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Posts Tagged ‘R.W. Hampton’

Target Practice

Posted on: June 26th, 2012 by R.W. Hampton 3 Comments
Cell Phone Demolition 101

Cell Phone Demolition 101

Many of you will remember a few weeks back I came to my Facebook friends for advice on a dilemma I was facing. My cell phone had decided to quit me cold at the absolute worst time.  A week or so later I threatened the phone with a bullet and it miraculously worked again. I then couldn’t decide if I should shoot my unfaithful “quitter” phone & get a new one or try to figure out what was wrong with the old one and make it last a few more months.  Well, almost without exception your collective advice was “Get a sweet new phone then shoot the old &*^*%*!”

So after finally making that trip to town and dealing with the phone salesman for a new “completely dependable” model.

Well, that’s just what I did & I gotta tell ya, it was a beautiful, liberating experience!

Calvin helped me by playing photo journalist and documenting the affair for your enjoyment.

My Target

My Target... the Unfaithful Phone

Perfect Shot

A Perfect Shot

My good-neighbor Rob caught the fever & he’s bringing over a coffee maker, alarm clock, and his wife’s phone.

Yes sir, there is true therapy, healing and just plain pure pleasure in taking target practice on those small “lectric” gadgets that quit us just when we are depending on them.  Right now I’ve got a wrist watch that may “get it” if it doesn’t stop losing time!

Anyhow, as much as I love music, I think I have found something else I’m good at & love even more!

Up Close

Up Close of the "One Bullet Wonder"

So, if you’ve got a cell phone that needs a permanent solution, send it on over!  The boys and I will “drill it” with the old 45, photograph it & send it back to you with a note of “authentification” from yours truly!

My first "hit"... a 2009 model Motorola Razor

My first "hit"... a 2009 model Motorola Razor

 

No more dropped calls on that phone! LOL

Now to just go figure out how to run that new one…..

Yours truly,

R.W.

P.S.  Make sure you take out the SIM card!

Mail your “unfaithful” phone to: R.W. Hampton, PO Box 150, Cimarron NM 87714 and I will shoot it, take a picture with your phone, sign it and send it back… and maybe even include some music or other goodies….

Fathers

Posted on: June 16th, 2012 by Lisa Hampton 3 Comments
R.W. Hampton, father of 6

R.W. Hampton, father of 6

Tomorrow is Father’s Day.  I have a great father who loves me dearly and although I’ve chosen to live a thousand miles away I know he would be here at the drop of a hat if I needed him.  He’s always been that way – even when he couldn’t quite understand his moody teenage daughter. I love my Dad, he’s not perfect, but he did his best with what God gave him to raise and he never quit on me, and boy, am I glad!

My Dad, Mom & Denver at his HS Graduation

My Dad and Mom at our son Denver's HS Graduation in 2010

R.W. is a great father too. Matter of fact, when I met him he was trying hard to figure out how to be a single parent to his daughter and two young sons.  His love and commitment to them were some pretty strong factors in my attraction to him… along with the fact that he looked good in those Wranglers and has the most amazing blue eyes, strong character, and can serenade a gal so fast she’ll swoon…

But back to being a Dad.

One of my favorite past-times is watching R.W. with our boys as they grow.  He believes in “learning by doing” and sometimes I have to force myself to stay out of the way as they struggle with what they think is the impossible, only to find that they really could do it after all.

Today was one of those days.  You see we branded Calvin Danner’s one calf, a little heifer this morning.

Two FeetOf course you are probably wondering why we have only one calf on our “ranch” so I will digress to explain that we bought this place to run summer yearlings on to allow us to travel.  Normally we will pasture about 200 yearlings on the gain from May through October. We also keep a dozen or so saddle-horses, a few broodmares and babies, 3 full grown Longhorn steers as pasture ornaments, and whatever 4H projects the kids have year around.

But, like a lot of other folks who are going through this drought here in the SW, we are down to just the bare minimum of what we want to keep. Which brings us to Calvin’s one calf, a little heifer, who needed branded.

Working to flip her overThe fun was in watching the boys go gather her and her momma into the corrals, then help build a fire for the iron, and once Dad got her roped it was Calvin’s job to hold her hind end (with me on her neck), and then it was time to put our brand on her.

