Friday, February 28, 2014

I'll never forget old what's his name.

 Almost everything has a downside. Take, for example, our 60th reunion scheduled for May 9th.


A downside to getting together with our old friends from high school and reliving those days when we were all young and beautiful...and smart as Hell?


Remembering the names of all those unforgettable friends !

54 Class Officers Max Evans on right
Say for example, you are talking to one of your best and most memorable friends you haven't seen in 60 years.....and as the two of you start laughing about some obscure happening in history class in suddenly realize that you can't think of his name!

I know what I'm talking about. The last time we had a reunion, Max Evans and I were in the middle of some such deep remembrance and I interrupted the conversation to introduce Max to my wife Linda.

Max Robinson
It dawned on me days later that I had introduced him as "Max Robinson."

(Max Robinson was the first black man to anchor an evening TV network news program. A fellow I
had worked with in the early 60's.)

Max Evans was not only a Vice President of the Class and a star on the Football team...and I botched his name!  He was too nice to correct me.

I can't wait to see him in a couple of months and apologize.

Who knows what other names I mangled or forgot completely.

(Answer: All those whose names I screwed up.)


Here's a trick that might work:

Whenever you walk up to one of our long ago classmates, pronounce YOUR name first.

"Hi... Ed Myers..."

and the response will usually be, "Hi... Max are you, Ed....."

That way he is now certain of YOUR name......and YOU know HIS name......

Great solution, right?

Well, most of the time.  But one time when I did that, the conversation went like this:

Me: "Hi... Ed Myers.......

Response:   "That's not my've confused me with someone else..."

I never did learn his name. And he never learned mine.

Like I said, almost everything has a downside.


Monday, February 24, 2014

Mr. Gil Ballance Passes

Gil Ballance
Our beloved English and Radio Teacher Mr. Gil Ballance passed away this morning. He was 95 years old.

His funeral  will be at Pritchard Memorial Baptist Church in Charlotte on Friday February 28th at 11am.
Visitation will be Thursday the 27th from 2 til 4pm  and again from 6 to 8pm at Forest Lawn West Funeral Home on Freedom Drive.
His daughter Bobbi called me with this sad information.

I spoke with Mr. Ballance last week and he sounded much stronger and in better spirits than he had only a few days earlier.
I attribute his better spirits to the fact that so many of you called to wish him well and the fact that I invited him to our 60th reunion...and was planning to pick him up and take him to the event.

He had mentioned that to his daughter Bobbie...and she said that he would still be there, in spirit.

I interviewed Mr. Ballance about a year ago regarding his book, Leah's Journey Home.
I have posted a short excerpt from that interview on YOU TUBE.  Watch it here.

Rest in Peace Mr. Ballance.



Friday, February 21, 2014

On the Road one day in 1955

Little did I realize that my very first day at the University of North Carolina would be the most memorable of the entire four years I spent there. The friend who rode up with me to Chapel Hill that morning in April of 1955 insisted that I meet, and have coffee with him and a buddy he had arranged to meet at a place called Danziegers Old World Restaurant.

His friend turned out not to be a typical college student and the coffee was different from any I had ever seen; there was a blob of whipped cream floating on top. I later learned it was called
Viennese Coffee.

The friend was Charles Kuralt.

I knew who he was, of course, because of his summer job as a fill in announcer on WBT. (What an accomplishment that was for a teenager. Many older and more experienced men would have given almost anything to have been hired by that powerhouse of a radio station, including David Brinkley (who was working for the Associated Press in Charlotte at that time and was turned down by WBT "because he didn't have a radio voice.")

A picture of Kuralt at the Daily Tar Heel desk that I took in April of 1955
At the time we met, Kuralt was editor of THE DAILY TAR HEEL the student newspaper at Carolina,
and said "yes" when I asked if he would consider me for a reporter's job on the paper.  It was a non-paying job (only the Editor was a paid position) and as I found out later he had a heck of a time getting people to work as reporters.  During the time I worked there, I don't believe we ever had more than 3 or 4 staff members.

 The only job I know of that  Kuralt wanted, and didn't get, was President of the 1951
Student Council at Central High School.  Slug Claiborne won that election.

Looking through my sister Kathryn's 1951 Snips and Cuts it appears to me that as talented as Kuralt was, he apparently wasn't involved in very many high school activities that year.  He wasn't on the Rambler staff or the yearbook staff nor did he make the honor society.

