Monday, July 21, 2014


I was saddened by James Garner's death last week, although anyone who lives a life as successful and long as he did left "on quite a rush;" which is a card shark's term meaning running extremely lucky and winning a large proportion of hands.

Bret Maverick, the adroitly articulate card shark on Maverick is the way I remember him.  That show premiered on TV in September of 1957 nine months before I went to work for my first commercial TV station, WSOC-TV.  As I recall, it was the most popular non CBS show to ever compete with the Tiffany network up to that time.

By the summer of 1958, it had really begun to get high ratings and those of us at Charlotte's channel 9 were ecstatic to know that we finally might beat WBTV, the big boy on the block, in at least ONE time slot.

We were well aware that we were number two in town, not only the second TV station to go on the air (Channel 3 had been broadcasting since 1949. It was the 13th TV station in the entire USA at the time.) we also were affiliated with the number two (and 3) NETWORKS, NBC and ABC. There is a truism in TV that if you owned a CBS Television station in the 1950's and 60' was impossible not to become rich.

The building that now houses WSOC-TV was in the process of being built in the summer of 1958, so we broadcast our shows from the small transmitter building located in the Newell-Hickory Grove neighborhood, just outside Charlotte's northeastern city limits. Our one studio was less than the size of the average living room. All of our live shows came out of there, including Jimmy Kilgo's Saturday dance parties. In addition, all of our electronic equipment was also stuffed into that small building

So we were struggling. However, our management was eagerly looking forward to the next rating book to come out showing how strong the Maverick time period was.  That would mean a lot of money for the station. Plus, psychologically, it would have been a big boost for us. Almost everyone who worked at the station were pros with the possible exception of members of the "floor crew," and these were "trainees," many of whom worked their way into full time positions.
However, as in any business, there were some "clunkers."

James Garner
It was one of those who, on the first day of the rating period, accidentally spilled his soft drink into the main "switcher" and knocked the station off the air...for a week.
What a week to be off the air! So much for our first small victory over channel 3.

I'm not saying that had it not happened, Channel 9 would have overcome Channel 3's nine year "head start" and its CBS affiliation advantage but it sure would have felt good.

However, to quote Maverick himself,

''As my old pappy used to say,  Never cry over spilt milk. It could've been whiskey."


*Actually, WSOC-TV was Charlotte's third television station, after WBTV (channel 3) and WAYS-TV (channel 36, which operated from 1954 to 1955); it was Charlotte's second station on the VHF band. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014


I was wrong when I said (a couple of posts ago) that the first thing I was taught as a young radio announcer was that "silence was deadly."

That was the second.

The first one was, DON"T CURSE on the air.

Francis Fitzgerald and Ed Myers 1951
(Actually, Mr, Fitz, WGIV's owner, and the best boss I ever had in all the 63 years after that said "Don't CUSS on the air.)

Of course, the words he was talking about are considered mild, and even acceptable today.  "Damm" and "Hell" were the ones he had in mind. I think those were just about the only ones anyone knew back then.

It only required a little common sense to instinctively know not to spout obscenities over the airwaves intentionally, but he was warning us about accidentally letting something slip out.

Art Van Damme
There was a popular musical group called the Art Van Damm Quintet in the early 50's that we were required to announce as the Art Van Darn or the Art Van Dern Quintet.
Sometimes we called it the Art Van Heck Quintet.

The first person that I ever heard let a cuss slip out on WGIV was Eric Dehlin who ended the first half of his morning music show one minute before Julian Barber sat down to read the 12 noon news.  Now, WGIV only had one studio, one mic...and one chair for the on the air personality;  Julian, being the great prankster that he was would occasionally, while waiting for Eric to close out the first part of his show, click the switch to a different speed on the turn table where Eric had his theme song "cued up"  for his opening of the second half of his show. Then, he and Eric would quickly change places.

Eric Dehlin
Julian Barber

After the news, they would again, swap places.

Following that particular newscast, what the listener heard was Eric re-introducing his show, "Hi folks, Eric Dehlin back again with the second half of our Morning Serenade"
Then he would roll the theme song...which back then was on a 78 rpm record...but because Julian had changed the turntable speed it started playing at 33 and a third.

That's when Eric made WGIV history with a loud "G--Dammit"...with the mic still on.

