Monday, January 31, 2011

"...but stay away from the liquor cabinet"

"Broadcast House"
It was a Saturday afternoon sometime in 1966 and I was working my announcer shift at WTOP-TV in Washington, which consisted mostly of doing station breaks, which meant that every half hour, between network programs, I would turn on the microphone and say, “Channel 9, Washington.”

It was tough work, but someone had to do it.

I got a call from the receptionist downstairs who informed me that there was a gentleman and his son in the lobby who wanted to “tour the station”....and did I want to take the time to show them around.

As you know, I’m a sucker for that kind of thing because not too many years before, I had been the one asking stations in Charlotte to let me look around. And they had all been very kind to me.

Duke Struck (later NFL director)
The man turned out to be a minister and he and his son were both as nice as they could be. I gave them the full tour of all the studios that afternoon and they seemed very grateful. The crew happened to be taping a show that day, so they were able to observe more than just darkened studios.

I had forgotten all about that when one day a year or so later, I got a call from downstairs informing me that there was a man in the lobby asking to see me.

My visitor turned out to be the minister to whom I had given the station tour that Saturday afternoon.

He asked if we could talk privately, so I took him up to my office, where he showed me a matchbook with the President of the United States’ Seal on it.

White House Matchbook
He said his specialty was working with alcoholics and that he had been spending a lot of time at the White House.

(This was getting weirder and weirder!)

He said that for the past year he had been working with the President's brother who was also living in the White House.

I said that I didn’t know that the President had a brother!

And certainly not one who was living in the White House.

“Very few people do,” he said.

“His name is Sam Houston Johnson and he is Lyndon Johnson’s younger brother.......and I have been working with him daily...helping him to overcome his alcohol addiction.”

President Johnson and brother

He went on the tell me that the brother had made great progress; so much so that the President felt that it was time for his brother to be introduced to the public.

My minister friend had suggested that the morning TV show that I was hosting at the time would be a good place to do it.......and he said the President had agreed.

Of course, I said yes.

But the show never happened. Apparently, another reporter discovered the secret brother and broke the story, which forced the White House to respond sooner than they wanted, which negated the need for the planned introduction on my show.

Frankly, I was relieved.

The national “exposure” would have been a nice feather in my cap (unless I had asked really dumb questions) but there was at least a 50/50 chance that Lyndon Johnson might not be pleased with the way I handled the interview and little old Eddie Myers, former Elizabeth School patrol boy and CHS graduate, could very easily have found himself on the President of the United States' enemies list.


Another close call.   -Ed

(Samuel Houston Johnson (January 31, 1914-December 11, 1978) was the younger brother of President Lyndon B. Johnson.
According to the internet, he was notorious for getting drunk and then talking to the press. Eventually, the Secret Service put him under surveillance. He died of lung cancer at 64, at the same age his brother was at his death. Sam wrote the book My Brother Lyndon after LBJ left the White House.)

Friday came early this week

Even though I'm almost completely retired now, Mondays still seem like MONDAYS to me.

But, there are exceptions. Like today for example!

Two things turned this Monday morning into a "Friday" kind of day for me:

First, there was a nice note from Mitzi complimenting me on a couple of stories I wrote, then I received this email from Frank Clontz, class of '55:

"As I sit at my wife's computer early every morning because the two in my office are too far away from the TV News and it's usually colder in there. I click on Mozilla and my first stop is the Charlotte Observer because I’ve lived here most of my life. Next, I click on the Miami Herald as I lived there five years, leaving Charlotte in the middle of the 5th grade and returning in the middle of the 9th grade. 

Those years were spent recovering from the Polio I had at a younger age. After reading the Miami Herald, I go to the Asheville Citizen's Times to check on events in Western North Carolina as my current wife of 53 years is from Swain County, and the Asheville paper usually carries major events from there. 

