365 AMERICAN JOY-GIVERS for 2021—The April Shower of Stars Birthday Party


The lush, verdant setting for our “April Shower of Stars Birthday Party” is in Kentucky. Loretta Lynn proudly hails from this state, but instead of her old stomping grounds in Butcher Holler, we are picnicking on a beautiful, finely laid, closely mown stretch of turf made for playing the game of bowls. We’re in Bowling Green to also salute Mark Roth, one of the greatest professional bowlers in the history of the game. 


You sense the joy the minute you walk into the gardens. HOORAY FOR THE JOY-GIVERS! (Note: The comments attributed to these famous joy-givers come from words they have written or said.) 

Please give A ROUND OF APPLAUSE for these American joy-givers celebrating a birthday this week: 

April 10—MARK ROTH is often referred to as “The Professional Cranker,” which, in this use, is a compliment. He made a splash on the Professional Bowlers Association tours with a “CRANKING,” hard-throwing style that birthed a generation of imitators. Roth has been inducted into the Professional Bowlers Hall of Fame and the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. He was the first professional bowler to convert a “7-10 split” on national television. 

April 11-BILL IRWIN is a contemporary, professional clown, comedian and actor. Born in 1950, he began as a retro-vaudeville stage performer and is recognized for his contribution to the renaissance of American circus in the 1970s. This Tony and Obie winner has also won a MacArthur Fellowship “Genius” award. 

April 12—DAVID LETTERMAN delivered thousands of laughs hosting late night television for 33 years. He is a writer and producer. His company, Worldwide Pants, produced several primetime comedies, including the hit show, “Everybody Loves Raymond,” which is now in syndication. His joy-giving comedy style is observational, deadpan satire and often self-deprecating. Letterman is a vehicle enthusiast who owns: 10 Ferraris, 8 Porsches, 4 Austin-Healys, 2 Honda motorcycles, a Chevy pickup truck, a Mercedes-Benz, a Jaguar, a MG, a Volvo and a Pontiac. 

April 13—AL GREEN, born Albert Leornes Green, is, according to the website of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (that website totally “ROCKS” some joy-giving, btw), “one of the most gifted purveyors of soul music.” This winner of 11 Grammys has also been called, “The Last of the Great Soul Singers.” Al Green, a singer, songwriter, record producer and sometimes evangelical “preacherman” had a string of soul singles in the 1970s including: “Tired of Being Alone,” “Take Me to the River,” “I’m Still in Love with You,” “Love and Happiness” and his biggest hit song, “Let’s Stay Together.” He is a Kennedy Center Honors winner and Rolling Stone Magazine ranked Al Green as #14 on their list of “100 Greatest Singers.” 

April 14—LORETTA LYNN one night, when I was on my annual visit to the Grand Ole Opry, came onto the stage in a green, velvety ballgown bigger than a Wells Fargo stagecoach. Rollover Disney princesses, there’s a new gal in town. She was a coalminer’s daughter. Her cherished dad, Ted Webb, died of “black lung” when he was only 52-years old. She’s of Irish and Cherokee descent. When Loretta Webb was 15yearsold, she married Oliver Vanetta “Doolittle” Lynn, who bought her a $17 Harmony guitar. She’s had more than 70 charted songs and 16 #1 hits as a singer and songwriter including: “You Ain’t Woman Enough to Take My Man,” “Don’t Come Home A-Drinkin’ (with Lovin’ on Your Mind),” “One’s on the Way,” and “Coalminer’s Daughter.” She’s been a member of the Grand Ole Opry since 1962, has a spot in the Country Music Hall of Fame and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. 

April 15—BESSIE SMITH, a blues belter widely renowned during the Jazz Age, first sang in public as a child busker on the street corners of Chattanooga, Tennessee. She was nicknamed, “The Empress of the Blues,” and toured with fellow female blues great, Ma Rainey. Bessie Smith’s successful recording career began in the 1920s with Columbia Records. Smith traveled in her own 72’ railroad car. Her songs weren’t sweet and ladylike, they were often rough ‘n rowdy, encouraging women to go enjoy some partying and sex to de-stress in hard times. Some of her audience-thrilling, joy-giving songs were: “T’aint Nobody’s Biz-Ness If I Do,” “Empty Bed Blues,” “Need a Little Sugar in My Bowl” and “Gimme a Pigfoot and a Bottle of Beer.” 

April 16—HENRY MANCINI was born Enrico Nicola Mancini. You’re right if you guessed he was Italian American. He was one of the greatest composers in the history of film. Mancini won four Academy Awards, a Golden Globe and 20 Grammys. During the peak of the Rock and Roll era, Henry Mancini had a pop instrumental, “Love There from ‘Romeo and Juliet,’” that stayed on top of the charts for two weeks. Some of his greatest, joy-giving compositions were: “The Pink Panther Theme,” “The Peter Gunn Television Theme,” “Baby Elephant Walk” and the megahit from “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”—“Moon River.” 