Awe, Mom.... put your camera awayThere were times in that short exchange when Calvin didn’t know what he was supposed to do, where he was still intimidated to get too close at the wrong time and get kicked, and when he wasn’t sure he was strong enough at 11 to hold onto her legs and keep her down.  But in the end, with encouragement and instructions from Dad, he did it.

R.W. Hampton, father of 6

And, once again I fell in love all over with R.W. as a man and as a father to all of our children.  Happy Father’s Day hunny.

 

Jiggity Jig

Posted on: May 8th, 2012 by Lisa Hampton 4 Comments

 

Wyoming 2012

Home again, home again, jiggity jig…

Whoever wrote that certainly wasn’t returning from almost THREE full months on the road with two kids.  It was more like “Home again, home again, collapse at the door…”

Yes, three (3) months.  What started as a two year commitment to travel with the kids and homeschool them has, over the past three months, turned into a true once-in-a lifetime adventure we never could have imagined.  I can say in all honesty that given the opportunity, I would do it all over again.  But, if you had showed me last fall a map and calendar of what 2012 was shaping up into, I think I probably would have chickened out. 

Maybe that’s why God doesn’t lay out everything He has in store for us all at once.  Consider all the things we would miss in life when the mountain in front of us looks too high to climb.

Well, I guess that brings me back here, home after almost three full months traveling in an SUV on the road with two very active and energetic young boys.  And where is here?  Well, it’s a state of exhaustion, amazement, enlightenment, and sheer awe at all the truly wonderful things and people we met and visited along the way. 

 Elko 2012

We began the adventure at the end of January with a trip back to the annual National Cowboy Poetry & Music Festival in Elko, Nevada.  Neither of these boys had been to Elko and I hadn’t been back with R.W. in years.  The best thing about Elko and its legendary gathering – it never changes.  It is pure “cowboy” in so many ways and yet it constantly seeks to show how our culture is so connected to similar cultures and people from around the world who are so very different but have much in common.  The artistry displayed, heard and shared at Elko is like nowhere else; a venerable feast for the cowboy (or cowgirl) spirit.  Buckaroos, cowpunchers, vaqueros, ranchers, friends, fans, family – they all gather for one week to experience the expression of that spirit and to feed their own souls with music, poetry, stories, art, culture, and friends.

Two days up to Elko through Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and Nevada, a four day stay for the gathering, then another two days back home.  The following week at home flew by with doctor appointments, business meetings, church meetings, a Boy Scout banquet that required a cake and table center-piece, car tune up and oil change, surgery on a sick horse, and setting up everything for the five-week trip we were about to embark upon. Not to mention the usual stuff that goes on like home-school, music business, ranch chores, and dealing with a winter storm.

Tennessee 2012

Then it was off to the East! With the excitement of a new adventure we loaded up and pointed the SUV towards Texas. And then Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Tennessee where we started out the musical portion of the trip in Nashville with R.W. filming a couple of music videos right down on Music Row.  The next day R.W. was invited to a singer-songwriter night at Douglas Cafe and connecting with both new friends (including the up-and-coming new group The Henningsens (who have written several top hits for The Band Perry), and old friends (like cowboy partner Dave C. who manages Charlie Daniels, and fellow Savannah Music artist, Michelle Wright).  No matter what industry you are in, it is always great re-connecting with the folks you hope to work with in the future. 

From Nashville it was off to Pigeon Forge for a four day festival called Saddle Up (one of our personal favorites!), then down to Chattanooga, farther south to Georgia, back up to Chattanooga, over to South Carolina, up to North Carolina, and then Virginia for over a week at the Williamsburg Film Festival. From there we headed back West through West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma… You get the picture.

Inside Raccoon Mtn, TN 2012

TN. Racoon Mtn.2012

Along the way we went caving in Chattanooga, had a blast at Rock City, visited Wade Hampton III’s homes in Columbia, SC.

Pillars remain at WadeHamptonIIIs.2012

We toured historic Jamestown and Williamsburg, where we all spent some time in the stocks.  The boys and I spent an afternoon at the beach on the Atlantic side of America and even got to watch the regal USS Enterprise ship out on her final deployment before she is decommissioned.

