It's a bit ironic to me that Coretta Scott King and Louise Scruggs both passed away within the same week. I think these two ladies had some things in common.
Both were huge forces behind their very influential and legendary husbands. Both were shrewd and highly intelligent and accomplished women and would have been succesful in some form or fashion had they not ever had the occasions to meet Martin and Earl.
Mrs. King has spent the last 38 years keeping the memory of her late husband burning and raised 4 children in the process, alone. All the while, she kept a steely type of dignity about her. I'm sure Mrs. King probably laughed, but I never saw it.
Louise possessed a similar type of dignity about her. Often, people have misunderstood her and thought she was cold or aloof. True, to get to Earl, you had to go through Louise. She fiercely protected the whole image and public persona of her legendary husband.
One time, we were at a picking party at the Scruggs house. I took my video camera for my own personal use. A few days later, Louise called to make sure we weren't going to sell it. Never in a million years would I have ever considered something like that, but it goes to show where her mind was and what she was about.
Over-protectiveness aside, Louise was one of the warmest, most generous and hospitable people I've come across.
Louise Scruggs spent the last 58 years seeing to it that the world would know who her husband, Earl Scruggs is. At a time when women were not very influential on Music Row and the ones who worked there were mostly receptionists and bookeepers, Louise Scruggs was managing, promoting and booking Flatt & Scruggs. Louise did all of that while largely raising she and Earl's three sons, Gary, Randy and Steve alone. I say "alone" because Earl was gone most of the time.
I know, for a fact, that Louise Scruggs laughed because I saw her do it many times and it was one of the funniest things and one of the strongest memories I will carry of her. When Louise laughed, she didn't just go out with and laugh, funny ha ha. When she got really tickled, she would bounce up and down and not make a sound.
I certainly hope that the CMA will consider putting Louise Scruggs in the Hall of Fame. She certainly belongs there.
We attended Louise's funeral service earlier this week. It was a lovely service at the Ryman Auditorium (where in 1946 a 19 year old Louise, sitting on the front row during an Opry performance, spotted the cute banjo player in Bill Monroe's band). Dwight Yoakam sang "In The Garden" with more heart and soul than I've ever heard it done in my life; Travis Tritt, Marty Stuart, The Whites all rendered their songs beautifully; Eddie Stubbs presided and showed clips of a rare, solo interview with Louise; Vince Gill did his usual funeral number "Go Rest High (I've heard him do that song at no less than 5 funerals in the past couple years. He's so good to do that for people) but this time, he barely made it through, relating how he identified with Louise where this song was concerned. He told of how he saw his mother bury a son and Louise and Earl did the same thing in 1992 following their youngest son Steve's suicide. Pretty heavy.
Billy Bob Thornton caused uproarious laughter remembering a time when he caught Louise off guard doing his famous character, Karl Childers, from his masterpiece of a movie, "Slingblade." I laughed so hard, I had to excuse myself to the ladies room.
If a funeral can be great, this one was. A great time of tears, laughter, celebration and remembrance of a fantastic lady that I feel blessed to have known.
Take a whiff of Sista Smiff and you'll come back for more, that's fo sho!
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