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 US Sergeant Major Jim Wolfmeyer (photo courtesy Fred Harms, extraordinarydemos.com)

 

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Ol' Jim (Magic in Them Feet)

The Story of the Song

Jim Wolfmeyer (Photo F. Harms)

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Ol' Jim (Magic in Them Feet)

Written by William Clark
Sung by George Clark

Ol Jim (Magic in them feet) album cover
(p) (c) William Clark

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Five pound noteIt all started with a Scottish five pound note (around seven dollars US).

An ex-logger strolling along a woodland road stopped to cast a critical eye on some garbage carelessly thrown from a car. A tightly-folded slip of paper caught his eye. With a wry grin he picked it up -- the litter lout had fined himself, he'd thrown away a fiver!

Tucking the note into his walking-jacket pocket the logger strode on. He fell to musing: a movie where someone in reduced circumstances like himself, an injured ex-logger, finds a fiver and builds it into a fortune would be worth seeing. Imagine the scenes... feel the thrills...

He decided the windfall would be spent on something he ordinarily couldn't justify.

The following day in a Tesco Supermarket his glance fell on a magazine "PC Plus" offering a free software CD. The price was 4.99. The software promised the user the skills to program quickly with a PC. He had done a little programing in the early days of computing with a Sinclair ZX 80 -- 1k memory and a tape recorder back up. Here was a chance to do some real stuff now the PC had developed. He bought it.

That started a love affair with programming using a product called Illuminatus. It speeded up the development time and he was fascinated to produce useful little programs and see them run. It could be a way of earning a living for someone with a reduced capacity for physical work.

Illuminatus had a user forum known as 4UM run by John Eccker. It was there the logger discovered an American phenomenon-- Jim Wolfmeyer.

To folks of the logger's generation, growing up in remote parts of Scotland, Americans were something special. In the 1950's everyone read westerns, watched cowboy films and listened to country singers (if the wireless reception allowed). America was the land where dreams came true and ordinary people prospered. The land where a Stetson-wearing John Wayne walked tall, and Frank Sinatra crooned, won a war and the girl -- all without breaking sweat. American was the thing to be.

Now (1998) with an Internet connection, America was only a button-click away, and you could interact with these English-speaking cousins online. The Illuminatus forum was frequented by folks of a pioneering spirit. It seemed like a Brave New World was evolving and anyone could take part. Jim was an ex US Army sergeant major with a missile defense background -- A Cold War Warrior -- and the main contributor to the forum. Anyone with a problem could be sure of his help but he would slap down the unruly with sergeantly firmness. His personality shone through strongly in his posts -- a unique wit, extensive software know how, and "country boy" linguistic quirks. People felt they knew him and were extremely grateful for the help he gave. Businesses were built on his timely assistance.

This fascinated the logger -- it was a universe away from his previous existence in lonely forests handling logging machinery. He would struggle with a programming problem for hours before desperately looking to the forum and, magically, there was the answer already posted by Jim. It was like having a favorite uncle always on call.

Jim was raised in the scenic Ozarks Foothills, Missouri but latterly lived near Milwaukee, Wisconsin, from where he liked to travel around in his RV. He pioneered websites, took great photographs, loved country music and amassed a huge online beer mat collection. This was a man who lived the American Dream to the full. His posts often had a country song attached and here the logger first heard "Route 66". Jim came across as  typical of a generation who really walked tall and were justifiably proud, patriotic Americans. He enjoyed a drink, appreciated beautiful girls, loved to discuss and watch American football, and meet up with his old army buddies. His dog was an Irish Setter.

To the logger and the many other world citizens on the forum he was an American institution. Indeed an American hero!

Eventually his posts stopped appearing. A US member, Fred Harms, made inquiries and was shocked to discover our heroic friend had passed on. Injuries from his army days led him to take pain killers and they did not mix well with his enjoyment of alcohol. Jim died at the El Paso military hospital in Texas mourned by his wife, Bernice, daughter, Kathleen, and other family members; and all who knew him.

The forum members were stunned -- like they'd lost a relative. He had helped so many people and the tributes poured in.

  •  "Jim was a unique individual.. a man of rare character" an exceptional talent. His intellect was enormous, his messages frequent, brief, and to the point and his charity in helping those who were willing to listen and learn, absolutely endless"
  • "I admired him and stood in awe of his knowledge and ability."
  • "Jim is probably creating his beloved Route 66 up there for us all to meet and travel on one day."
  • "Over time we chatted direct and found that we shared a common interest in country music. I can tell you that Jim's opinions on his music were just as forthright as his opinions on most other things."
  • "I too, was saddened to hear of Jim's passing. His posts so often brought a smile to my face."
  • "He will most surely be missed, and just as surely never forgotten."
  • "He always was a person ready to help others. I am sure he is getting his rewards now."
  • "I'll remember Jim fondly as a marvellous character to have corresponded with over many years; his direct answers somtimes made me gulp, but he was never less than honest!"
  • "Jim was a great support and -- despite any human frailties (and who among us has none) -- a loyal friend who gave solid advice, often with humor, always with candor."
  • "We have all lost a true friend," "Although I am based in Nigeria, Africa, Jim was very close as both a friend and great teacher"
  • "I liked his no nonsense posts, and his sometimes impish sense of humour.
  • "Characters like Jim are too rare nowadays."

The originals are available from the Opus forum:

The logger was moved to write a praise poem in the old bardic tradition of Scotland but it turned into a country song -- a more fitting tribute. A signature phrase that Jim had used in a post resurfaced in the logger's mind: "Jim, Got on his dancing boots". It became the inspiration for the song.

To get the lyric and melody recorded was a problem. It had to be authentic American voices and musicians. Some time passed till an opportunity surfaced, and fittingly, the Internet provided it. A site called Studiotraxx offering services to musicians seemed ideal. Jim had been a pioneer of the early Internet days and this was the sort of future he had envisioned: people from all around the globe working together in harmony.

After using the Internet to file copyright with the American Library of Congress the song was produced and recorded at Nashville in the USA by a Kentuckian, Mike Dunbar, with the voices of Virginian, George Clark and Jennifer Brantley.

A Scottish five pound note had morphed into the notes of a five verse American country song

Scottish five pound note

Noise Cancelling Earbuds site  If you listen to limericks with earbuds this site has useful information.

 

Copyright W.Clark 2008