In the Stocks in Williamsburg.2012

Somewhere along the way we toured the Great Smoky Mountains, Monticello, Greenbrier Resort, Churchill Downs and the majestic Gateway Arch in St Louis, Mo among other things.

Monticello.Spring2012.photo by Denver Crowder

The Boys on the steps of Monticello

Jefferson's Gardens.2012

You might think that after those five weeks a little rest was in order, but no, thankfully R.W. had another job waiting for him in Texas the next weekend to help pay for all our fun!  So after five days of “rest” and unpacking, repacking, ranch repairs, another car tune-up, and several kids’ activities it was time to load up and head back to Northeast Texas for another five days on the road.  (Thankfully for me, this was an “all male event” so I was able to stay home and at least get the laundry caught up!)

Home again, home again, jiggity jig… for another five day stretch of rest, repairs, and repacking then off to West Texas to our daughter’s hometown to celebrate  Easter with her, her husband, their two boys, and a bunch of his side of the family.  Not a bad little trip at all but we were starting to feel the miles each time we clicked those seatbelts on.

Driving... some more

After a big four day rest it was off again! Destination: Kansas… in tornado season no less.  As the weather reports started warning of one of the biggest storm systems in current history R.W. and one of the boys loaded back up for what our son was convinced was going to be a “really exciting” trip to see a tornado.  Fortunately for me, as I was a nervous wreck waiting at home, the excitement didn’t turn out like he had hoped and the event which was to be held outdoors at a local riding arena was moved to a theater downtown that also doubled as a storm-shelter.  Unfortunately, for the good folks putting on the event, the attraction of holding the concert in a location that doubled as a storm shelter still wasn’t enough to convince a good portion of those who had planned on attending to leave their homes and brave the unknown forecasted weather.

With the excitement behind them the boys returned home with a little less jiggity jig for a whopping two day rest.  With over twenty states covered in less than 2 1/2 months it was time to complete the circle of the Central United States by heading west again, this time to Santa Clarita, California just north of Los Angles.

As we once again loaded suitcases, CDs, a plastic crate of our school books & lesson plans, R.W.’s guitar, hats, boots, a few toys, a box of office work I hoped to finish, and assorted drinks, snacks and cell phones I had to laugh at how we had managed to perfect our use of space. Even our five year old knew the drill by heart and loaded without complaint.  (Of course it didn’t hurt that there were a few days set aside for family fun at Disneyland ahead either!)

Goofy and Ethan being... goofyThe next 13 days included travel days across New Mexico, Arizona and Southern California; a quick visit to one of our sons who is stationed at the Twenty-Nine Palms Marine Base; several days at the annual Santa Clarita Cowboy Music Festival, two days in the recording studio working on some new songs, a visit to Disneyland with four generations of our family present, an afternoon visiting the Grand Canyon, and the drive back across Arizona and New Mexico. 

 The Grand Canyon.2012

Yes, by the time we got back late last Monday night our jiggity jig was completely gone.  But can you imagine missing all or any of that?  What an adventure! What a great experience for our boys!  What memories we have made!  What fantastic things they have learned and people they have met!

So, another week at home and although it was full of unpacking, repacking, shipping orders, homeschool, cleaning house, cleaning up the yard, and end of the school year activities we seem to have gotten our jiggity jig back so we head out again for Texas this afternoon.  Each time it’s been a little harder to load up and drive off, but we won’t ever have the chance to make those miles and memories again, so why not? 

Our travel times with our youngest boys won’t last forever so we cherish these trips plus it’s even more fun having you along for the ride. And, essentially we owe it all to you, because without you and your support we wouldn’t have the chance to share this wonderful country without children this way. Without you, R.W. would just be a great voice singing around the campfire in some remote cow-camp.  I can’t imagine our life without you, so I’m so glad you have not only joined us on our adventure – but you are the whole reason for it!

