Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Say What?

As a kid, I never had an “imaginary friend.”

But I’ve had a LOT of imaginary friendships …with real people.

People like Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, Lash Larue, Charlie Choo Choo Justice, etc. I’ve written often about the thrill I’ve gotten when, on occasion, I’ve been lucky enough to meet a few of these icons of mine in person.
Shelley Long

I've even had one imaginary friendship as an adult.  It happened in the late '70's and early 80's and involved a woman; one of the cutest ones I had ever seen on TV. I was smitten. She was in the series called CHEERS and her name was Shelley Long. I never met her, or even mentioned this relationship to anyone except my wife. And I didn't have to tell her. Wives have a way of knowing instinctively what their husbands
are thinking by picking up tiny signals….such as sudden heavy breathing …drooling...tongue hanging out..and stuff.

This beauty became known at our house as, “my girlfriend.” as in,
"Come on upstairs, Ed, your girlfriend is on TV."

And speaking of Television, the late 70's and early 80's  were years of transition for me. Local television stations began hiring “consultants” in their quest for even greater profits and, surprise, surprise, these consultants did what consultants do…changed things. The consultant at the last station I worked for recommended that the station fire everybody….and hire him to run the station. They did, much to their regret.

The joke going around town a couple of years later was that the reason it took so long for the FBI to finally find kidnap victim Patty Hearst was that she was hiding out as the 11 o’clock anchor person at my old TV station.

Meanwhile, I had taken a job with a film company called Byron Motion Pictures in Washington where I was hired to work with one other fellow in the sales and public relations department. There was a lot of travel involved, both by air and by car. The company provided a car, but unfortunately there was only ONE car and TWO of us.

Bruce Tyson
Bruce Tyson was my partner’s name and we worked out a plan whereby each had the company car every other week. Bruce was a very nice person about 10 years younger than me and very sharp. We were a good team.  Our offices at Byron were right next to each other. This was before the era of “cubicals,” nevertheless, the proximity of the offices became the only “issue” that ever came between us. And it was a  minor one.

He claimed that it was very distracting when I was on the phone with clients, because I talked too loud.

On the other hand, I tried to get him to talk louder and  more  assertively on the phone. The least it would do would be to save him an enormous amount of time.
Honest to goodness, he spoke so softly on the phone that it normally took at least the first two minutes of every one of his calls for him to repeat his name enough times for the person on the other end to finally understand who was calling. Often they would hang up after the first minute and a half...probably thinking it was just a crank call.

I also took the liberty of suggesting that if he followed my advice, his social life might pick up as well. He was good looking and single but I had the feeling that he might be coming up a bit short on the Washington dating stick. That may or may not have been the case, but I've never been one to just shut up and mind my own damn business; especially if it involves someone I like. I feel duty bound to offer my helpful advice.

What a shame it would be, I pondered, if Bruce wound up a lonely and bitter old man....just because all the women he was interested in...and vice versa...just thought they were getting crank calls.

(Stick with me dear reader, this boring story has a surprise ending. -Ed)

So for two years, Bruce and I  worked smoothly together during the week and on weekends we’d get together at least long enough to swap cars.

We both knew that the film business was rapidly coming to the end of the road so we were quietly making plans to move on. He jumped at an opportunity to enter the investment banking business on the West Coast, and a few months later I agreed to open a Washington office for a Video Disc Production company in Detroit.

The last time I saw Bruce, I let him know how much I had enjoyed working with him and how confident I was that he was going to be a big success.

But, I couldn’t resist one last “dig:”

"A good looking single guy like yourself is going to meet a lot of fine women out there on the West Coast..and when you do, try to arrange all your dates person.

Not on the telephone!"

I like to think he took my advice, because I read one day a year or so later that he had gotten married.

 I read about it in the Enquirer.


