Monday, February 19, 2018

Jimmy Weller Passes

One of my oldest friends, Jimmy Weller died a few nights ago  of cancer.
I should have more details soon, but I know that Jimmy was battling the Big C for quite some time,
 Personally, I still remember the 3 or 4 year old Jimmy peddling his tricycle down East 5th street from his home on Greenway Ave. and
"introducing himself".....however kids that age did it....

we remained friends from that day on.
Jimmy was the bravest of my friends back then.  He was the first to try to smoke a cigarette....
Correction!   It was not a real cigarette......we didn't have any cigarettes....but Jimmy and I (being "brain surgeon smart" ) made some.
We found some cigarette paper...somewhere....and figured that coffee grounds looked almost exactly like made our own cigarettes.  Looked just like the real thing.

For you scientifically grounds burn faster than cigarette paper.  Or maybe it's the other way around.
At any rate...our experiment gave new meaning to the term, "Hot Lips."

Jimmy and I cooled things off with a swig of two from a bottle from  his dad's medicine cabinet  that Jimmy called "VO DAK."
He was right about it being great "medicine."
It made me feel real good......and I wasn't even sick!

By this time .....THE LONE RANGER was on the air...and after he gave the widow lady he had just saved from the bad guys...a silver bullet, it was time for me to go home.

Correction....stagger home.

Rest in Peace, Jimmy.


Sunday, February 18, 2018

Sunday Night Thoughts

Here it is Sunday night.

That's when we began to get back into our "school tomorrow" mode.  When the voice on the radio announced "....and now Drew Pearson's PREDICTIONS OF THINGS TO COME........."
bedtime...and another week of school was imminent.

Damm it!

Although school, Elizabeth, Piedmont, and Central, were all exceedingly good to me (Thank you fellow students) Monday and Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday mornings were  usually distasteful. By about 10  am each body had adjusted itself to the fact that it was destined to dance at least one more day on this mortal coil.

Because of work schedules, Sunday Dinners were the only time my family and I sat down and dined together.  I ate all my other meals at restaurants. George's Grill, across from Mercy Hospital, was my favorite. They didn't advertise the fact of course, but anyone could dine there.....even if you were destitute and had no money to pay.  I saw it happen many times.

I ate several meals at a boarding house on Hawthorne Lane...down a little ways from Saint John's Baptist Church, but on the other side of the street.  The food was great.  You had to be there at exactly 6 o'clock when they began serving. Everyone was seated at a long table...and ate "family style."  A lot of teachers, several of whom taught at Piedmont and Central ate there; in fact they lived there.

I only ate there a few times, because I felt that being a "student," I was inhibiting their conversations, and....well, I just didn't fit in at that dinner table.

So, back to George's Grill.

That night There happened to be a couple in the booth next to me....sharing one plate.
A few minutes later, the cook brought them another .no charge.
I decided then and there....that's where I'm spending my dinner money for the rest of the year.

I doubt if Georges Grill is still there...on East 5th Street across from Mercy Hospital.....but if it's the first place I'm going to look for next time I'm in Charlotte.

I began this story talking about Drew Pearson.  I got to be personal friends with Pearson soon after I came to Washington.  He appeared several times on my local TV show....and was always an excellent guest!

Pearson lived on a "working farm" outside Washington.  He even bagged and sold fertilizer from his farm. He labeled it "Drew Pearson's Fertilier....All COW....No BULL

Getting to know and  "rub elbows" with well known people was a wonderful benefit to my chosen profession.

I never mentioned this,, but every time I talked with mind would wonder back to Sunday Charlotte....and........thoughts of having to go to school tomorrow!


Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Catch Up

By Diana White

Hello, dear people!  I owe you a catch-up email, after Warren's very welcome Weakly Reader and Elloise's email and all.  So, let's see.

I had, if not the flu, a bad bronchitis.  My dear friend Claudia had the flu.  Our symptoms were similar - except I had no fever, only a bad cough that whistled when I breathed out, no energy, and no will to get up and get on with it.  Not common for me.  And she had body aches, headaches, some nausea, the cough, and the same lack of zip.  Uncommon for her.  We both are finding that it takes awhile to get back to what passes for normal - my usually-encouraging son Reid, family physician, told us to give it four to six weeks before we really were all the way back.  I think he was adding a week or two, for my advanced age.  