Thanks!  The Hamptons, Lisa, R.W., and of course, “the boys”

On the Road Again…

Posted on: April 13th, 2012 by R.W. Hampton 2 Comments

The Gig Rig

Well it’s time to roll again and this weekend I’m off to NE Kansas.  Leaving is always a process and the process generally starts with the cleaning of the car.  So join me, if you will, as I go to work on my little Sonata, better known as “The Gig Rig”.  This could be interesting because with the family tagging along lately we haven’t driven this member of our “fleet” for quite some time.

Let’s start by pulling the floor mats out and checking under the seats.  

Ah yes, here’s a Happy Meal toy, Skittles, Gob Stoppers, remnants of Pork Rinds, two broken crayons, a half-of-a roll of toilet paper, a loose (and very scratched up) “Corb Lund ” CD, two melted Junior Mints and an un-chewed piece of gum still in its wrapper tucked between the seat and the console.

What have we here? I recognize those little pellets! Looks like Mr. Mouse has been feasting here since our last trip!

The back seat is littered with kids’ drawings, a dirty sock (looks like it might fit our 5 year old), and several sheets of paper covered in a 5th grader’s handwriting and wadded up as if the frustrations of the math problems they held were taken out on them. There’s a church bulletin, three guitar pics, assorted change that adds up to $.35, a funeral service program, a CD case full of music and a couple of 22 bullets. 

Here’s my missing reading glasses on the dash along with the directions to the last gig this rig went to, and under that is an envelope stuffed full of gasoline, McDonald’s, Cracker Barrel and hotel receipts that I’m betting Lisa has been looking for.

I’m almost afraid to open the trunk, but it’s not too bad. An old barn coat, a pair of winter gloves, a pair of kid’s cowboy boots that no longer fit the boy they belonged to, and a folding stadium chair seat bearing a “Baylor Bears” logo which I didn’t even know we owned.

So my trash sack is full and there is a new stack of stuff on the kitchen counter, but I have a place to sit and Calvin can stretch his legs out in the passenger seat next to me as we head to Kansas.  Funny thing is, by the time our circle is through Sunday night, you’ll never know I had ever cleaned the car at all!

What is the strangest thing you’ve found cleaning out your car?

RW's gig rig getting ready to hit the road again

Veteran’s Day thoughts… For Those Who Have Signed the Dotted Line

Posted on: November 11th, 2011 by Lisa Hampton 3 Comments

If you have been a fan of R.W. Hampton music for longer than, well, let’s say 4 minutes, (which is the amount of time it takes to listen to most of his songs), you know that R.W. is feverishly patriotic.

Yes, patriotism runs deep in the Hampton family and days like Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day are not merely for putting out the flag, but a time when we pause to honor those around us who have served our nation or are currently serving. 

On these special days we get a chance to stand up and thank those around us who have signed that dotted line saying “America, I’m yours.  I will stand up and fight for you, your citizens, your government, your flag and all that it stands for.  Regardless of whether I like that government, those citizens, or the cause I have been sent to accomplish.  Because as an American, I believe that in the end, right will win; evil will be conquered; freedom will reign and my family, my country, and my fellow soldier/marine/sailor/airman needs me.”     

Yes, these are special days.  Not just to honor men like these.

Members of the US Navy in Pacific Theater - WWII                    And these.        Sgt G Meisner, 2/9 Fox Co

 

But also these.                        2/9 Golf Co Ar Ramadi 2009

And women like these.   WAAC WWII

 

Violet Askins aka Violet Hill Gordon

Women Soldiers in AfghanistanAnd these… 

They are what make our country great. 

It’s what’s inside them.  They know that they were willing to stand up for their country and sign that dotted line. Willing to face our enemies in that  moment of battle and know the courage it takes.

Neither R.W. nor I have done this.  Signed the dotted line.  Faced our enemies across a battlefield.  

Brig General TC Lyster - Theodore C. Lyster is a familiar name to aerospace medicine physicians. His early recognition of the unique physical requirements of aviators, the specialized training necessary for flight surgeons, and the need for altitude physiology research provided the foundation on which the specialty of aviation medicine was built. Lyster's medical career, however, encompassed much more than aviation medicine. From his earliest assignment as a contract physician in Cuba in 1899 until his entry into private practice in 1921, he was heavily involved with the fight against yellow fever. In the era before medical residencies were commonplace, Lyster sought out training in ophthalmology and otolaryngology in the U.S. and abroad. His clinical and organizational abilities made him a valuable asset during the construction of the Panama Canal and during World War I. Lyster's many talents and his philosophy about aviation medicine make him a worthy role model for flight surgeons today.