I'm not sure what Eric said after that, but if it had happened to me I think I would have started "vamping" like crazy, hoping the listeners hadn't been paying attention, or convinced themselves that they had only imagined that they heard....what they heard.

As fast as I could, I would have begun rattling off any and everything that I could think of hoping to distract the listener:

What is called a "French kiss" in the English speaking world is known as an "English kiss" in France.

"Almost" is the longest word in the English language with all the letters in alphabetical order.

"Rhythm" is the longest English word without a vowel.

Right handed people live, on average, nine years longer than left-handed people

Your ribs move about 5 million times a year, every time you breathe!

The elephant is the only mammal  that can't jump!

One quarter of the bones in your body, are in your feet!

Like fingerprints, every one's tongue print is different!

The first known transfusion of blood was performed as early as 1667, when Jean-Baptiste, transfused two pints of blood from a sheep to a young man

Fingernails grow nearly 4 times faster than toenails!

Women blink nearly twice as much as men.

Adolf Hitler was a vegetarian.

Now, something tells me that I might have written about this before.  The elderly are known for doing that.

We are also known for not remembering stories that we have read before.  And since this website checks your ID before you come in, I think it's a wash.

While I have such a mature audience together, I'll pass along a very funny and equally true story that happened over at WBTV on Fred Kirby's popular kiddie show.
Fred Kirby WBTV

Even though It was a live show he would often take the mic into the audience and interview the kids.  That's a very dangerous thing to do, but for a pro like Fred Kirby, he and his producer were confident he could handle just about anything. And he could!
On this occassion, he was talking to a group of kids...and suddenly over on the side a cute couple of 7 or 8 year old black kids started laughing hysterically.

So Fred couldn't resist going over to them to find out what was so funny. It was good TV...the pictures of the kids laughing were precious...their laughter was contagious...and Fred kept asking what they were laughing about...they wouldn't say. The boys kept laughing, and Fred kept asking....

Until finally one of the boys gave in...and with Fred holding the mic 4 inches from the kid's face still pleading to know why he was laughing... the boy replied,  "Leroy F..ted!"

Well, they say Fred began strumming his guitar faster than anyone had ever seen before......

Moral of the story:  Be careful what you ask for....for you shall surely get it. -Ed

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

"Just the Facts. Mamm"

Henry Morgan and Jack Webb
of Dragnet
Legendary CHS RAMBLER reporter and editor Warren Sparrow, who was well on his way to an outstanding career as a journalist and newspaper reporter before discovering that there was a lot more money to be made in the lawyer business checked in regarding my story about "silence."

The premise of my story was how loud silence is on the radio.

Warren agreed, and added that it was also a "no, no" in the newspaper business.


He explained:

 "Your endless facts drove me to another place and another time. I may be a tad fuzzy on the time, the summer of 1964, but the place was the Winston-Salem Journal newsroom.  

I was in law school at Wake and was working as a copy editor at the Journal.  It came to pass that a long list of your "facts" landed in my basket, meaning I had to write a one-line headline for each of the little gems.  These items were stock-piled in the composing room and used as fillers.  You might say they were the print version of what you said on the air.  Blank space, like silence on the radio, could not be tolerated in the newspaper.  If a story turned out to be too short, a filler was tacked on at the end.

Now back to the story....  Being the conscientious type, I started grinding through my stack of "facts," using much energy to write the perfect headline for each filler.  After about 20 minutes I came upon one which said something like this:  "There are 23,251 railroad ties between Richmond and Petersburg."  By this time I was out of "good ideas" so my bad side took over.  I chose "Useless Information" and sent the completed set to the composing room.
Wallace Carroll

A few days later a big note signed by the publisher (Wallace Carroll) was posted on the bulletin board. He said the paper would no longer use fillers.  He had seen "Useless Information" in the paper! From this point forward the Journal would add extra space between each line of type in order to make the stories fit.

There you have it.  It was my "finest hour."  Thanks for reminding me.



Thanks Warren, that's very impressive. I think most other newspapers followed suit soon after that.  I hope you got "royalties" for your forward thinking!

I also heard a story one time about silence being very loud in the "Light House" business.It seems that the old lighthouse keeper had been the perfect man for the job. He was what you call a loner. He had never married, didn't particularly like people, loved solitude,was never bored, and didn't like working hard.

He was required to live there, and because it was in a very remote location, in all the 40 years he had been on the job, only 2 ships a day passed by. One at 12 noon each day and the other at exactly midnight every night.

