Patsy Cline Remembered !

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Patsy Cline's Life

Listed below is a brief summary of the life of Patsy Cline:

 

The singer we know and love as "Patsy Cline", was actually a young lady named "Virginia Patterson Hensley", who the family called "Ginny", Patsy was born in the Shenandoah Valley on September 8, 1932. She was the daughter of Hilda (16) and Samuel Lawrence (43) Hensley. Samuel already had two children from a previous marriage in the family- Tempie Glenn and Randolph- when Patsy was born. The Hensley family moved more than 20 times until they settled in Winchester, Virginia when Patsy was in the eighth grade. Sadly, Samuel Hensley deserted his family in 1947, This resulted in Patsy having to leave school at the age of only 16 to get local jobs to help the family survive.

 

Patsy learned to love music at an early age, She had trusted Christ as her Savior and sang with her Mother - a devoted Christian- in the Baptist Church Choir and played the piano there by ear. Patsy never learned music but she could play a guitar and piano by ear and had perfect pitch! When Patsy was 13, she came down with rheumatic fever. The attack was serious and Patsy's heart actually stopped during the sickness. When Patsy came through this sickness, her voice had changed and it was very strong. She stated that "You might say it was my return to the living that launched me as a singer. I was placed in an oxygen tent, and the doctors brought me back to life. The fever affected my throat and when I recovered I had this booming voice like Kate Smith's"!

 

Patsy's Mother, a well known seamstress in Winchester, was a great influence on her life. Patsy was quoted as saying: "If I made a list of the people I admire, Mom would probably fill up half of it. She could do anything and everything." Patsy stated "I would never have gone anywhere if it hadn't been for Mother's faith and support." Patsy began singing at dances and on local radio programs, singing mostly country music, which she loved. Patsy loved to sing with her voice and especially yodeling. During the days she would work at small jobs- kitchen duties at the "Capital Restaurant" where her mother worked as a waitress, a waitress at the "Red Wing Restaurant" and in the "Triangle Diner" owned by Sid Veasely. She also worked at the Greyhound Bus Terminal as a clerk and at "Gaunt's Drug Store" as a fountain attendant. All these jobs were carried out to help the family get by financially, and the singing was her joy and desire for a career.

 

In 1953 Patsy met Gerald Cline and they were married for a time; there were no children from this marriage. Gerald was older than Patsy, and wanted her to stay at home in the traditional role of a wife and mother, but Patsy was serious about her career and their marriage ended in divorce. During that period of her life Bill Peer- who helped her advance her career- suggested that she call herself "PATSY" Cline, and so the name was fixed for life! She later met a linotype operator by the name of Charlie Dick. This was the love of Patsy's life and they were married in 1957. Patsy and Charlie had two children- Julia Simadore, called "Julie", and Allen Randolph, called "Randy".

 

After winning the Arthur Godfrey Talent Show in 1957 with the song: "Walkin' after midnight", Patsy's star really began to rise. She had numerous records that went high on both the Country and Pop charts together as "crossover" songs. The movie about her life, "Sweet Dreams" really does not portray Patsy as the star that she was. Patsy Cline was the first female country music star to have billing above the male stars she sang with on tour and was also the first woman to headline her own show! Patsy was a regular at The Grand Ole Opry. She said of singing there: "As I walked from the dressing room to the stage up this flight of stairs, all I could think about was all the famous, fantastic people who had walked up those stairs." She sang at New York's Carnegie Hall, headlined her own show twice in Las Vegas, and headlined at the Hollywood Bowl. Patsy said the following concerning Carnegie Hall: "Carnegie Hall was real fabulous, but you know, it ain't as big as the Grand Ole Opry." As her star rose in popularity, so did her wardrobe as she turned in the "cowgirl" outfits for evening dresses and gowns.

 

Having survived a serious car crash earlier in her life, in 1961 Patsy and her brother Sam were involved in a head-on car crash at Madison High School, in Nashville, Tennessee. Patsy was nearly killed and was thrown through the windshield. Her hip was dislocated, she broke one of her wrists and she had severe cuts on her forehead and scalp. Patsy nearly died. She was in the hospital for six weeks. The scars on her forehead from the injury were with her the rest of her life. She was able to cover them mostly with makeup and used wigs and hair pieces to de-emphasize the scars.  Patsy was quoted as saying: "I never lost consciousness from the time it happened, through the sewing up of my head and until they gave me gas to set my hip. They thought I was gone twice and had to give me three pints of blood." During the six weeks in the hospital, Patsy evidently had what we call today a "near death experience" as she told friends that Jesus Himself had appeared to her in the room. She stated: " Jesus has been in my room. He has taken my hand and told me, No, Not now. I have other things for you to do." Her friends stated that as a result of this crash and this experience, she re-dedicated her life to Christianity. Patsy was astounded at the number of cards she received while in the hospital: "I didn't know there was so many people in this world that knew of me." Following the accident Patsy said: "I don't think I'll ever be able to ride in a car again." She also stated: "I recorded a song called, I Fall to Pieces, and I was in a car wreck. Now I'm worried because I have a brand-new record, and it's called Crazy!". Patsy was self conscious concerning her scars following the wreck: "I'm having surgery today to have my face cleaned up. But it will take some fancy stitching to make me all beautiful again".

 

Several months before her death in March of 1963, Patsy told friends that she felt a sense of impending doom and became convinced that she would not live much longer. As a result, she began to give items away to her friends and requrested of several: "Promise me you'll take care of my babies if something happens to me." She even wrote a hand written will on Delta Airlines stationery. At her last recording session Patsy stated: "Here's the first record that came out, and here we are listening to the last one." A day after a series of benefit concerts on behalf of a man's family following his untimely death, having contracted the flu, and also in bad weather, Patsy, Hawkshaw Hawkins, Cowboy Copas and her manager Randy Hughes took off in Hughes' Piper Comanche airplane for home. Dottie West, one of Patsy's close friends invited her to ride back home with them in their car due to the bad weather. Patsy replied "Don't worry about me, Hoss! When it's my time to go, it's my time....I'm not gonna ride home in the car. I'll wait for Randy. I think I'll get home quicker." The plane stopped on the way back in Missouri to refuel and then again at Dyersburg Municipal Airport in Tennessee.  Hughes' wife told him by phone that the weather was fine at home, though she was in a lull at the center of a large storm at the time. The airport manager took Hughes outside to show him the clouds he would be facing, still, Hughes was determined to fly on, stating: "I've already come this far. We'll be there before you know it.". At 6:20pm, on March 5, 1963, Patsy Cline's watch stopped following a terrible plane crash where all four of the passengers were killed, This ended the life and career of one of the greatest female country singers in the last century. the incomparable Patsy Cline. There were in excess of 15,000 at Patsy's funeral. Her remains were buried in a gold casket. Sweet Dreams to you Patsy Cline! 

  The memorial leaflet distributed by the family quoted Tennyson:

 

     Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,
But such a tide as moving seems to sleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.

 

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