Brig General TC Lyster, 1875 - 1933da

 

Army, Navy, Air Force & Marines. 
Our fathers, grandfathers, great-grandfathers, and our oldest son, Cooper, have all signed it. 
Lieutenant General Wade Hampton III, 1818 - 1902

Lieutenant General Wade Hampton III, 1818 - 1902

For as R.W. said to me one day, “My greatest disappointment in life as an adult is that I will never know if I had it inside me to do what they have done; to face what they have faced and to know that I did my part for my country.”

And so, although we are not Veteran’s ourselves, our part now is to support and honor these men and women who are.  To encourage them, to enlighten our community to their sacrifices, and to keep their memories alive; this is our job now. 

 God bless everyone of our Veterans.  We go to sleep tonight safe because at one point you had the courage to sign that dotted line.

OXO – Lisa H.

R.W.’s New Chaps – guest post by Mrs. R.W. Hampton (aka Lisa)

Posted on: July 31st, 2011 by Lisa Hampton 8 Comments

It was R.W.’s birthday recently. I won’t mention how old he is now. He would like to think he is 35: old enough to know better, but young enough to still have lots of fun ahead. I think some of us would be happy with 39. Again.

RW’s birthday and Father’s Day fall so close together that he usually gets cheated on one end or the other in the gift department. (Creativity on my part only goes so far, you know.)

Ironically, our ten year old saved me this year from the struggle of coming up with the perfect gift. You see, C.D. is a big kid, and growing bigger. Last summer he had to go without chaps because he was growing so fast that he  grew out of his old ones and we never got time to find a new pair. For some reason, there weren’t any hand-me-downs from the big brothers around either. So this spring in his hunt for leggings (another name for long chaps), he discovered that he fit in R.W.’s. And R.W., being the loving Cowboy Dad that he is, let him wear them a few times – except that he never got them back. 

Now for the hard part. I just had to pick out a top quality chap maker that would please my husband.

Fortunately for me, we have one right here in Cimarron who does a fantastic job. Thank you, Casey Jeffers & Cimarron West!

The Chaps – which, by the way, are pronounced “The Shaps” – were very well received. We joked on Facebook that R.W. might not take them off. 

And then someone asked for a picture.

And so the next day, when the boys went down to the barn to ride, I tagged along with my camera under the pretense of taking pictures of the boys and horses. …

So here are The Chaps:

Aren’t they pretty? Okay, Cowboys probably don’t want their chaps called “pretty,” … but they are!

I feel a little like a secret agent on assignment. Secretly gathering evidence and stealthily snapping away. Yes, I was beginning to feel more like Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond, every moment.

My target, unaware that my zoom lens is focused in on his derriere, goes about his job.

Zooming in closer…

Nice Chaps. Hmm, I think I got carried away there.

And off to the arena they went: my Cowboy, his horse, and his new chaps.

His horse, Hank, caught me. And posed.

And then it was time to ride.

Sorry, I couldn’t help myself. My assignment was to get good shots of those new chaps. Getting on Hank was the perfect time for some great shots, right? Gratuitous butt shots were just one of the perks of my job, right? Levis, Wranglers, Cinch … they all look pretty good with a pair of nice looking chaps. It’s the chaps we’re looking at, right? (Ladies, this is all you get … he’s mine and I’m not sharing.)

Aren’t those chaps pretty? Sorry… handsome? I think Casey did a great job.

He still thinks I’m taking pictures of the horse … Hank, you are a poser!

And off they go. To check the few cattle we have, to make sure the fence doesn’t have holes, or in this case it was just up to the house to find our youngest little buckaroo, who went back for a popsicle while Daddy was getting his horse caught.

Here is a close up of Casey’s workmanship. (Really, I just liked this photo and thought you might too.) R.W. still hasn’t discovered that his paparazzi isn’t just interested in his horse.

