At Your Library


On June 25, at 12:45 p.m., I’ll be one of the speakers at a video conference for librarians across the state of Texas! It is entitled, At Your Library Video Conference  Region VII in Kilgore is the host for this state-wide video conference for librarians. Every education service center is invited to connect. Content will include best practices from those “good idea” Texas school librarians.

The agenda will include ten 20 minute sessions so participants can share and learn about the impact of active library programs on student achievement.
Here is a description of my program:

Why Authors Should Fall to Their Knees and Worship Librarians

This presentation will address the important role Librarians have in society and the educational system. Librarians are now the ones entrusted with the torch of cultural and academic enrichment. The presentation will touch on what authors need to know about librarians and will address how and what should be communicated to visiting authors to insure a successful program.

If you would like to see the schedule or the other speakers information, the link to the program is here:

A Teacher’s Review of Jim Limber Davis: A Black Orphan in the Confederate White House. 

Jessica Shultz is a teacher candidate in the elementary education program at Wake Forest University. She grew up in southern New Jersey, and has lived in North Carolina for three years. The purpose of this website is to demonstrate her growth as a professional during my time in the teacher education program at WFU. This site is a collection of her work from the elementary education program, and tracks the progression of her teaching philosophy.  She said this about my Jim Limber Children’s book:

Jim Limber Davis: A Black Orphan in the Confederate White House
Written by: Rickey Pittman
Copyright 2007
Grades 3-5
• This is a fascinating story about a little orphaned African American boy who was taken in by Jefferson Davis and his family and lived for a while in the Confederate White House. An amazing true story that will really make children consider their concepts of right and wrong. The Davis family treats little Jim Limber like one of their own children, which contradicts the view that many people have about the Confederate South.
• Covers Civil War history, the Confederacy, the Davis family
• Classroom application: This would be a great book to start or end a unit. If students already have some Civil War knowledge, this would be a great way to start a unit! It will definitely challenge children and most likely contradict many of their previously held beliefs about the Civil War and the Confederate south. A great discussion starter!

You can see Jessica’s site here: 

Friday Fricasee

Fricasee is my word of the day. For some reason, I woke up thinking of it. It is a dish of cut-up pieces of meat (as chicken or rabbit) or vegetables stewed in stock and served in a white sauce. I first remember hearing the word in either a cartoon or a Restoration play in college.

Jim Limber: A Digital Book Talk

If you’re interested in a digital book talk, created by Bonnie Barnes of Region XI in Fort Worth, that you might could use to introduce the story of Jim Limber. Use this site.

New Books in My Library:

I’ve just ordered a Model Summer by Paula Porizkova and Snuff by Chuck Palahniuk. They should be in any day and I’m looking forward to reading them. I’ve been so busy that my reading has been slower than usual. I’ve got to remember that I am a writer, and that writers, busy or not, READ. I’ve also been given two new books this week. The first I received at the Memorial Day celebration on Monday, The Oxygen Revolution. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy by Paul G. Harch, M.D., and Virginia Mccullough. This treatment is being used with success with troops returning from Iraq with head wounds or trauma. Dr. Harch was there. Along with Kay Katz and Mike Walsworth, he was a speaker for the event.

The second book I received yesterday at the End of Year Luncheon for the Caddo Parish ISD librarians. Their organization is called CASL. This group of librarians has the best camaraderie I’ve seen. Librarians are my favorite people, and I think some of the least appreciated. They are also the last ones in education to be holding forth the lamp of cultural literacy in this day of State testing and resulting mediocrity. I intend to write some pieces to honor them. The event was held in the University Club in downtown Shreveport on Market Street and was a delightful program (in spite of the fact that I was the speaker for it). The theme was “Master the Art of Reading.” The book given to me was a signed copy of The Defense of Vicksburg: A Louisiana Chronicle written by All C Richard, Jr. & (Librarian) Mary Margaret Higginbotham Richard. I couldn’t have asked for another gift. I hope to have some photos of the event soon.
More from the Fort Worth Muster

Here is a photo of Cindy Harriman. She works with the Texas Civil War Museum. A beautiful and talented lady, she is doing so much to keep the history of the War Between the States alive. The gentleman is named Doug Harman. He is the retired CEO of the Fort Worth Convention and Visitors Bureau.


Confederate Poetry

 I found some sites that are rich resources for those researching poetry written during or about the Civil War (More correctly, the War Between the States). If you are a song writer, a poet, or a reader of materials related to the Civil War, you will want to check these out.

The first is Poetry and Music of the War Between the States.  The site has a brief but well-written introduction that says:

“The War Between the States was the pivotal event in our Nation’s history.
If you want only the facts about the conflict, any textbook will do.  But if you want to understand the thoughts and emotions of the men who faced each other across the battlefield and those who waited for them at home, look to the poems and songs written during and after the War.”

