Monday, November 29, 2010

Parental Guidance Advised

 It’s great reading about our classmates who’ve already achieved that 50 years of married bliss milestone.

Linda and I have 3 more years to go before we become members of that club. But we’ll get there.

There’s no doubt about that.

No, my doubts were that the wedding might not happen at all.

Linda and I had gone together for a little over 2 years, and I knew
she was a very bright and sophisticated lady......with a great sense of humor, and we were both in love, but........she didn’t have any idea how certifiable one of my best friends was.

Paul Niven at Kennedy Nixon Debate

His name was Paul Niven, who very few people remember now, but at the time was part of Ed Murrow’s team of reporters at CBS. He was moderating Face the Nation in the early 60’s and I was the announcer on that show as well as a number of Paul’s radio newscasts throughout the week.

Broadcasting was his job.

But practical jokes...the more outrageous the better...were his life!

Paul Niven, Pat Peyser, Lee Shephard
Both of us were bachelors during that time....and since our work schedules were more or less the same.......we ran around together a lot doing things bachelors do....going to bars....acting stupid...and a few times wondering 40 miles up the road to see the sights in Baltimore’s notorious Burlesque district known as “The Block.”

Paul was one of the smartest people I’ve ever met.....and one of the funniest.....and kindest.

But I knew that like all of Paul’s friends, I had a target on my back. And an up coming wedding was just too good an opportunity to pass up.

I was convinced that the “terror attack” would come right after the wedding or perhaps during the honeymoon.

So, a couple of weeks before the wedding,  I didn’t think twice when Paul asked us to meet him and his date at a very exclusive restaurant (The Rive Gauche) in Georgetown.

I spotted Paul right away when we entered and as Linda and I were being led to his table........Suddenly, I began to realize who his “date” was. I recognized her even without her “boa.” It was the “Queen of the Block” and probably the best known xcydiast in the country, Blaze Star.

This was ground zero....and the attack was about to begin.

Blaze performed her part well.....telling Linda that she had been sent by the city of Baltimore to plead with her not to marry me....because the entire economy of the “block” would collapse without my many trips to the bars....."have pity on the strippers’ hungry children," she pleaded......Paul had also paid a couple of waitresses to come by our table with picket signs...with similar "unfair to Baltimore's working girls".....messages.

I was dying.

Linda thought it was hilarious.


I figured after that, the next 50 years would be a breeze.

They were.


(After the initial shock....the rest of the evening was great. Blaze told us about beginning her career when she was 15.........and how she had been supporting her Mom and sisters in West Virginia ever since..and talked about her long-term romance with then-governor Earl Long.
It was, to say the least, an unforgettable evening.

Paul Niven died in a tragic house fire in 1979. Linda was pregnant with our third child at the time......and since our other two children were boys, we were confident the new one would be we decided to name him Paul, after our friend.

But, our third child turned out to be a girl, so we named her Kendall, which was Paul's middle name.

At Paul’s funeral Daniel Patrick Moynihan gave the eulogy. Among other things he said,

“A journalist’s life revolves around stories. And stories of Paul will be heard as long as any who worked with him or knew him gather in those barrooms around the world where the day’s brutality is somehow surmounted with laughter and a comradeship of equality and honor.”

Rest in Peace, Paul.  -Ed)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Our 75th Year

Got a nice note from Ellouise:

Reading the blog. Loving all that good stuff. Made me realize that both Don Nance or I forgot to send a picture of our annual sandwich supper at the National Storytelling Festival, Jonesborough, Tn in October. Always great to see Don and Letty.

This is our 75th year for the Class of 1954. All of us going over that line together. I am embracing it - wearing my white hair and billing myself as "Southern, Sassy -- and 75,"

I am currently booking what I hope will be my 2011 “Diamond Julibee Tour.” Particularly hoping to tell stories in Charlotte.
Lately "house concerts" are the thing up here. Anybody interested?

Give me a call.