Newlyweds Bruce Tyson and Shelley Long


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Good Evening Mr. and Mrs. America...and all the Ships at Sea

(I know better than to think that just because we haven't heard from the CHS54 Energizer Bunny, Obie Oakley, for some time now that he has been resting, taking it easy, or simply goofing off.
Nope. Not at all  Here is the latest report from The Wound Up Cyclotron of the Highlands  -Ed) 

 Let's Go To Press

         By Obie Oakley

Gene Autry

Let's see, where to start. Perhaps I'll wade in on an item from CHS 54. I am sure you and I were there in the Armory Auditorium at the same time when Gene Autrey and Champion came to town. I remember vividly how the show ended. The lights dimmed and Champion with Gene astride struck a pose which resembled and Indian on a mountain top. All four of the horses feet (hooves?) were together and the neck bent toward the ground. I think it was on a Sunday afternoon. When you finish with the defragging machine, please let me borrow it.

The Highlands
Life continues to be good to the Oakley's. We are spending more and more time in Highlands. With my involvement in the Freedom Foundation, I still go back and forth to Charlotte about every ten days to keep connected there. It's still a 360 mile round trip but not all that bad and it gives me time to be alone and do some creative thinking.

We are going through one of those “end of the season” busy times with get togethers, socials, dinners… yah di yah di yah di. When my kids leave on Tuesday, we will have had fifteen out of eighteen evenings involving some sort of activity. Throw the diet out the window. Throw the alcohol moderation out the window. Weight is up ten pounds...too many martinis.

Have I ever mentioned our little stone barn that sits on the hill behind our house? Frances' grandmother had it built in the early forties and it actually housed a goat and pony at one time. Right after we were married we turned it into a place where we enjoy entertaining. We put pavers on the floor, raised the rafters and put in some windows and it is now a wonderful place to have up to 20 friends in for dinner. There is no electricity so all the light comes from candles.

So far this year we have had 4 "barn parties" and I kiddingly say an invitation there is the hottest ticket in town.

Several weeks ago friends approached us and asked if we would consider putting one of our barn dinners in an auction benefiting the local humane society. We had done something similar two years ago for the Child Development Center. We agreed and on Wednesday evening attended a “Bark, BBQ and Bluegrass” party which was huge. When we learned our “Barn Dinner” was being put into the live auction we were concerned it wouldn’t generate much excitement and go for a rather low bid. Well, by the time the bidding was over it was sold for $2,750! So we are doing dinner for 12 which will include OO’s special barbecued baby back ribs with all the fixin’s, cocktails on the croquet court and of course, evening ending fireworks. We will have a ball putting it on and it certainly is for a good cause, after all, that’s where we got Jenny a year ago! (Jenny is of course our K-9).

Now, segue into another auction item. Recently, a friend bid on and won an auction item which was dinner for ten at the Atlanta Aquarium. Frances and I were fortunate enough to be invited and it was a wonderful experience. Last Friday we drove down for the day and the evening was magical. All I could think of was, "Maw, if you could only see your grandson Osborne now"! I am attaching three photos which give you the essence of the evening. A little dark but I have not mastered the art of taking pictures with an iphone. The five course dinner was catered by Wolfgang Puck and it lived up to his reputation.   -OO

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Backward Glance

At a heavy, black, easily breakable 78 rpm record ...and more! Warren Sparrow asks the musical question, (that's a little DJ speak boys and girls) "Whatever happened to that dancer Vaughn Monrow sang about?".....and other "Brain Pops" from the 40's and 50's.

By Warren Sparrow


It appears that neither you nor I have taken Vaughn Monroe's advice. He told Ballerina to "dance... go on with your career," he said, "you can't afford a backward glance."

At her age I suppose that was true. For you and I in August 2012, things may be different. First of all, I cannot "whirl." Remember that line? "Whirl, Ballerina, whirl." I think Monroe said "a thousand people here have come to see the show, so round and round you go."

I never saw Vaughn Monroe in person. Neither did I see Lash LaRue or Gene Autry or Trigger. I got no closer to them than the radio. Radio, ah, radio. How I loved the radio. Every afternoon I listened to Jack Armstrong, the Green Hornet, Terry and the Pirates and Superman. I almost forgot the best of all: The Lone Ranger. "Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear when out of the past came the thundering hoof beats of the great horse Silver..."

 Virginia Payne
(Ma Perkins)
That was daytime radio. Every now and then I would sneak a listen to Oxydol's Own Ma Perkins. It was from the radio that I learned that Ivory Snow was Ninety-nine and Forty-four one hundred per cent pure. It was from naughty nighttime radio that I learned of White Rose Petroleum Jelly. According to the announcer, we all needed White Rose to "cut down on friction." He encouraged us to keep some White Rose in the glove compartment of our car because we would never know when we would need to "cut down on friction."