You can find the site here: 

Another site, entitled Civil War Poetry and created by Rick Hearn is here:

An interesting aside on this site: Hearn has posted the Devil’s Dictionary and points out that Ambrose Bierce has some interesting poems and definitions on the Civil War veteran. I’ll have to investigate this, as the first time I read Bierce’s book, I was not looking for Civil War material.

Book News:

Today, I’m speaking for a banquet for the Caddo Parish librarians. Yesterday, I began my class at Delta Community College, teaching Academic Seminar, designed to help new students with study skills and strategies for success. I have a great, sharp group of students and I know that I will enjoy working with them.

Texas & Secession

I’m interested in studying various secessionist movements in American history. Here’s one I just discovered. I’ve transcribed the awkwardly worded marker and have a photo of it. (I go through Van Zandt County often).

The Free State of Van Zandt

Pioneer nickname appropriate to this areas many
freedoms – particularly from want and fear. (Food was
obtained with little effor, and although the Indians
fought white men here as late as 1842, the settlers by
1847 slept in the open with no dread of Indians or
wild animals.) According to tradition Van Zandt County
(created 1848) also by a legal accident had freedom
from sharing debts of its parent county, Henderson –
and was proud of that unusual advantage.

Other parts of Texas share “free state” traditions. In
1826 “Republic of Fredonia” was proclaimed in
Nacogdoches and endured for a few weeks along the
Mexican border. Citizens maintained in 1839-1840 “The
Republic of the Rio Grande”. Because it developed
great self-reliance in recurring border troubles
Hidalgo County called itself a Republic, 1852-1872. A
panhandle county formed the secessionist “Free State
of Ochiltree” in the 1890’s.

All secessions have been brief. When Texas in 1845
voted to become a part of the United States, it was
given (but declined) the right to become five states.
Such movements as “The Free State of Van Zandt” soon
lost force. Ten proud years as the Republic of Texas
invoke unusual loyalty to the state.

Here is a photo of that marker:

van zandt

You can find more information on Van Zandt county here:

Some Quotations for Thought

 I just returned from Bells, Texas.  I am exhausted from driving in hard rain the whole trip. Tomorrow, I begin teaching an ENG 101 class for Delta. I’ll give more details in tomorrow’s post.  Yesterday’s Memorial Day celebration at Kiroli Park in Monroe was a success. The crowd was large and their intense, yet sensitive and beautiful patriotism obvious. Terrance Armstard of the NewsStar was there. He is a first class photographer, and if you ever need to hire a photographer, I would strongly recommend him. You can see (and purchase) all the photos of the event here: Here is one photo of yours truly performing.

memorial day

And here is a photo of the Blue Star Mothers Banner for the event. It was hung on the Kiroli Park stage:

blue star mothers

Here is a photo of my friend, Sandra, one of the local leaders of the Blue Star Mothers in Monroe:



I like to collect quotes that make me think. These quotations are lifted from the site I wrote about in an earlier post that dealt with the causes of the War Between the States:

Deo Vindice Resurgam
(God Will Vindicate. I Shall Rise Again!)

Quemadmoeum Gladuis Neminem Occidit, Occidentis Telum Est
(A Sword Is Never A Killer, It Is A Tool In The Killer’s Hands) –Seneca, circa 45 AD

Omnes Homines Aut Liberi Sunt Aut Servi
(All Men Are Freemen Or Slaves)

Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes
(Who Will Watch The Watchmen?) — Juvenal, 128 AD

Igitur qui desiderat pacem, praeparet bellum
(If You Want Peace, Prepare For War)

I made the news again . . .

I made it into the Monroe News-Star. Just a small mention of me Saturday on NickDeriso’s page. Just a reference to the days when I played bass guitar with Johnny O’Neal. Though Deriso is Sports Editor, he is also a man deeply committed to promoting the arts. Deriso has been named columnist of the year by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association (2003), Louisiana Press Association (2004, ’07) and the Associated Press Managing Editors of Louisiana/Mississippi (2005-06). Under Deriso’s leadership, The News-Star’s Sunday sports section was named Top 10 in the nation by the AP in ’06.

I’ve mentioned Johnny before on this blog. I still think he’s one of the best musicians and song writers I’ve ever met, and a decent man too. I like his versions of many songs better than those versions of the original artists. Here’s the quote from the Deriso’s article that mentions me:

“It was with T-Bo and Rickey Pittman that O’Neal reached a national audience, when his parody “The Jerry Springer Song” was aired at the end of that television program. Big news stories greeted him. O’Neal took the newfound fame in stride – remaining humble and reliably upbeat.

