Friday, April 29, 2016

Nancy Poplin Passes

Nancy Poplin 1954

Jerry Gaudet reports that another of our classmates has passed away. 
Nancy Kathleen Poplin's obituary, published in the Charlotte Observer, is reproduced below:

Nancy Kathleen Poplin (1934 - 2016)


Nancy Kathleen Poplin, 81, of Charlotte, passed away on April 25, 2016 at Brighton Gardens of Charlotte.

Nancy was preceded in death by her mother, Helen Presson and many aunts, uncles and cousins. She is survived by her aunts, Carol Slifer of Monroe and Doris Torrence of Charlotte and uncles, Al Prather of Charlotte and Richard "Dick" Prather (Shirley) of Tyler, Texas.

Nancy graduated from Central High School. She worked and retired from Belk Store Services in Charlotte. She enjoyed meeting new people and spending time with family and friends, she was loved by all who crossed her path.

The family would like to thank the many caregivers from Brighton Gardens of Charlotte and Novant Health Hospice Team for their love, support and excellent care of Nancy.

Funeral services will be held at the Charlotte Chapel of McEwen Funeral Service at Sharon Memorial Park on Saturday, April 30, 2016 at 2:00 PM with the Rev. Ernesto Fernandez officiating. The family will receive friends from 1:00 until 2:00 pm, one hour prior to the service. Interment will follow at Elmwood Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to: Levine Cancer Institute; Research and Academic Headquarters; 1021 Morehead Medical Drive; Charlotte, NC 28204

McEwen Funeral Service at Sharon Memorial Park is honored to be entrusted with the care of Miss Poplin and her family.

Published in Charlotte Observer on Apr. 29, 2016

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Ah Ha!

I doubt that the "mainstream media" has spent much time discussing this story, but in my opinion, it's the "Ah Ha!" story of the decade.  Maybe even the century.  (In the newsrooms I worked in, an "Ah Ha!" story was one which would make the viewers think, "Ah Ha, it's finally been confirmed and that I was right all along."

There were also ones we called "Grabbers."  Those were anything that would make the listener "sit up in his chair and think, "Well, I'll be damned."

This one is both!

Scientists have captured the flash of light that sparks when a sperm meets an egg

For the first time ever, scientists have captured images of the flash of light that sparks at the very moment a human sperm cell makes contact with an egg.

Sperm Meets Egg

Great accomplishment,  interesting.....but frankly, I doubt if it should ever win a "Breaking News" award......because it's such an old story.  In fact, thousands of years old!  

Genesis 1.3   "And God said, "Let there be light."


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Back to the PRESENT

By Warren Sparrow

Last Saturday, 23 April 2016, my daughter Dora and I drove from Winston-Salem to Charlotte for a visit with Ann and Bonson Hobson.  Bonson took us on a tour of “old” places he had selected.
The old Sparrow Home
 One of those places was a two-story, four-family Dilworth apartment building at the corner of East Boulevard and Euclid Avenue.  Bonson said he had been there many years ago. So had I, having lived there from first grade at Dilworth in 1942 until my senior year at Duke in 1958.   These were indeed “formative years.”

We got out of the car and walked toward the front of the building.  There were several people on the
upstairs front porch, obviously having a good time.  I shouted up to them, “I used to live here!”  Much to my surprise, one of them yelled back, “Come on up!”  This was astonishing.

Filled with joy at this good fortune, Bonson, Dora and I bounded up the 17 stairs that I had not climbed in 58 years.  We were greeted warmly by the young woman who had invited us to “come on up.” She showed us the entire apartment, including my old room.  Not much had changed.  The Arcola furnace which had been in the hallway had been removed.  A serving window had been cut in the wall between  the kitchen and the dining room. Otherwise, everything was the same.

We went to the porch where we met the woman’s family, including her mom and dad.  They offered us a beer.  It took much courage for me to decline.  But, decline I did.  I was so excited to be standing on “my” porch.    I simply did not know how to act.

Our new friends seemed to enjoy the encounter as much as we did.
Warren, Bonson (in back) and new friends

 You can imagine my surprise when one of our new friends asked me, “You are a lawyer, aren’t you?”   Dumbfounded, I answered, “Yes, why did you ask?”  He replied, “I am a Winston-Salem Police Officer and have seen you in court.”

It turns out that virtually all the people on the porch were from Winston-Salem.  What a hoot!
Do you think Paul Harvey could do something with this story?

“Good day,”


Sunday, April 17, 2016

We Get Letters

Well, actually..........Obie did.  

