Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The New and Improved Stradivarius

The "Messiah" violin
I'm just kidding. No one has every improved on making a better violin than Antonio Stradivarius. However, some things take longer than others and, let's face it, it's only been 300 years since Mr. Stradivarius made his first fiddle.

However, the "NEW" part of the title of this post is almost true.  There is one Stradivarius that is like new.  It's known as the Messiah. And it is in brand new condition, i.e., it has  never been played. Stradivarius never sold this violin. He kept in his studio until he died as if to leave one of his masterpieces forever unused for posterity to study.

What made his violins so special? Was it the wood? It was from the same trees of Cremona that the other instrument craftsmen there used. Was it the workmanship? The varnish? No one knows for sure. Whatever it was that made his violins so special remains a secret that he took to his grave.

Stradivarius made about a thousand violins in his lifetime and over 600 have survived. Some of their names sound like the names of cigars. There's the Lady Blunt (owned by Lady Ann Blunt grand daughter of Lord Byron, the Firebird (so named because of the red color of the varnish) the Benny (owned by Jack Benny) and the Red Mendelssohn (the inspiration for the 1998 film THE RED VIOLIN).

The average Stradivarius violin is worth several million dollars. The Messiah is priceless.
After Stradivari, most of its owners also refused to part with it until their death. And over the past two centuries, it has rarely been played, meaning it is in uniquely superb condition, with little signs of the wear-and-tear that inevitably come from putting a delicate wooden instrument through its paces every day.When the Messiah was bequeathed to the Ashmolean museum in England last century it came with the caveat that it should never, ever be played again: it was to hang, majestic but silent, in its glass box for eternity.

Incidentally, if you have an old violin in your attic, peer into one of the "F" holes (on either side of where the strings cross the "bridge") of the instrument and look for a label like this:

But don't celebrate too soon. Experts estimate that there were at least a million phony labels like this stuck on the inside of cheap fiddles. They add that the chances of the existence today of any unknown Stradivarius violins is very slim.  -Ed

Sunday, April 27, 2014


Ed with sister Kathryn
I've always heard that we can't remember events from our childhood before the age of 3.
But I never believed it because my earliest memory is before that. I think I was maybe two and a half or so.

I was sitting on the steps of our home on East 5th Street  staring blankly at nothing, when
it suddenly dawned on me that I was a person. I had legs and arms and...

That's it. My earliest memory.

The awareness that dawned on me that day may very well been obvious to all the other kids my age,  and maybe I was slow to catch on, but nevertheless, I remember the event.

The experts don't say that kids that young can't remember things, they agree that they can. However, as children grow older, they say they lose the ability to retain those memories. They back up this theory with a lot of mumbo jumbo about the not yet fully developed hippocampus and the amygdala in the brain that are involved in memory storage.

My second earliest memory was when I must have been 3 years old, because I was talking.  There was a kid my age who lived across the street named Burt who I'd see playing in his front yard a lot. Neither one of us of course was allowed to cross that fairly busy street, but one day I decided to reach out and say something to Burt.

"Hey Burt," I hollered.

He looked up at me and replied,

"I'm going to kill you."

I could feel the hippocampus and amygdala in my brain standing at attention and sending a quick memo to little Eddie Myers to "stay on your side of the street!"


Saturday, April 26, 2014

All together now...left, right, left right

Albert Einstein
 I'm glad to see that others are beginning to recognize something that this website alluded to  recently: the brains of older adults are slower, because they have so much information stored in them.
It's very much like a computer's hard drive; the fuller it is, the slower it is.
The science is settled. 
So, I don't want to hear any more slurs directed toward us chronologically gifted.
Now, admittedly, I do check the "Early signs that you are you losing your mind" tests that I see on the Internet from time to time, and so far, so good. 

For example, Rhyming things is one of them. I don't do that.

And I'm certainly not schizophrenic. Both of us agree on that.

But there is one that worries me; laughing at weird and inappropriate times.

I do that a lot!

Although, I think the "weird and inappropriate" part of that is very subjective.

Often, I'm the only one laughing, but that doesn't mean it's inappropriate.........if it is truly funny.

Last year, several of my friends convinced me to sign up for a physical therapy class to help with some back pain I was having.  They told me how much they had benefited from such a program. I normally shy away from anything involving a "group." But I was assured that I would receive individual attention. And, although there were a lot of people in the room, each was doing different exercises.

Well, I felt so foolish doing the exercises that I couldn't stop laughing. I was shaking this foot one way, then the other the opposite way, then hugging a big ball while making circles with my leg one way and my left arm another...I got to laughing so hard, the others in the class got to laughing at me....and well, the management couldn't have been happier when I told them that I had decided not to return for any more therapy.