Then, I go to your website and find that it is more enjoyable to read, not only because most hometown papers have lost the "Home-Town" flavor years ago and only report crime, crooked politics, and city payouts for lawsuits against the police and reprint articles from the New York Times, Washington Post and anywhere else McClatchy either owns or can buy articles on the cheap.

Your website continues to brighten my mornings and keeps me informed of those that I knew and loved so very much from the class of 54 and lets me know of any loss of the members of your class as many moved away from the area very soon after growing their wings, ending up all across the US and many other places around the world. 

So many in the class of 54’ were so great and helpful to me at a time, as a young man with remnants of having had polio some years earlier, found it difficult to make friends due to my insecurity, however, you and many others were there to help and share your time and energy with me. One good example was Harry Joyner helping me learn to speak Spanish as we made short time-lapsed film in his dad’s garage as he was beginning his venture into the world of movie making and there are many others that were a great help, including you during your stint at WGIV doing remote broadcast from Parker-Garner Music Store, allowing me to play piano over the great airwaves of the past. Others of the class of 54 were my mentors and many, my dream girls.

As we grow just a little bit older and a little less important to the world around us, it is comforting to be able to stay informed of the well being of those we knew many years ago. With that in mind, we look to the future and the continued ability to log on the chs54 for up-to-date events of the great class of Central High School, Class of 1954"

Frank Clontz
Class of 55'

I remember those radio remotes at Parker Gardner very well. I was supposed to ad lib interviews with customers in the store.  Most of them didn't want to talk to me....and frankly, those that did found that I ran out of questions rather which point I would say "...back to you, Frank for another tune."

Many years, and many broadcasts later, there were still times during interviews when the "interviewee" was answering my questions  with "yes" or "no"...... I would think to myself, "Where are you Frank, now that I need you again?"  -Ed

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

"Enter and sign in please"

In 1964 Somebody at CBS happened to notice that there were two Lee Shephards doing TV weathercasts on two different stations, one in Washington and one in Detroit.

When the network game show people heard of this they immediately started looking for a third that we could all appear on “To Tell the Truth.”

If you remember, that was the show where three contestants all claimed to be .....somebody.......but only ONE of them was telling the truth. They contacted me and asked if I would be willing to appear on the show.

 I jumped at the chance.....mainly because it would allow me to finally meet my hero, superman! aka/Bud Collyer, who was the voice of the radio Superman in the 1940's.

The idea was that after the questioning by the panel, Bud Collyer would say, and now, “Will the real Lee Shephard please stand up!”

And all three of us would stand.

Great idea. The only thing wrong was they couldn’t find another Lee Shephard who was on TV.

But they still thought that two people, both doing the same thing  (TV weather casting at the time) might be a good gimmick for another one of their shows, WHAT'S MY LINE.

So, on a Sunday night in April 1964,  I found myself at 254 West 54th Street in New York backstage at CBS studio 52 waiting to be a small part of a show that for many years had been “the last bit of freedom” that I enjoyed before a new week of school began.

I met the other Lee Shephard who was very personable as were the other guests, all of whom seemed pretty ordinary, like me.

There was only one person backstage who seemed a bit strange. I say that because she arrived with her hair in curlers. But even stranger than that was that she had brought her hairdresser with her......and he followed her around ...doing hairdresser stuff....while she flitted about talking with the producer and his assistants. I figured that she must be part of the show, although I was sure she wasn’t Arlene Francis or Dorothy Kilgallen.

I tried not to stare.

As you probably recall, the panelists on the show were only allowed to ask questions that could be answered with a yes, or no. So, there was nothing much we contestants could do to screw up unless we happened to bump into the wall of the set and knock it down or something.

That was another thing. That set looked so good on TV, but in reality, it would never have been allowed to be used in one of the plays at CHS because of its flimsiness. When I signed in, I tried not to press too hard on the blackboard.

So between answering “yes” and “no”......and trying not to bump into the wall of the 15 minutes of fame went off OK. The panel guessed us pretty quickly, but the host, John Daly turned the cards over anyway.....and awarded us the grand prize which was $50.

