Happy Birthday Dusty Cal Witham. An extraordinary man. An extraordinary life

During our spring visit in Upstate New York we were able to visit with family and friends that we are not able to see frequently. One of the visits we made several times was to see my grandfather and aunt who live near Cambridge.

Today, May 25, is my grandfather’s 92nd birthday. In honor of his birthday, we published a video on our YouTube channel today that features an interview we conducted with him while we were in New York. My grandfather, Cal Witham (aka Dusty Cal Witham), was a professional country music performer before he became a minister. My grandparents, Dusty Cal and Bonnie Louise, were well known throughout New England because of their frequent live performances, as well as radio and television appearances. In this video, my grandfather talks with us about both his country music entertainment career and his subsequent career as a minister.

Photo: Baby Robert at the Lone Star Ranch with his grandparents
Grammie and Bumpa with Robert at the LoneStar Ranch

During the course of his music career, my grandfather interacted with, opened for, and shared a stage with many performers whose names you would immediately recognize, including Dolly Parton, Dottie West, and Johnny Cash (to name but a few). It was also during this time that he worked at the Lone Star Ranch in Reeds Ferry, New Hampshire where many Grand Ole Opry performers also appeared. Even after my grandfather left show business and entered the ministry, my grandparents would still return to the Lone Star Ranch occasionally. I have many memories of visiting the Lone Star Ranch with my family, and even have a photo of me as a baby onstage at the Ranch. (My father is also a musician and minister. We interviewed my parents in an earlier video that we recorded while in New York this spring.)

Debra actually conducted the interview for this video while I filmed it. I have to say – and I offer this assessment as a former journalist – Debra did an outstanding job interviewing my grandfather. I was and am impressed. A huge thank you to Debra for her role in helping us capture these stories for our viewers, and for our family’s future generations like my children and grandchildren.

After publishing the video today, I called my grandfather to wish him a happy birthday. We talked for a few minutes, and then he needed to go because they had company.

A little while later my phone rang. It was my aunt calling. Their visitors, a woman named Amy and her mother who were visiting from New Hampshire, recognized Debra and me when they saw the new video today. It turns out Amy is a long-time viewer who recently hit the road full-time. We were able to have a nice talk on the phone with Amy and hope to meet this winter in Arizona. What a wonderful and unexpected surprise. Amy has known my aunt for decades and they used to attend church together in New Hampshire.

We have found life on the road to be full of serendipity. You literally could not make this stuff up if you tried. One of the fears that many people have as they considered becoming nomads or full-time RVers is that it will be a lonely existence. We have found it to be quite the opposite. In fact, after being a full-time nomad for several years now, I can say that I have more friends (including more close friends) than I ever had during my “sticks and bricks” life.

Please take a few minutes to watch this video if you have not already. As always, please consider “liking” the video if you enjoy it, subscribing to our channel, leaving us a comment, and sharing this video with your friends on social media.

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