I liked this shot of the fringe and his spurs, I even like the tail of his rope hanging down. The spurs, by the way, were made by our longtime friend in Texas, Craig Danner

Cowboys and cowboy craftsmen seem to like to put their names or their brands on everything;  spurs, bits, saddles … I think it’s cool. Kind of their Izod of the West. My husband is no exception. I guess that is why it is SOOO important that your little cowboy children have names with great initials.

On a similar note, this bit was a Christmas/Anniversary/Valentine’s Day present from yours truly several years ago. It was also made by a neighbor and fantastic artisan, Gene Klein, who lives about a mile from our place. We are really lucky to have such great guys living right here. (And no, they aren’t even aware of this post. That is, until one of you spills the beans that I’ve shared my sources.)

Oh yes, back to “The Chaps.” My cowboy likes to haul all kinds of things with him wherever he goes. These chaps got rave reviews from him not only because they were well made and handsome, but because they have a pocket on both sides for handy things like fencing pliers, hoof nippers, extra saddle strings, some jerky, a peppermint (or three), his pocketknife and who knows what else!

Here he is still waiting for the little guy to come out of the house … 

And wouldn’t you know it … the cry from inside the house is that our littlest cowboy needs help with his boots and spurs. So, Cowboy Daddy is gonna have to go in and fetch the young one out. (This is it, my last chance to get that “perfect” shot … of the chaps … )

And then they are both back in the saddle. As they ride off into the sunset, waving to Mom as they go, I wonder, “Does he really think I would take that many pictures of his horse?” His smile tells me: my gig as a secret agent is up, I think he is starting to get the idea. I may not make it as his paparazzi after all. 

But it was fun while it lasted. I hope you didn’t mind me stealing his blog and “guest blogging”… Maybe next time I will sneak down and really get pictures of the kids and horses…

Thanks!

Lisa H

The Homecoming of the 2/9

Posted on: March 18th, 2011 by R.W. Hampton 19 Comments

The night of February 10 found me in Camp Lejeune, NC, to welcome home the 2nd Battalion 9th Marines from their combat deployment in deadly Marjah, Afghanistan. More specifically, I was waiting for my oldest son, Platoon Sergeant Cooper Hampton of Golf Company. This was Coop’s second deployment, so the waiting was not new; but somehow, with the constant flow of almost instant information via email and Facebook, the months passed by slow and long.

I had made a conscious decision from the start to be “in the know.” This meant being familiar with Helmand Province, its people, geography, topography, politics, customs and even weather. Our clock on the fireplace mantle was set to Marjah time, 10 ½ hrs later than our Mountain Standard Time.

Platoon Sgt. Cooper Hampton on patrol in Helmand Province, Afghanistan

Being “in the know” also meant starting and ending every day checking emails, Facebook and the news reports, trading information and updates with other family members. Even though our boys had no electricity or running water at their FOB (Forward Operating Base), we were able to receive short messages and even photos by virtue of generator-powered laptops. At times when all communication ceased, we knew we had lost one of our boys and the next of kin were being contacted. Through photos, video clips and short messages, we knew that our boys were “mixing it up” with the Taliban on an almost daily basis.

And so it seems in a strange way that somehow the lives of these young warriors, their families and our lives are forever entwined, and that on some level we, too, had fought and experienced the joys, sorrows, victories and losses.

It was all of these things and more that had my heart full and running over that cold, wet night. Along with dozens of others, I crowded into a Marine base gymnasium to wait. The scene could best be described as like a Norman Rockwell painting where people of all ages, carrying banners and balloons, eating hotdogs and drinking coffee, were passing the time visiting, playing bingo and doing crossword puzzles. There were grandpas and grandmas, moms and dads, and pretty young women dressed in their finest pushing baby strollers. Charlie Daniels’ music played over an ancient P.A. system that also brought us an occasional update on the status of our loved ones.

We were told that our boys had flown from Germany to the Marine Corps air base at Cherry Point, NC, and were being bused from there to Camp Lejeune. Although I’d never set foot in that gymnasium before, I felt as much at home there as any place I’ve ever been before or since. I felt as if I’d walked into a church social that had no beginning or end, no specific time or location. Just anywhere, anytime USA.