Backstage again, I noticed that the mystery woman in the hair curlers wasn’t there anymore.

But the hairdresser was. He was standing there staring at the TV monitor looking very pleased.

The mystery woman.....turned out to be the “Mystery Guest.”

And not a hair out of place.

Incidentally, I don't believe they ever did send me that 50 bucks.

Maybe they found out that my real name wasn't Lee Shephard.


Monday, January 24, 2011


Ellouise has a real sweet story on her blog about parting with a special "treasure" that has its roots way back to the CHS Junior Senior Prom of 1953.
Take a look.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


There was no place in Charlotte like it.

There’s no place In Washington like it either, anymore..

Duke Zeibert

But for 44 years, everyone who was anyone went there hoping to be recognized and greeted by a man once described as looking like Ben Franklin impersonating a bookie.

 Duke Zeibert was the owner of a legendary restaurant by the same name in downtown  Washington.  It was the home of the “power lunch” before that term was even coined.

 He filled his restaurant with Washington’s most powerful movers and shakers through his back slapping personality, phenomenal memory (he never forgot a name)  and shrewd flattery

 Every President from Harry Truman to Gerald Ford ate there as well as lawyers, senators, lobbyists, quarterbacks, coaches and columnists.  Later, The Redskins’ Super Bowl trophies were on display in the lobby of the restaurant.

 When I arrived in Washington and worked for WTOP-TV (CBS) in 1961, Duke's was located at Connecticut Ave and L street, only four blocks from the White House.

One truism in the TV business is that it was impossible to not make a lot of money in the 50’s and 60’s if you owned a TV station that was a CBS affiliate. (WBTV in Charlotte was a good example.)

The same was true, not in terms of money, but in recognizability, as far as local TV announcers/newscasters/weathermen were concerned. Washington had only four TV stations during those years. Charlotte had only two.(One, for most of the '50s)

This hit home with me (a nobody compared to the power elite in Washington)  when I walked into Duke Zeiberts for the first time and was greeted loudly by the Duke himself:  “Why It’s Lee Shephard! Good to see you Lee, come right this way.”

That was, as they say, “a pretty heady wine.”

Needless to say, Duke Zeiberts became my favorite restaurant.

Yeah, I knew it was meaningless flattery. I was never really fooled by it.

But damn, it felt good!

So good, in fact, I couldn’t resist wanting to let some of my old Charlotte buddies in on what my life “in the big time” was like.

Jimmy Weller

The opportunity came when one of my oldest friends and CHS classmates, Jimmy Weller,  arrived in town for a business meeting.

He was free one night for dinner, so guess where I took him!


The restaurant was pretty busy that night and as we went in I kept looking for Duke.....but didn’t see him anywhere!  It would be just my luck for him to be off on the very night that I was trying to impress Jimmy.

But as we got to the head of the line, I breathed a sigh of relief as I spotted Duke coming out of the kitchen and walking toward us with his hand raised high signaling Jimmy and me to follow him.....and in his customary loud voice,

“Come this good to see you....Tony!”

Jimmy was too kind to laugh.

And it was little consolation knowing that I had just joined a very small club of people whose names the Duke had failed to remember.

I never did have much success “Showing off."


Monday, January 17, 2011

One More...

I was pleased to receive a couple of very nice comments regarding the story I wrote about my wife's great, great grandfather, Sydney Davis.

Sydney Davis
That’s all the encouragement I needed to offer one more incident from those 2,000 handwritten pages handed down “ from attic to attic.”

It’s obvious that the Civil War dictated that he spend 5 years of his young life as a soldier, because he was anything but a “natural” warrior. But, as a writer, he was excellent.

His schooling was minimal; eight grades in a one room schoolhouse near Pittsburgh.

His letters to publishers......AND rejection slips....were found with his Civil War manuscript.