It was from Betsy Villas White, and was so beautiful and "right on" that your humble "webmaster"  (me)  felt that I just had to share it with our thousands of CHS54's loyal 


Ad in the Piedmont annual 1951
Your comments on the Charlotte Observer building and employees was so interesting to read.  Funny thing, I was in Charlotte several weeks ago to see my grandson perform at his school and I took the only free afternoon I had and went downtown.  (Uptown I hear it is called now.)  My intention was to see my Dad's service station and to see if the Radcliffe's Flowers  sign was still there.  When I passed the Observer, I couldn't help but park and look around.  It made me so sad to see it vacated and lonely. It also reminded me of several nights when we dropped Warren off at midnight or so to go to work.  I always loved the Charlotte papers.  You're right, Obie, the Observer isn't what it used to be.  I am such a die hard newspaper fan that I can't face the fact that they will all disappear before long. (I've barely recovered from the disappearance of the News.  What is life without the June News about the debutantes?)

Uptown Charlotte 1950
By the way, the Radcliffe sign is still there.  (lower right in photo)

Joe Radcliffe told me several years ago that it
practically took an act of Congress to keep it hanging.

After my lamentations about the Observer I drove to the corner of East Boulevard and Tryon to see how my Dad's Amoco station was holding up.  The story was the same.  The building is empty and dirty and deserted.  It looks like it, too, is in the process of being sold.  The end with Honey's Restaurant is still there, but in the same sad condition.  If any of you remember, the American Oil District Headquarters was on the second floor of my Dad's station, making it the biggest station on the four corners.  I stood in front of the bay windows and thought about how many Saturdays Daddy took me to work with him when I was at Piedmont and I cleaned and decorated the windows for him.  I used lots of crepe paper and oil cans and whatever was being featured that month.  I could visualize the Amoco salesmen sitting in folding wooden chairs drinking whatever soft drink they had chosen from the "drink box".  Remember those boxes where the drinks sat in cold water and you ran them along the metal rails and took them out of the end of the box?  There was a pin ball machine in the corner and it stayed busy  (Even though I was told that it was illegal to have it on the premises.)

I had so many memories floating in my head by then, but when I remembered standing with Carolyn in front of Ivey's one week before Christmas listening to Silver Bells on the loud speaker, I headed out of town.  Sometimes the memories are almost more than I can bear.

Thank you, Obie, for sharing your story.  Want to meet at Tanner's for some orange juice and peanuts?


Saturday, April 16, 2016

A Nostalgic Observation

By Obie Oakley

Observer Building 1951
There has been a good bit written in Charlotte about the sale of the Observer Building.  It is being sold to a developer (of course) for another mid-rise office building.  Charlotte's skyline is again being dotted with construction cranes and the town is booming with office buildings, high rise condos and apartments.

     As for the Observer, over two years ago, all production facilities were moved to a site up close to UNCC.  Typesetting, composing, presses and distribution all left uptown.  This left the new reporters, sports and business writers along with the administrative in place and recently even those have vacated the building. I've had occasions to go into the Tryon Street building recently (before the final move) and it is sad, really sad for its like a ghost town.  The employee morale is terrible and is is a mere shell of the glory days of yore.  The Monday edition of the Observer is so very thin although the Sunday paper is bulky but that's due to the ad inserts.

    Speaking for myself and another Observer alumnus, Warren Sparrow, we have a sentimental attachments to that paper.  For several years, Warren worked in the mail room inserting comics and flyers on Saturday nights.  He later worked in the newsroom while in college.  For me, from day one it was a part of my life for my dad worked at night in the stereotype department for over 30 years.  My uncle Versal was the press room foreman, Uncle Harold was also a stereotyper and uncle Jack was a linotype operator.

    My first direct involvement was while in high school as a paper carrier aka paper boy!  I had a route on Bay and Laburnum Streets with 100 customers and delivered the paper 364 days a year (didn't publish on Christmas Day).  Carrying the paper wasn't that bad, what I hated was collecting the money.  If I remember correctly, the cost for a subscription was 45 cents a week.  Every Tuesday afternoon I had to go down to the basement of the old building and pay my bill, they got 31 cents and I got 14 or $14.00 a week!

     Later when I was in college, during the summers and holidays, I helped out in my dad's print shop as he had started his own business by then.  My job often meant going to the Observer and taking up the large freight elevator up to the typesetting department, pick up large trays of type which I would take to the shop (in the back of our house) where I would make ad mats.  Then take the trays of type back up to be recycled.  Talk about blue collar work!