Before leaving the building, I paused and watched another class of about 20 senior citizens doing group therapy each throwing a ball from one hand to the perfect unison on a cue from the therapist leader...calling out, "Left, Right, left, right.."

Now don't get me wrong. I wasn't laughing at these people. What they were doing is strengthening little used muscles and improving others for support and relief of pain or whatever. And they know damn well they wouldn't be doing such exercises unless they had paid money for others to make them. But, whatever the reason,  I don't believe I've ever heard anyone say that this sort of therapy didn't help them. 

But doggone it, seeing it for the first time just struck me as hilarious.

The day I went to exercise 
The sights I saw did mesmerize 
And enveloped me with laughter
Some say it reached the rafter
 Although I said goodbye to therapy,
They kept my hard earned currency
So the story's final paragraph
Is they had the last darn laugh

Uh oh..........-Ed

Sunday, April 20, 2014 London

Edward R. Murrow
 I heard Charles Kuralt explaining to someone one time why he spoke the way he did...with such precise articulation.  He said it was from a lot of years of imitating his hero, Edward R. Murrow.

Yep, all of us kids who dreamed of "being on the radio" someday, did our damnest to imitate Mr. Murrow. Even a well known young reporter named Walter Cronkite came under the influence of the Murrow style of speaking.

And Why not? Murrow was hands down the most successful newscaster in radio history.  The Murrow voice and style of speaking was what every program director in America wanted for his station in the 40's and 50's.  That's why Charles Crutchfield, General Manager of WBT in Charlotte didn't hire David Brinkley in the early 50s. He didn't have that "radio voice." 

Philco Transitone 1939
Down here in the Bat Cave just waiting for that evil "WE HAUL JUNK" truck is the very radio over
which I listened to Ed Murrow's broadcasts.  I was only about 6 years old when he began his war time reports, but the memory of his words, "This is London...." still bring chills up my spine.

My Daddy bought this little Philco table model at Stanley's Drug Store in 1939 and paid $9 for it.
It still works.

But, as the late night TV pitchman says, "...there's more!"

Altec 670B mic
Next to the little Philco, is the microphone Ed Murrow used for many of his broadcasts heard over my radio!

Ed Bliss and Lee Shephard
It's kind of a long story, but basically, in 1958 Ed Bliss, Murrow's writer (Bliss wrote the "hard news" part of the evening  radio newscast, but Murrow wrote the "commentary.") and the other CBS executives weren't pleased with the sound of the microphone the Washington studio (CBS/WTOP) was using, so they contracted with an engineer named Lamar Allison, a friend of mine, who owned a top of the line recording studio to rent his newest and most expensive mic whenever Murrow broadcast his show from Washington. I did a number of recordings at Lamar's studio and offered to buy that particular mic every time I got together with Lamar, but he wouldn't part with it.  However, many years later, as his health was failing, he instructed his brother to give me the microphone.

Rest in Peace, Lamar.

By the way, you all have seen Ed Bliss, except you didn't know it.  He was the bald headed guy who
from time to time walked onto the CBS EVENING NEWS set with Walter Cronkite to hand him late breaking news updates and bulletins. He became almost as recognizable as Cronkite, except no one knew who he was.  After Murrow retired, Bliss became Cronkite's writer.

I've read that during WW2, one of, if not THE most prized possession of the American GI was his Zippo cigarette lighter. I believe it. Everybody smoked back then. But it's hard to imagine anyone being more addicted to cigarettes than Murrow.  Ed Bliss told me that the great man's
Murrow leaving White House for last time
response when anyone brought up the subject of a possible relationship of cancer and smoking was, "By the time I get cancer from these things, they will have found a cure for it."

 That's one time he was wrong.

But he wasn't wrong very often:

" During the daily peak viewing periods, television in the main insulates us from the realities of the world in which we live. If this state of affairs continues, we may alter an advertising slogan to read: LOOK NOW, PAY LATER.
For surely we shall pay for using this most powerful instrument of communication to insulate the citizenry from the hard and demanding realities which must be faced if we are to survive. I mean the word survive literally.  

 -Edward R. Murrow

Ed Murrow was 57 years old when he died.

Saturday, April 12, 2014


Crashed B-17 pieces
I wouldn't be surprised if that's what the crew on the "WE HAUL JUNK" truck will label most of the "treasures" they transfer from the Ed Myers lower level recording studio/office/museum and power nap Palace to the Fairfax County Landfill.

For example the contents of this box does look as if it might be pieces...well ...of anything...from an old rusty tractor  to a Martian spacecraft.  But what it actually contains is two strips of metal from a US Army B-17 that was shot down by the Germans in 1944.

