I just found out that Charlie Pride died. He was one of my favorite country singers and by all accounts a gentleman and a fascinating human being. There were two singers that my mother wanted to see in person. One was Don Ho and the other was Charley Pride.  Today it seems strange to me that my mother, a German white woman, raised in middle America, who suffered from an endemic racism that she probably didn’t even know about, would pick those two as her favorite singers, but she did.

Charlie Pride was one of my favorite singers in what I think was the hay day of country music. There were distinct voices and wonderful lyrics. Merle Haggard, Charlie Pride, Johnny Cash, Marty Robbins, Waylon Jennings, Ferlin Husky were just a few of my favorites.  I had several eight tracks with Charlie’s music scattered around my car for years.   His passing brought up some interesting memories that have to do with 6° of separation.

In 1960, Charlie who was born in Mississippi, moved to Montana to play for the Missoula Timberjacks in the Pioneer League, but ended up working at a smelter operated by the Anaconda Mining Company and playing for its semi-pro baseball team, the East Helena Smelterites.  One of his online biographies says that “In 1961, he was invited to try out for the Los Angeles Angels during spring training but found himself heading back home to Helena, Montana after just two weeks in camp.

During the first half of the 1960’s, Charley continued to work at the smelter and play baseball for its semi-pro team. But he also began making a name for himself as a local performer by singing the national anthem at baseball games and performing at honky-tonks, churches and nightclubs in the Helena, Anaconda and Great Falls areas”.

So here is where things get interesting, at least in my world.  In 1973 I went to Concordia Senior College in Fort Wayne Indiana. At that time the senior college was considered the place where you went to get grounded in languages and prepared for seminary.  Most of us considered it to be something of a monastery. We were told that there were no women attending the senior college. That proved not to be true.  When I was there there were three young ladies.  We of course being sexist swine of the lowest caliber considered them our token females.  I never had a chance to get to know any of them to see if they were tokens. The closest encounter I had with one of them was at a “risk party” on a picnic table outside of the dorm.  During the course of the game, which could literally go on for days, she said that she had babysat for Charley Pride when he lived around Helena Montana.  Ok that is interesting and went into the memory bank.  In 1976 I am in Helena as a vicar and hear the same story from a fellow who said that he was a pastors son and grew up in St. Thomas ND.  He said that another pastor that he knew from that area had been in Montana and his daughter baby sat for Mr, Pride.  My memory  is that the pastor was from Cavalier ND.

I was born in North Dakota, and I am ashamed  to say that I never heard of Cavalier, or Saint Thomas ND and joked about that.  Anyway the lady at Ft. Wayne had the last name of Baumann and fellow in Helena has the last name of Schmidt.

Skip ahead to 1978.  I’m ordained and installed in Grafton and Drayton North Dakota. My circuit counselor who,  as a young pastor I was told was kind a like my boss, was a gentleman by the name of Arnold Luecker.  He was the pastor in Cavalier at that time and he related the story to me about Pastor Baumann who had taken a call somewhere else, but would still come up to Cavalier in the Fall and get potatoes. I don’t remember if Pastor Baumann had been the pastor at Cavalier or not, just that he was in the area and his daughter had attended Fort Wayne.

  connections brings us blessings and memories. If the old timers from Cavalier and St. Thomas can help with the timeline I would appreciate them contacting me.  Was Baumann a Pastor at Cavalier and Schmidt at St. Thomas or vice-versa.