Sory Guthery 1951
Perhaps the reason can be found in a mention he got in the "Class Prophecy" written that year by Jim Nance:

Charlie's one high school job that I found for his senior year was "Class Historian"

 The next time he ran for election for something was his junior year at the University of North Carolina. In his autobiography, A LIFE ON THE ROAD he writes,

 "I had been studying history and working at The Daily Tarheel, the student newspaper. I printed up some posters and ran for editor on a pro integration platform (the state's schools were still segregated then, including the University.) On election day, I beat the sports editor for the job by a handful of votes.

The first thing I did was call my old high school girlfriend, Sory Guthery on the telephone. She was in school at Greensboro, down the road.

"I won?" I said.
"Great," she said.
"The job pays thirty dollars a week," I said.
"So that's enough to live on.  Let's get married!"

We were married in Charlotte in August in a big church wedding. She was twenty, and I was almost twenty myself.

We moved into a cabin, a former tenant House, beside a cornfield a few miles out of Chapel Hill on the road to Raleigh.  Our senior year I remember as pure joy. I wrote my editorials in the afternoons and at night Sory stood over the composing stone with me to watch the editorial page take shape, always with two or three sleepy members of the newspaper staff.."

I'm proud to say that on many occasions I was one of those sleepy staff members.

"The newspaper took up so much of my time, I started dropping courses. By the time the Spring quarter arrived, I had dropped them all. I was editor of the student newspaper... but nobody in the administration building seemed to notice...I was no longer a student.  Graduation proceeded without me. I didn't care. I had found my career."

I took over the lease of that rustic cabin after the Kuralts left and returned to Charlotte.  He continued his journalism with the Charlotte News, at $50 a week. She went to work for a bank for $51 a week.

 Alfred Lord Tennyson said, "I am a part of all that I have met.

I'm not sure exactly what Tennyson meant by that, but unfortunately none of  Kuralt's massive talent magically rubbed off on me; but I sure as Hell enjoyed knowing ...perhaps the greatest storyteller Television ever had... and feel richer because of it.

And shamelessly brag about it every chance I get.

Pardon me while I have a cup of coffee...with whipped cream on top.


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Rip Van Ed

As I mentioned last week, Verizon updated my old telephone service and Internet service and "threw in" Cable TV for free.

Well, I figured that Cable had finally come down to "my price," so I said, what the heck...go ahead and put it in.

The joke was on Verizon. They just assumed that at some point over the past 30 or 40 years that the basic cable lines had been installed in my house and all their installer would have to do was "turn" their box on. Nope, they had to bore holes in the walls and actually start from scratch.

So far, we've watched it twice. I watched 6 minutes of the Super Bowl but had to turn it off after a
couple of fast paced commercials  and local station promos, all at 500% Visual BAM, BAM, BAM speed...made me so dizzy I had to lie down.

Linda watched one of those British shows on PBS for about an hour, well, actually, the TV was ON that channel for an hour, but I noticed that she had fallen asleep at some point, so I really don't know how long she actually watched.

But, I'm not giving up. I'm confident that as I scroll through those one thousand (Heck, maybe it's 2,000 channels) I'm eventually going to find some shows that I like.

But in my heart, I know that TV can be addictive and that is NOT what low information Americans who are in charge of electing our "leaders" need.

And I haven't even mentioned the 68% of Americans who are addicted to Video Games.

  • The average game player is 35 years old and has been playing games for 12 years.
  • The average age of the most frequent game purchaser is 39 years old.
  • Forty percent of all game players are women. In fact, women over the age of 18 represent a significantly greater portion of the game-playing population (34 percent) than boys age 17 or younger (18 percent).
  • In 2009, 25 percent of Americans over the age of 50 play video games, an increase from nine percent in 1999

God Bless America.



Saturday, February 15, 2014


This ain't the kind of article I usually post, but it's something you might need to know. -Ed

A ‘Very Cruel’ Medicare Rule is Costing Seniors Dearly

from The Plain Dealer – by Stephen Koff -

WASHINGTON, DC – It’s bad enough to be hospitalized. But thousand of seniors across the country are finding their medical problems compounded with financial frustration and large bills because of a Medicare technicality that can cost them dearly.

The problem starts when their doctors want them to go to a skilled nursing facility as an interim, rehabilitative step between the hospital and home. That’s fairly typical when a patient needs to regain strength but no longer requires hospitalization.
But if the hospital has not classified the patient properly for Medicare billing purposes, then Medicare, the government health insurer for seniors, refuses to pay the skilled-nursing bill. Even a short stay costs the patient thousands of dollars.

For Marilyn “Micki” Gilbert, 83, an assisted-living resident at Menorah Park in Beachwood, the bills came to $17,000 after more than four weeks of skilled nursing care. Following a hospital stay of several nights last August after she fell and was hospitalized “with a head broken open and sutures,” as she put it, she expected Medicare to cover her rehabilitative care.
But Medicare administrators refused. The problem was that when the hospital sent the bill to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, for payment, it said that Gilbert was in the hospital for “observation” rather than admitted in the “inpatient” category.