As each of these ships passed the light house, they would sound their loud horns. (Those of
you CHS54 grads who remember Lifebuoy Soap commercials on radio know exactly what they sounded like.)

For the first 10 years, the ship that passed at midnight would wake the lighthouse keeper. But as the years went by, he became very used to it and he would sleep right through the former midnight salute.

Just before the old man retired, he got word that the company the midnight ship was attached to was going out of business and would cease its shipping operation.

The day finally arrived and for the first time in almost 40 years at the exact stroke of midnight.......there was total silence!

At that very moment the lighthouse keeper jumped straight up in bed, and exclaimed,  "WHAT WAS THAT!"


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

When in Doubt...Rattle On

Being chronologically gifted comes with its downsides.  Among them are:
  • Forgetting where you left things you use regularly, such as glasses or keys.
  • Forgetting names of acquaintances or blocking one memory with a similar one, such as calling a grandson by your son’s name.
  • Occasionally forgetting an appointment.
  • Having trouble remembering what you’ve just read, or the details of a conversation.
  • Walking into a room and forgetting why you entered.
  • Becoming easily distracted.
  • Not quite being able to retrieve information you have “on the tip of your tongue.
But the experts say that's normal, so relax and forget about dementia.

But darn it, those brain burps sure are annoying.

What bothers me most is when I'm having a conversation with someone, or often a small group of people, and when it finally comes my turn ...and I'll all primed to make a powerful point....I suddenly forget what I was going to say. I draw a complete blank....and it usually takes a good long 15 or 20 seconds for the thought to come to me....

Well, if that ever happens to you....  instead of saying something like, pardon me, I'm having one of those "old codger moments" brain suddenly went completely blank......Or, even worse, allow the conversation to stop completely while you wait for your brain to get back into gear...

try an old radio announcer trick and ...vamp.
Ed and Barry calling UNC baseball game for WCHL

That's what we used to call it when we were describing something like a rain delay during a baseball game, or a parade or any live event that has moments when there's no action. Because the first thing you learn in radio is that silence is deadly. 

Perhaps that is also the best way to approach those brain freeze moments.

Try it. 

Next time it happens to you, instead of pausing to wait for the original thought to return...vamp:

 "It takes 3,000 cows to supply the NFL with enough leather for a year's supply of footballs."

"The average life span of a major league baseball is 7 pitches."

"The airplane Buddy Holly died in was the "American Pie" (Thus the name of the Don McLean Song)

"Snails can sleep for 3 years without eating."

"Months that begin on a Sunday will always have a "Friday the 13th"

"The Eisenhower Interstate Highway system requires that one mile in every 5 must be straight. These straight sections are usable as airstrips in times of war or other emergencies"

By this time, your original thought will have returned and you can continue with your conversation.

But, you say, "What if I can't remember those facts?"

They are so "out in left field" that I can almost promise that you will remember at least 3 of them, probably more. And I'll prove it.

Right now...without looking...see how many you can remember?

See. I told you.

"Keep those cards and letters coming folks."


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Look What I Found

Maybe it's been there all along, but I sure didn't see it until a day or so ago.

It's a digital collection of almost ALL of the Snips and Cuts annuals, ever printed!

The first one was published in 1909, before Central was even called Central!


And guess who it's dedicated to....

Charlotte North Carolina High School Yearbooks

These are a variety of  Charlotte NCHigh School yearbooks for Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. If your ancestor attended high school during the years of 1909-1962 in Charlotte North Carolina then the following yearbooks may have a photograph of them. This is part of a collection of free yearbooks being scanned and placed online by the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center. Yearbooks provide a window into student life. From sports teams to clubs, fashions to hairstyles, these volumes document the changing attitudes and culture of students year by year.
The North Carolina Digital Heritage Center is a statewide digitization and digital publishing programhoused in the North Carolina Collection at the University of North Carolina at New Bern. The Digital Heritage Center works with cultural heritage institutions across North Carolina to digitize and publish historic materials online. The Digital Heritage Center provides libraries, archives, museums, historical societies, and other cultural heritage institutions with the opportunity to promote and increase access to their collections through digitization.

You will, no doubt, notice that the only annual that has our class in it is the 1952 Snips and Cuts.
It seems to me that it is very strange indeed that this organization was able to find as many annuals as they did including the 1909 version, but was unable to locate a copy of the 1953 and 1954 versions.

