I go back to the year 1941. I am 5 years old and
Jim is 18. World War 11 was upon us, but to a five year old kid,
it didn’t seem very important. I do remember that gasoline, along
with shoes, was rationed. My folks talked about the seriousness of
the times everyday. One of the brightest things for me was a trip
to my Grandmother Reeves’ who lived in DeBerry, Texas. That’s my
first recollection of Jim. He was so much fun to be around.
He loved kids and would entertain us with his guitar or maybe play baseball
with us. They lived only 3 ½ miles from us. My father,
Buford, was the oldest member of the family and took over when Papa died
at age 42 in 1924. He went to work in the Arkansas oil fields and
sent money home so Mama Reeves could provide for the others. Later,
sons Hulon and O.D. also went to work in the oil fields. When
Jim was ten years old, my dad bought Mama Reeves a nice little house in
Deberry. This is where Jim lived until he was grown and left home.
My dad kept a close watch on his mother. Although he was married
with 3 children, he would say, “Let’s drive over to DeBerry and see how
I knew Jim would be there with some of his buddies, and I was the first to get in the car. I knew there would be big stories about hunting and fishing on the Sabine River and talk about The Big Thicket which was several miles down the river from where we lived. There were all kinds of bad critters in The Big Thicket. There would usually be some music going on as well. Jim called me “Little Brother”, and as I grew a little older, Jim, being a fine baseball pitcher, signed with the St. Louis Cardinals Farm System, and I remember him coming home one fall wearing a St. Louis Cardinal Warm-up jacket. Being into sports by this time, you can imagine how that jacket caught my eye hanging in the screened back porch where Jim hung it. When he let me put it on, I was in “hog heaven”. What a thrill! I was a cardinal fan from then on and am still one today.
Our almost weekly visits to my grandmother’s went on until I was in junior high school. I would still visit on a regular basis and maybe take a friend along as well. I was where I wanted to be in life in my sports ventures and the music and folklore when I was around Jim and his buddies. Boney Lawless and Al Courtney were a special treat. When I was a senior in high school, we were playing the regional basketball tournament in Elysian Fields where I went to school. Just a few minutes before the tip-off, I saw Jim come in the gym. He was wearing black and white shoes, a black and white nub silk suit and had on a raincoat. He found a seat and watched the game. “Mexican Joe” had hit, so the people at the game were anxious to meet him. We won the game that night. I went on to be chosen as an Allstate, All Star Player.
From my first memory of Jim until he went to work at KWKH Radio in Shreveport as an announcer—then became a singer on the show, I had full access to him. He was very interested in my baseball pitching and taught my brother, Joe, and I how to throw pitches like, a curve, knuckle and slider.
When he and Mary and Leo would come out for Sunday dinner at our house, my mother, Catherine, would always serve whole peaches with spices and thick juice that she had canned. Jim loved them, and he could eat a whole pint jar and I could also.
We lived only 21 miles from the Louisiana Hayride when he hit with Mexican Joe in 1953. When I visited the Hayride, Jim invited me back stage. By now I was getting hooked on the country ballad. The following year Jim moved to Nashville, and I went to college playing on the golf team. I didn’t see Jim very much during my college years. Once in Carthage when he came back to a reunion, he had rented a car at the Shreveport airport, and he asked me and my friend to follow him back to turn in the car before his flight. We decided to stop at a tavern just short of the airport. My friend and I ordered a beer, but Jim ordered a coke. He had stomach ulcers so was being careful not to drink alcohol. I recall that he said “I’m in the middle of a big project and need to stay on top of it.” We left the little tavern and checked his car in. I noticed as he gathered up his bag and things, he had a book on philosophy that he was reading. I commented about it, and told him I was taking philosophy as an elective that was about the different belief systems. He caught his flight, but later as I would visit him in Nashville when I was in the army, we stayed up late several times talking about life. Jim asked me what I was going to do after the army. I said I really didn’t know yet. His comment to me was, “Look deep within yourself and find out what brings you joy. I still don’t know about a lot of things, but I do know that I have to sing. You can be anything you want to be if you are willing to do it first for yourself, but also, share your calling with others.”
I played two days of golf with him in Henderson during the first week of July before he crashed his plane on July 31st. I noticed during my last visit with him, he seemed a little cynical about the next move in his career. He had gone as far in country music as he could and was thinking about his next career move. He mentioned about buying some property around San Antonio and slowing down. A national TV show and movies were also mentioned. I’ve often thought about which direction he would have taken. My memories of Jim are warm and caring. He was always cordial to everyone, but there was a line you never crossed with Jim. He did not like pushy people, people who started gossip on him, or failed to do what they agreed to do. He would go the distance if he felt that he was being hustled.
One night at the Reo Palm Isle in Longview, Texas, when Jim would come off stage for a break, this certain fellow would go up to him and poke him with his finger. Jim cautioned him twice about touching him. After the show Jim was putting his guitar in the trunk of his car, and this fellow had followed him outside and once again punched Jim with his finger. The fellow’s lights went out when Jim punched him out. Jim always had a table reserved for his friends. He never let an outsider intrude on his friends. Oh, if he were only around today, a few people would get a knock on their door. Jim was just a man who took the talent that God gave him and made music that the entire world will always love.
Since the sale of the Mary Reeves Davis enterprise, there are a few people who think they have been picked by divine guidance to run the image of Jim Reeves to include the Reeves heritage. The Buford Reeves heirs are quiet capable of handling their own affairs and protecting the Reeves Legacy. Jim has been gone for 48 years. I have a Jim Reeves day in Henderson, Texas every year the later part of June. Check our website for details. I have traveled most of the free world singing to thousands of Jim Reeves fans. What they want and like is to relive the songs that made them happy when they were young. It is very humbling for me to be accepted as a singer and to have an uncle like Jim Reeves. The people make a star and they become very protective of him. They really don’t care about things that question their love for Jim’s music. I will be glad to answer any questions within reason. I feel totally qualified after all my exposure of being a Reeves and all the knowledge I have acquired with all my travels and visiting with the real fans. I know how Jim felt about the important things in life. Living in and around the Reeves family, I watched with keen interest. We had Jim in East Texas for thirty years and Nashville had him for ten. You can contact me for only the true things about the Reeves family. This website is not for hearsay, maybes or sensationalisms that may not be true. It is impossible to call dead people to corroborate a story. A legend as big as Jim Reeves takes on more and more subject matter as time goes by. Forty-eight years is a long time for things to get out of touch with reality. Jim was just a man and after all this time his beautiful body of work still stands (Jim’s original versions—not those that have been prostituted for profit). His fan base is getting smaller each year, but his music will never die. As for me and my family, we come from durable stock—we thank the people of the world for choosing to anoint one of our own as one of the greatest singers ever. In time all the tabloid stories will fade like dust upon the snow. But my memories and knowledge of Jim will last me forever and ever, amen.
This is a memo from his #1 fan!