Then there was Wildroot Creme Oil, Charlie. It was going to keep our hair "in trim." If we used it, we would have a hard time "keeping all those gals away."

My all-time radio favorite was Tom Mix. Though I never followed his advice, even today I find myself singing his commercial:

Start the morning with hot Ralston and you surely will agree,
It's a warm-up, fill-up breakfast full of cowboy energy.
It's delicious and nutritious, made of golden western wheat.
So take a tip from Tom, go and tell your mom, hot Ralston can't be beat.

Alas, Monroe had a big influence on my life though I did not realize it at the time. He sang "Ghost Riders in the Sky." What a sermon he preaches in this song. He sings of "an old cowpoke," of "red-eyed cows" with horns black and shiny and hoofs made of steel. On top of that, their "brands were still on fire and their hot breath he could feel." Yikes! No wonder a "bolt of fear went through" the old cowpoke. Let me tell you, after I heard that song, I definitely "changed (my) ways." I did not want any part of chasing "the devil's herd across these endless skies."

Thanks for listening. I hope Vaughn Monroe will forgive me for taking "a backward glance."


(Thanks Warren, Vaughn Monroe was always one of my favorite singers.  Here he is, one more time:


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Ctl+ Alt+ Del

(Before I forget it, several of our thousands of viewers have asked me to post Elaine Gregg's (Bobby's widow) CORRECT email address again.  It's )

Ed             Chuck Langdon           Ellouise
I taped an interview with Ellouise for my show on Fairfax, VA cable television last week. As usual, she was terrific!

Although, we talked a lot about Charlotte and Central High School, I believe a general audience will be able to relate and enjoy the show as well.

I'll post it here as soon as it's edited...probably in about 3 weeks.


While walking along the highway,  what did the Mama ketchup bottle say to the slow walking baby ketchup bottle?


Derek Knell told that joke to me in “shop” one day when we were both in the 7th grade at Piedmont Junior High. School.

My mind is full of stuff like that. I think that’s why I spend so much of my time in these “happily ever after years,” walking into rooms and then wondering why I went in there in the first place.

I know what the problem is.

Simply put, my brain is FULL!

What I need is for someone to invent some kind of “Brainware” program that will defrag the human brain, much like you “defrag” a computer…to clean out all those old files that are taking up so much space.

Just think what we could do with a couple more GIGS of memory

Looking through some of the old files last night, I started marking some that I’m going to delete as soon as that defragger comes on the market.. For example in the folder labeled STADIUM there’s a file labeled RIDING A WILD ANIMAL IN THE RODEO.. That was when I was 7 years old and stood in line with a bunch of other little kids at a Rodeo performance and was placed on an old donkey for about a 10 second ride. It made me feel like Gene Autry for about a week.

And speaking of Gene, under ARMORY AUDITORIUM there’s a file about seeing Gene in person one time when he performed in Charlotte. He was about 45 minutes late and word was going around that the singing cowboy was drunk!

Of course, I didn’t believe a word of it. 

Gene Autry drunk?  Balderdash!

When the concert finally started, Gene was terrific!

It was a wonderful memory, but I can delete that file, since no one under 70 years old knows who Gene Autry was.

I have another file labeled Roy Rogers that I can get rid of too. Besides, I can still go visit Trigger anytime I want to; he's in a museum some place. Roy had him stuffed .

As far as I know, Red Ryder never visited Charlotte, but Little Beaver did. And I was there! I think the only time that comic strip appeared  in the Charlotte News was in the Saturday afternoon editions, but those comics were in COLOR, so it made it worth the wait. To this day, seeing a picture of a Red Ryder Comic book has the same soothing effect on me that it did in the 1940's when it pushed that button in my brain and  turned on that "Oh boy, it's only Saturday and I have one more free day before I go back to school..." feeling,

Little Beaver appeared once in person at the Visualite Theatre. And so did another hero of mine, “Lash Larue.” Lash didn’t use a gun, he used a "WHIP…and he could snap the guns from evil doers in the blink of an eye!