His notes reek with disappointment as his desire to be a published author was rejected time and time again.

Nevertheless, I digress.

In his manuscript he describes an incident about the time he was sent on a detail to find meat for some of his men:

By and by, I came upon a flock of sheep, to which I gave chase. I was rather fleet of foot and kept close to them and driving them into fence corners and over all sorts of obstructions.
Finally, one of them, made an effort to jump through a fence but became fastened, and I caught it.

Out came my knife and I felt for its throat; while thus engaged, however, I felt its heart beat wildly against my leg. “Poor old fellow,” thought I, “how hard it must be for even an animal to yield up its innocent life!”

I hesitated, I put down my hand and stroked its head; and then, returning my knife to my pocket, dismissed the sheep with my blessing.

Did the creature really understand me? It really seemed loath to go away, and instead of appearing frightened followed me all around that field.

Usually, I am not of a superstitious temperament, but there was something about that animal that made me uneasy. It was bound to be about my legs, rubbing its head against me whenever I permitted it to do so. 

At last curious thoughts came into my head. Those solitudes which surrounded me…the hour of the night…the groups of dead that I had seen on fields of battle now rising in imagination about me…that sheep and his actions…..were too much for me.

I turned my face towards camp, and traveled faster than usual until I saw the lights of its myriad fires.

The foraging expedition was a failure that night.

The last I saw of that sheep was after I had crossed the fence out of the field. I looked back after I had traveled about two rods, and there he was, mounted on his hind feet, and with his fore feet upon the upper rail, and his white head up in the air, and his eyes peering after me.

If I make it to Heaven some day, I’m going to look Sydney up and let him know that it took a while, but his manuscript was finally published!

On the CHS54 website!

Then I guess I’ll spend the rest of eternity trying to explain to him what a website is. -Ed

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Jim Regehr's Mom Passes

 By Jerry Gaudet

Sympathies to Jim Regehr, CHS'53, and wife, Sylvia (Arnold), CHS'54, in the passing of his mother.

They can be contacted at:
Mr. and Mrs. Jim Regehr
306 Greenbay Rd.
Mooresville, NC 28117


Virginia Alfeld Regehr 

MOORESVILLE -- Virginia Regehr, 95, of Mooresville, passed away on Wednesday, January 12, 2011. She was born on April 2, 1916 in St. Louis, MO. She moved to Oklahoma City in 1934 with her husband, Jake Regehr, where she lived until 1947. Jake, a claims adjuster with State Farm Mutual, was transferred to Charlotte in 1947. Virginia and Jake lived in Charlotte until 1962, raising two sons, James and Robert, who both graduated from Central High School. Jake and Virginia then moved to Gallup, NM, where they founded Regehr Adjustment Company. Upon retiring in 1975, they moved back to Charlotte to be with family and friends. Jake died in 1994.

Virginia is survived by her two sons, James Regehr of Mooresville, Robert Regehr of Albuequeque, NM; grandchildren, Virginia Barrett, Kelly Denhart, James Regehr, Jr. and Robert Regehr, Jr.; great-grandchildren, Kyle Pope, Kendall Pope, Laura Denhart, Haley Denhart, and Victoria Regehr; niece and special friend, Carol Murphy of St. Louis; also special friends, Nancy McCorkle and Ramalda Aman.

Those who knew Virginia knew that she was everyone's friend, asked nothing for herself, and loved to do all that she could for her family and those that she knew. She was a gift to all who were lucky enough to know her and be apart of her family.
The family will receive friends on Saturday, January 15 from 2:00-4:00 PM at Cavin-Cook Funeral Home.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Genesis Eldercare Residence Council Trust Fund, 550 Glenwood Drive, Mooresville, NC 28115.
Cavin-Cook Funeral Home, Mooresville, is serving the Regehr family. Condolences may be made to the family at

Published in Charlotte Observer on January 13, 2011

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Frank Harton Passes

 By Jerry Gaudet

Frank Harton
With sadness, we learn of the passing of former Central High School teacher Frank Harton, who taught Physics and Aeronautics. His daughter, Robin, is married to classmate Bob Ellis.