At least I had plenty of books.  I had been to the library just before I woke up sick, and - embarrassment of riches - also to Barnes and Noble, so I was well supplied.  The scary thing was not feeling like reading anything challenging.  So I put aside some of my concerned citizen books (in view of #45, I have found myself wanting to read some other viewpoints - like The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump).  And I picked up Newgrange and Stonehenge books; son Reid gave me a wonderful book on Newgrange, which set me off on a book-trek.  I re-read some of last year's Inklings; daughter Kay gave me a wonderful book about The Inklings - CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien, Owen Barfield, and Charles Williams, which started me off on almost a year-long trek to find all their writings; Barfield is the hardest to locate - he was a practicing attorney, and wrote only a few other kinds of things; who wants to read briefs!  And (blush) I read Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb and Debbie Macomber and mysteries and romances and easy stuff. Mysteries are my go-to quick reads.   And I have yet to dig into some of the English lit/history/see-the-big-picture stuff I'm gathering...of course, Newgrange added archaeology to the list.  

I cleaned out my sewing room last year, and set aside about three UFOs (a quilter's Unfinished Objects - we all have 'em) to finish.  There's one now, not quite finished, that I had almost decided to give Mary Sue Banks Burnett - but it wasn't ready to take to her in time.  I was blessed to get to the Hospice in Monroe, near Charlotte, to which Clyde took her, the last few weeks of her life.  We had four remarkable days, to visit and catch up and - just be together.  Not sure when I'll get that quilt finished now.  It'll tell me.  I think I'll know where it's supposed to go, too, all in good time.  And then I'll scrounge around in my sewing room and get going on the next thing.  If I live to be 100 I won't get all my fabric used up...

And as always, I am planning some quilty things to have done by Christmas, a perpetual Work in Progress.  This year, it's table runners.  I got a couple made last year, and they were greeted with glad sounds, so I'm encouraged.  And, o happiness, they don't take as long as a full-sized quilt, even hand-quilted.  Yes, I prefer hand-quilting.  I had two teachers when I started, in 1990 - they were sisters, and Libby was a machine quilter and Debbie was a hand quilter.  So I enjoy both.  But the handwork - that has always been my joy, even before quilts.  

Couple of art projects I have in mind, and lots of writing projects.  Still working on My Story.  It's about 200 pages now; I've told some of you, it's my Uncle Bob's fault.  He lived to be 104.  At 90, some of us received his collected writings, essays and memories and musings.  Like all the Cappses (my mama's people), he was a good storyteller.  At 100, he gave us the party he'd promised at his 90th.  We all got a present.  For at least a year before the 100th, he and his dear daughter Sue collected all his writing (yes, all the old yellow legal pad notes and jottings on cards and Christmas letters), she transcribed them all, gathered photographs, and put together for him what turned out to be about 100-125 pages with B/W photos and much family data, a BOOK!  It instantly became a family treasure, and went into extra printings - everyone wanted one for someone else.  Reid and Kay each got one - and immediately I heard, "Mama, this is wonderful!  If you start now, just think what you could pass on!"  So I started.  I'll write like fury for a few weeks, and get busy on something else and put it aside.  Then I'll go back and edit and get caught up again, and write some more.  Time to get to it again.  I won't even try to set an end date.  But I do keep a couple of back-up zip drives with what I have so far, so the children can have that at least, if I don't get the thing finished and printed and bound...

We don't travel much anymore.  We used to get in the truck, hitch up the camper, and take off, for a week at spring break when I was teaching, and for several weeks in the summer every year.  State parks are great places to camp; we could stay out much longer than if we'd traveled by air or train and stayed in motels.  Good memories!  Now, it's mostly traveling to family - Reid and his wife Alex are in Kingsport TN, Kay is in Knoxville, Ivan's son Don and his wife JoAnn are in Greenville, and many of my cousins are in Charlotte or near there.  Family is important - I'm trying to work out now, how to get together with Ivan's nephew Scott and his Tami, to give Jackson (almost 11) and Ava (just turned 8) their birthday and un-birthday presents; we had a conflict on Ava's birthday, so we're re-planning.  

My Agnes Scott Class of '58 has our (gulp!) 60th reunion this year.  How'd that happen?  I need to make reservations.  

And this evening Ivan and I are going to Mad Italian, for the fun of eating out on Valentine's Day; like some other older folks, we'll go early!  Hope you have special plans too.  I put one Valentine into Ivan's swim bag this morning before he headed out to the pool where he works out three days a week (started when he had Physical Therapy after some scary stuff).  He brought home red roses and baby's breath.  And now we're going out, and I'm not cooking.  Really, Life is pretty terrific.    