 Weird, huh?
Well, anyway, here's the LINK.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Say Cheese

"Those who don't"
I hope you got as big a kick out of that picture titled "Those who DON"T" as I did on the post announcing this month's LDL.

It got me thinking again about why people didn't smile in those old photographs of the late 1800's and early 1900's.  I always thought it was because of technology.  To properly expose the early film, you needed the shutter of the camera to stay open a fairly long time in order for enough light to make the image on the "slow" film.

The very first photograph  taken in 1826, View from the Window at Le Gras, took 8 hours to
World's first photograph 1826
expose. When Louis Daguerre introduced the daguerreotype in 1839, he managed to shave this time down to just 15 minutes. This was a revolutionary breakthrough for photography, but still not good enough for smile-friendly portraits.

For most of the studio photographic portraits of the early 1900's the camera shutter had to be held open for about 60 seconds or a little longer, and that's a long time to hold a smile.  Too long, the theory goes, to keep the lips from moving even slightly which would have caused a blur.

The solution it seemed was to NOT smile.

Mystery solved.

Mark Twain
But maybe not.  I think I can hold a smile for 60 secs. Others say they can

So perhaps that wasn't the only reason. Bad teeth and the fact that having your portrait taken was considered a rather formal occasion have also been cited as causes for such serious poses.
That makes a lot of sense to me because if any of us were to go back in time I think the first thing we would notice about the people of the late 19th and early 20th centuries would be their rotten teeth.

Abe Lincoln
But Nicholas Jeeves, writing in the Public Domain Review has come up with a couple of different conclusions. He says that rotten teeth were so common back then that they weren't even noticed and certainly didn't detract from what was then considered "attractive."

We think of smiles as warm and friendly. But Jeeves points out that,

"By the 17th century in Europe it was a well-established fact that the only people who smiled broadly, in life and in art, were the poor, the lewd, the drunk, the innocent, and the entertainment."

Mark Twain once wrote that,  A photograph is a most important document, and there is nothing more damning to go down to posterity than a silly, foolish smile caught and fixed forever.”

Apparently, that mindset remained until the Kodak Brownie became popular.  The very first Brownie was manufactured in 1901. A popular story Explaining how Kodak got its name claims that it was named for the sound the Brownie made when the shutter was pushed. (Frankly it sounded more like "KaPlunk" to me, but no company named KaPlunk would have been the same.)  

But that story is not true. George Eastman, the founder himself said that he'd simply made it up.
"I always liked the letter "K." It seems a strong and incisive kind of letter. It became a question of trying a great number of combinations of letters starting and ending with the letter "K" and "Kodak" is the result."

The "Brownie" was named after cartoon characters drawn by Canadian Cartoonist Palmer Cox which featured little fairy like figures called "Brownies."  (Notice original Brownie Box above.)

Anyway, Kodak began advertising it's camera, which sold for $1 dollar, by showing happy
Picture from early Brownie ad
people taking pictures of other happy people smiling and having fun.  Gradually, the message got out that it was OK to smile in photographs. Besides, these were a different kind of photographs. They were informal photographs of ordinary people.They were "snapshots." 

By the mid-20th century, photography in general had become much faster, much cheaper, and much more casual. People were also taking better care of their teeth. Smiling became, not only accepted, but almost mandatory when posing before the now ubiquitous ( I love that word) Brownie. "Say Cheese" were the magic words that 97.5% of the time preceded the "KaPlunk" of millions of Brownies.


Saturday, July 05, 2014

There are 2 Types of People

Those who DON'T

And those who DO!

Attend the CHS54 LDL's (Let's Do Lunches) !!!

And you are in luck....there just happens to be another one this Tuesday at Jimmies of Mint Hill (of course)!

Jerry Gaudet has the details:

This month's "LDL" (Let's do lunch) will be held on
Tuesday, July 8, 2014, 11:30 AM
at "Jimmies" Restaurant in Mint Hill.
You are invited to join us. Spread the word! Invite other classmates to come! 

The food is great and the companionship is spectacular!

You'll meet those great high school buddies of yours plus make some new old buddies you didn't know that well when you were at Central.

There will be cheerleaders

and Athletes


PLUS....the food is GREAT.  Don't miss it. It's an EVENT!
and...if you can,

Bring a friend.