They can be contacted:
Robin and Bob Ellis
14019 Phillips Rd.
Matthews, NC 28105-3022


Frank Norville Harton

Mr. Harton, 85, of Charlotte died Monday, January 10, 2011 at Presbyterian Hospital in Charlotte, NC.

Frank was born in Toledo, OH February 16, 1925, son of the late Leslie and Lillie Clark Harton.Mr. Harton was a US Navy veteran of WWII and following his tour of duty, he attended University of Southern California and received his Master's Degree from UNC Chapel Hill.

Prior to his retirement, Frank taught physics in the Charlotte Mecklenburg School System for over 30 years. Also, he owned and operated Harton Oil Company. He was a Master Mason and Past Master of Temple Lodge and an active member of VFW Post 1160. He enjoyed reading books, watching movies, travel, especially his frequent trips to Las Vegas, time at the beach, family, and his dog Lucky. In December of 1953 and 1955, he and Nelle adopted their daughters, providing them a home full of love.

In addition to his parents, Mr. Harton was preceded in death by his wife of 53 years, Nelle Simmons Harton, and his brother, Robert Harton.

Survivors include his daughters, Susan Graham and husband, Dewey of Charlotte, NC and Robin Ellis and husband, Bob of Matthews, NC; granddaughters, Beverly Mackey, Alison Turnbaugh and husband, Nick and Kelli Hines and husband, Davis; great-grandchildren, David and Danielle Hines, Adison, Morgan and Tyler Turnbaugh and Noah Davis.

Funeral service for Mr. Harton will be held 2:00 PM Friday, January 14, 2011 in the Chapel of Hankins and Whittington Funeral Service with the family receiving friends one hour prior to the service at the funeral home. Interment will follow in Evergreen Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorials be made to VFW Post 1160, 1917 Central Ave, Charlotte, NC 28205.

Arrangements are in the care of Hankins & Whittington Funeral Service, 1111 East Blvd. Please share condolences online at

Published in Charlotte Observer on January 13, 2011

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Common Soldier

From attic to attic, for almost 150 years.

Finally, someone shook off the dust, took the twine from around the 2,000 handwritten pages, and started reading what the man who was considered the patriarch of the large Davis family had written.

My wife’s mother was named after him. But she hated the name because most people considered Sydney to be a man’s name; and she was right.

Sydney Davis
But if she had lived to read what Sidney Davis had written in that bundle of pages, she would have thought differently about sharing that name.

He served in the 6th U.S. Cavalry during the Civil War. He was in the battles of Manassas, Brandy Station, Antietam, and Gettysburg among others.

But what first got my attention was his initiation under fire:

Sidney Davis

“Our route lay over broken country, past earthworks, through woods, and across ravines, the command finally emerging upon the road running through the village of Falls Church…the
Leesburg Turnpike.

We had reached a point some 4 miles from Falls Church and near Tyson’s corners when a dip in the road permitted me to look over the heads of the men in front and far up the road. As I did so, my eyes caught sight of three men, dressed in grey, sitting on their horses about a half mile off, on the pike beyond us…”

They were Confederate snipers and came very close to causing those 2000 pages never to have been written; to say nothing of what it would have done to the present day Davis families.

It happened about 3 blocks from where my house is now!

And, of course, there’s always the possibility that it was one of MY ancestors who was shooting at him!

But, that’s probably stretching it a little too far
I grew up hearing a lot of stories about those damn Yankee soldiers and their horrible treatment of southerners, particularly in South Carolina where my people were from. Stealing food was one of the most common complaints. I’m sure there were many instances of that, and worse.. Reconstruction was an awful time in this country’s history.

Sidney Davis called himself “a common soldier.” But his words tell a different story.