The spell was broken when a fella with a strong New England accent walked up and said, “You must be Coop’s dad.” 

“You got that right!”

My new Yankee friend explained, “I’m Nate’s dad!”

We visited a while, then a new update came over the P.A.: Fox and Golf Companies were on base. They’d check in their weapons at the armory and be marching in soon. They’d be here in 30 minutes to an hour.

You could feel the level of excitement grow as folks lined up to use the restroom and get one more cup of coffee before going out into the cold, damp, North Carolina night. As I refilled my coffee cup, a man beside me, sporting a ball cap that read “Proud Grandfather of a US  Marine” was doctoring his coffee with a little Red Stag whiskey.

“Want some?” he asked.

“You bet!” I said, “If there was ever a night to celebrate, this is it!”

“Amen to that!” was his reply.

I looked at the clock. It was a little after 11 p.m. I got a little nostalgic thinking that almost 24 years ago I was anxiously awaiting my son’s arrival into the world. Now here I was, waiting for that same son, no longer an infant but a hardened combat veteran, to return home from yet another world. Somehow I find that this waiting is just as intense as that first waiting was so long ago. And the questions are the same, too. What will he look like? How will he be? Will he be glad to see me? What will I say? How strange, I thought, these circles life takes us in.

Platoon Sgt. Cooper Hampton

As I look around I see that others are dealing with these strange emotions as well, and I’m glad we’re all going out into the night together where tears of joy and raw emotion can have their way. I watch as a lovely young woman checks her makeup one last time while another tells her three young kids that “Daddy’s on his way!” An older couple readies their balloons; they even have a bottle of champagne to open. I nervously fumble for my phone to send a quick text to the family back home, “It won’t be long now!”

As folks are making their final preparations, it occurs to me this scene is as old as time itself. Many, if not most, have had long, hard trips to get to this place. All have been waiting for hours, but no one is complaining, just counting down the moments, the seconds! This scene has played out for as long as men and women have gone to war.

My thoughts are interrupted when a woman at the gym entrance calmly but urgently announces, “They’re coming!” All talking stops as everyone heads for the door and out into the night. It is pitch black, but almost as if by instinct people line up around the edges of the cold, wet parade ground. Not a word is spoken and not a sound can be heard but that of marching boots as they get louder and louder. Eyes strain to see in the blackness and then, like ghosts, I can see the silhouettes of men getting closer. Then, in perfect formation, they halt in front of the waiting crowd. Faceless and unidentifiable, yet only an arm’s length away. Time and breathing seemed to have stopped as one lone voice said, “At ease, men. Well done and welcome home. You are dismissed!”

The waiting crowd started making their way forward to find their loved ones. Some called out names, while others held up cell phones to see. As I waded into the crowd to start my search, I could faintly make out forms as they reunited and quietly slipped away. In the shadows I could see couples locked in embrace, oblivious to their surroundings, as if they were earth’s only inhabitants. I saw tall, straight, young, fighting men holding tiny babies for the first time, and whole families, holding each other, laughing, crying, as if one. I could hear children crying, “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy!” I felt almost as if I was on Holy ground as I wandered through these scenes looking for my son.

“Cooper, Coop, Sergeant Hampton!” I called over and over, each time a little louder until a faceless voice said, “He’s in here somewhere, sir, just saw him.”

“Thanks,” I said as I wandered on. Finally I stopped and stood but an arm’s length away from a silhouette that I knew that I knew. After what seemed like forever, a strong voice said, “Dad!” and my not so strong reply, “Coop, oh son, my son, you big, beautiful son of a bitch, God bless ya, welcome home!” I held his face in my hands, making sure this was not a dream. We hugged as men do, laughed, cried, slapped each other on the back – afraid to turn loose, as if this was not real and would all go away.

The circle was complete.

9.11.2010

Posted on: September 9th, 2010 by R.W. Hampton 4 Comments

It seems like only yesterday that I watched in horror, disbelief and anger as our world was forever changed. Changed in the way we travel. Changed in the way we view our neighbors. But most profoundly for me, it is the fact that once again, we are sending our sons and daughters off to war.

