Ronnie Pugh at the release/book signing of his award-winning biography of Ernest Tubb, 1998
Ronnie Pugh's birthday is November 16, and I wanted to take a moment to wish this great historian a very happy birthday.
Ronnie sponsored my college internship when he was head of reference at the Country Music Foundation. He was beyond gracious with his time and knowledge. I applied the "book learning" of library science in those very crowded book shelves, the filing cabinets crammed with historical clippings, and the seemingly endless album collection. In addition, the things that no book can teach anyone about (that's called life) popped up on numerous occasions. I was witness to it all as I joyously performed my internship, one week at a time, as a volunteer in the CMF library. All the time, I watched one of country music's greatest historians at work.
My friends think I know a lot about country music. Relatively speaking, I suppose I do; however, after a few days around Mr. Pugh I realized just how much I needed to learn about the music of my soul. The way he effortlessly rattled facts off amazed me (and continues to do so). He is a very learned man, not only in library science (he holds a Master's degree in the subject), but also the long, storied history of country music. And, thankfully, he is more than willing to share that knowledge, be it through his award-winning biography of Ernest Tubb or helping a college sophomore get through the Dewey Decimal Classification System and Sears List by allowing her the very important job of entering the books into the CMF's catalogue and shelving them.
Ten years have passed. Ronnie now runs the Tennessee Room at the main branch of the Nashville Public Library. I'm still trying to learn a tenth of what he knows about country music. And, I'm still grateful to him -- for the time he so unselfishly gave me, for his nonstop encouragement, and just for being the gracious, humble gentleman that he is.
Happy birthday to you, Ronnie Pugh, and many, many more. You are a treasure to country music.