As a cavalryman conducting mainly scouting and picket duty,  He was often hungry, sometimes not eating for days, riding through the southern countryside, but would  always courteously ask the residents of the farmhouses if they had any food that they would sell him, and he always paid them accordingly.

On several occasions, he discovered poor families who were in dire need of food themselves, and he would return and share with them what he was able to buy from nearby farms.

He was captured at the battle of Gettysburg and marched along with Lee’s retreating Army back to Virginia. The prisoners were loaded onto “cars” (the train) at Staunton, VA for their final destination: Castle Thunder at Belle Isle, right outside Richmond. (Castle Thunder was originally a tobacco warehouse that had been converted into a POW camp.)

”The ride from Gordonsville to Richmond was devoid of interest. There seemed to be an endless monotony of pine forests and lonely fields. Few words were spoken that night. The men were utterly exhausted from want of food and water and being crowded together so long without a chance to straighten their limbs in sleep.

I managed to secure a seat on the end of a car beside one of the guards…a tall, lean, lank man, 45 or 50 years of age, with long reddish hair and whiskers…and was as comfortable as circumstances would permit.

About midnight I felt the guard lean heavily upon me, and from his hand slipped the dreaded musket. As it fell I seized it, and thus prevented its loss. The man was sound asleep. My first impulse, now that I had an enemy in my power, was to push him off suddenly between the cars, and have him crushed to death; but it occurred to me that such an act would simply constitute a cowardly murder; then the vision of a family in tears rose vividly before me.

I awakened him, gave him his gun, and cautioned him playfully as to his duty as a soldier. He seemed very grateful, and said he was completely worn out from fatigue. For a few moments he sat up, and then settled back again sound asleep, and I once more caught the gun as it fell.

I allowed him to sleep until we reached Richmond, just before dawn, when I aroused him.”

Sidney Davis spent 3 months in the Confederate prison at Belle Isle, after which he was swapped back to the North. He was in the last group of prisoners to be swapped from Castle Thunder. The rest were sent to the notorious Andersonville prison.

Then, because of a government paperwork snafu, Davis was held prisoner by the Yankees for four more months.
Unknown Union Calvary Soldier at Antietam
This is but a small snippet from Davis' manuscript, which he completed in 1870 obviously hoping that it would be published.

To his disappointment there were no takers. My guess is that not enough years had passed by then for the public to be interested in reading about such recent events..  The only books that were in demand were by Generals, not privates.

Davis was a good man. A patriotic man. He never knew his mother, but discovered accidentally while in service that she had sold him when he was very young for $35... and he had grown up as an indentured servant.... to a kind man whom he had always thought of as only a friend of his father.

But, a “common” soldier?



Monday, January 10, 2011


From Jerry Gaudet:

Cancellation notice:

Because of ice and snow conditions,
Tuesday's (January 11) "LDL" is being CANCELLED.

We hope to see you on Tuesday, February 8.

Friday, January 07, 2011

A good way to begin

Start the New Year with a CHS'54 Lunch!

By Jerry Gaudet

But first, a report on our December "Special Project"...

Here's the message we received from Mary Burnett from the Avante Center where our Shirley spent her final days:

From: Mary Burnett
Subject: Re: CHS'54, Christmas gifts honoring Shirley

... "I didn't know what to expect when I suggested collecting Christmas gifts for Avante in Shirley's memory. The response was overwhelming. It just proves that our generation has a big collective heart, expecially if they attended Central High School... Heather, the activites director, was appreciative of our contributions to their Christmas. Maybe we could do something else for Avante later - or for someone or some group."

This month's "LDL" (Let's do lunch) will be held on
Tuesday, January 11, 2011, 11:30 AM
at "Jimmies" in Mint Hill.

Spread the word! Invite other classmates to come! Even better, bring someone with you! Be sure YOU, come!

