OTIS RAY REDDING, JR., II

(9-9-1941-12-10-1967)

Fourth of six children, Otis was born in Dawson, Georgia to a sharecropper, Otis, Sr., I, moving at age 2 to Macon, Georgia, the man considered one of the greatest American Popular Music makers and a seminal artist in soul music and rhythm and blues. The gospel influenced singer who sang at the Vineville Baptist Church Choir himself influenced many soul artists of the 1960’s.

OTIS REDDING TRIBUTE
DECORATIVE WALL MASK – OTIS REDDING

Decorative wall mask depicting Otis Redding,
Owner of the “BIG-O Ranch”

BIRTHDAY: SEPTEMBER 9, 1941 – HAPPY BIRTHDAY OTIS!

1951 – Took drum and singing lessons.

1955 – Ballard-Hudson High School, sang in the school band

1956 – Quit school to support his family and worked with Little Richard’s backup band, the Upsetters. Performed in talent shows at the historic Douglass Theater in Macon. Otis, Sr. by then had contracted tuberculosis and was often hospitalized.

1958 – Joined Johnny Jenkin’s band, the Pinetoppers, driving the band, singing, and touring southern states.

1960 – With the band Pat T. Cake and the Mighty Panthers, he toured southern states.

1960 – Son Dexter was born with Zelma Atwood. In the mid-1960’s Otis moved to Los Angeles with his sister Deborah. Zelma and children remained in Macon, GA. The couple had four children: Dexter, Demetria, Karla and Otis, Jr, III.

1961 – Signed with Confederate. Recorded his second single, “Shout Bamalama” (a rewrite of “Gamma Lamma”) and “Fat Girl”, together with his band Otis and the Shooters.

1962 – A Stax recording session captured his first single, “These Arms of Mine”.

1962 – Volt releases “These Arms of Mine” and “Hey, Hey Baby” Single sold over 800,000 copies

1963 – Records “That’s What My Heart Needs” and “Mary’s Little Lamb”

1964 – Otis released through Stax his debut album, Pain in my Heart

1965 – Records his second studio album, The Great Otis Redding Sings Soul Ballads

1965 – In a 24-hour-period on July 9-10 in Memphis, he and the studio crew arranged ten of the eleven new songs for his next album entitled Otis Blue: Otis Redding Sings Soul.

1966 – Performed in Los Angeles at Whiskey-A-Go-Go on the Sunset Strip. Toured Europe, singing in major cities like Paris and London.

1966 – Stax studio attempted to discourage but recorded “Try a Little Tenderness” previously recorded by Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra.

1966 – Stax booked a concert in London. Redding is interview at “the Eamonn Andrews Show”. Booking agent Bill Graham proposed that Otis play at the Fillmore Auditorium in late 1966, (paying Otis Redding $7,976 in 2020 value!).

1967 – Monterey Pop Festival, closing act on Saturday night. Sang “Respect” and “Satisfaction,” ending with “Try A Little Tenderness.” This would be his last major concert.

1967 – Wrote with Steve Cropper, recorded “Sittin’ On the Dock of the Bay”. First posthumous album to reach #1 on the UK Albums Chart. Otis received numerous posthumous accolades.

1967 – By the time he moved from Memphis to Macon to continue writing “Sweet Soul Music” he developed polyps on his larynx. Unsuccessful treating with lemon and honey, he was hospitalized in September 1967 at Mount Sinai Hospital in NY.

1967 – “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay” was written with Steve Cropper, recording the ending with an extemporaneous whistle.

1967 – Despite a warning from James Brown not to fly in his Beechcraft H18 airplane on December 9, Otis Redding, Jr. took his last flight. Cause of the crash is not known.

1967 – His service was held on December 18 to allow the 4,500 people to travel to an overflowing 3,000-seat hall. Jerry Wexler delivered the eulogy, saying: “Respect is something Otis achieved for himself in a way few people do. Otis sang “Respect When I Come Home.” And Otis has come home.” This is inscribed on a memorial plaque on the lakeside deck of the Madison convention center, Monona Terrace.

2002 – City of Macon honored Otis Redding, Jr. by unveiling a statue next to the Otis Redding Memorial Bridge crossing the Ocmulgee River.

2006 – The Rhythm and Blues Foundation named Redding it’s 2006 Pioneer Award.

2007 – Zelma Atwood Redding founded the Otis Redding Foundation which continues to offer in Macon programs offering music and arts education.

2013 – The Rhythm & Blues Music Hall of Fame inducted Otis Ray Redding, Jr. at Cleveland State University, Ohio.