Friday, July 04, 2014

Time Machine

“How did it get so late so soon?” 
― Dr. Seuss

Elgin made in 1927

How I cherish this family heirloom. It was my father's watch. He purchased it in 1927 and probably pulled it out of his pocket to check the time at least 15 times a day for the rest of his life.  

It got him to the Church on time to marry my Mom.

It got him to work on time each day.

He kept checking it while waiting at Mercy Hospital for my sister and then, me, to be born and finally 21 years later at that same hospital he checked it for the final time on Christmas Eve 1957.

Unfortunately, I don't believe I'll be able to pass on anything as personal and meaningful as that to my children.

My Timex just won't cut it.

The thought of wearing a wrist watch never even crossed my Dad's mind.  To him, and his generation, it would have been the equivalent of wearing a dress.  A wrist watch was something women wore.

It took a world war to change that attitude.

A great article in the June SMITHSONIAN magazine explains that,
WW1 Pilot
"... during World War I. Officers began using wristwatches to coordinate the new style of attack: opening with a barrage of gunfire to stun and destabilize the enemy, followed immediately by an onrush of soldiers.“You’d want the soldiers to be alert to the fact that the guns were about to stop, and be ready to spring,” says David Boettcher, a British horologist who has researched wartime watch-wearing. This required precise timing, and officers fumbling around in the dark for a pocket watch wouldn’t do. To make the wristwatches easily legible in battle, watchmakers fashioned them with large, round faces that had prominent dark numbers set off by a white porcelain backing and coated in radium that glowed brilliantly in the dark."

And Suddenly, wrist watches became Manly!

Men began to realize that it was difficult to reach into your pocket to check the time when you were "on the go," such as riding a bicycle, a horse or driving a car.  Besides, it was dangerous. Men might have figured this out earlier, but there was no TV back then of course, and radio PSAs (Public Service Announcements) had not been invented yet, so they had to figure it out on their own that ..."watching?"...or "timing?" while driving, or whatever some ad agency would have eventually called it, could be hazardous to their health.

PSAs on radio didn't exist until the government started selling War Bonds during WW2. 
By that time 90% of American men were wearing wrist watches. So no ad agency had to figure out a clever name for "pulling your watch out of your pocket."

Fashion Statement
Those watches of the early 1900's, like my Dads, did more than just tell time. They made a statement. As Alexis McCrossen of Southern Methodist University wrote, "You were a modern person, a timekeeping person, a regular person."  He pointed out that a 1913 Hamilton watch ad described the watch as a tool for moral improvement. "The Hamilton leads its owner to form desirable habits of promptness and precision."

A new word for a person like that found its way into the dicti0nary:  A "Stemwinder." someone who habitually wound his watch.

But Don't be surprised if before long watches start going back into pockets or maybe even drawers.

The battle for the prime techno real estate on the human body is heating up and the head ain't it.

Although,  people who wear a computer on their head
are also making a statement, which, in my opinion is "I am a freak!"

But mark my word, it won't be long before we'll be saying goodbye to the wristwatch and hello to some form of the computer whose first name will be wrist. 


Barry Clark's Son

It's with great sadness that I report the death of our friend and classmate Barry Clark's son Jeffrey yesterday.

Barry's sister, Arleen informed me of the sad news:

Barry Clark's youngest son, Jeffrey Clark, age 43, died today from a heart attack.  Thought you  and Barry's classmates would want to know.  Very sad.  Jeff was 6'5" and very handsome.  He was a school teacher and beloved by his family.  Condolences can be sent to Barry at:

The Hermitage
185 Brickfarm Road
Sylva, NC 28779

Thursday, July 03, 2014

July 4th 2014

Your humble webmaster wishes you a happy 4th of July.

This is the day of the year we celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence and honor the American Revolutionary War.  In spite of what 46% of today's college  graduates think, that was not ..."the war that we fought  against Germany and Japan because of the Nazis bombing of Pearl Harbor."

I happened to locate the one last surviving document that accidentally fell out of and lodged behind the government shredding machine just before it was turned on.

It explains why we fought that war.

However, it doesn't say who finally won.


The Declaration of Independence: A Transcription

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Seems Like Old Times

Arthur Godfrey
Fred Allen called him the Huck Finn of radio.

Millions of other Americans thought of him and his
"smooth, soothing, voice" as the nations grandfather.