I was sitting in the second row of the theatre that day…which seemed like a brilliant move on my part, but turned out to be a big mistake. Being almost next to my hero Lash, I happened to notice that he had a fairly sizeable hole in his shirt. (Now whoever heard of a hero with a hole in his shirt? 

I can't explain my over-reaction to that minor flaw but in my young, almost empty brain back then, it seemed to me that there was just something "not right" about a hero having  a hole in his shirt.  That small flaw certainly took the shine off Lash Larue for me.  

Perhaps having too much "free space" in the brain is just as bad as having "not enough." 

Besides, that was the day I learned that the front row seats are NOT the place to be at a "kiddie show." That's where the empty candy boes and spit balls and ...yes chewed up bubble gum, etc that are thrown at the bad guys on the screen....finally land.

Thats right bubble gum.

Right on top of my head.

In my hair.

The only positive thing I can say about that is that it took my Mom's mind off
the idea that I deliberately looked for mud holes to be takeled in when playing sand lot (mud lot) football games.

I'm sure Lash woiuld have snapped that gum right out of the air before it landed on my head....if only he didn't have that damm hole in his shirt, but...

I'll be deleting more files while waiting for that defragger to be invented...

Then, there's one..called,  "The night a man fired off a flame thrower in Memorial Stadium."  

I was there. be continued.


( My "OUT OF THE PAST "  TV  shows can be seen on the Internet at )



Sunday, August 12, 2012

I Almost Forgot ...Again!

But never fear, you STILL have time to make it!
This Tuesday, the 14th, is the day we're again celebrating those exciting days of yesteryear (Thank you Lone Ranger) at Jimmies of Mint Hill with our August edition of  Let's Do Lunch, known affectionately as "LDL."

Now, It has come to our attention that some of you have a number of unexcused absences from our monthly get togethers. So behoove yourself to get off your... couch and spread some joy and fun with a bunch of good old boys and girls!

For directions go HERE.

And, be advised, We will be taking names!


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Bobby Gregg Passes

Bobby Gregg
Jerry Gaudet reports the sad news that our popular classmate Bobby Gregg has passed after a very long decline due to Alzheimer's.

Condolences may be sent to his widow
Mrs. Elaine Gregg
260 Yoakum Pkwy., Apt 2413
Alexandria, VA 22304


From The Heart

( In case you haven't visited Ellouise's website recently, I'm re-printing this wonderful, sad but inspiring story that you very well may want to print out and put in a special place...for future reference.)

A New Day

By Ellouise Schoettler

When, during the reception at the Fort Myers Officer's Club last week, I looked across the room to where our grandson was sitting I felt tears in my eyes and a quick catch in my throat. I recognized a bit of Jim.

Our grandson Dan wore Jim's dancing shoes - which I had given to him along with Jim's tux - to the burial ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery. I loved the sweetness of that and felt how fitting it was that Jim could walk along with us on that day.

So far I have been trodding along the path women have walked for generations. I move through what I figure are the opening stages of widowhood. First the shock of the loss, which even though Jim's death was not a surprise, is overwhelming. You barely catch your breath next day when you are suddenly recast as Perle Mesta. There are a million details to take care of in planning the events surrounding someone's death. From meeting with the funeral home - (a low on my scale) - to informing everyone, planning the services, swallowing hard a million times a day, paperwork, paperwork, paperwork and so on and so on. Where, when and who will do what. It takes a lot of time and energy. Bottom line I felt grateful it kept me so very busy.

In my case I had to do it twice. Once two weeks after Jim's death and the other five months later when he was scheduled for an Arlington military burial. Arlington was absolutely worth the wait. Actually I had no choice. Our daughter was buried there in 1964 and she had been holding the spot for 47 years.

It was good to have his urn at home with me all that time. The first Mass and Reception was public and we were grateful that many friends came to console us and to celebrate Jim. The second Mass and reception I chose to have as a private gathering. The guest list included a few out of town family and people who knew us well - long-time and close friends. The people who came were the same ones who had walked with us the last weeks of Jim's life and that felt just right.

The down side of the long wait is that the final good-bye was a difficult wrench. Leaving our house for the last time was tough. Later the beautiful solemnity and grace of the Mass and the Honors Ceremony softened the rip and comforted us.

