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Jim and Mary's last Christmas together in 1963
Posted by Larry Jordan
on December 24, 2015, 3:23 pm
If you read my book, "Jim Reeves: His Untold Story," you know that the last Christmas Jim and Mary spent together was a bit unusual. Jim had just wrapped up recording the "Moonlight and Roses" LP in a rare Saturday morning recording session, Dec. 21st. One the songs he cut that day was "Rosa Rio," by Cindy Walker. The previous day -- Friday -- it had started to snow. Jim had given his employee Ray Baker a week off, and Ray was planning to head to San Antonio, TX to see his family. Jim asked Ray to take some presents to drop off for friends along the way. But the snow was so bad, it took Ray until Saturday afternoon to make it to Henderson, TX. Meanwhile, a blizzard continued on Sunday, and into Monday, foiling the Reeves' plans to be home in Texas by Christmas. So fate conspired to give Jim and Mary their last Christmas together at their home in Madison, TN. On Dec. 26th, the weather cleared up enough for Jim and Mary to leave, with Jim flying a rented Cessna. They made it as far as Arkansas, and Jim adhered to his rule of always landing at least an hour before sunset. They spent Dec. 26, 1963 at the Pine Bluff Motel and ate at the Plantation Embers Restaurant. The next day, the 27th, the couple continued on their journey to Houston, to visit Mary's mother and other friends. Then Jim and Mary flew to San Antonio, to stay with their close friends John and Helen Lee. On New Years Eve Day, they linked up with Jim's friend, (now a retired judge), Ted Staples, who took them to view the famous O'Brien ranch, located ten miles south of Beeville, TX. Jim had been wanting to buy a ranch in Texas and not tour so much. Reeves and Staples had been looking at various properties for months. After Ted went up to the door to talk with the O'Briens, he came outside to discover Jim playing with two little boys -- the O'Brien children -- in a Davy Crockett tent the kids had erected. Mr. Reeves was a real Pied Piper when it came to kids. Before Jim and Mary left Ted to return to San Antonio late in the afternoon, to celebrate New Year's Eve with the Lees, Ted took the couple to visit his parents. It was then that Ted's dad confronted Jim about flying his own plane, and warned him "if you get in some bad weather, you'll get into trouble..." So that's what Jim and Mary Reeves were doing at this time of year in 1963.
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