And that's the news from Diana Kay Carpenter Blackwelder White!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

The Ghosts of Past, Present and Future

By Warren Sparrow

Most folks think of the “past” as some distant memory. For me it could mean my days and nights at The Charlotte Observer or my first glimpse of the Mighty Wasp, my oceanic home
for three years. Today it means something different. It means yesterday, literally yesterday.

Yesterday was, like Stevie Wonder sings, “an ordinary day.” It was a day filled with the usual, mundane things. It began with making the bed here at Huntington, a neighborhood within
Forest City, NC 28043, a town of 8,000 souls. After making the bed, I enjoyed breakfast with Mary Sandra. We had our “usual” Cheerios sprinkled with walnuts and blueberries. In order to
“better ourselves,” we read not one but two newspapers, The Charlotte Observer and The (Not) Daily Courier which is published in Forest City four days each week.

The balance of the morning was consumed by attention to personal grooming, etc. Next came lunch. Because it was Friday, we did what we do every Friday: Meet with the Lunch Bunch which is a gaggle of Mary Sandra’s longtime pals, usually four to six of them. Yesterday there were four. We met them at El Michoacan in the center of Forest City. A good time was had by all.

After lunch I undertook a major project, one which required great patience. I “decalcified” our Kuerig 2.0 coffee-maker. It took two hours! Believe it or not, our coffee tastes better. Once this time-killing job was done, it was time again to get serious about bettering myself. Instead of sticking my head into the internet sand, I returned to a book I had been reading for a month: Grant by Ron Chernow. I was about 100 pages from the end (Page 959),
vowing to finish it before bedtime.

After supper I watched Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy before returning to Grant. A little after 9 p.m. I finished the book. I learned that Grant died of throat cancer, having been a heavy smoker of cigars. He weighed 80 pounds at the time of his death. I cried while reading the last few pages.

My melancholy passed quickly thanks to NBC’s broadcast of the Olympic opening ceremony. Did you see the drones? Wow.
Let us now turn to the “present.” It is Saturday morning, a tad gloomy and wet. I am enjoying my new surroundings although they are not so “new.” I have been living in Forest City
for about 16 months. Our home is one where Mary Sandra has lived for about 30 years. It has two bedrooms, 1.5 baths and a good-size living area equipped with a big, flat-screen Visio TV.
We truly “have it made.” We have two air-conditioned cars, an air-conditioned condo, a dishwasher, a refrigerator, a washing machine and a dryer.

For “outside” entertainment we go to baseball games at the local ballpark where college players spend their summers learning to hit
with wooden bats. The beer is cold and the barbecue is hot. We have season tickets.

We go to high-school football games. But, we do not have season tickets. We go to concerts played by the Rutherford County Symphony at the local community college which is
named Isothermal and has a large and well-appointed auditorium. We go to the movies, driving to Shelby (25 miles) or to Spartanburg (35 miles). By the way, we liked Darkest Hour better
than Dunkirk.

Finally, let us turn to the future. I am going to sell the West End home. Though I have gone back and forth on this notion for many months, today I am firmly committed to selling the
“old family home place.” My future is not tied to that unheatable barn in any way. The house and its contents are part of a life well lived. They are the “past.” They are not the “present” and
they are most assuredly not the “future.”
So I say goodbye to my old friend. I will miss you. Let us go forward on separate paths.
I will be pulling for you. Please pull for me.

Gratefully yours,
s/ Warren Sparrow

12 February 2018
Forest City, NC

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

LDL February 13th

Here we go again as "LDL" (Let's do lunch) will be held on Tuesday, February 13, 2018, 11:30 AM at "Jimmies" Restaurant in Mint Hill.
Please help spread the word!  Invite other classmates to come!  Even better, bring someone with you! 
We sure hope you'll come!

Tuesday, February 06, 2018


It takes time, but when a loved one, or close friend passes, inevitably your sadness and grief lessons and  slowly, but surely turns to pleasant and even humorous memories.

I do my darndest to jump start that process. Life is short.

And at my age, getting even shorter.

The first time I heard him on WBT in 1952, I believe, I was


His intelllegence and professionalism came barreling

through the radio like nothing I had ever heard before

from any local DJ.

As a fledgeling announcer/DJ myself, I was mesmerized.

I decided there and then that I had to meet this man.