Why am I writing about this? Just to share the experience in case it can help anyone else. To lay out the choices. Short and sweet or drawn out and sharp. At the close of the day - its the same. Good-bye. Nothing changes that.

But I am a strong believer that making the ceremony - not matter what kind - personal to you is not just a gift to your loved one it is important for healing.

What helped me and my family was that, at every turn, we made it our own. I advise folks to do that - although taking the time to make choices can be draining and tiring - in the end - it feels personal and right. I thought of this as my last gift to Jim and wanted it to feel as personal for me, him and the family as possible. From the music to the Pall covering his urn which I made, to the beautiful box for his urn which was made by master craftsman, Jack Abbott. Before Jim left our house each one of our immediate family tucked an envelope with a private personal message into the box with his urn and I wrapped the urn in one of my fabric at works - a golden yellow piece he and I had taken to an exhibit in Italy on a wonderful trip in 2001.

No matter what you do - the day after is the same. Quiet and achingly alone.

August 1 was Jim's burial.

August 2 was the first day of my life without his presence - in some way.

Now I have to figure that out. Jim and I were together 56 and a half years. I have no concept of what a life without him in it will be.

But the truth is - I have no choice but to work it out. Somehow.

A dear friend, once a widow herself, sent me this poem which she said was a comfort to her.

Perhaps someone will read it who also will find it comforting.

As for me -

I have deeply appreciated all the comfort and support people have sent first to Jim and me for that long time and then to me. Thank you. Your words have meant more than I can say and have been a great comfort.

The Thing Is
to love life, to love it even
when you have no stomach for it
and everything you've held dear
crumbles like burnt paper in your hands
your throat filled with the silt of it.
When grief sits with you, its tropical heat
thickening the air, heavy as water
more fit for gills than lungs;
when grief weights you like your own flesh
only more of it, an obesity of grief,
you think, How can a body withstand this?
Then you hold life like a face
between your palms, a plain face,
no charming smile, no violet eyes,
and you say, yes, I will take you
I will love you, again.

You have all be very kind and understanding to listen to my writing about our life.
I will keep writing - because I like to -
but I have no idea how that will go - -
More will be revealed.


Friday, August 10, 2012


The hot summer months are traditionally known as “slow news” days in the journalism business. But newspaper writers are paid to write so that partially explains how so many “non news” and downright lies and hoaxes have crept into our history.

Take for example H.L. Menken’s “A Neglected Anniversary.” It was published in the New York Evening Mail in 1917. He claimed that the bathtub had been introduced into the United States in 1842, the first ones having been made of mahogany lined with lead.
He wrote that the bathtub was greatly opposed by most Americans until President Millard Fillmore had one installed in the White House in 1850, making it more broadly acceptable. The article was entirely false as Menken himself later admitted:

“The success of this idle hoax, done in time of war, when more serious writing was impossible, vastly astonished me. It was taken gravely by a great many other newspapers, and presently made its way into medical literature and into standard reference books. It had, of course, no truth in it whatsoever, and I more than once confessed publicly that it was only a jocosity ... Scarcely a month goes by that I do not find the substance of it reprinted, not as foolishness but as fact, and not only in newspapers but in official documents and other works of the highest pretensions.”

As recently as 2008 a Kia TV ad referenced the story with no mention of its fictional nature.

I sincerely believe that in this era of “over educated sophomores for life” population there has never been a better time for hoaxes. So now is our chance for CHS54 to make the history books.

Blotchzilla creeping over the horizon of Mars (top middle)
The mars robot successfully landed only days ago and already there’s talk of a mystery “blotch” just above the skyline of the first image of the red planet that appeared only on the first picture sent back to earth from “Curiosity.”

It had disappeared from all other pictures subsequently received on earth.

(cue Twilight theme)

Close up of Blotchzilla

It is my pleasure as humble webmaster of CHS54.NET to announce that using a propriatary technology
known as "Wildcat Imaging" we have captured  the first high resolution picture of  Blotchzilla.

"Face" on Mars

Blotchzilla  now joins the mysterious "Face" on Mars captured by the ROVER Robot in the annals of Martian literature.

Now, on to the next mystery:

Some of us may be in this picture  from the early '50's but

I don't know, do you?