“That’s the beauty of being a musician,” O’Neal jokes. “You can get on the front page without having gone to jail first.”

You can and should read the whole article about Johnny here:

Hopefully, being on the Jerry Springer Show won’t be my only claim to fame . . .

Quotes from Slow Burn . . .

I’ve always been fascinated by the desert and other desolate places. My father (who grew up in the Badlands of West Texas) couldn’t understand my love of desert places (which he hated) where everything either blisters, bites, cuts, or poisons you.

I once viewed a movie entitled, Slow Burn–a tale of lust, greed, and betrayal–that was set in the desert of Northern Mexico. There are some fantastic desert shots, and the film begins with what looks like 35 millimeter footage with a sepia tone. The film was written and directed by Christian Ford and stars Minnie Driver and James Spader. The best quotes of the movie are near the beginning. I could not find a transcript of the film anywhere, so if I made a mistake on my transcription, you have my apologies.

“The humidity’s about 6 degrees. That means it takes four quarts of water a day to just sweat. If you run dry, your blood gets thick, your tongue turns hard, and you’re dead in nineteen hours.”

“Of all the ways this desert test you, the most dangerous is the mirage. In those shimmering, sparkling depths you see whatever you want–water, wealth, dreams. That’s the promise, and that’s the curse.”

“Some dreams die hard. And somewhere in this desert, under that burning eye, there’s always another dreamer.”

slow burn

Here is a photo of a northern Mexico desert:


I found the photo here:

Memorial Day:

I had a grand time playing my guitar and singing at the Blue Star Mothers’ Memorial Day event in Kiroli Park in Monroe. What a great crowd!  And at least twice as large as last year’s.  I stopped at the Texas rest area at the border and went ahead and posted this today as I was unsure of whether I’d be able to post tomorrow. How cool of Texas to have wireless at rest stops. Louisiana should take a lesson. Until Wednesday then . . .

Memorial Day

Today, I’m performing for a memorial service for seven lads from this area. It’s sponsored by the local chapter of the Blue Star MOthers. I’ve selected and practiced my songs, and I hope I can perform them without breaking down in emotion. One song especially touched me, “The Last Day of May,” written by Michael Troy. Here are the lyrics:

The Last Day of May by Michael Troy

On the hillside of tears
Stones stand like soldiers
All at attention, all in a row
Frozen in time, youthful in pictures
Too brave to stay, too young to go

Here’s to the boys,
Who all went before me
No honor or glory, could ever repay
The lives that you spent
Just tears in showers,
and hands full of flowers
On the last day in May.


Though the valley of death,
did swallow them whole
God let no soul, die in vain
When the boundaries of peace,
get out of control
Let the Angel of Mercy, hold close their names.

There’s a house, with a wall
With all of the pictures, of all of the children
All of them grown
There’s a woman in the house
Who raised all the children
Who could never sleep easy, till all where at home

Here’s to the mothers,
who paid the ultimate price
Made to live out their lives, in grief all the years
Here’s to the fathers, who comfort their wife
With nothing to offer, but buckets of tears
In fields of green pastures
They lie by still water
All at attention, all in a row
Though flesh turns to dust, souls are forever
They restored the order, our cups overflow

You can see and hear my friend Jed Marum (from whom I learned the song) perform this moving song here:

Book & Program News

After the memorial service, I’ll be traveling to spend the night with my parents and tomorrow, I’ll present programs at Bells, TX ISD, then a book signing at Books-A-Million in Sherman, TX. Wednesday is up in the air (probably spent with my parents and spent writing) and Thursday I’ll be the speaker for a luncheon of the Caddo Parish librarians. Then perhaps I’ll be at Rosemont, the first Mississippi home of Jefferson Davis!  Busy week ahead!

What You Might See in the Woods in Louisiana

I’ve always loved the woods and forests. I’ve always thought that I was an anachronism, an alien to the age I was born in, belonging to another time and place in history. So I joined the Boy Scouts, was an Eagle Scout, was awarded the Bronze Palm, Order of the Arrow, 50 miler Award, and the God and Country Medal. I had a leaf collection, read everything I could on camping, hunting, and nature. I spent much time in the woods in my childhood, and after I learned to hunt, spent more. I’ve camped and hiked the woods of Colorado, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Texas.

My son, Zachary, is a surveyor. He’s an good hunter and loves the outdoors–probably more than I do. His occupation keeps him in the woods of Northeast Louisiana constantly. He fights and dislikes the heat, ticks, chiggers, snakes, briars, mosquitoes, difficult land owners, and the other occupational hazards surveyors must face, but every now and then he comes on some sites of real beauty. Here’s a couple of photos that illustrate the things hidden in our woods. The first photo is of Zachary, standing next to a giant cedar. We’ve shown the picture to several and no one has ever seen a cedar this large. Yes, folks, the loggers missed this one!