(At first I thought that picture was of 3 teenagers with powdered hair and makeup about to appear in the senior play portraying advanced citizens. -Ed )

Calling Mr. Keen

Jerry Gaudet reports that some emails to our class members have been returned as undeliverable and letters have had no response.

Mr. Keen never had a first name

This is obviously a case for the kindly old Mr Keen, tracer of lost persons...and his faithful assistant, Mike Clancy.

Two classmates have recently gone missing or are lost:

Charles Cunningham

Ann-Elizabeth Mitchell

Emails have been returned as undeliverable and letters have had no response. If you have contact information for either of these classmates, please let Jerry know.

Those currently on our "Lost" list are:

Jim Allen
Sarah Beck Yandle
Rebecca May Brogden
Nancy Brookes Lawing
Ruth Brown Braswell
Agnes Caudell
Danny Cole
Alton Craver
Lois Dempsey
Anne Finger
John Furr
Sue Griffin Price
Carl Guest
Fred Howard
Nancy Karnes
John Keller
Kathleen Kesler
Jeanne King Kumm
Doy Lim
Ronald Little
Gary Lutteral
Sarah McWhirter Martin
Fred Merrill
Bill Moore
Esther Newell
Bill Powell
Nelda Price
Betty Purvis
Helen Ray Therrell
Rosemary Sessoms
Micheal Thompson
Bobby Tribble
Ed Turner
Bruce Wallace
Yvonne Wentz
Shirley Williams
Elizabeth Ann Wilson
Jerry Wood

(Mr. Keen, Tracer of Lost Persons was one of network radio's longest running detective shows, although listening to it now would hardly explain why. This kind, elderly, boring sleuth, in company with his bumbling assistant, Mike Clancy, was on the airwaves from 1937 to 1955, logging nearly 20 years of fighting crime.

Mr. Keen's themesong was, "Someday I'll Find You." -Ed)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Up, Up and Away!

 Don and Letty Nance jetted down to Puerto Rico to watch the basketball tournament and bumped into Patsy Hartsell Kilgo, whose husband John was broadcasting the Davidson games.

Don has the incredible knack of running into a CHS grad no matter where he goes.
Patsy Hartsell Kilgo and Don Nance

 Now, back to the action on the court....

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Good News at Thanksgiving Time

Jerry Gaudet reports that Judy and Tony Thomas's daughter Evelyn has done very well in surgery!

Here's the email they sent:

"Happy Thanksgiving to the Central High Lunch group. Tony and I are happy to report that our daughter's lung cancer surgery at Duke on the 12th of this month was completely successful and she has returned home to Charlotte. God is so good and so are friends like all of you who have supported us with your prayers and emails. 

Thanks to all of you; your love and friendship was felt so strongly. Tony is doing better now that he does not have this concern. Hope we can get back for lunch soon. Judy Thomas"

Amen to that!

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody! -JG
 I got a note from Warren Sparrow who said he talked with Neil Jones the other day...and reminisced mostly about their Seagoing adventures during their days in the US Navy. He said Neil sounds great.

Also, Warren said he had lunch in Winston Salem last week with Bonson Hobson.

“As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.”

That’s one of the funniest and best known lines ever uttered on television. It was from WKRP in Cincinnati's "Turkeys Away"
episode, a comic account of a disastrous promotion initiated by the station's owner Arthur Carlson.
As a publicity stunt, WKRP drops live turkeys out of a helicopter over a shopping center as a Thanksgiving Day giveaway. The domestic turkeys, which cannot fly, plunge to their deaths as shoppers run for their lives.

The entire event, however, occurs entirely off-screen, as the viewer only sees and hears Les Nessman describe the scene in words reminiscent of the “real life” Hindenberg disaster. “Oh, the humanity!”

Most people are under the impression that WKRP in Cinncinati was a “sit com.”

No, no.

The episodes on WKRP were documentaries!

Having spent a lot of years of my life working in small radio stations, I know what I’m talking about.

Almost without exception, every one of those stations had their own version of just about every character on the TV series.