GRAND-MOTHER WISDOM

Curiosity is the key that unlocked many doors for Grand Mother Wisdom. Although her aura may suggest that she has always been a sage and wise mentor, she remembers the days when innate curiosity was the driving force that helped her earn her present status. She spent much time listening to her inner voices while observing and testing the advice of her elders, aging, and sage-ing.

As a young maiden, Grand Mother utilized her own curiosity for lifting the heavy burden of victimization in which she was taught to believe. Now her belief is that every maiden must listen intently to her elders, and using the tools of curiosity, emerge with an original idea belonging exclusively to self. The pride in the journey of discovery unraveling your own mystery is the reward of wisdom.

GRAND MOTHER WISDOM WALL MASK with FLAMBOYANT PERSONALITY

She firmly believes her purpose is to offer the idea that curiosity flows into knowledge, resulting in power. Interest, wisdom, power, yes, that’s it! Her utmost hope is that curious young maidens everywhere will open their eyes wide and “hear” this most vital message, although she knows no one can hand down the message to another. One must embark on the quest for knowledge, the key or the exclusive secret to one’s own wisdom.

Grand Mother likes to keep a low profile observing more than dictating her own message. It is not her method to press but rather impress upon young maidens that solitude and privacy can be most beneficial if they “hear” their innermost selves. Grand Mother would prefer her message seem to come from within, knowing that the message will be far more vital, longer-lasting, and immensely more empowering if perceived in that way.

DAME EDNA of OGUNQUIT

EDNA is not all she appears to be by choice. For many years, she has worked on the sometimes painful detail of pulling off an entirely new image of herself for many years. Her history does not deter her in the least from creating her air of aristocracy.

DAME EDNA of OGUNQUIT WALL MASK

Edna is not, in fact, Edna at all, the birth name listed on the birth certificate was Edwin, and the sex of this baby was listed as male. Edna emerged long before society had begun to accept transgender individuals. Since childhood, Ed’s dream has been to become an actor, wear elegant costumes, and create an illusion of the person he wanted to be in his heart. Ed had always wanted to be the person he saw himself as inside. He dreamed of being a singing artist with flair equal to that of female singing artist Cher. She had made appearances on stage wearing elegant dresses and costumes handmade with the most delicate details and “wow” factor. Wild horses could not pull this secret from anyone who knows his truth, and they are a select few individuals.

Edna has fun with life, feels much better about herself now since making her decision to publicly become Edna. She is a spontaneous and charitable person who loves to entertain the rich and famous at her private, peaceful, elegant Victorian seaside home. She goes to great lengths to create extravagant gourmet dinner parties, laboring over each detail to present an atmosphere of perfection to the delight of all her esteemed guests. The audience applauds and stands in adoration with each dramatic entrance she makes, and she does love to be dramatic! Cooing and remarking about the latest elegant dress she ordered custom made, the audience is mesmerized. Edna’s invitations are strictly by word of mouth and are delivered only two days before the event. Her parties are the talk of the town for weeks afterward, as mostly more liberal, out-of-town people make up the guest list.

Edwin now prefers to be identified as Edna, she/her and simply wants to be remembered as a unique and sophisticated kind of gal who loves to entertain in a lavish style.

ALMIRA ALMEDA of BLINN HILL

Almira Almeda was a proud woman with a strong jaw. She would look you directly in the eye with her well-honed confidence and ever-so-slight smile on her lips. Almira Almeda remembered working as a shy child raking blueberries to fill plastic tubs in the hot, dusty fields at the very top of the hill until her arms ached, and her back was red with sunburn. She knew then that it would take many years of hard work to save enough money to buy the parcel for her own, but still she woke up each morning dreaming of that day.

BARONESS OF BLINN HILL, DRESDEN, MAINE

Within her tattered, crumbling journal, Almira Almeda remembered her grandfather’s huge weather beaten hand enclosing hers, tiny, smooth and pink, as they earlier walked through the same blueberry fields when she was only 8 or 9 years old, him talking about wanting to own property on the hilltop. She thought about the gleam in grandfather’s eye as they soaked in the breathtaking sight on a clear blue-sky sunny day. She remembered as a teenager, slowly straightening up from what seemed endless hours of blueberry raking and dry lips, to see the snow capped purplish mountains far on the western horizon. Local people enjoyed riding their horses to the top field just to see that spectacular 360° view for miles around.