My excuse was to invite him to speak to my high school

"radio club" under the leadership of Mr. Gil Balance,

a long time CHS English teacher and radio enthusiast.

Bob Raiford accepted my invitation and made

a memorable presentation to our class.  I remember his

opening line to this day. He quoted Tenneyson,

"I'm a part of all that I have met."

and went on to advise the class to "learn from those

they admire," but never imitate.

I did my darndest to stay in touch and learn about the radio

business from this man as possible.

Good fortune has often been my friend, this was

no different. My fledgeling career landed me in two radio

stations (WSOC and WTOP) at which Bob was working...

giving me the opportunity to observe and learn as much as

I could from one of the best in the business. 

Having known me in "Ed Myers,"   and in "Lee Shephard'....he called me "Eddielee."

Those were memorable days indeed!

Bob and I stayed in touch after he moved back to Charlotte

and became  a staple on the popular "John Boy and Billy" show.

He retired from that show about 2 years ago, after a stroke

disabled his speaking ability.  A voice, that entertained

audiences for more than 60 years!

Rest in Peace, Bob.


Monday, January 29, 2018

My Boyhood Home

I'm withholding the address for fear of disrupting the a stampede or something.

But my old boyhood home that my Mom and Dad purchased in 1936 for 6 thouisand dollars was recently sold for over 200 thousand.

That's an impressive figure; however, it would have been much more if....I had revealed what I'm about to tell  you

There's a buried treasure on that property!

I know because two friends of mine, Earl Pope, Jimmy Weller and I buried it there in 1946.

I was sworn to secrecy, but to give you an idea of how valuable the treasure is....I can reveal that among its contents are:   a Tom mix secret decoder ring, complete with an "emergency" whistle, and "straight shooters" membership card, an autographed picture of "Tony," Tom Mix's horse  (Yes, apparently he could write) and several other priceless items.

Although I was greatly  tempted  many times to dig up the treasure (to purchase our home and send our kids to college..etc)...

I resisted.

So there it lies...undisturbed for over 60 years.

Oh...and one more thing:  Don't try to find the spot and  dig it up;  There is a CURSE on it!


Monday, January 22, 2018

Jimmy Pourlos

Jimmie Chris Pourlos, 85, passed away on Saturday, January 20, 2018 at Novant Presbyterian Hospital. Jimmie was born in Domianous Greece on June 8, 1932, son of Efrosini Frankoskias and Chris Pourlos. Jimmie was the embodiment of the American Dream. He immigrated to the United States in March of 1951 and settled in Charlotte, NC. Jimmie arrived in America by himself with only $11 in his pocket, but through hard work and determination quickly found success in his new home.

During his first two years living in America he worked at Central Drive-In, known to the students of Central High as "The Maid". In 1953 he acquired the restaurant and renamed it Jimmies Restaurant. After 50 years on Elizabeth Avenue, Jimmie's moved to its Mint Hill location where it is currently run by his sons: Chris and Deno. Jimmie was a devout Orthodox Christian and was highly involved in his church, Holy Trinity Cathedral. He was a charter member of the Holy Trinity Cathedral Foundation and a member of the Parish Council for many years. Jimmie was a founding member of the Charlotte Greek Festival and served as its treasurer for 23 years. He was also a member of the Evrytanian Association.

An avid outdoorsman, Jimmie loved to hunt and fish. He spent countless summer days fishing at Surfside Pier and autumn mornings running his beloved beagles. He made many lasting friendships through Jimmie's Restaurant and even met his future wife while she was a student at Central High. Ronnie Rallis and Jimmie were married in the Greek Orthodox Church June 1, 1958 and remained happily married for almost 60 years.

In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his son George Pourlos, whom he missed dearly. His siblings: Stelio, George, Rodothea, and Elizabeth; all of whom died during the Greek civil war. Survivors include his wife Ronnie Rallis Pourlos, his son Chris and wife Athena, his son Deno Pourlos, and grandchildren Demetri, Alex, and Christena Pourlos all of Charlotte, North Carolina and Gabrielle Gibson of Austin, Texas, stepmother Helen Pourlos, brother Steve Pourlos and wife Haido all of Greenville, South Carolina, his sister Rodoula Giorgiadis and husband Thanasi of Athens, Greece, and many nieces, nephews, and cousins whom he loved very much. Of all the things Jimmie cared about in life, family was always the most important. Visitation will be held Tuesday, January 23 from 6pm to 8pm, with a Trisagion at 7pm at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral. Funeral services will be held on Wednesday, January 24 at 11am at the church, with burial at Evergreen Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Jimmie's name to Holy Trinity Cathedral Foundation, 600 E Blvd Charlotte, NC. The family would like to extend a heartfelt thanks to our special angel Kameelah Blackwell for all her love and care for Jimmie. Notes of encouragement and condolences may be made to the family by visiting

Friday, January 19, 2018

My Next Career

I believe I've finally decided on my next career!

