, I’ll say hello!

So, remember the story of Bowser tugging on Billy’s pants leg?  Well,here’s a picture of Bowser.bowser 001

Here are some things I remember more than the famous people mentioned in passingriding King with Uncle chip 001and this

driving tractor at boxwood 001and this

john and i in the tree at boxwood 001And these things MUCH more than what my Uncle was doing with who:

sitting in the library reading book after book in the brown leather chairs,

stomping around on the hardwood floors with the romper room stompers that were stored in the front “junk” room.

breakfast cooking on the stove and eating it at the big harvest table in the kitchen.

beans and cornbread at Cracker Barrel.

riding in the scoop of the big tractor across the drive thru of the creek waaaaaaaaaaaay out back.   And eating crab apples.  And throwing frisbees, and…

running cold Bud’s from the cooler to Dad and Uncle Chip when they were working in the field…doing what, I don’t know…working on the weekend’s project. (That was in another lifetime for all 3 of us).

I remember when the pool was dug, when the pond was dug and the huge eagles that he had cast to adorn the entry fence,

front entrance boxwood

up the long drive way out by the road. (Dad had them on his deck at his house for several years, but I think they are back at Uncle Chip’s house now).

I remember the neighbors were so far away that they drove over to each others places, because it was way to far to walk.

I remember playing under the big magnolia tree, and the bug zapper that hung by the fence at the pool (that was in the days when no one had a bug zapper) and Uncle Chip’s “mobile” phone, back when NO one had mobile phones…

I remember ringing the bell and the U.S. flag that hung near it.

I remember the agreement Uncle Chip made with me to give me $5 for each A on my report card.  I brought home a report card full of A’s. That was a LOT of $5, so we renegotiated and I think he gave me $5 for all.  Back then $5 was a lot of money for a little kid, so I was happy.  And the bet he made me on the way back from the city late one night that I couldn’t stay awake, and I did. I think it was $1. He learned his lesson from the report card incident, lol.

I remember him trying to convince Johnny (better known back then as Andy) to eat broccoli with cheese on it, and finding just last month from his sweet wife Diane, that Uncle Chip DIDN’T LIKE broccoli! (I sure would like the opportunity to tease him about THAT!)

I remember family gatherings, dove shoots, sleeping bags all over the house with cousins everywhere. And crawling into the big bed in the blue room with Grandma when “everyone” wasn’t there.

I remember swimming, lots of swimming.

And the peacocks.

I remember walking out in a Jimmy Buffet t-shirt at a party by the pool that said “Let’s Get Drunk and….” and everyone laughing, and not knowing what was so funny (I was probably around 8 years old).

I remember a half cooked hog over a spit, (lesson learned, do NOT start cooking a hog and leave it to finish in “the morning” It doesn’t work!).  I think they ended up ordering pizza because NO ONE was gonna eat that hog.  Was that the party I came out in the t-shirt?  I’m not sure, could’ve been…yeah, it probably was…

I hope you enjoyed hearing my memories, maybe they jogged a few of your own…feel free to leave them in the comments below.

Later year memories will come another day…

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