This link may help you find your way:,+Mint+Hill,+NC&fb=1&cid=18354106434370977171&li=lmd&z=14&t=m

For answers to any conceivable lunch questions, please contact Mary (Sue Banks) Burnett, 

Plan to join us...there's plenty of room.'ll be glad you did!

Here are a couple of snapshots from last month:

Some of the gifts for Avante really are shown below

Ready for Christmas! L to R, Mamie Goodwin Baucom, Betty Rose Templeton Palomba, Sandra Lineberger Patterson & Jackie Hart Lookabill.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Peggy and Buck Anderson's Daughter

By Jerry Gaudet

It is with great sympathy that we have just learned of the passing of Peggy and Buck (Eldon) Anderson's daughter, Trena, on December 30. We understand Trena was diagnosed with lung cancer (though a non-smoker) in April. Peggy and Buck had also lost a son, Todd, many years ago when he was but 6 years old.

We have the following contact information:
Peggy and Buck Anderson
145 Sheehan Rd.
Fletcher, NC 28732


Trena Mae Anderson Barishnikov, 43

Published: Friday, December 31, 2010 at 8:58 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, December 31, 2010 at 8:58 a.m.

FLETCHER — Trena Mae Anderson Barishnikov, 43, of Fletcher went to be with the Lord on Thursday, Dec. 30, 2010, at the Elizabeth House in Flat Rock.

A lifelong resident of Fletcher, she was the daughter of Eldon and Peggy Ann Fletcher Anderson of Fletcher. She was preceded in death by her brother, Todd Anderson.

She was a 1986 graduate of West Henderson High School and earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing from Gardner-Webb University. She was employed by Four Seasons Compassion for Life as a RN case manager and, together with her husband Dema, was a co-founder and co-pastor of Destiny Christian Fellowship in Brevard. Passionate about mission work, she had served in many areas of the world, including Trinidad, Russia, Jamaica, Cuba and Ukraine. Known for her beautiful singing voice, she enjoyed singing for the Lord.

In addition to her parents, she is survived by her husband, Dema Barishnikov of Fletcher; her sister, Tonya Allison and husband, John, and her nephew, Andrew, all of Hendersonville; and her beloved mother-in-law, Olga Barishnikov of Fletcher.

A funeral will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at Fletcher First Baptist Church with the Rev. Michael Brown officiating. Burial will be private. The family will receive friends from 12:30 to 2 p.m. Saturday at the church. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Destiny Christian Fellowship in memory of Trena Barishnikov, c/o the Mission Fund, 240 Greenville Highway, Brevard, NC 28712.

"...and all the ships at sea"

Nothing pushes my memory buttons like Christmas music.

As soon as the days turn cool and I first hear the strains of White Christmas, Silent Night, or any of those old familiar tunes, I melt like butter in a hot frying pan and get lost in thoughts of those wonderful days growing up in Charlotte.

I suppose there have been a number of Christmas songs written since 1954, but I don't know of many, and frankly, none of them have the same effect on me as those we listened to in the 40's and 50's.

With one exception.

 In 1961 I was fortunate enough to get hired by one of the leading radio and TV stations in the country, WTOP radio and TV in Washington, DC.

Wash Post Ad

One of my first assignments was as a DJ on their late night radio show. Back then we "jocks" picked our own music and the only restriction was that we NOT play anything considered to be "Rock and Roll."  People have forgotten how controversial that music was back then.

Now, the hours (nor the audience) weren't great (11pm til 2am) but I was thrilled to have that show! For one thing, WTOP radio was as powerful as AM stations were allowed to be: 50,000 watts!
WTOP Radio Transmitter Building

WBT Towers

 WBT is also a 50 thousand watt "blowtorch" and it comes in like a local station from Florida to night.

So, I thought, my Mom and my Charlotte friends should have no trouble hearing me!

Unfortunately, that was not the case. All 50 thousand watt stations are not the same. The frequency (number on the dial) of the station also determines the direction of the signal. It didn't take too long for me to realize that WTOP's signal was very strong north of Washington (all the way to Maine) but almost non-existent south of DC.

