The Band Fastball

The Band Fastball

How in the world are a #1 Billboard hit song and a Cell Tower Search related?

Every once in a while we come across a cell tower search that is really interesting.  And this is one of those.

When I started this 40 year cell tower search in Bell County, TX I found that Howell R Copeland and Charlotte Copeland owned it when Howell’s sister granted her 1/2 interest to him.  Before that though it was granted by Lela F Copeland Howard, and pro forma her husband Arthur Raymond Howard.

I started digging around but couldn’t find a deed into them.  So, I implemented the standard plan B and came forward and I find that Lela F Copeland and Jessie Copeland bought it back in 1971.  He passed in 1975.  And as with most Cell Tower Searches, I of course got full copies of the probate. Now we are good to move forward as chain of title is clean.

She remarried Arthur Raymond Howard (or Raymond Howard as he was known) in 1986 at the age of 72.  Arthur himself was around that age as well and widowed.  It would seem to be the end of the story but it isn’t.  It’s how I found that she remarried and how her name changed and where that led me that is interesting.

I couldn’t find anything of record between the 1994 deed out of Lela to her children back to the 1975 probate for Jessie that transferred title to a Lela Howard or how Arthur entered the picture.

So I did what normally do when I hit a wall doing a Cell Tower Search.  I go around it.  I started looking after the deed and outside the Clerks office.  And that is how I found a probate for Lela after she grants the property to her son Howell and her Daughter Jo Ann Copeland Alford.  And it was in the Application for Probate of Will as a Muniment of Title that I found what I was looking for.

And it was this following paragraph that explained things, but opened up a whole new vacuum of curiosity that well…frankly…if I were a cat I would be dead many times over by now.

“She then married Arthur Raymond Howard on March 8, 1986 and died simultaneously with him in an automobile accident on July 12 1997 in Garland County, Arkansas.”

That’s Hot Springs AR some 420 miles away from Salado, TX where my Cell Tower Search was.  What the heck was a couple in their 80’s doing on the road 420 miles from home?

Turns out, they were on their way to a fiddling festival on June 29th in Temple (20 miles away) according to the interview with Lela’s son Howell, and were found dead 2 weeks later in Hot Springs in the trees off the road down a 25 foot cliff.  Actually the death certificate says the official town where they died is Fountain Lake, AR.

Also, according to an interview with her son Howell, Lela was suffering from mild Alzheimer’s and Raymond had recently had a brain injury.

Here’s the REAL interesting part though and what I thought was worth sharing.

When they disappeared, there was an article written in the Austin American-Statesmen newspaper about their disappearance, although no one had found them yet.  The band Fastball’s lead singer Tony Scalzo read the article that morning and was inspired to write a song that day about an elderly couple that leave and live forever happily on the open road.

That song is called “The Way” and was a #1 hit on Billboard in 1998.

“I wrote ‘The Way’ in a couple of hours. It was a working demo similar to what you hear in the recording by the end of the day,” said Scalzo.

I had no idea when I started digging around the history of a rural piece of property trying to complete my Texas Cell Tower Search that I would come across such an interesting story.

Funny how things work.  Kinda like that time I was doing a Cell Tower search in Santa Barbara, CA and found that judgment against Michael Jackson’s Never Never Ranch.

Here is the link to the song and an article about the whole thing.


Michael Graves