That difference, which is many cases is a technicality, means the difference of thousands of dollars for every patient affected.
“And believe me, at 83, where am I going to come up with that?” Gilbert asked. “I can’t tell you how bad it was. I have spoken with other people who have had this done. When you’re 83, you don’t have that kind of money.”

The problem is a result of Medicare rules that only authorize follow-up, skilled nursing care after a patient has had inpatient hospital care for at least three consecutive days. Even splitting that classification – say, as one day for observation and two for inpatient care – will not satisfy the three-day inpatient requirement, regardless of the fact that the patient stayed and was treated in a hospital the whole time.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Jeanne Robertson

Jeanne Robertson
"Hats off" to Bob Ellis, who sent me an internet link to a very funny performance by Southern story storyteller Jeanne Robertson.

You probably know who she is but for someone like me who has lived a Televisionless existence for many years, she's brand new to me. I understand that she was "Miss North Carolina" in the 60's and has been a nationally famous performer for quite some time.

  Ellouise tells me that she was once in Reverend Don Nance's congregation. At any rate, if you haven't seen this video clip, you'll get as big kick and probably become a big fan, like me, of Jeane Robertson. ("Left Brain" is her husband.)

Don't go Rafting without a Baptist in the boat

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A Really Big Sheww

They don't know the difference between the Civil War and World War 2 or who Abraham Lincoln was and think the United States of America is the source of all evil in the world.

 I"m convinced that the only thing most of the people in this country know about American history is that the Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan show in February of 1964.

Unfortunately there's nothing I can do about the fact that these are the same people who are going to elect our next President.

 So, I'm going to talk about Ed Sullivan.

He was a nice man, and a good show business columnist. Newspaper show business and Broadway columnist.  Television executives, not known for their intellectual brilliance figured that his stature and success in one field would naturally crossover smoothly to the relatively new field of television.

Sometimes that worked. But in Ed Sullivan's case, it didn't.

But yet it did.  Everyone who ever saw him agreed that he was the most awkward misfit for a TV host that anyone had ever seen.

He couldn't even pronounce the name of the show.
Ed Sullivan and the Beatles

We all remember his, "Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to our really big sheeeew."

However he hosted the most successful and longest running variety show in Television history!

The choice of Ed Sullivan as master of ceremonies seems ill-advised,” wrote Jack Gould of The New York Times in the summer of 1948, after the second broadcast of the series. John Crosby of the New York Herald Tribune an article titled  “Why? Why? Why?” wrote, “One of the small but vexing questions confronting anyone in this area with a television set is ‘Why is Ed Sullivan on it every Sunday night?’ ”

An article in Vanity Magazine 1992 claims that because of his strange movements and expressions the mistaken belief  got around that he had a metal plate in his head.
 “I received hundreds of letters congratulating me on my courage in continuing despite such a handicap,” Sullivan recalled. Others applauded his triumph over Bell’s palsy.

Ed Sullivan
The magazine story continued, " Maladroit and malaprop, his faux pas were legion. They became American family jokes, and were the kind of embarrassing slip your pop might make at the Kiwanis club. Irving Berlin, who would outlive Sullivan, was referred to as “the late Irving Berlin”; clarinetist Benny Goodman was a “trumpeter.” Roberta Sherwood was Roberta Peters, Barbra Streisand became Barbra Streisland . A group of Samoans were presented as “Samoans from Samoa,” while a group of native New Zealanders became “the fierce Maori tribe from New England.” Robert Merrill was greeted with the words “I’d like to prevent Robert Merrill.” Dolores Gray was welcomed as “one of the fine singing stars of Broadway now starving at the Alvin Theatre.”

Comedian Jack Carter claims that Sullivan once said,  “Let’s hear it for the Lord’s Prayer,” upon forgetting the name of singer Sergio Franchi on the 1965 Christmas show.

Yet Americans watched him by the millions every Sunday night.  Even the smooth, talented and brilliant Steve Allen couldn't make a dent in Sullivan's ratings.

Strangely enough, the word in TV circles was that off camera, Sullivan was as smooth as silk.  But when those studio lights went on.....he became the bumbling host that he was.

Phil Rizuto
The trend in radio and television to hire "non radio and TV trained people" to perform as hosts and
sportscasters began seriously in the early 60's with the hiring of Phil Rizuto of the NY Yankees.

Eric Severied referred to this as "Creeping Phil Rizutoism."