     So, as you can see, for me it is quite nostalgic to see such an institution go through such dramatic change.

    Bottom line for me however is, that I am very proud to have been associated with The Charlotte Observer during my lifetime!


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

It's Back!

By Warren Sparrow


VOL. II, NO. 2

11 April 2016

I have decided to apply for a job.  Why not?  With my qualifications, it
should not take long to find meaningful work.  To achieve this goal I crafted a
resume like no other, a resume that will resonate and bear fruit.  This is it….

William Warren Sparrow
1117 West Fourth Street
Winston-Salem, NC 27101

Phone:  336 725 8953


Private, unwilling to disclose based upon applicable EEOC rules and regulations.


                     1942-47  Dilworth Elementary School, Charlotte, NC,

disciplined for throwing spitball in 4th Grade and trying to bribe student into not telling.

                     1947-50  Alexander Graham Junior High School, Charlotte, NC, 

forgot 2d verse of “Dear Hearts and Gentle People” during 7th Grade talent show.

                     1950-54  Central High School, Charlotte, NC, 

suffered severe stomach pains in 10th Grade while playing basketball in best friend’s back yard;
tried Sal Hepatica and ended up in Presbyterian Hospital where appendix was

                    1954-55 N.C.State College of Agriculture and Engineering, Raleigh, NC,

drank first beer, learned to walk in a straight line and
change direction on command, cleaned M-1 rifle.

                      1955-59  Duke University College of Engineering, Durham, NC, 

apprehended by campus police after breaking into Duke Indoor Stadium (now
Cameron) at midnight; released when the officers discovered that Sonny Jurgensen
was playing basketball with us.

                      1962-65  Wake Forest College Law School, Winston-Salem, NC, 

learned to change diapers, wash them and hang them on clothes line.

                      Military Service:  1959-62  Active duty, United States Navy,

assigned to USS Wasp (CVS-18), aircraft carrier and flagship of antisubmarine Task Group Bravo,
home port Boston, MA; became adept at bar-room small talk, lead singer with the White Angels.

                       Employment:   1950-54  The Charlotte (NC) Observer,

sports department and mail room; learned I was not the only person who types
with two fingers, inserted comics into Sunday editions at the rate of 10,000 per
night thereby rendering me exhausted and unable to attend Sunday school or
church at Chalmers Memorial Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church,
corner of East and South boulevards, where Rev. Billy Graham and I were baptized.

                         1955  Foremost International Dairies, North Tryon St, Charlotte, NC,

slave assigned to milk-packaging machines, filling bottles and wax-covered
cartons, worst job ever which lead to worst night of my life, the night my N.C State
pals “got me drunk” and I showed up two hours late for work.

                        1956-58 (summers)  Boulevard Sundries (Pharmacy),
                        corner of East Boulevard and Euclid Avenue, Charlotte, NC,

interacted with general public, sold
beer and ice cream, made milk shakes and listened to juke box.

                       1959-62  U.S. Navy active duty (See previous item), 

earned status of Shellback” when ship crossed the Equator, crawled through tunnel of garbage, ran
gauntlet and kissed greased belly of “King Neptune.”

                       1962-65  Winston-Salem (NC) Journal, 
sports writer, copy editor and
county government (court house) reporter during law school and six months
thereafter, continued to type with two fingers, learned to tear copy paper using the
edge of desk, discovered Xerox machine.

                        1966-2012  Licensed attorney,

authorized to practice in North Carolina
courts, including federal district courts throughout the state, admitted to practice in
the United States 4th Circuit Court of Appeals (Richmond, VA), United States Tax
Court and the United States Court of International Trade; served as Forsyth County
(NC) District Attorney for four years (1987-90),  chartered twin-engine private
plane to beat deadline for filing in Columbia, SC, federal court, drove partner’s
Rolls Royce Silver Cloud from Winston-Salem to Greensboro airport where I
picked up two Wallabies and brought them back to partner’s private “zoo,” ordered
the execution of Woody and Bruno, 100-pound Rottweilers who killed a man
jogging by their home.

                          2012-present  Devil’s Workshop.

Special skills:  Two-fingered typing, losing keys and glasses, dropping cell phone
into cup of coffee, hitting wrong button on TV remote, falling up stairs and lying
when the truth would save me.

* * *

That is all we have for today.  Remember, boys and girls, to take a tip from Tom,
go and tell your Mom, “Hot Ralston can’t be beat!”

