Maxine Brown on The Great Tom T. Hall
TOM T. HALL is known in the music industry as “The Great Story Teller”. In my mind, no one has ever come close to taking that title away from him. He has a perfect way of saying precisely what he feels, not only as an author, a song writer, a stage performer, but his ability to keep you spell bound while telling one of his stories.
Tom T. had his own recording studio which he called “The Toy Box”. One day out of the blue, he asked if Bonnie and I would mind recording an album with him. Would we mind…we were ecstatic!!! It was 1978 and we were dying to get back into a recording studio doing what we loved and missed the most, making records. He wrote all of the songs, two of them on the same day as the session. In keeping with his style, they were all great songs. Prior to the session, he had his wife, Miss Dixie, order yellow T-shirts for the production staff and everyone connected with the session. In big black letters, the shirts read: “THE BROWN’S IN TOWN AND TOM T’S GOT ‘EM”. I mean he was treating us like royalty. I don’t think I’ve ever been around a more thoughtful person in the business. Some years before, he and his brother had dinner at my home. Afterwards, he sent me a dozen yellow roses. Lord only knows how many pickers and singers I’ve fed over the years but only Tom T. ever sent me flowers.
After the session, he and Miss Dixie hosted a huge surprise party for us at their home in Fox Hollow. They invited many of our Nashville friends. It was the bash of the year in Music City, USA. Everyone had on their party clothes and here Bonnie and I showed up in those yellow T-shirts. I think this was a surprise to everyone, Bonnie and I coming to a champagne and caviar party in T-shirts. We were so embarrassed and tried to explain that it was a surprise and we knew nothing about it. Our friend, Ralph Emery who was one of the guest said, “hey, these are all your friends, so don’t worry about it”. After a few drinks, we didn’t.
I was in the process of writing my book. On one of my many trips to Nashville, going through all the archives, I took a copy of the manuscript to Tom T. at his home in Fox Hollow. The book was only half-way finished but I had to know if it had merit, should I finish or should I forget it? I knew I could depend on Tom T. for his expert opinion.
We rode around the farm in his red pickup truck, talking about my book. Being a country girl, he knew I would enjoy seeing his farm, especially the gazebo he built as a get-away while concentrating on writing. We wound up at a hardware store where he bought some tools and a weather radio. I left my manuscript with him and returned to my home in Little Rock, Arkansas. Within a few days he sent it back with a note which said: “FINISH THIS, ITS GREAT, AND IF I CAN EVER BE OF ANY HELP TO YOU, LET ME KNOW”. I mailed the manuscript to every contact he had, and he had a bunch!
When the University of Arkansas Press decided to publish, I called and asked, “what shall I do”? His answer was, “sign that contract, now”. I said, OK, but only if you will write the FORWARD. There is no doubt in my mind that the FORWARD written by Tom T. has been a major factor in the sales of my book, “Looking Back To See”. It has been on the best seller list for seven years and now an E-Book. Negotiations are also under way for a movie to be made from my book. Perhaps the most exciting of all since publicaton of Looking Back to See is being the honoree of the 2012 Literary Award, in Marshfield, Missouri. This award will be presented to me at the annual “Cherry Blossom Festival” on April 26. The Literacy Medal presentation is an annual event honoring the city’s first librarian, Ella Dickey.”
The words, “thank you” seem so insignificant when it comes to my gratitude for the help and support of my friend all those ten years when I felt like giving up. I learned the true meaning of the word “determination” from the best Story Teller I have ever known, THE GREAT, TOM T. HALL.
Tom T. produced this videos about his time with Maxine and Bonnie:
Great Pies for a New Year!
Everyone deserves a great desert from time to time. These recipes from my mother’s old southern Cookbook may find a happy place in your home. Let me know how you like them.
3 Cups chopped Rhubarb
1 Cup Sugar
1/2 Teaspoon grated Orange Peel
3 Tablespoons Flour
2 Tablespoons melted Butter
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
2 9 inch Pie Shells, (one for cutting into strips)
Combine chopped Rhubarb, sugar, orange peel, flour & salt. Mix well. Pour into a 9 inch pie crust. Dot with Butter. Put stips of Pie Crust on top. Cook for 10 minutes at 450 degrees. Reduce heat to 350 & continue baking for another 40 to 45 minutes, or until the top is nice and brown.
1 Box Raisins (15 oz. size)
1/2 Cup Sugar
3 Tablespoons Cornstarch (mixed with small amount of water)
1 Tablespoon Vanilla
1 Tablespoon Butter
1 Tablespoon Sugar
2 Pie Shells
Put Raisins & Sugar in a saucepan, cover with WATER. Cover pan & cook for about 5 or 6 minutes, or until the Raisins have swollen. Mix Cornstarch with a small amount of water until dissolved. Add to mixture. Cook until Raisin mixture thickens. Remove from heat, add Butter and Vanilla. Pour into unbaked pie shell and top with another pie shell. Make several holes in top of pastry so steam will escape. Dot with Butter, then sprinkle some Sugar on top. Bake approximately 35 to 40 minutes at 350 degrees, or until nice and brown.
3 Eggs, beaten
1 2/3 Cup Sugar
1/4 Cup Flour
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1 Cup Buttermilk
1 Tablespoon Vanilla
1/2 Cup melted Butter
Mix all ingredients together, adding melted Butter last. Pour into an unbaked pie shell. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 325 and continue baking for one hour. (Note: a puddle of butter may form in the center, but don’t worry, it will absorb into the filling. this pie is delicious).
SWEET POTATO PIE:
(This makes two pies)
3 Average size Sweet Potatoes
2 1/2 Cups Sugar
4 Eggs, beaten
1 Large can Pet Milk
1 Stick Butter, melted
1 Teaspoon Nutmeg
1/2 Teaspoon Allspice
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
PASTRY FOR TWO PIES
Wash & boil potatoes. Cool & peel. Mash with a potato masher. Add sugar & mix well. Add beaten eggs, milk, salt, flavorings & butter. Mix all together. Pour into two pie shells. Bake at 375 degrees until brown & knife inserted in center comes out clean. Prior to baking, sprinkle sugar on top, this helps make them nice & brown. (Note: You may cut this recipe in one-half, but my family loves Potato Pie so much, there is never enough, therefore, I make two pies.)
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