Jim & Joyce Martin
As strange as it may seem, the small area of North Georgia, where I was reared (and sometimes raised), never enjoyed the benefit of electricity until after WWII. Precious dry cell batteries that powered the radios of the Depression era dirt farmers were generally conserved for important listening and "hillbilly music" (on Chattanooga, Nashville and Atlanta stations, or XER on the Tex/Mex border) was not considered important. Naturally that was what my country boy heart yearned for most and my craving for such music had to be satisfied by front porch and shade tree performances by and with my peers. We were inspired by Jimmie Rodgers, Carson Robison, Vernon Dalhart and the Carter Family on Columbia and Bluebird records played on a spring-powered Victrola and an occasional traveling show in the stage of the community two-room school house.
Consequently, it was after I came to Marietta in 1942 that I first heard something wonderfully different and appealing in harmony singing and yodeling. It was "Way Out There". Here was real inspiration. About this time, we trade school youngsters were permitted to go into town occasionally for a Saturday afternoon matinee which sometimes featured Roy Rogers with Bob Nolan and the Sons of the Pioneers. Watching a cowboy hero win the leading lady was great entertainment but hearing the beautiful words and the enchanting strains of harmony flowing from the mouths of Roy and the Sons singing the songs which were always too few and too short, was akin to bliss. Since those days, I have almost idolized the great artists of the Sons of the Pioneers group although, for years, I hardly knew their names. I was spell-bound by what they did.
I lost contact with the Pioneers' music while in the military service except for hearing local radio broadcasts for a short while when stationed at Camp Parks near Pleasanton, California, in 1945. Shortly after discharge from the US Navy in 1946, I purchased my first Sons of the Pioneers 78 rpm discs (20-1952A&B and 20-2199A & B) on which were recorded "My Best to You", "Out California Way", Cigarettes, Whusky and Wild, Wild Women" and "You're Getting Tired of Me". My baby sister recently confessed that, while visiting me during school vacation in 1947, she played my two records all day while I was at work and developed a love for the music. The next treasure that I acquired was the composite album "Cowboy Classics", followed by "25 Favorite Cowboy songs" and "One Man's Songs". Down through the years I have accumulated a total of 22 RCA albums plus a few others, some of which I am grateful to NORKEN (Nora & Ken Griffis) for the supply.
I only regret that I did not have the opportunity to enjoy more of the earlier music and to know more about the men while most of them were still with us. It is hard for me to accept the fact that so many of the greats have passed from the scene. I am very thankful that I have the opportunity to be a member of this elite Society with a membership that has either known the men or has "done their homework" on the subject for many years to achieve a degree of excellence. I am humbled and appreciative for all I am learning. (Sons of the Pioneers Historical Society Journal, July 10, 1987)
My first acquaintance with the Pioneers probably came through the Saturday matinees although I do not remember for certain. I'm sure I saw some of the last Republic movies they made like "Under California Stars" and "Bells of San Angelo" but to see them leave Republic and be replaced by someone else somehow made the Roy Rogers films seem incomplete (even though I was too young to have seen the early 40s features.) The first one I really remember was Disney's "Melody Time". I also had a young neighbor who had a copy of "Tumbling Tumbleweeds" and "Cool Water" and I made frequent visits just to hear them on the record player.
I was not hooked though, until years later in 1960 when I first saw them in person. It was in Colorado Springs and I was working as part of the Order of the Arrow honor guard at the 1960 National Boy Scout Jamboree. My job that night was crowd control as 50,000 boys and leaders filed into various outdoor arenas to be entertained by some of Hollywood's finest. It had been years since I had even thought about the Sons of the Pioneers but when they hit the first notes of "Tumbling Tumbleweeds", I became a fan immediately. I quickly managed to get a friend to exchange duty stations with me so I could move with the Pioneers to their next performance.
Jim's Western Music Association (WMA now IWMA) snapshots:
Bobbie Nolan Mileusnich (Bob Nolan's daughter), Attorney Ray Kraft, Dick Goodman, Robert Wagoner and Doc Denning at the foundation meeting of the WMA. Bobbie is showing a family photo - her first meeting with her father. (August 1988)
Joyce Martin, Milo Mileusnich (Bobbie's husband), Bobbie and Jim Martin (August 1988)
Milo and Bobbie Mileusnich (August 1988)
Clara (P=Nuts) Nolan (August 1988)
P'Nuts Nolan, Bobbie & Milo Mileusnich, Rev. Bernard Hurley and Doris Hurley (August 1988)
Bobbie Mileusnich, Jim Martin and Milo Mileusnich at the Red Dog Saloon at Old Tucson (Nov. 1990)
Joyce Martin with Bobbie Mileusnich outside the hotel (November 1990)
Velma Spencer (Tim's widow) and Bobbie Mileusnich (November 1990)
Jim Gough, Bobbie Mileusnich and Jim's wife (November 1994)
Ken Griffis, Bobbie Mileusnich and her friend, Jo-Ann Reed looking left at Jack Sadler (off side) (November 1994)
Ken Griffis, Velma Spencer, Bobbie Mileusnich and Nick Nicholas on stage for presentation of the WMA Hall of Fame Award for Bob Nolan posthumously, November 1994
Ken Griffis presenting the WMA Hall of Fame Award posthumously to Velma Spencer for Tim Spencer. Bobbie is holding the Bob Nolan award.
Bobbie Mileusnich and Jim Martin (November 1996)
Barbara Ann Barnett and Bobbie Mileusnich (November 1997)