Now let me be the first to say that I believe this is a must! For when you are attacked by a ruthless and cowardly enemy, you cannot shiver in the darkness waiting for the next hit. Nor can you afford the naïve and idealistic thinking that sanctions, trade embargoes and talks will stop it.

No, I believe that “taking it to them” is not only the right thing to do, but the only thing to do. I can say this with honesty because my oldest son is, as of this writing, doing just that, “takin’ it to ‘em!”

Coop and his buddy TBird

The problem for me is the nagging doubt I have that our government will let our sons and daughters do the job for which they are trained and willing to give their lives for. This doubt is strongly reinforced every time I read about how the troops remaining in Iraq are already back in the action and under fire. It is reinforced now when I hear Washington has already told our enemies in Afghanistan when we are going to be done and headed home. We need to let our sons and daughters know that we are behind them and let them win for a change and the payoff is a safer world for them to come home to. We owe this to our finest so that no one will have bled and died in vain.

At a time when elections are on the horizon and much is at stake politically, I want to tell our politicians from all parties , “Do what you must, but do not use my son or anyone else’s as your pawns. No, let them do their jobs. You cannot fight this war from your cherry-wood-and-leather-appointed chambers. No, it must be fought outside and over there, and it must be fought to win, and your Senate or Congressional seat be damned!”

As I close, I am looking at the picture of a young, proud, square-jawed Marine. At the bottom he has written, “We are the unwanted, doing the unthinkable, for the ungrateful. WE ARE THE MARINES.” This is my own son, and I pray his sentiments are wrong, and I pray for our leaders.

God Bless America and May We Never Forget September 11th!
R.W. Hampton

Job For A Cowboy

Posted on: July 30th, 2010 by R.W. Hampton 4 Comments

Take one cowboy (any age) mounted on a good,  solid, reliable horse (white, of course). Now take a woman (young and beautiful, of course) who is drowning in a sea of despair due to a badly broken heart. A wound made all the worse due to the fact that it was inflicted by that type of sorry, low-down, black-hearted vermin who preys on trusting women.

Now did I mention that our cowboy is so sure of himself that he knows his combination of savvy, sweet-talk, crooning and caress would, on any given day, heal the crack in the Liberty Bell? Oh yes, and a broken heart is his specialty. So let’s get out of our hero’s way and let him do his job!

That’s right, take all this and you’ve got a Job For A Cowboy, which just happens to be the title of one of my new songs (of course!) on my new Austin To Boston CD.

Come on now, what woman hasn’t dreamed of being rescued by a handsome, daring cowboy in a white hat (of course!) And show me the man or boy who hasn’t dreamed of galloping into town, guns a-blazing (of course), to rescue a damsel in distress. 

Ahhh, you’re in luck, and I’m going to show you how to apply these heroic principles on a modern day level. You see, right now my wife is pulling up to the ol’ ranch house with a huge load of groceries and supplies from town. I’ll just don my whitest hat (of course) and go out and say, “I’ll get these, Ma’am.” Even though we’ve been married for forever, I can still impress her by grunting and groaning and flexing my muscles as I carry this stuff into the house. 

But wait! This is not what I had in mind. She bats her pretty eyes and says, “I can handle them, but if you really want to help,” (and I think I do, of course), “our youngest has needed a diaper change since I left the store.” And folks, we live a long way from town!

Well, it looks like I’ve got a job to do. It’s not very glamorous, but a cowboy’s work is never done. So take a tip from me, forget everything I told you and just enjoy my new song, Job For A Cowboy. And… let me know how you like it. (Of course!)

Happy Independence Day, America!

Posted on: July 2nd, 2010 by R.W. Hampton 11 Comments

As Americans around the world get ready with family and friends to celebrate our Independence Day, I’m contemplating the few precious hours my family and I will spend with my son, US Marine Corps Sgt. Cooper Hampton, later this month before he leaves on his second combat deployment. It is a strange irony and a sobering reminder that while much has changed in our country, the cost of freedom is still the same.

So here I am with another video… a little tribute to America and all the men and women who have paid the price for our freedoms. If you like this little song, please consider forwarding it along to share with your friends. And of course, I always love to hear what you think.

Happy Independence Day, America!