Monday, July 29, 2013

Why Wait

H.L. Mencken
H.L.Mencken, "the Sage of Baltimore" told his friends that he wanted his epitaph to read:

"If, after I depart this vale, you ever remember me and have thought to please my ghost, forgive some sinner and wink your eye at some homely girl."

Author Harry Golden and others took great umbrage at that and among other things, they pointed out that Mencken was an unrepentant "woman hater" and who in the world did he think he was judging which ones were homely, etc.

Well, I don't want to get into all that, but as far as I'm concerned, it was
just his way of saying "be nice to someone, for once, who wasn't all that used to people being nice to."
Perhaps I'm naive and a“wink” in Mencken's time conveyed a more sinister message than it does today. Maybe smile would be a better word.

Anyway, that's how I've always thought of it.

And I do it a lot.

When I spot young children and their parents, I not only smile at them, but I flat out tell their parents (in a loud voice the kids are sure to hear) how pretty and obviously intellegent their children are and offer my congratulations.

Bystanders who witness this bit of harmless flattery either don't pay any attention or they just think I'm another slightly “off his rocker” old man making a fuss over nothing.

So be it.

But years ago I reported on a very sad story with a tragic ending, the details of which I've mostly forgotten, but I'll always remember something the broken girl said about her life. Among other things, she said, “ one ever told me that I was pretty.” 

Those words broke my heart.

I have no idea how much that contributed to her tragedy, but it certainly changed my life; at least out in public where I often encounter families with little children. Although others in the stores or wherever I am at the time assume I'm probably slightly bonkers, I never hesitate to go out of my way to loudly praise the beauty and manners of the little ones (unless of course they're in the process of acting like savages.)

These short bursts of unexpected praise from a complete stranger has got to be flattering, even if no one within earshot of my voice believes a word of what that wacky old man (me) is saying.

Except the little children and their parents.


Sunday, July 28, 2013

Today's Sermon

Picture of Earth taken from Planet Saturn by Cassini

Milky Way

A portion of the Universe


Just Yesterday

Getting old is bad enough...
Doris Day when we were young
Doris recently

Mick Jagger
Sally Struthers
Aretha Franklin
Briget Bardot
Jack Nicholson

Marlon Brando

Clint Eastwood

Burt Reynolds (Can you say Plastic surgery?)

Joan Collins (I think she and Burt got a twofer price)

Arnold Swartznegger

But some people can always make it worse.....

and the WINNER is........


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

King George

His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge.
Well, that rascal whose butt we had to kick in 1776 was not my first choice of Kings to name this new heir to the British throne after.

However, I was really worried that the royal couple might in the name of political correctness and "reaching across the isle" bestow upon him the current most popular new baby boy's name in England:

Mohammad.     -Ed

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

It Dont Be Nabisco

Doctor Rachel Jeantel
It's obvious that email almost entirely eliminated the art of "letter writing."  (Plus the fact that at least 35 % of Americans can't read above a 5th grade level.)

In the words of one of the leading cultural icons of this generation, Travon Martin's girlfriend,
Rachel Jeantel"That be Old Stuff.

In spite of the fact that I seldom see drivers without cell phones in their ears, I think electronic mail has also cut down on phone calls.  At least it has at my house.

In fact, unless a relative, or someone I really like is on the other end, I HATE PHONE CALLS!

What a time waster.  "How are you? How's your ........whatever, etc."

Whereas an email is so much more efficient!  "Howdy, meet me tomorrow. Noon. McDonalds.

That's it.

It's email for me.

On the subject of phone calls, I got one from a woman who's voice I didn't recognize,

"Favorite Grandaughter"
"Grandaddy, this is your favorite grand daughter!"

Now that's the kind of call that would make almost any grandaddy forget about how wonderful and efficient email is.

She went on to tell me how much she missed me and......well, she admitted she had done something
stupid, but knew that I would understand.

Well, I was all ears (as Ross Perot once said).

I won't bore you with all the details....but the bottom line was that .....and she promised that "she would pay me back as soon as..."

And after all, what loving grandaddy could refuse to come to the aid of a damsel in distress. Especially if it was your favorite Granddaughter?   Plus, it was only $500.

The fact that I didn't send her the money was not because I was ungrandaddyly mean;

"Creepy Ass Cracka"
It was because I don't have a grand daughter.

Again, as that wise icon of modern American culture,

Rachel Jeantel might advise, "You old school Creepy Ass Crackas out there better be careful."


Sunday, July 21, 2013

Where is it now that we need it?

(Feeling a little less than "bright eyed and bushy tailed" the other day, I got to thinking about a tonic that many of the adults used to swear by back when we were growing up and wondered if some might still be around. So I did a little research that I thought I'd pass along.   -Ed)

It's not what our Grandmothers told us we needed, like Milk of Magnesia or Cod Liver Oil.
It's what they took for themselves, when "feeling poorly " or "out of sorts."  In fact, the directions on the bottle recommended that it be taken daily...four or five times.

 It was loaded with those recently popularized (post WW2) thingies called vitamins.
Heck, after a couple of doses of  what came to be called the "apotheosis of  nostrums".....the heartbreak of psoriasis was nothing more than a walk in the park.