I'm going to be a guru!

That's right...a GURU!   Someone who knows...and tells...EVERYTHING.

My secret?


"Fly the friendly skies" — United Airlines (Leo Burnett)

"Where's the beef?" — Wendy's (Cliff Freeman, Dancer Fitzgerald Sample)

"We bring good things to life" — GE (Phil Dusenberry, DDBO)

"Don't leave home without it" — American Express Card (Bruce Silverman, Ogilvy & Mather)

"Be All You Can Be" — U.S. Army (Earl Carter, N.W. Ayer)

"Just do it" — Nike (Dan Wieden)

"Must-see TV" — NBC (Vince Manze)

"Breakfast of champions" — Wheaties (Knox Reeves, Blackett-Sample-Gummert)

"Trust the Midas touch" — Midas (Wells, Rich, Greene)

"I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing (In Perfect Harmony)"; "Have a Coke and a smile" — Coca-Cola (McCann Erickson, Billy Davis music)

"We try harder" — Avis (Paula Green, DDB)

"You're in good hands with Allstate" — Allstate (Leo Burnett; Ed Reimers, voice)

"You deserve a break today" — McDonald's (Keith Reinhard, Needham Harper)

"When you care enough to send the very best" — Hallmark (Foote, Cone & Belding)

"Sometimes you feel like a nut — sometimes you don't" — Mounds, Almond Joy (Cliff Freeman and Fred Massin, Dancer Fitzgerald Sample)

"They're grrrrrrrrrreat!" — Frosted Flakes (John E. Matthews, Leo Burnett)

"Got Milk?" — California Milk Processor Board (Goodby, Silverstein & Partners)

"It takes a licking and keeps on ticking" — Timex

"Aren't you glad you use Dial?" — Dial soap (FCB)

"Just for the taste of it" — Diet Coke

"Raise your hand if you're Sure" — Sure (Wells, Rich, Greene)

"Calgon, take me away!" — Calgon (Ketchum)

"When it absolutely, positively, has to be there overnight" — Federal Express (Joe Sedelmaier, Ally & Gargano)

"We will sell no wine before its time" — Paul Masson (DDB)

"Nothing runs like a Deere" — John Deere (Bob Wright, Gardner Agency)

"Something special in the air" — American Airlines (Bruce Silverman)

"Let your fingers do the walking" — Yellow Pages (Geers Gross)

"Have it your way" — Burger King (BBDO)

"Reach out and touch someone" — AT&T (Marshall McLuhan, developed by Ken D'Ambrosio, N.W. Ayer)

"It's everywhere you want to be" — Visa (Phil Dusenberry, DDBO)

"Plop, plop, fizz, fizz" — Alka Seltzer (Wells, Rich, Greene)

"Betcha can't eat just one" — Lay's (BBDO)

"Think small" — Volkswagen (Helmut Krone, DDB)

"The best a man can get" — Gillette (Michael Scheback, BBDO)

"Pizza! Pizza!" — Little Caesars (Cliff Freeman)

"When you got it, flaunt it" — Braniff (George Lois, Lois Pitts Gershon Pon)

"Not made in Nooo Yawk Ciddy" — Pace Picante (Bruce Silverman)

"It's not nice to fool Mother Nature" — Chiffon (Cunningham & Walsh)

"Please don't squeeze the Charmin" — Charmin (Benton & Bowles, John Chervokas or Norman Schaut, disputed)

"Still going ... nothing outlasts the Energizer ... they keep going and going and going ..." — Energizer (Chiat/Day)

"The ultimate driving machine" — BMW (Martin Puris, Ammirati & Puris)

"Like a rock" — Chevrolet (Bob Seger music)

"Strong enough for a man, but made for a woman" — Secret (Carol H. Williams, Leo Burnett)

"You can pay me now, or pay me later" — Fram

"At Ford, quality is Job 1" — Ford (Wells, Rich, Greene)

"The choice of a new generation" — Pepsi

"You got the right one baby, uh huh" — Diet Pepsi

"Melts in your mouth, not in your hand" — M&Ms (Rosser Reeves, Ted Bates & Co.)