However, this is one treasure I'm going to make sure is preserved, and not allowed to go to the Grim Trucker. 

50 cal shell from B-17
A friend of mine and I stumbled upon an audio tape made by an American B-17 crewman who was one of two men who survived a crash over enemy territory near Belgium. Albert Macuch was his name, and he made an audio tape for his grand kid's school project describing his ordeal in detail some 50 years after the event. His daughter found it tucked away in a drawer after Macuch passed away, but was unable to play it.  She asked my friend if he would listen to it and let her know what was on it.

Not only did he listen to it, he brought it over to my home recording studio and with a little bit of editing and lots of sound effects, we tuned the tape into a radio drama.

Thanks to the internet and a lot of luck we made contact with a man in Belgium, William Liket (hopefully I spelled his name right} who lived near where Macuch's plane crashed and was kind enough to send us a picture of the downed plane as well as a few pieces of the wreckage. He also sent me an original watercolor painting of the event by a local artist named Liket Pieter.

Macuch's crashed B-17
The only two survivors of the crash were Albert Macuch, who was the tail gunner, and the pilot, Frank Schick. Macuch was the most badly injured and was unable to move. Schick was able to walk, so he went searching for help.  Unfortunately, he was captured by the Germans whereas Macuch was later rescued by Belgium partisans.

Next time you have 25 minutes to kill, you might want to take a listen to THE ALBERT MACUCH STORY.

The only reward my friend and I received was the pleasure of producing a very good story
Painting by Liket Pieter
that honors a few of our many heroes; those men and women who fought and won our freedom in WW2.
It was also gratifying to know that we spread the word of their heroics to a few more people.

We received a nice note from Albert Macuch's daughter Helen;

"My father's story has been passed along to many states, and throughout Europe. Now his story along with his picture is on display at the Remember 39-45 Museum in Belgium. Many thanks to you for producing his story, and I will always have my Father's voice to listen to. God Bless."

And this one from his nephew:

Albert Macuch
"This story is by and about my Uncle Al, he passed away shortly after taping this. Most of us in the family never heard this whole story. It was too difficult for him to talk about."
E.D. Olver

We also got a nice note from Frank Schick III, the pilot's son:

This was recounted by my mother Lucile.

'When Frank's plane was shot down, he was initially declared KIA. His family in Chicago
Macuch (standing 2nd from  L) Schick knelling 2nd from L)
received a telegram from the War Dept. declaring that he was considered KIA. Due to a misspelling of his surname, Shick vs Schick, no one ever corrected his status from KIA to POW. Upon his release from the POW camp
at the end of the war, Frank was originally weighed in stones so that his loss of weight wouldn't appear
too severe. When he was discharged from the Army, he let himself into his house using a key that he kept attached to his dog tags and stood there. His mother couldn't believe her eyes'

Frank J. Schick III


Wednesday, April 09, 2014


Arthur Smith
 So sorry to learn of Arthur Smith's death last week. I never had the pleasure of meeting him, but everyone who knew him had only the kindest things to say.  He was a Charlotte institution!
I found it very interesting that Obie had a connection to the great showman/musician:

As a "paper boy" my route included portions of Bay Street and Laburnum Ave.  The Smith brothers, Arthur, Sonny and Brother Ralph lived on the corner of Bay and Bascom, all side by side.  I'll always remember that the only one to ever give a Christmas tip was Ralph!
   One of the interesting tid bits in the article was that James Brown recorded his big hit, "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" in the Arthur Smith Studio on 7th Street right across from Sharon Memorial Park!  Now, how's that for trivia.  BTW, I happened to know the James Brown story before reading the article. -Obie

I was happy to receive all the comments regarding Genial Gene!  I loved Genial Gene.  He was extremely kind and helpful to me when I was WGIV's high school DJ.!

Warren Sparrow remembers Gene's commercials for ATLANTIC BEER. Also, the fact that his music was a little "naughty."  I know what he means, I always turned the music down when there were older people in the room, because the "rythym and blues" that Gene played back then really did disturb them. 

Frankly, I don't remember ATLANTIC BEER myself. But Warren remembered not only the beer, but Gene's commercial pitch, in which he said, "Do you like the taste of freight?"

That was a reference to the fact that ATLANTIC BEER was brewed in Charlotte, hence was cheaper.

Warren also wrote,

As the date for the reunion draws nearer, I have begun to look through my Snips and Cuts of 1954.  The note Charles Mateer wrote in it got my attention.  We were roommates at NC State our freshman year.  Charles was a rock.  When I flailed about, he was always there to steady me.  I shall always be grateful to him for helping me through that first year away from home.  Attached to this message is a transcript of Charles's note, one that I am proud to share with you.