Thanks for listening.  WS

Friday, April 08, 2016

Charles Threatt Sr. Passes


GASTONIA - Charles R. Threatt Sr., 81, passed away April 4, 2016, at his home.

He was born July 15, 1934, in Charlotte, son of the late Claude Threatt and Elise Mae McCorry.

A graveside service will be held 1 p.m. Thursday, April 7, 2016, at 5716 Monroe Road, Charlotte, in the Mausoleum Chapel of Sharon Memorial Park.

The family will receive friends following the service.

Arrangements are with the West Chapel of Greene Funeral Service and Crematorium, Gastonia.

Online condolences may be sent to
Funeral Home
Greene Funeral Service, Westside Chapel
216 Archie Whitesides Road
Gastonia, NC 28052
(704) 867-5521
Published in Gaston Gazette on Apr. 6, 2016
Condolences may be sent to...
he Family of Mr. Charles Threat
100 Willow Run Dr., #25
Gastonia, NC 28056

Thursday, April 07, 2016

April LDL

By Jerry Gaudet

Before we get started here, Jimmie Pourlos is continuing in reab.  You are encouraged to keep sending cards to "keep (and her) him going".  They are working toward getting home where his rehabilitation will continue.

Mr. and Mrs. Jimmie Pourlos
1722 Birchcrest Dr.
Charlotte, NC 28205-4908

It's that time again!
This month's "LDL" (Let's do lunch) will be held on
Tuesday, April 12, 11:30 AM
at "Jimmies" Restaurant in Mint Hill.
Please consider this your personal invitation to join in.  We'd like to see you.  Help us spread the word! Invite other classmates to come! Even better, bring someone with you! Most important, just be sure YOU, come!

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Take 2 Aspirin and Call Me in the Morning

It was a Monday, as I recall, and  I had finally run out of my supply of Hadacol that I had hoarded in the '50's and carried with me all these years. It doesn't happen often, but I was feeling......"out of sorts,"........"blue"........"down in the dumps"........if my Mother had been here, she would have said I looked "peak id."  (Pronounce like two words.)

This was serious.  So, I emailed my favorite physician, Dr. Linsy Farris, and too embarased to complain about my symtoms...I simply asked how he was doing.
He instinctively perceived my problem and responded with the perfect  prescription:
 A double dose of POSITVE!

Turned out to be just what I needed!

Take a look:

"It's just marvelous and wonderful to still be enjoying the good life and filling it with things I enjoy during retirement on 1/1/16 from my position at Harlem Hospital as Director, a position I've enjoyed fro 43 years as part of Columbia University.   My worse event has been the loss of my wife of 51 years , Vivian,  in June of 2011 due to breast cancer.  Life really has it's adversities such as a fire that destroyed our church's Sanctuary on Tues, Mar 22.  Resurrection is the saving by God's grace that sure applies to our lives while on this earth as well. 

 I'm blessed to have three children,k one , a daughter Karen, who lives in the same town of Tenafly with three of my grandchildren and two sons, Alan and Andrew who live outside Charlotte and DC with a total of the other five grandchildren. One of my grandchildren , Nora Neus, is now in your business as a TV Reporter for Charlottesville Virginia NBC29.  I am also blessed to be married again to a young lady. Ursula Schell, who I first  met fas a science writer when she came to write up some of my research.  She is a musician as well which is my major pastime now.

Ursula and I also sing in our church choir, First Presbyterian of Englewood,NJ  and I joined a barbershop singing group of men recently.  I do feel many times in spite of life's sorrows, I am LMA (luckiest man alive).   My experience at CHS was life forming and I'll never forget the influences that Jack Stern, the band Director from NYC who showed me a bass fiddle one day and said, "I'm going to get you out of study hall and you're going to learn how to play this".  Also, my teacher and  advisor, Paul Neal, who helped me get scholarships to both UNC and Duke.  I asked him when I got offers from both what should I do.  He shot back,"What do you want to do?"  I replied, "Well Duke has a good medical school and I want to be a doctor". He said, " Well write Duke and tell them that". I did and they gave me $50 dollars more.  Tuition in those days at Duke was $450 per semester.   Yes, I have truly been blessed  My Christian faith that allow me to communicate regularly with my Father and Creator and certainly provides the path to follow and help me control any worries. 
It's just marvelous and wonderful to still be enjoying the good life and filling with things I enjoy during retirement on 1/1/16 from my position at Harlem Hospital as Director, a position I've enjoyed fro 43 years as part of Columbia University.   My worse event has been the loss of my wife of 51 years , Vivian,  in June of 2011 due to breast cancer.  Life really has it's adversities such as a fire that destroyed our church's Sanctuary on Tues, Mar 22.  Resurrection is the saving by God's grace that sure applies to our lives while on this earth as well.  I'm blessed to have three children,k one , a daughter Karen, who lives in the same town of Tenafly with three of my grandchildren and two sons, Alan and Andrew who live outside Charlotte and DC with a total of the other five grandchildren. One of my grandchildren , Nora Neus, is now in your business as a TV Reporter for Charlottesville Virginia NBC29.  I am also blessed to be married again to a young lady. Ursula Schell, who I first  met fas a science writer when she came to write up some of my research.  She is a musician as well which is my major pastime now.  Check out and"