"I'm not a doctor, but I play one on TV" — Sanka, starring Robert Young

"Because so much is riding on your tires" — Michelin (DDB)

"You never get a second chance to make a first impression" — Head & Shoulders

"Finger lickin' good" — Kentucky Fried Chicken (Ogilvy & Mather)

"We do chicken right" — KFC

"Fixodent, and forget it" — Fixodent

"The Uncola" — 7 Up (J Walter Thompson)

"With a name like Smuckers, it has to be good" — Smuckers

"Inexpensive, and built to stay that way" — Subaru

"Friends don't let friends drive drunk" — U.S. NHTSA (DDB)

"The best part of waking up is Folgers in your cup" — Folgers

"Definitely Doritos" — Doritos

"A Certs Encounter" — Certs

"The beer that made Milwaukee famous" — Schlitz (Claude C. Hopkins, Lord and Thomas)

"We want to help you do things right!" — Stanley

"The quicker picker-upper" — Bounty (Dancer Fitzgerald Sample)

"I don't want to grow up, I'm a Toys R Us kid" — Toys R Us

"Trix are for kids" — Trix (Joe Harris)

"Fly Me" — National Airlines (William Free Associates)

"Tastes as great as its name" — Old Milwaukee


Friday, January 12, 2018

Another "Rest of the Story."

Being retired...and as old as I am...It's too late to add this to my "resume:"

But, the world's richest man once told me....and I quote....

"You have made me what I am today!"

Jeff Bezos, of  said that to me during an interview I had with him a couple of years ago.  
He was kidding, of course, many people get to "kid around" with someone like that?

I can't wait to tell my old buddies at WGIV about that!

That should impress the heck out of them!


Except........they're not around anymore.



Sunday, January 07, 2018

Warren and Mary Sandra!

For Ever After!!

(I'm having some technical difficulties at the moment with this website.....Bear with me.....


Hot off the Press!  Here is the first exclusive picture of the Social Event of the Year.  We're talking, of course, of the Sparrow -Shulkin-Costner wedding.  It was a grand affair held at the beautiful sanctuary of the First Presbyterian Church of Forest City, NC.  Attended by over 100 family and friends, the happy couple said their vows at 2:00 pm, January 6, 2018.      Among the guests were classmates Bonson and Ann (Rich) Hobson and Obie Oakley      They plan to reside in Forest City.

Saturday, January 06, 2018

LDL Tuesday January 9, 2018

By Jerry Gaudet

Wow!  It feels futuristic as we learn to say 2018, doesn't it?
Here we go as "LDL" (Let's do lunch) will be held on Tuesday, January 9, 2018, 11:30 AM at "Jimmies" Restaurant in Mint Hill.
Please help spread the word!  Invite other classmates to come!  Even better, bring someone with you! 
We sure hope you'll come!

Thursday, January 04, 2018

A Grandfather's Advice

By Obie Oakley

My youngest grandson just graduated from the University of Colorado. Taking a
gap year after high school and a semester off the teach English in Honduras, it took him
5 ½ years to finish with a double major; math and bio-chemistry. Stephen didn’t get to
savor a formal graduation complete with all the pomp and circumstances that go along
with commencements since he finished courses in December.
His mother Wendy set about to provide him that experience, all unbeknownst to
Stephen. Since she is the Parrish Administrator for Christ Church, she had no problem
reserving the Great Hall on Thursday afternoon. She asked me to deliver the
commencement address, daughter Cindy to present a special award. She prepared a
printed program, complete with the U of C Buffalo logo. As the emcee, Wendy led the
processional to the music of Elgar, (Pomp and Circumstances). We then gave the pledge
of allegiance and National Anthem. The participants wore robes, including Stephen. It
was then time for my words of wisdom. Here’s what I imparted to the audience of about
20 friends and family, but mainly to Stephen. All this is rather “hokey” I know but there
is a message here.