Letters from my listeners came from places like Delaware, Connecticut, new Jersey,
Massachusetts AND a surprising number came from ships at sea! (Which gives new meaning to Walter Winchell's signature introduction, "Good Evening Mr. and Mrs. America and all the ships at sea, let's go to press.")

I also had a fairly large number of requests from listeners who asked to visit the studio in person while the show was in progress.

Johnny Surratt WGIV
Alan Newcomb WBT

That was kind of a pain in the rear, but most of the time I said yes. After all, as a young "radio wanna be" myself,  I had made similar requests of announcers and DJ's and had always been treated kindly. (Gil Stamper, Alan Newcomb, JB Clark, Johnny Surratt, and John Trimble...may they rest in peace.)
Gil Stamper WBT

I did that show for a number of years and I can still remember a few of those guests. One was a young boy from Mystic Seaport Connecticut who regularly drove down on weekends just to see the show. I later learned that he had indeed landed a job as news director at a radio station in Connecticut.

Then there was a Puerto Rican kid from New Jersey one time who brought a friend with him, who didn't give a darn about watching me play records, but was there just to help his buddy, who was blind.

My New Jersey "fan" told me how important radio was to him. He said he spent most of his time in his room listening to music on the radio and practicing the guitar.

In fact, he said he had just made a record.

Which he just happened to have with him....and would be honored if I would play it on the air.

Oh boy.

I knew it wasn't going to be the kind of music that I featured on my show, but I listened to it anyway.

I was right.

The name of the song was of all things, "High Heel Sneakers." And it was definitely rock and roll.

I suppose the right thing to do would be to explain the station's policy against playing rock and roll records and refuse to play it.

On the other hand, here was this nice, handicapped high school dropout who already had so many strikes against him and had made such an effort to visit me, that I just didn't have the heart to say no.

So, I played his record on the air. (Hoping all the time that my boss had already gone to sleep and only the ships at sea were still listening.)

Anyway, that made him very happy and he said he was grateful.

I believe him, because a few years after that, Jose started sending  me  (and everyone else)  a musical card .....wishing us a Merry Christmas.

Or as they say in Puerto Rico, FELIZ NAVIDAD


Jose Feliciano

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Ellouise and Jim: 55 and Counting

If you follow Ellouise's website (and if you haven't discovered it yet, you should!) you already know that she and Jim celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary on Dec. 30th!

Ellouise and Jim Schoettler 1955
That's amazing. I'm just guessing, but I think she just might be the winner of the "Who was the first to get married" of all our classmates award.

She writes about that glorious event on her website:

" This time 55 years ago Jim and I were boarding a train for Baltimore at Union Station (DC) to start our new life together.

We were married in NC on December 30th and spent a brief honeymoon in Washington, DC on our way from NC to Baltimore to be there when the Hopkins Medical School classes reconvened January 2.. 

I will turn 75 in July - we were 19 and 24 on our wedding day.
Look at that math.
Jim and I have been together more than half our lives.
Our 55 years together is the heart of my life and story.

Were we doing it over - Jim and I probably would not want to get married between Christmas and New Years - its not great timing. But at the time it was perfect timing. Jim was a third year medical student at Johns Hopkins Hospital. He had a semester break then. Time to ride the train to Charlotte, get married, and bring a wife back to an apartment they had picked out.

We moved into that apartment on North Washington Street, in the shadow of the hospital with two suitcases. It will take several dumpsters and a truck to move us out of our house - where we have lived for forty one years. Along with the accumulated
stuff we have collected a rich treasure trove of memories.

A long marriage is a sweet blessing. You share each others lives, histories and memories. We often complete each other's sentences - or will say first what the other was thinking.
That connection is hard-won.
Swords as well as roses litter the road.

I am grateful we never let go of each other"