In Rizuto's case, it was a brilliant move, as he became one of the most successful and beloved sportscasters of all time.

The "radio and TV school graduates" didn't like the trend at all, but the genie was out of the bottle, and most everyone now realizes how logical that decision was.

But I digress.

One spring afternoon in 1967 as I was working on my next day's TV interview show, I learned that Ed Sullivan was in the building (WTOP-TV in Washington) for some kind of contract negotiations or something and I was able to buttonhole him in the hall between meetings and got him to agree to a quick interview with me before he  left to return to New York.

Back in those days, a TV interview couldn't be done at the drop of a hat. The studio had to be lit, the cameras warmed up, a director and crew had to be found, etc, etc.....
Sullivan with Topo Gigio
but luckily, the crew was just finishing up a previously scheduled interview, so all I had to do was sit down with Ed and start talking. I told Ed it wouldn't take more than 10 minutes.

To make a long story short, just as we sat down in the studio, the shop steward of the engineer's union announced that the taping could not proceed...until after the engineers' lunch break.

So, I took Ed down to the station's cafeteria to hopefully keep him "entertained" while waiting.  I had no idea what to talk about for an hour other than (may the good Lord forgive me") how "cute" I thought "Topo Gigio" was and how much I enjoyed those dumb circus acts.

Baronton Sisters on the Ed Sullivan Show
I expected him to back out at any moment, but as we sat and waited he spotted a vending machine which featured his favorite snack, ice cream sandwiches.

One hour and 3 ice cream sandwiches later, Ed and I sat in the studio for the interview. It was going  about like a typical local celebrity interview  of that era went until I asked Ed if I could test that theory about his being totally different when the TV lights weren't on. Not known for his sense of humor, I got the impression that he had never heard that theory and had no idea what I was talking about, but he agreed to do the rest of the interview with barely enough ambient light to register in the TV camera.

Lights on or lights off, he was no different.

But I liked the guy. Anyone as famous as he was who hung around as long as he did just for some local TV host (me)...and all he got was 3 lousy ice cream sandwiches...will always be a great guy in my book.

But I wouldn't be surprised if when he returned to New York he told somebody that while in the Nation's capitol he finally met a TV performer as "bumbling" and out of it as he was. "This bozo does TV interviews in the dark!

Vanity Fair concluded their 1992 article with a quote from John Crosby of the Herald Tribune:

“Mr. Sullivan has grown no more skillful with his hands or his face or his prose. But he is still there, which is more than you can say about a lot of people who are enormously skillful in all these departments. There is a great lesson in this for all of us, but I’m damned if I know what it is.”


Mr. Ballance Needs a Lift

Gil Ballance
His daughter Bobbi called me to let me know that her father is not doing well and is in the Mecklenburg Health Center.

He doesn't have a phone but if you call the main number (704 583 0430 ) and ask to speak with Mr. Gil Ballance in room 214 they will quickly get a phone to him.  When I talked with him this morning, he seemed to really appreciate the call and said that he welcomed calls from all of his former students.

So know that he sincerely wants to hear from lifts his spirits greatly!!

The best times to call are between 10 and 2 and from 7 to 8pm.


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

LDL Report

By Jerry Gaudet

Ten hardy (and hearty) classmates of Central High School Class of 1954 met for its monthly luncheon, "LDL", on Tuesday, February 11, at Jimmies in Mint Hill.  This in spite of a terrific snowfall.  Actually, it was beautiful to be traveling in as the roads were not yet ice or snow covered.

The mission, besides enjoying a good lunch and fellowship, was to get out a mailing to those classmates who do not use email.

Pictured L to R, Johnny Culp, Barney Lisk, Jackie Hart Lookabill, Al Selby,Charlie Willis, Marlene Ritch Beaty and Gene Lookabill.

This mailing was two-fold, announcing a date for our 60th Anniversary Reunion and to remind that "LDL" is held the second Tuesday of every month (even when it snows).  Here's what we sent out...

Reunion date announcement

Monday, February 10, 2014

Get Ready, Get Set.....


A famous philosopher once said that "Life is too short for cards."

He said that back in the 1800's I believe, but if he was around today he would no doubt substitute the word TV.

If anyone out there knows the phone number of the Guiness Book of World Records you might want to inform them that my wife and I finally got cable TV.  I believe we were the last people in America to get it; I'm almost positive that we were the last people in Virginia to get it.

And, it's not that we wanted it; it came free with our phone and internet service...which I am now having to pay for myself since I officially "retired" a few weeks ago.

