MoMS Exhibition: I’m A Travelin’ Man

The Alabama Humanities Foundation will sponsor a traveling exhibition called “Journey Stories” in collaboration with the Smithsonian Institution beginning June 25 in Jasper. This post is the first in a series that will highlight our own personal journey stories. Our stories may include how our ancestors traveled from far away lands to come to America, or it could be about a memorable family trip to anywhere in the world, or perhaps it’s a story about our first car or train ride. Anything that includes travel and transportation can be considered our own journey story. If you would like to submit your own journey story, please email Jennifer Dome at:

By Paul Lawson, AHF director of development and public relations

Singer Ricky Nelson was slightly before my time but not by much. Gee, he would be 71 if he were alive today. He died tragically in a New Year’s Eve airplane crash headed to a concert in Texas. I vividly remember Ricky closing most of the old Ozzie and Harriet shows with one of his hit songs. Screaming teenage girls, of course, were included in the sound track. Looking back, I think ole Oz helped his youngest son out by using the TV series to promote Ricky’s music. Record sales shot up the next day. Mucho presto! The music video was born 25 years prior to MTV.

One of Ricky Nelson’s most popular songs, “Travelin’ Man,” fits nicely with an exciting new AHF project—“Journey Stories,” premiering in Alabama this summer. The song was written in about 20 minutes by little known writer, Jerry Fuller. His first choice was to offer it to Sam Cooke, but Sam turned it down. Ricky’s bass player, Joe Osborne, had been in the next room of the record company and heard it. He asked Cooke’s manager if he could hear it again, and the man said: “Here, you can have it.” It was one of Ricky’s biggest hits and stayed on the Billboard music charts for more than four months, including two weeks at number one.

I invite you to put “Travelin’ Man” in the CD player and listen as you journey to one of the six cultural institutions hosting “Journey Stories.” In Alabama, the six communities hosting the exhibition starting on June 25 at the Bankhead House and Heritage Center in Jasper are: Alexander City, Arab, Eufaula, Jasper, Marion and Mobile. Don’t miss out on a winner, like Sam Cooke did!

For all of the specifics on the Smithsonian Institution’s exhibition “Journey Stories,” including dates and locations, visit