Heads up from Hi and Lois and a reply to one of our readers

Published 10:29 am Friday, January 3, 2020

By Dr. William H. Baker

Contributing Writer

The last column for last year suggested we welcome 2020 with a new look at an old proverb. It attracted at least one reader with a good memory. It also meshed with the cartoon strip “Hi and Lois” in the Daily News on New Year’s Day.

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Hindsight is 20/20 according to the proverb.

One of our readers remembered a column from two or three years ago that mentioned a country song titled 20/20 Vision [And Walking Round Blind]. Claiborne County native and Grand Ole Opry star Milton Estes was the co-writer of the song, along with Nashville music executive Joe Allison.

Basically, the song laments lost love. It was first recorded in June 1954 by Gene Autry, a popular singing cowboy who had worked with Estes in Louisville a few years earlier. Just six months later, country artists Jimmy Martin and the Osborne Brothers would record it as a bluegrass song.

If, like the reader who asked about Milton Estes, you are interested in country music and the bluegrass sound, you will find 20/20 Vision was recorded by several different artists between 2005 and 2011. The first of those was a record by the Gillis Brothers and their Hard-Driving Bluegrass Band.

Looking back 50 years after the Gene Autry and Jimmy Martin recordings, the legend of the Arthur, Tenn. native lives on in his song.

It was in 1954 that a comic strip titled Hi and Lois was created by Mort Walker. It remains in syndication across the USA and is featured in each issue of the Middlesboro News. The writers now are Brian and Greg Walker and the drawings are done by “Chance” Browne.

Like the bluegrass song, the cartoon is in the hands of a new generation of artists. But it too lives on as a tribute to its creator, Mort Walker.

When I saw the strip on New Year’s Day, I immediately thought of my last column for last year. And here’s why. Lois is asking Hi “What do you think is going to happen this year?” His first response is “It’s hard to predict.” Then, “No one has 20/20 foresight.”

A great line, “No one has 20/20 foresight.” But each of us has the opposite. We can rely on the proverb that “hindsight is 20/20.”

William H. Baker is a Claiborne County native and former Middlesboro resident. Email: wbaker@limestone.edu