Dudley LeBlanc
It all began in 1943 when a man named Dudley LeBlanc (who later became a Louisiana State Senator) hobbled into a doctor's office for help with what started as a sore toe and had rapidly progressed to what LeBlanc considered a life threatening situation. Three other doctors had treated him without success. The fourth was confident he could cure him. Sure enough after only a few treatments, his condition improved dramatically.

Being curious, LaBlanc finally asked the Doctor what the medicine was that he was being treated with. The Doc refused to reveal his secret, so on his next visit, Dudley slipped a bottle into his pocket and within a week, with the help of a chemist friend, he had unlocked the secret of the magic elixir.

He knew stealing was wrong, but this was different. This was for the benefit of mankind...not to mention Womankind.

Surely, you haven't forgotten so soon. It was all over the radio and (later TV). There was even a popular song about it. There were traveling shows featuring Bob Hope, Lucille Ball, Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland and Hank Williams.

This was all happening in the late forties and early 50's when everything, including medical advances were blossoming in America. It seemed like a miracle a day.

Uncle Dud's elixir claimed to cure, high blood pressure, ulcers, strokes, asthma, arthritis, diabetes, pneumonia, anemia, cancer, epilepsy, gall stones, heart trouble, and hay fever. And that was only the beginning.

Enough already.

By now you realize this miraculous cure of the late 1940's and '50's was Hadacol. 

And its secret ingredient was alcohol.   12 per cent exactly. Of course it made its customers feel better...for a while. But it didn't cure any diseases that the FDA knew of.  So its demise was simply a matter of time.

Meanwhile, Carrie Nation was turning over in her grave.

LeBlanc was the P.T. Barnum of patent medicine. He had earlier success with two other "medicines" he had brought to market, Dixie Dew Cough Syrup and Happy Day Headache Powders, but neither had even come close to the  success that  Hadacol had enjoyed.  In fact, the name Hadacol was a contraction of Happy Day Company plus the "L" for LeBlanc's own initial.  However, Uncle Dud was fond of telling people that "I hadda call it somethin."

In a fit of honesty, LeBlanc admitted on Groucho Marx's TV show, when asked what Hadacol was
good for answered,

 "It was good for five-and-a-half million for me last year."

Ah, the good old days!


Thursday, July 18, 2013


Whenever anyone ventures into the "Batcave" here at the Shephard/Myers complex where I write and record (I have the perfect Old Man job...all I have to do is slide down the Bat Pole every morning, and, voila, I'm at work!)...I feel that I have to apologize for the absolute mess my desk is in.

I always explain that a "neat desk is a sign of insanity."

I don't know if I anyone really believes that, but these pictures I received in an email this morning made me think that there may be something to that.

William F. Buckley's desk  
Nat Hentoff's desk

Albert Einstein's desk

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Closing the Loop

 As I write this, it's 95 degrees outside my house in Falls Church, Virginia.  So, perhaps a Christmas story is in order.

Makes sense to me.

Actually I've told this story before, perhaps you remember. It's the one about my father and the kids who used to live and play around WGIV in the early 50's.

But stay tuned. There's a new development.

Little Bill

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

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

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

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

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

My Dad called him “Little Bill.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I was on the phone almost constantly that morning.

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

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

It was Little Bill.

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

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

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


I Found Little Bill

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Tuesday, July 16, 2013


Rave Reviews

That's the word from the critics who reviewed Ellouise's latest performance at the CAPITAL FRINGE in Washington.

For example:

"Schoettler's stories ... speak to the trans formative power of rituals in any person's life."   -MD Theater Guide - Reviewer Elliot Lanes

 "She closes a show ostensibly about death and loss on a note of life and hope."
-Metro Theater Arts - reviewer Leslie Weisman

 "This is one show that must be on your must see list."
"It's poignant and well, pretty darn perfect."
"Schoettler's story transcends her own familial lines."
 -dc Broadway World - reviewer Jennifer Perry 


I first heard that expression sitting in the terminal at O'hare airport in Chicago waiting for the weather to improve in the early 80's. I heard it many times after that at airport waiting rooms in New York, Boston, Nashville, Atlanta, Dallas, you name it.

When everything works right and the Gods of flight are with you, Flying is the way to go.

But, when things go wrong, look out! 

Sleeping in airport lounges is not fun. 

I'm sure that's what helped Warren and Becky decide to drive to Kansas City for their grand daughter Lydia's wedding a few weeks ago.

They broke the thousand mile trip up into 3 segments, stopping off at  Hampton Inns in Morehead, KY, and Mt. Vernon, IL, before making the last leg to Olathe, KS. 

Melanie Peele, bride's sister and maid of honor; Lydia Frances Peele, Warren, Charlotte Peele, bride's sister and bridesmaid; Lydia Rebecca, and Becky, proud grandmother. 
Photo taken at the rehearsal dinner(June 28) in Kansas City, MO

Warren told me that the long drive was downright therapeutic!

I know exactly what he means. I've always loved to drive. I was never really comfortable flying.
However, whenever I had to fly, I always sat in my favorite seat...all the way in the back of the plane.
I remember one flight that had only a few passengers on board, and I still settled in "my seat."
When the stewardess finally brought the snack tray back to where I was, she said, "I see you're a member of the club.

"The club," I asked. "What club is that?"

"The Planes Don't back into Mountains Club," she replied.