And the situations they found themselves in were very familiar to small stations throughout the country.

For example, Thanksgiving was always a big day for small stations to promote themselves...usually by giving away Turkeys.

WCHL in Chapel Hill is a good case in point. That little station was well represented by ex CHS students beginning with Charles Kuralt in 1954. Barry Clark and I worked there from 1955 til ’58.

Ty Boyd, who later replaced Charlotte icon Grady Cole was there during that time too. Ty was always so enthusiastic, especially about our turkey give aways, that Barry and I nicknamed him “Turkey Ty.”

Finally, the turkey story on the WKRP show was actually based on real events that occurred at WQXI in Atlanta, a station at which series creator Hugh Wilson worked while in the advertising business.

Have a happy Thanksgiving everybody, but don't forget to "look up" from time to time.
You never know.  -Ed

Sunday, November 21, 2010

LDL 26

 By Jerry Gaudet

 CHS’54 celebrated its 26th “LDL” on November 9, with Jimmies Restaurant looking like Thanksgiving had come. At least that was the look in the CHS’54 corner thanks to Mary Sue Burnett and her pack horse, husband Clyde, who loaded in and out all the supplies and decorations necessary to make our surroundings so seasonally special and meaningful…

Jim Suitt

 Of special note was the visit of Jim Suitt, CHS’55, who joined some of his “older” classmates for lunch and a visit. It was a treat to share with him recent contacts with Central High classmates who are mutually remembered…

Mary Sue has talked to the activities person at Avanté at Charlotte, the skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Center that cared for Shirley Maynor, about our class providing simple Christmas gifts for some of their residents as a way for us to remember Shirley.

We will be provided with a list of the residents who have few or even no visitors. Following is a list of possible items that we can bring to our December “LDL”. Other items can always be added. The gifts should NOT be wrapped except for maybe a bow or ribbon (the Avante staff would have to unwrap any gifts to know who should receive each gift). We hope everyone will want to participate as a way to honor our friend, Shirley, and to bring a little Christmas cheer to some nursing home residents. As Mary Sue expressed, “at Christmas we always think about children, but we tend to forget about those who are older, ill and alone”.

Here’s a start on the list:
Candy such as jelly beans, gum drops, mints, chocolates
Christmas decorations for the bedside tables or room bulletin boards
Cookies and other snacks
Crossword puzzle books
Hand lotion
Hats, baseball caps
Pens, pencils, paper
Small games
Stuffed animals
Throws or small blankets

More information will follow.

In the meantime, Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  -JG

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Being There

Sometimes I feel like Peter Sellers in the movie “Being There.”

Things just “happen” to me.

Strange things.

Take for example the day I was sitting in my office minding my own business when three men walked in and handed me the original, most famous, and most studied film in history:

The Abraham Zapruder film of the JFK assassination.

Now admittedly, there wasn’t much I could do with it, like sell it or anything, since all three gentlemen were heavily armed. Two were uniformed US Capitol police officers and the other was a Secret Service agent.

This happened in 1976.

I was working for a motion picture lab in Washington at the time and my office was on K Street in downtown DC. Mine was the first office you came to after you passed the reception area.

Rita, the receptionist had the annoying habit of sending anyone and everyone who ever entered the Byron Motion Picture building straight to my office with the following instructions;
“Oh, Mr. Shephard will handle that.”

She sent one lost soul to my office one day who said he had come for his clarinet lesson.

Anyway, the three visitors that day had been sent by Congress to have a new copy of the original Zapruder film made to help in their reinvestigation of the Kennedy murder.

If you recall, 1976 was the year the House Select Committee on Assassinations undertook reinvestigations of the murders of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Later, in 1979, a single Report and twelve volumes of appendices on each assassination were published by the Congress. In the JFK case, the HSCA found that there was a "probable conspiracy," though it was unable to determine the nature of that conspiracy or its other participants (besides Oswald). This finding was based in part on acoustics evidence from a tape purported to record the shots.