I haven't watched TV since 1976 and frankly don't think I've missed a damn thing.  I get my news from reading, or listening to the radio.  I don't need to see someone reading it to me. I also don't need to see the pictures of gory scenes or, God forbid, plug ugly politicians or empty headed tattooed Hollywood actors and actresses.

(Now don't get me wrong, don't think I'm one of those "smarter than everybody else phonies" who is proud of the fact that he thinks the boob tube shows are "beneath" him.  Actually I stopped watching TV before it became totally insane because of my interest in photography.  I spent most of my free time at night developing film, which had to be done in the dark.  If you turned on a TV in the room, the dark would go away.  So, I got out of the habit, and never returned.)

Until this week when I turned on my very own cable TV.

It depressed the Heck out of me.  Good Lord, there are at least a thousand channels!

America is doomed.
Half the population is on dope and the other half is addicted to TV!

Who's left to notice that the corrupt politicians are taking us straight off the cliff.

(Hopefully I will feel better tomorrow.  I'm going to try and concentrate on happy thoughts for the rest of the day...such as our upcoming 60th reunion in May!)

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Grand Idea

I've been thinking about our 60th reunion and it occurred to me that it would save a lot of time if instead of pulling out wallets or reaching into purses (as the case may be) I would publish some of our grand kids pictures here on the website!

Don and Letty Nance have been knd enough to help me start this GREAT idea or GRAND idea (is this great journalism or what!)

Feel free to share YOUR pictures with us!!

Our first entry is SAM  (who recently celebrated his FIFTH birthday)

Future Tar Heel Star, Sam (on right)
Continuing with our Future Grand Stars feature is

The Amazing Jackson
Thanks guys.

Keep those cards and letters (and pictures) coming friends and neighbors!


Wednesday, February 05, 2014

February LDL

Jerry Gaudet reminds us that:

This month's "LDL" (Let's do lunch) will be held on
Tuesday, February 11, 2014, 11:30 AM
at "Jimmies" Restaurant in Mint Hill.
You are invited to join us. Spread the word! Invite other classmates to come! Even better, bring someone with you! Be sure YOU, come!

February: This month is associated with St. Valentine’s Day and red roses. However, the flower for the month is Violet. The flower symbolises faithfulness, humility and chastity. Gifting violets in the Victorian era conveyed the message’ I’ll always be true’. The flower is found in shades of blue, mauve as well as yellow and cream.

According to the internet, the origin of Valentine's Day began with something called Lupercalia.
It had to do with a bunch of Roman Priests who would gather at a sacred cave where the infants Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, were believed to have been cared for by a she-wolf or lupa. The priests would sacrifice a goat, for fertility, and a dog, for purification. They would then strip the goat's hide into strips, dip them into the sacrificial blood and take to the streets, gently slapping both women and crop fields with the goat hide.....and that's more than you want to know about that.

Lupercalia survived the initial rise of Christianity and but was outlawed—as it was deemed “un-Christian”--at the end of the 5th century, when Pope Gelasius declared February 14 St. Valentine's Day. It was not until much later, however, that the day became definitively associated with love. During the Middle Ages, it was commonly believed in France and England that February 14 was the beginning of birds' mating season, which added to the idea that the middle of Valentine's Day should be a day for romance. 

Attention:  If anyone remembers to bring a camera to the event, your humble webmaster would greatly appreciate your taking some snapshots and emailing them to  so I can share them with this website's thousands of readers!

Saturday, February 01, 2014

60TH !

This website received an email today from Obie Oakley announcing that the event a lot of us had been hoping would be held this Spring WILL BE!

Obie said that our 60th Reunion is set for the evening of Friday, May 9th 2014.

So, mark that on your calendar and start making plans.  Obie says that it will be a BBQ at the same great place we had our 55th.

He said that the committee met the other day to decide if this was something they wanted to take on and the feeling was unanimous; Absolutely YES!

Notices will be going out the week of February 10 via email and USPS to tell the class to save that date.  Then, he says, around the first week in March they expect to have all the details worked out and will send a second mailing at that time.

Obie added that.

    "We have such a great group of classmates and it will, as always, make for an enjoyable time."

So, let's have three cheers for our committee members.....


I've received several nice notes regarding the LONG SAM article that appeared on this site recently.  I appreciate that and have been encouraged to continue such investigative reporting.

For example, for a very long time, I've wondered what ever happened to the man who designed those CHARLOTTE shirts for the Girls Good Sports Club that our "best and brightest" lady Wildcats wore.

Well, according to my research, after a number of years producing shirts for high school girls clubs, he went into the sports jersey business for a while

Later he specialized in general Tee Shirt art

And finally retired just this year as a Tattoo Artist

And now you know.

Stay tuned for the next WHERE ARE THEY NOW artickle