"Bird, No kidding it has really been great knowing such a wonderful person as you during our senior

year. I only wish we had gotten to know each other better before. We have
Charles Mateer

had some very good times this year, but I am sure they will be surpassed next year. I am looking forward to September when we enter State. I am sure we will have a great many good times and a little bit of hard work. 

I have greatly enjoyed our talks and I am greatly impressed by your personality. I hope you have taken in all that king (Karl) has said so you will be able to help me next year. The Hi-Y has advanced greatly because of just one person, its president. Your leadership has meant a lot to each and every member. Stay as you are and you will always be admired by your class mates. Lots of luck and I’ll see you this summer. Let’s take over State next year.

Charles Mateer"

Snips and Cuts, 1954

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Put it down brown, with Royal Crown

Being a Pack Rat certainly has it's downsides, especially in the twilight of one's years.
However, I'm resigned to the fact that I was born mentally incapable of throwing personal memoribilia away.

When my time comes, my wife Linda and the kids are just going to have to hire a local "We Haul Junk" company to come down here in the "Bat Cave" and take everything away.

Until then, I'll continue to share some of my "treasures" with you.

For example, here's an old friend of ours I'll bet you haven't thought about in years:

I suppose one of these days this old brochure will be one of the items the "We Haul Junk" company will be loading on their truck along with all my other "treasures."  But with a little luck, this one will still be floating around in cyberspace for a long, long time.    -Ed

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Having fun yet?

 Yeah, it's been a ball!

I love telling stories, especially to my old high school friends.

It's my way of "staying connected" although I haven't lived in Charlotte since 1961 and missed sharing our young mature years "up the career ladder" (as well as an occasional mis-step or two) and watching our families grow.

Jerry Gaudet 1954
But this website wouldn't have been possible without that very in a thousand...incredibly talented Jerry Gaudet!
His brilliant organizational skills have kept this class together.

Also, the stars were aligned just right....and the Internet came along....and before we knew it, we had a "home room" in the sky!

Now I realize that CHS54 is mostly full of MY stories and observations. However, I didn't intend it that way. I post any and every story sent to me by our classmates.

But I get very few.

That's perfectly understandable. Most people don't like to "write." They did that in English class for 12 or so years AND THAT"S ENOUGH!

I don't blame you.  But I like telling stories and having done it just about all my life...I'm going to keep doing it. Even though there will continue to be some real "clunkers" in here....I need to keep posting, otherwise you folks will stop coming to the site and it will die.  So it's necessary to keep it "fresh."  (Anyway, that's what they teach in website school.)

Also, I'm determined to keep the site POSITIVE, although it's getting harder and harder.

For example as you complete filling out your income tax.....

Try to ignore the fact that the US STATE Department lost over $6 Billion because of the improper filing of contracts during the past 6 years, during the tenure of former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton.

But think of it this way, "What difference now does it make."

Also, think of how much SAFER we'll all be now that more government agencies are authorized to carry GUNS:
The EPA at work
Time Magazine 1977

That’s right, NOAA — the folks who forecast the weather, monitor the atmosphere and keep tabs on the oceans and waterways — has its own law enforcement division. It has a budget of $65 million and consists of 191 employees, including 96 special agents and 28 enforcement officers who carry weapon better start believing in GLOBAL WARMING, or else!

Sleep well tonight.


Friday, April 04, 2014

LDL Tuesday April 8th

When April with his showers so sweet
Has pierced the drought of March to the root,
And bathed every vein in that liquor
Whose blessed power engenders the flower...

-Chaucer  (Canterberry Tales)


Jerry Gaudet reminds us that This month's "LDL" (Let's do lunch) will be held on
Tuesday, April 8, 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!

Come help us get ready for our upcoming 60th Anniversary Reunion on May 9


Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Nothing is so GOOD that...

...the government can't screw it up!"

Not being content with destroying the world's best health care system and everything else they touch,

they have inadvertently destroyed APRIL FOOLS DAY.

Is there anything that you can say about what our government is doing ...that is so absurd, over the top, and ridiculous......that no one would believe........

and then you could surprise them and shout....APRIL FOOL!

I can't, can you?

For Example:  True or "APRIL FOOL?"

 The State Department is planning to spend $400,000 to purchase a fiberglass statue of a white camel for a new U.S. embassy being built in Pakistan, BuzzFeed first reported Monday, citing contracting records.
The sculpture, by artist John Baldessari, is of a life-size albino camel staring upward at the eye of a huge needle.