Bottom line was that my lab was unable to make a copy of the Zapruder film. By 1976 we had converted to processing and printing only super 8 film. The Zapruder film was regular 8mm.

 Knowing the film lab business like I did.....and recognizing all the things that could  ...and regularly DID... go wrong with mechanical processes, I was very happy to see my three visitors leaving the building with film in hand..

That's the closest I ever want to get on any "conspirators" list. -Ed

Friday, November 12, 2010

Abe and Me

Pseudologica Fantastica.

That’s the name psychologists use to describe people who have the compulsive need to lie consistently and about everything, however inconsequential - even if it yields no benefits to the liar.

We all knew kids in school who did that, but most of them grow out of it by high school. But some, never do.

And I’ll be darned if I don’t attract them like a magnet! My Daddy used to tell me that God gave me two ears and one mouth……..for a good reason. Sometimes I think I’m too good….at listening.

Add to that the fact that it’s not in my DNA to bluntly tell these myth makers that I don’t believe a damn word they’re saying.

I’m embarrassed to tell them.

THEY should be the ones embarrassed….for Heaven’s sake.

However, there’s always the possibility that they may be telling the truth.

Anyway, let me tell you about a man I once met named Abe Spanel.

I worked for a company in Washington for a couple of years called BYRON MOTION PICTURES… of the things I did in addition to “selling” was to help produce short films and TV commercials.

The Barber King
Abe was in his 80’s at the time and living in Princeton New Jersey when he called and introduced himself to me. He had invented a “personal hair cutter.” He called it “The Barber King.” (Think “vegematic for the head. “ ) He had a commercial for it airing on New York TV stations. But his hair cutters weren’t selling….and he was sure it was because his commercials just weren’t good enough.

I regularly called on clients in New York and New Jersey so about 2 weeks later I dropped in on Abe. He showed me his TV spot…..and frankly there wasn’t a darn thing wrong with it. I might have been able to do it a little better……but in my opinion, Abe’s problem was with the product, not the commercial.

I told him that.

He either appreciated my honesty, or felt sorry for me because I was such a lousy salesman. At any rate, he insisted on taking ME to lunch.

I did the eating, and he did the talking.

Did he ever!

He told me how in his younger days he sold vacuum cleaners for the Hoover company eventually working his way up to the head of sales and tripled their business in one year by paying his door to door salesmen twice as much as the other companies.

But he went on to tell me that he was more of an inventor than a salesman and that he had so many patents that he couldn’t remember them all.

He said that some of the companies he founded made a lot of money during WW2…… fact, so much that he decided to give a million and a half dollars back to the government.

(Remember, this is a man who invented a comb with razor blades in it…..that nobody wanted to buy!)

But I continued to eat and he continued to talk:

He told me that one of his inventions had caused a revolution in women’s undergarments
He described his invention and how he had invested a lot of time and money into this completely new concept in women’s bras and girdles….and was about to introduce the product nationwide.

But just before the target date….. reports started coming in that the models who were testing these new products were all complaining of a rash being caused by the garments.

Frightened to death that his invention was about to blow up in his face, he went back to his lab….(which was in one of the bedrooms in his home)  made an adjustment to his formula…….and the next batch of bras and girdles….. to his great relief, were fine.

He said he never patented that product………because he was afraid it would be stolen. ….in his mind, a patent was the quickest way to get your invention stolen. (That’s what he said.)

If you ever find yourself visiting the New Jersey Governors Mansion, ask them to show you the “music room.” That house belonged to Spanel at the time he  frantically re-mixed his magic elixer. And the "music room" was where his "lab" was located.

Now you know the true story of where the word Spandex came from... And how the Playtex Company was founded.

A guy with a bad haircut named Abe did it.


(1901–1985), U.S. industrialist, inventor, philanthropist. Spanel was the founder of one of the biggest corset and brassiere companies in the U.S. and an inventor who held more than 2,000 patents. 