That's  why the Eisenhower administration chose him to record the "Ultimate PSA"  (PSA=Public Service Announcement)

That PSA is still classified as TOP SECRET, so no one has ever heard it, but it exists and it's a recording by Arthur Godfrey and Edward R. Murrow announcing that America has come under an Atomic Attack....

Those two broadcast icons were chosen for their unique and very recognizable voices and calm demeanor.
Someday perhaps those tapes will be unclassified and  Americans will be able to listen to them and thank the Lord that they were never aired.

However, by that time, no one will know who the Hell either man was, much less recognize their voices.

In fact our little group of CHS 54 graduates are probably the last generation to ever have actually heard both of those men on radio.

But I'd be surprised if anyone logging on to this website didn't listen to Arthur Godfrey during his heyday. I can still hear his theme song in my head, that rich, smooth trombone with the opening of "Seems like Old Times"......and Godfrey tossing out the commercial script with the words, "Ah, who wrote this stuff....everybody knows that Lipton Tea is the finest you can buy...just heat some water and plop a Lipton tea bag in........."

CBS Chairman William S. Paley hated him. But the CBS Bean Counter Frank Stanton loved him. By 1950 Godfrey was making over a million dollars a year, more than almost anyone in America.
Radio never had a greater storyteller!

Nor a greater salesman!

But the people who worked closely with Godfrey had an entirely different opinion of the great man than those of us who just listened to him on the radio. By the early 50's he had begun treating his radio cast like children, not allowing them to be interviewed without his permission and expecting them to be interested in what evcr he was interested in and generally acting like a little Hitler.

Reporters at the time recall how tense the air in the studio had become.
Julius LaRosa

I believe the beginning of the end came on October 19, 1953 when he fired Julius LaRosa on the air.

According to John Dunning in his book The Encyclopedia of Old Time Radio, LaRosa had been ordered by Godfrey to take, of all things, balet lessons.

But refused.

On the air that day in 1953, he introduced LaRosa by saying that "in the two years on the show, he has gotten to be a great big namehe said very deliberately...and then asked him to sing "I'll Take Manhattan"

At the end, Godfrey said, "That was Julius LaRosa's swan song. He now goes out on his own, as his own star, soon to be seen in his own programs and I know you wish him godspeed...the same as I do."

Then, he closed his own show with the theme song and network ID.

The studio audience was stunned.

Godfrey claimed he fired LaRosa because he was guilty of a "lack of humility."

Archie Bleyer
LaRosa refused to counter attack, saying only that he would always be grateful to Godfrey for the opportunities he had given him.

Mamie Eisenhower was a fan of LaRosa and came to his defense.  Ed Sullivan also did, inviting him on his Sunday night show.

Godfrey responded by calling Sullivan "a dope," and all the reporters a "bunch of jerks."

The Chordettes
Immediately after the show he fired Archie Bleyer.

Then he began dismantling everything:

He fired the Mariners, the Chordettes, Hawaiian singer Haleloke and three long time writers.


He refused to rehire Bill Lawrence, who had returned from military service, because according to Lawrence he had begun dating Janette Davis (another singer on the show). Archie Bleyer said he was fired because he was dating one of the Chordettes. Producer Larry Puck said he was fired because he was dating Marion Marlowe...who was also fired.

The downhill slide had begun and never recovered after that. The money making institution that Godfrey once was started to dry up and never returned.

But what a story the history of this nation's greatest story teller was! I don't believe there will ever be anything quite like it.

Mug Richardson and Godfrey

Finally there's a North Carolina connection that I wasn't aware of until my old friend Bill Diehl of ABC news discovered a very old press release and passed it on to me.
Godfrey's first secretary and "right hand man" was Mug Richardson, Miss North Carolina of 1934. She had just won the title and stopped over in Washington, DC on her way to compete for Miss America in Atlantic City. Godfrey interviewed her on his local radio program on WTOP and immediately offered her a job. (This was just before he became nationally famous.)

She worked closely with him for the next 16 years.

Godfrey retired in 1972 and died in 1983.

Even after all these years, if those of us who actually ever heard him were to hear his voice again we would recognize it immediately.

However, if you ever do...DUCK, he ain't going to be talking about Lipton Tea.


Many thanks to John Dunning and his great book "The Encyclopedia of Old Time Radio" for providing me with so much information regarding this story. Anyone interested in old time radio should have his book in your library!
Front Cover

On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio

 By John Dunning