A Grandfather’s Advice to his Grandson

Good afternoon. I consider this a distinct honor. We are here to celebrate a long-
awaited graduation, one’s that been five and a half years in the making.
For those of you in the audience, I will tell you now that this will be like no other
commencement address you have ever heard. I will also guarantee you that, unlike others,
you will remember this one. Thinking back at graduations I’ve attended, there’s only one I
remember and I’ll get to that in a moment. I heard Charles Karualt give Wendy’s at UNC,
Jack Kemp, NFL quarterback and congressman at Wake Forest. Couldn’t tell you what they
said to save my life. I cannot even tell you who spoke at my high school or college

As for the one I do remember, it was when I graduated from the US Army
paratrooper school at Ft. Benning. We had just completed four very demanding weeks
which culminated with five qualifying jumps. Our class was very small, only 36 as opposed
to 600 or 700 in other classes. The decision was to conduct the ceremony right there on the
drop zone. This meant no bands, crowds in the bleachers or dignitaries, just the 36 of us
and a handful of sergeants and our speaker who was a full colonel. That was OK; I had
completed the program and was busting buttons with pride in what I had done. He never
once congratulated us, gave us any words of wisdom or inspiration but proceeded to tell us
we had really done NOTHING. After those deflating words, I didn’t hear anything he said.
Whatever his intentions, he failed miserably.
That said, I shall begin my remarks.

“Chug, chug, chug. Puff, puff, puff. Ding-dong, ding-dong. The little train rumbled
over the tracks. Then it broke down. Sounds familiar? It should for its ‘The Little Engine
That Could’.
(I then paraphrased the story about the train breaking down with a load of toys needing to
get over the mountain. The toy clown tried to get help from bigger stronger engines to no
avail. What were they to do? They even asked an old rusty engine who said it ‘Could not,
could not, could not’ It was finally when he asked the little blue switch engine if she could
help in pulling the load up the mountain to the waiting boys and girls.

“You remember? The little engine said, ‘I think I can, I think I can, I think I can. And
sure enough, she pulled the train up the mountain to deliver the toys. ‘I thought I could, I
thought I could, I thought I could. The day was saved and there was much joy among the
boys and girls”.

‘Well you might ask, what’s the point, are there any life lessons in this funny little
children’s book? You bet there are!
Stephen, consider these:

 Make your goals in life things that benefit others.

 Never lose sight of those goals. There will be temptations to sidetrack you.

 Be persistent: Don’t give up. Never give up.

 Be prepared for the unexpected. That first train stopped. There will always be the
unexpected, so prepare yourself to deal with them.

 Be like the toy clown. Pick up that banner and take the leadership role.

 Be prepared for rejection. The world is full of rude and arrogant people just like
those two engines who shrugged him off.

 Be compassionate and understanding of others. That old train wanted to help but
just couldn’t. You will encounter others in life like that old train.

 Believe in yourself! I think I can. I think I can.

 Celebrate your victories in life. I thought I could. I thought I could. However, as
you celebrate, maintain your dignity and humility.

Stephen Cahill Mauney, you have cause for celebration for your accomplishments. You are
surrounded by your friends and family who will be the most important part of your life and
will be there for you should you need them. Never forget this.



Friday, December 22, 2017

Christmas 1947

By  Betsy Villas White

When I was ten years old, it snowed on Christmas Eve.
Not a lot of snow, but enough to coat the North
Carolina ground with an unexpected white blanket. It
was the only year we put our Christmas tree in front of
the bay window in the dining room. Whenever I hear
Gene Autry sing “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer”, I
can close my eyes and transport myself back 67 years to
the floor in front of that tree with the bubble lights
above my head and the lighted cardboard village spread
out in front of me. I am warmed by the coal furnace,
clean flannel pajamas and my fuzzy slippers. That
memory contains all the peace and magic and sense of
excitement that a ten year old little girl can feel on
Christmas Eve.

There have been many Christmas Eves for me since
then. Like all of us, some have been hard, some have
lacked the Christmas Spirit, and many have been
magical. This year I am feeling an overwhelming sense
of gratitude for the people who have been a part of my
life - those to whom I am connected by memories, by
love and by good fortune. My world is filled with those
who have gone before me and by those who travel with
me now and by those who will journey on after me.

Maybe I can’t conjure up all the peace and magic and
sense of excitement of that ten year old little girl at
Christmas, but I can certainly think of you all with joy
and thanksgiving and that’s what I’ll be doing this
Christmas Eve.

Merry Christmas!


Christmas Story Re-run

I've told this story  before,  but I think about it every year at this time.....

Little Bill

My first job was working at Charlotte’s only independent radio station, WGIV in 1951. Independent meant that WGIV didn’t have a network like CBS or NBC to depend on for its programs.