Born in Odessa, Russia, the son of a tailor and a laundress, he was taken to Paris by his family at an early age, and then to Rochester, N.Y., when he was 10. He was a student at the University of Rochester for three years, then invented a garment bag that could be aired and moth-proofed with a vacuum cleaner. He made his first million dollars with his first business, the Vacuumizer.

 Spanel retired as chairman of International Playtex in 1975, but remained active as head of the Spanel Foundation and Spanel International Ltd., a business he started in 1976 to manufacture some of his inventions. Spanel was awarded patents on an eclectic range of products, including a hair-cutting device to be used in the home and a pneumatic stretcher for transporting military personnel wounded in combat. His philanthropic interests focused on medical research, especially child care. He established the Spanel Foundation for Cancer Research in New York City and the Playtex Park Research Institute at his company's headquarters in Dover, Delaware. His employees were provided with free Vitamin C tablets and were among the first workers to have air-conditioning, paid health and life insurance, and a profit-sharing plan. During World War II, Spanel contributed more than $1.5 million to the war effort, the profits he had made on war contracts. A staunch advocate of Franco-American relations, he was made a Commander of the Legion of Honor by France.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Ghost Riders or Big Foot?

I have met more than my share of famous people over the years and you’d think I could really impress my friends and family by telling anecdotes….beginning with “As (famous person…fill in the blank) told me one time…..“save your money….don’t stand out in the rain…a wet bird never flies at night")…whatever.

But no.

I usually freeze up when I meet a famous person and say something so bizarre that they wind up just looking at me like I’m from outer space…and don’t say anything…memorable or otherwise.

Which reminds me of an adventure I had as an 11 year old with the Charlotte Boys Choir.

That trip we took to New York City was the highlight of the 2 or 3 years that I was a member of the choir, but there was one other brush with the big time that we had at the old Armory Auditorium around 1947 or 48.

Vaughn Monroe
One of the most popular radio shows of that era was “The Camel Caravan” hosted by singer Vaughn Monroe and his sidekicks, the Moon Maids.

The show usually originated in New York, but would often travel to various cities and broadcast remotely from those locations and feature at least one local act from that location. When it was Charlotte’s turn, the show took over the Armory Auditorium one evening and somehow the Charlotte Boys Choir was chosen to be the local talent for that show.
I remember it well.

The announcer was isolated in some sort of soundproof booth on the stage of the Armory. We couldn’t hear him, but there was a man (producer) standing down in the orchestra pit who pointed a lot and made things happen. There was another man standing in the front row facing the audience who held up signs from time to time….one of which had “applaud” written on it and the other one said “laugh.”

As fascinating as that was, my most vivid memory of that event was backstage waiting for the show to start. I remember it to this day.

It happened that I was standing right next Mr. Monroe.

I didn’t say anything to him.

And he didn’t say anything to me.

But I’ll never forget one thing.

Two, actually.

He had the biggest feet I had ever seen!

(Sorry folks, but don’t say you weren’t warned. Most of my celebrity stories are like that; very forgettable.)


Vaughn Monroe

Monroe was born in Akron, Ohio on October 7, 1911.[1] He graduated from Jeannette High School in Pennsylvania in 1929[2] where he was senior class president and voted "most likely to succeed." 

He formed his first orchestra in Boston in 1940 and became its principal vocalist. He began recording for Victor's low-priced Bluebird label. That same year, Monroe built The Meadows, a restaurant and nightclub on Route 9 in Framingham, Massachusetts, west of Boston. He hosted the Camel Caravan radio program from there starting in 1946. It burned to the ground in December 1980.

Monroe was tall and handsome which helped him as a band leader and singer, as well as in Hollywood. He was sometimes called "the Baritone with Muscles", "the Voice with Hair on its Chest", "'ol Leather Tonsils", or "Leather Lungs".