The second photo is of a beautiful wild turkey. Tom, is it really you, lad?


Do yourself a favor and enjoy the wilderness every chance you can. There’s no telling what you might see.

Saturday Thoughts

One of the Civil War reenactors I met at Jefferson, Texas wrote me and shared the link to his SCV camp’s site. (Sons of Confederate Veterans. ) It is one of the best sites I’ve seen for explaining what the Sons of Confederate Veterans organization is. The camp is in Orange, Texas. I hope to make it down to see these men sometime in the future. You can that site here:

And you can read about the Battle for Port Jefferson and see some photos here:

Book News:

As I’ve traveled and presented my programs in Texas schools, I’ve been impressed with how the students say the pledge to the Texas flag every day. If you’ve never read it, here it is:

Pledge to the Texas Flag

(Stand erect, remove your hat, place your right hand over your heart)
“Honor the Texas flag; I pledge allegiance
to thee, Texas, one state under God,
one and indivisible.”

And if you’ve never read the salute to the Confederate Flag, here it is:

Salute to the Confederate Flag

(Stand erect, remove your hat and stretch out your right hand, palm up)
“I salute the Confederate Flag with affection, reverence and undying devotion
to the Cause for which it stands.”

The Ten Causes of the War Between the States

Today, I found an article, posted on several sites on the Web, that argues there were ten main causes of the War Between the States. I’ve listed the author’s main points below. If you are interested in the “true” history of the War, rather than the version we have been taught in the past, you should read this article, written by James W. King and Lt. Col Thomas M. Nelson. You can find that site with the complete article here:

1. TARIFF: (Unfair Tariffs on the Southern States)

2. CENTRALIZATION VERSUS STATES RIGHTS (Though I will not add my own comments on all of the writer’s points, I do want to add this thought to this point: Do the people of America want Big (Brother) Government or a Limited Federal Government. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita revealed that the Federal Government is not the savior people had imagined.)









Since I am an English teacher and have often taught Charles Dickens, I found this quotation to be one of the best in the article.

Charles Dickens and the Causes of the Civil War

The famous English author Charles Dickens stated “[T]he Northern onslaught upon Southern slavery is a specious piece of humbug designed to mask their desire for the economic control of the Southern states.”

Burning Angel by James Lee Burke: A Short Review

Via audio CD, I just finished Burning Angel by James Lee Burke. This Dave Robicheaux novel was just as intriguing as all the others.  I love South Louisiana, its people, culture, food, and history and every read of this series teaches me and makes me love it more. Burke is a master of the first person narrative. Each novel contains just enough back story to make each volume self-contained, so that reading them in order is not imperative.  I believe Burke has created a detailed persona equal in complexity to the Sherlock Holmes detective that Doyle created.  It is obvious that Burke loves and studies words, dialogue, history, culture, and  that he knows human nature. There were several lines that affected me, but the best one today was “Sometimes it’s following the rules that kills you.” (That may be a paraphrase. I’ll check it for accuracy when I obtain a printed copy.)

I have read all of the Robicheaux novels except for A Morning for Flamingos and The Neon Rain. I own most of them, and the ones I don’t own, I intend to obtain.
Here is a summary of the novel, which I lifted from Burke’s website:

When Sonny Boy Marsallus returns to New Iberia after fleeing for Central America to avoid the wrath of the powerful Giacana family, his old troubles soon follow. Meanwhile Dave Robicheaux becomes entangled in the affairs of the Fontenot family, descendants of sharecroppers whose matriarch helped raise Dave as a child. They are in danger of losing the land they’ve lived on for more than a century.

As Dave tries to discover who wants the land so badly, he finds himself in increasing peril from a lethal, rag tag alliance of local mobsters and a hired assassin with a shady past. And when a seemingly innocent woman is brutally murdered, all roads intersect, and Sonny Boy is in the middle.

With the usual James Lee Burke combination of brilliant action and unforgettable characters, Burning Angel is the author at his best – showing that old hatreds and new ones are not that far apart.
Book and Program News:

I just returned from another week’s touring. The students at the Brownsboro and Bullard schools were endearing and so interested in my programs about the Civil War. My signing at the Books-A-Million in Longview went well, as did my Americana performance  at Auntie Skinner’s in Jefferson, Texas.  I’ll post photos as I get them.  Here is a photo of me at the Fort Worth Fort Trails Muster on May 10:

fort worth