The Jazz Doctors

One More

By R.L.Clark

This next story is from a pilot who was in VMFA 314 at Chu Lai in '69. You Vietnam F4 guys will appreciate this story. Here's another 'bad day' from Chu Lai:

I was one of a half-dozen replacements who checked-in with MAG-13 on August 2. We were not all assigned to VMFA-314 though. There were two other combat squadrons in the Air Group: VMFA-115, the Able Eagles, and VMFA-323, the Death Rattlers. All three squadrons flew the McDonnell Douglas F4B Phantom II and shared common living areas. Although we may have been in different squadrons, eventually we all got to know each other very well.

The first thing we six rookies did was attend an Air Group briefing in an underground bunker protected by a thick layer of sandbags. This bunker served as our group intelligence center. (When I was there in `66, we used a house trailer. I guess things got hotter when the gooks realized that I left and started flying for Delta...CJJ) Suddenly, an urgent radio call interrupted our briefing. We listened as one of VMFA-115s aircraft radioed-in to report a problem. The aircraft had been hit by enemy ground fire and could not lower its landing gear. The pilot was going to attempt a belly landing on the runway. At that news, we all raced outside near the runway to grab a good spot from which to watch the crash landing.

Crash crews raced to cover the runway with a layer of fire retardant foam while the damaged F4 circled overhead, burning down its load of fuel. Two arresting cables were strung across the middle of the runway. The cables were anchored on each end by a chain made with heavy, 40-pound links. The plan was for the F4 to lower his tail hook, to belly-land in the foam, to catch one of the arresting wires, and to come to a screeching halt. It did not quite happen that way.

After burning off most of his fuel, the pilot gingerly lowered the airplane onto the foamed runway. A spark set off the fumes in the jet's empty wing tanks and they erupted into flames. All one could see racing down the runway were two wingtips protruding from an orange and black ball of fire heading toward the arresting cables. The F4 hit the first arresting cable. We watched the cable snap and hurl its 40-pound chain links skyward. Then the plane hit the second arresting cable. It also parted and flung its chain links. The aircraft was now just a ball of fire heading toward the end of the runway.

Then we heard, Boom! Boom! The pilot had lit his afterburners. He was attempting to take-off without wheels! As the aircraft roared toward the end of the runway, it slowly struggled skyward. It got airborne and began to climb nearly vertically. Then, both the pilot and his backseater, the radar intercept officer (RIO), ejected.

We stared in wonder as the aircraft crashed into the nearby ocean. The two crewmen slowly floated down in their parachutes. The wind carried them over the ocean and they too soon splashed down. A rescue helicopter was on the scene immediately. Both of the F-4 crewmen, treading water, raised their right hand. This was a signal to the chopper that they were unharmed. The helicopter slowly lowered itself and plucked the pilot out of the water and into the safety of the helicopter. The helicopter then turned its attention to the RIO. As the helicopter slowly lowered itself over the RIO, the helicopter pilot suddenly lost control of his chopper, and he crashed into the water on top of the RIO. As soon as the chopper hit the water, its pilot regained control, got airborne again, and yanked the RIO from the water. Although the RIO was rescued safely, his leg was broken when the helicopter crashed on top of him.

That night at the Officers Club, the RIO sat with his leg elevated and encased in a full-leg cast. As he imbibed a few, he related his story: "First, we got the xxxx (heck) shot out of us. But, hey, that's okay, we weren't hurt. Then, we survived a belly landing. But, that was okay too, we weren't hurt. Then the pilot decided he'd take off without wheels, but that worked out well too. Then we survived an ejection and a water landing, but that was also okay, we weren't hurt. Then the damn rescue helicopter crashed on me and broke my leg!"