He recorded extensively for RCA Victor until the 1950s and his signature tune was "Racing with the Moon" (1941). Among his other hits were "In the Still of the Night" (1939), "There I Go" (1941), "There I've Said It Again" (1945), "Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow" (1946), "Ballerina" (1947), "Riders in the Sky" (1949), "Someday (You'll Want Me To Want You)" (1949), "Sound Off" (1951), and "In the Middle of the House" (1956). He also turned down the chance to record "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer".[2]

Monroe also wrote a number of songs ranging from "Army Song" to less-known ones like the "Jeannette High School Alma Mater".[3]

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Do You Know What Time It Is?

Briarhopper time?


It's time for another exciting true life adventure in the November chapter of CHS'54 Does Lunch series.

Same time.........On the second Tuesday of each and every month 11;30 AM

Another satisfied listener

Same Station.....Jimmies of Mint Hill

(For the calendricly challenged, that's November 9th this year.)

Keep those cards and letters coming friends and neighbors.   -Ed

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Nellie Leventis Passes

By Jerry Gaudet

With sadness we received word that Nellie (Leventis) Boudoucies has passed away.

Nellie Boudoucies, 74, of Jonesboro, AR, died Saturday, October 30, 2010, at her home. She had lived in Jonesboro since 1981, moving here from Forest City, North Carolina and was a member of the Calvary Chapel of Jonesboro. Nellie was a wonderful wife, wonderful mother, grandmother and a strong Christian and was preceded in death by her parents Peter and Barbara Leventis. 

Survivors are her husband of 53 years, Art Boudoucies, of the home; daughters, Barbara Anne White and husband Keith, of Forest City North Carolina; Julie Elaine Hampton and husband John of McKinney, Texas; Lisa Jane Turner and husband Kevin of Frisco, Texas; sisters, Sophie Kametches, Raleigh, North Carolina; Christine Pfister, Waxhaw, North Carolina; brothers, George Leventis, Charlotte, North Carolina; Dr. Sam Rigas of Rome, Georgia; six grandchildren, Brandon White, Kathryn White, Josh Hampton, Rebekah Hampton, Nathan Turner and Anna Turner. 

A memorial service will be 1:00 Saturday, November 6, 2010 at Calvary Chapel Church with John Lawrence and arrangements by Emerson Funeral Home. Visitation will be Friday night at Calvary Chapel from 5 until 8. 

For those wishing to leave lasting memorials in lieu of flowers, the family requests you please consider The Gideons International, PO Box 4002, Jonesboro, Arkansas 72403 or Hospice Memorial Fund, St. Bernard’s Development Foundation, PO Box 9320, Jonesboro, Arkansas 72403. 

An electronic guestbook is available at:

We have this contact information for her husband:
Mr. Art Boudoucies
1405 Post Oak Cove
Jonesboro, AR 72401

And, Nellie's cousin and classmate:
Sophie (Leventis) Trakas
525 Sherwood Cir.
Spartanburg, SC 29302-2719


Monday, November 01, 2010

Mary Sandra's Latest Movie

Jerry Gaudet reports that The Mary Sandra Schulken Costner Story is now at a theatre near you!

Well, he got my attention. And although he admits that is a little bit of an exaggeration, you'll have to agree that it's a big deal anytime one of our classmates rubs elbows with Hollywood!

Mary Sandra explains:

"I thought I would share with the class the fact that I was in a movie as an 'extra'. One that was filmed in Shelby, Charlotte, and Monroe. It is "Blood Done Sign My Name" from the book of that same name. Ricky Schroder was the lead actor. True story. It is out on DVD now. If you watch it You can see me in the choir scene behind the minister. Two of my grandchiildren are in it to and they are the ones that got me to be a 'extra' so they could go. It was an interesting experience."

Mary Sandra will be available for autographs at our next reunion.

Your Government at Work

Actually, it's MY government at work.

The Virginia Department of Highway Signs and Creative Napping....or whatever they call themselves...has decided to crack down on distracted drivers by installing expensive electronic signs.

This one is on the street one block from my house.


In my opinion, one more sign is needed.......which says something like....PLEASE DO NOT BE DISTRACTED BY READING DISTRACTING SIGNS.  -Ed