(Professional bowling great, Mark Roth, didn’t offer a lot of quotable quotes but here are others talking about the sport): 

“One of the advantages bowling has over golf is that you seldom lose a bowling ball.”—Don Carter 

“I love bowling! It’s the perfect workout. Six seconds of exercise and then you drink beer for half an hour.”—Roseanne Barr 

“In bowling and in life, if a person makes the spares, the strikes will take care of themselves.”—Stephen King 

“The bowling alley is the poor man’s country club.”—Sanford Hansell 

“You can never find the right bowling ball. This one’s too heavy. This one’s the right weight but it’s too pink.”—Jim Gaffigan 

And, these comments from our birthday celebrants: 

“It was so cold in New York City today, the Statue of Liberty had her torch under her dress.”—David Letterman 

“I didn’t have a mother. I had a mama.”—Al Green 

“You’ve got to continue to grow, or you’re just like last night’s cornbread—stale and dry.”—Loretta Lynn 

“No time to marry, no time to settle down; I’m a young woman and I ain’t done runnin’ around.”—Bessie Smith 

“If you’re feeling fancy free, come wander through the world with me, and any place we chance to be, will be a rendezvous. Two for the road, we’ll travel through the years, collecting precious memories, selecting souvenirs and living life the way we please.”—Henry Mancini 

“The physical language of the body is so much more powerful than words.”—Bill Irwin 

“America is the only country where a significant portion of the population believes professional wrestling is real, but the moon landing was faked.”—David Letterman 

“If I could live my life over, I’d do everything the same; the film in my camera would remain the same; there’s no way Lord, to leave this love behind.”—Al Green 

“You either have to be first, best or different.”—Loretta Lynn 

“I don’t want no drummer. I set the tempo.”—Bessie Smith 

“We want to be able to fly. We want to be able to sear somebody with lightning from across a room. Those are primal desires, to shoot somebody with energy.”—Bill Irwin 

“In times of stress, I frequently remind myself that I’m doing what I want to do most and that’s what really counts.”—Henry Mancini 

“What I love is the comedy of the body. It’s a little highfalutin’, but you can even call it ‘pre-verbal comedy.’ People laugh differently at stuff that isn’t brough to them via the spoken word. It’s from a different place; it’s a different quality of laughter.”—Bill Irwin 

“They say there about 12 million illegal immigrants in this country. But, if you ask a Native American, that number is more like 300 million.”—David Letterman 

“Some people believe that fairness comes with obeying the rules. I’m one of those people.”—Al Green 

“I loved being outside as a kid. We’d hold lightning bugs in our fingers and pretend they were diamond rings.”—Loretta Lynn 

“When my bed is empty, makes me feel awful mean and blue. My springs are getting’ rusty, livin’ single like I do.”—Bessie Smith 

“If you want to make money in music, get into the band uniform business.”—Henry Mancini 

“I used to be called a ‘post-modern clown.’ But now, post-modern is a quaint notion, too.”—Bill Irwin 

“You’ve got to be careful smoking weed. It causes memory loss. And, also, it causes memory loss.”—David Letterman 

“God told me, ‘I gave you the music, Al. Sing the music I gave you—all the music.’ So, I did. –Al Green 

“The real creative power for film music is not technology, it is the mind and heart of the composer.”—Henry Mancini 

“I think I reach people because I’m with them, not apart from them.”—Loretta Lynn 

“Any man who can stand to leave me, I can stand to see him go.”—Bessie Smith 

“I don’t want to get corny, but my career really has been the personification of the American dream.”—Henry Mancini 

“I am the oldest of three children. I was in charge of making sure my brother and sister were OK and also entertained so they didn’t bother our mother, who had a job at home.”–Bill Irwin 

“You know what I love best about the great American game of baseball? The pine tar, the resin, the grass, the dirt—and that’s just in the hot dogs.”—David Letterman 


PARTY MENU for “The April Shower of Stars Birthday Party:” 

APPETIZERS—Bessie Smith Raw Walnut Pate’ (therawtarian.com) 

SALAD—Al Green Salad (tasteofhome.com) 

ENTRÉE—David Letterman’s Mom’s Hot Chicken Salad (recipeofhealth.com) 

SIDE DISH—Bill Irwin Clown Face Veggie Tray (pinterest.com) 

BREAD—Mark Roth Bread Bowls for Mrs. Letterman’s Hot Chicken Salad (allrecipes.com) 

BEVERAGE—Henry Mancini Pink Panther Cocktail (youtube.com) 

DESSERT—Loretta Lynn’s Coalminer’s Peanut Butter Fudge (see below) 


ONE TO GROW ON—Loretta Lynn released her 46th solo studio album last month. Yes, in March 2021, while many of the rest of us were still quarantined at home, dwiddlin’ our thumbs on the couch. The album title is “Still Woman Enough” and you can search YouTube for a couple of the songs and then go buy this great, new collection. Ms. Lynn looks resplendent on the cover photo in a ballgown created by her longtime dressmaker, Tim Cobb, which was inspired by her gown on the 1971 album cover of her bestselling, “Coalminer’s Daughter.”  


Here in Bowling Green, Kentucky the April showers have made the grass so green and you can see determined, green baby leaves growing up to the starlit sky. This part of America was settled in 1768 around the time George Washington laid the plans for his own bowling green at Mount Vernon. 

“Forbes Magazine” named Bowling Green, Kentucky one of “The Top 25 Best Places to Retire in the U.S,and, after the wonderful food and fun of “The April Shower of Stars Birthday Party,” we are ready to retire as Bill Irwin and David Letterman quit their clowning. As a finale, Loretta Lynn, Al Green and Bessie Smith serenade us with this Henry Mancini lullaby“Two drifters off to see the world. There’s such a lot of world to see. We’re after the same rainbow’s end, waitin’ round the bend, my huckleberry friends, moon river and me.”  




                             (source: citylifestyle.com) 


3 cups sugar 

1 cup peanut butter 

1 cup milk 

½ stick butter  

½ teaspoon vanilla flavoring 


  1. Mix sugar and milk in a saucepan over medium-high heat. 
  1. Stir. Stir. Stir. 
  1. Let the mixture come to a molten boil for 10 minutes. 
  1. Add butter, vanilla flavoring and peanut butter. 
  1. Remove pan from the heat and stir the mixture until peanut butter is smooth. 
  1. Pour the mixture into an 8” x 9” buttered pan and let it cool. “Make sure to use plenty of butter on the pan. You’ve got to rub it like you love it.” 
  1. Let the fudge cool. 
  2. Slice into several pieces and enjoy! 

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Ben South