Everything that went on the air at WGIV was locally produced; meaning disc jockeys played records all day long. Which, with Television rapidly becoming America’s entertainment King, music was what people wanted to listen to on the radio anyway.

Since I was only 15 years old at the time, and WGIV was way out South Blvd on Toomey Ave… father had to drive me to work each afternoon. The station was located in a tiny little house right next to the Charlotte Dump. The station wasn't much to look at, but it certainly fit in with the rest of the neighborhood, which would never be confused with the Myers Park
section of Charlotte.

In addition there were lots of ragged little kids (urchins) playing around the station
all the time.

They seemed to naturally gravitate to my Dad even before he began bringing them candy from time to time.  He became very fond of those kids, especially Bill, the youngest and probably the smartest of all of them.

My Dad called him “Little Bill.”

Even after I began driving myself to work, my Dad continued to drop by the station on a pretty regular basis. He enjoyed watching the inside operations of the station as well as watching all his little friends playing outside in the big yard next to the tower.

Typical Newsboy circa 1900
Christmas was always a special day for my Dad…but I’m not sure why. I never heard him say a word about what his boyhood Christmases were like, but knowing how much his earnings as a  young newspaper boy meant to the very existence of his family, my guess is that they were pretty bleak.

Anyway, every Christmas eve, beginning in 1951, he would go to Stanley’s Drugstore and buy up most of the toys that had not been sold, and old Doc Stanley would usually throw in an equal number for free. And on Christmas morning, he would bring those toys to the WGIV parking lot and give them to the kids.

He continued doing this even after I had left WGIV and gone on to college.

In fact, It was at UNC when I was called out of class one day in the late fall of 1957 and informed that my father was very ill and the family had requested that I return to Charlotte immediately. He was alive, when I got there, but in a coma, and the doctor had no idea if he would ever come out of it or not.

In the weeks that followed we tried hard to find little signs that perhaps meant that he was improving, but to no avail.

We were having our Christmas Eve dinner when the hospital called with the urgent request that we come over as soon as possible….because my father was dying.

It was too late. By the time we got there, he had passed away.

If any day is worse than any other to deal with grief AND trying to take care of the many details
associated with the death of a loved one…it is Christmas.

I was on the phone almost constantly that morning.

Just before noon it rang again…….and a very small voice at the other end of the line

wanted to know ”…..why Mr. Myers hadn’t come over.”

It was Little Bill.

My heart was broken for the second time in just under 12 hours.

I regret to this day that I didn’t have the foresight and presence of mind to think of those kids and
substitute for my Dad that day.

It would have been a wonderful tribute to a kind and thoughtful man who no doubt, knew first hand the disappointment that Little Bill and his friends were feeling that Christmas morning.


I Found Little Bill

My Dad died almost 60 years ago, but I've never truly forgiven myself for letting those kids down that Christmas of 1957.

But thanks to modern technology and the internet, I found "Little Bill."

He didn't come right out an say that he had forgotten all about that Christmas disappointment, but did say that he only had fond memories of my father.

"Wow what a surprise...Yes I am the Bill from Toomey Ave. and I do have vivid memories of your dad and actually I remember you too.  Some neighborhood kids and I used to hang around the Studios a lot back then.  Toomey Ave memories are some of the fondest memories that I have from my childhood.  I really liked the DJ's at WGIV.  Genial Gene was one of my favorites.  I would drop by and see him early in the mornings and he would always mention "the barefooted kid from across the street" and my mother would have a fit when I got home. 

One of my vivid memories of you father is him always taking me to the store up the street on Remount and buying me a pint of Pet Peach Ice Cream."  I have often run into many of the friends from Toomey over the years and have wondered what happened to you."

My Dad was right about Bill being "smart as a whip."   Big Bill is retired now from several successful careers, among them Electronic Engineering for several large firms, 23 years in the US Navy reserves, active duty from 1965 - 69 (Chief Petty Officer), he spent 30 years as a volunteer Firefighter and EMT (Emergency Medical Technician). He's been married to the same woman for 45 years and they have 2 sons.

I sent Bill that story I wrote but he probably wasn't too happy with my description of him and his Toomey Ave friends, ("urchins," etc.) but hopefully he understands that most good stories usually  contain a bit of exaggeration, called "poetic license."

I was seriously thinking about sending him a "Whamo Frisbee" for Christmas this year. That was the most popular toy of 1957.

But I've decided against it. That just might be my ticket to the
"rubber room palace" before I'm quite ready to go.