Almira Almeda silently vowed to herself early-on that she would someday own the top fields grandfather coveted, where she had raked blueberries with a crew of other Dresden and Pittston high school kids during her early years. It was her girlhood dream to someday make the announcement there would be a grand log house raised on her land where she could gaze endlessly out her parlor window to see that very special view overlooking the Eastern River. She often escaped her siblings; another well-worn book and her journal with then mostly empty pages in the crook of her arm as she hiked to her hiding spot, a huge boulder warmed by the sun, which she hid behind to read or write in her own private world for hours in the fresh air under the soaring eagles.

When Almira Almeda was 23, she married 25-year-old Zina Blinn from Dresden in a happy mid-August ceremony at her family home in Pittston (near the peak of Blinn Hill) with all 16 of her siblings and his 10 brothers and sisters surrounding them, quite a crowded house that day. Baby Alice came along within the first year of their marriage. By the time their second child, Effie Jennette was born in 1861, Almira Almeda had begun to hold well-attended Suffragette meetings at their modest home. Other strong women were attracted to what she had to say and impressed by her beliefs, her ability to draw interesting speakers to fan the flames of passionate local women for the cause.

The East Coast was a hotbed for the women’s movement in the United States during the mid-1800s, when Almira Almeda Kincaid Moody, Blinn lived in Maine. During the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention, female leaders gathered for what would be remembered as the birth of the women’s suffrage movement.

Almira Almeda’s passion became the origin of her being known as a driven woman, a social organizer of local women, and their strong political values. She learned confidence from the value of hard work as a young girl from a large, demanding family. As a young married woman, she not only continued to hold meetings and tend to her husband and little family, also birthing twin girls she and Zina named Helen Grace and Grace Hannah in 1874. She was notorious for having taken extraordinary social risks for her time in addition to tending to the demanding schedule of housekeeping, gardening and mothering, providing inspiration, rewarding to her and many others in her town. She was also known to have made the best blueberry jam in the area!

Almira Almeda indeed finally achieved the breathtaking view of the mountains as owner of Blinn Hill property. She met the challenges, disciplined herself to stick with the hard work, invested her hard-earned money, and at last reaped her reward. She was truly “Blinn Hill Baronness” in the huge estate at the very top of Blinn’s “blueberry hill.” You can visit her and Zina’s gravesites in the Pine Grove Cemetery; halfway along the road to the peak of Blinn Hill, nestled in with scores of other Blinn’s, now spelled Blen after cousin Owen changed the spelling of their name later, due to a family tragedy.

BURNHAM N. MORRELL of FREEPORT, MAINE

BURNHAM N MORRELL WALL MASK WITH MAINE PERSONALITY STORY

Bernie remembers the Bean family’s sporting goods store selling sensible boots, fishing rods, and hunting & camping equipment from the two-story farmhouse with creaky oiled hardwood floors on the main street in sleepy Freeport village. The family began the outdoor-gear store in 1912, back when you would see many familiar faces talking away with one of the clerks, usually a Bean family member. Of course, Bernie was merely a young buck then, a “hippie” during his high school days back in the 1960s.

They now live in Cape Elizabeth, driving past the Burnham and Morrill baked bean-canning factory on the bay on their way up I-295 to Brunswick. Discussing the improvement in odor wafting from the 3rd story windows of the factory, they reminisce about the offensive smell of Stinson’s fish canning factory on the waterfront in Long Reach, just above the BIW shipyard where they worked so many years.

Now Bernie is a grandfather, driving the posted speed limit on Atlantic Route One into Brunswick in his conservative beige Volvo station wagon with Lindy, his wife, and grandmother to their twin grandsons by his side. Lindy and Bernie met at White’s Beach next to the big bonfire at the Freaker’s Ball and Concert. That was the summer they had both graduated, were married in the moonlight there, barefoot on the cool sand before a dozen of their friends, several short but passionate weeks later.

Lindy and Bernie manage a tiny natural food shop on Maine Street now that they have both retired from working the second shift at the shipyard in Bath. Many changes in their state and the world in the fifty-odd years of their lives have passed swiftly. Remembering the white water rafting, climbing Mt. Katahdin, kayaking the Saco River, they smile at the memories they have shared. They attended the launching of the state-of-the-art destroyer, DDG-1000, named the Zumwalt by BIW, completed in 2016.

As they take the I-295 exit onto Pleasant Street in Brunswick, they each turn to the other and smile an all-knowing familiar smile of comfort, a hand seeks another and fingers entwine. They share with one another a good life, at the salty and quiet pace of Midcoast Maine, “the way life should be.”