Friday, December 22, 2017

Christmas 1947

By  Betsy Villas White

When I was ten years old, it snowed on Christmas Eve.
Not a lot of snow, but enough to coat the North
Carolina ground with an unexpected white blanket. It
was the only year we put our Christmas tree in front of
the bay window in the dining room. Whenever I hear
Gene Autry sing “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer”, I
can close my eyes and transport myself back 67 years to
the floor in front of that tree with the bubble lights
above my head and the lighted cardboard village spread
out in front of me. I am warmed by the coal furnace,
clean flannel pajamas and my fuzzy slippers. That
memory contains all the peace and magic and sense of
excitement that a ten year old little girl can feel on
Christmas Eve.

There have been many Christmas Eves for me since
then. Like all of us, some have been hard, some have
lacked the Christmas Spirit, and many have been
magical. This year I am feeling an overwhelming sense
of gratitude for the people who have been a part of my
life - those to whom I am connected by memories, by
love and by good fortune. My world is filled with those
who have gone before me and by those who travel with
me now and by those who will journey on after me.

Maybe I can’t conjure up all the peace and magic and
sense of excitement of that ten year old little girl at
Christmas, but I can certainly think of you all with joy
and thanksgiving and that’s what I’ll be doing this
Christmas Eve.

Merry Christmas!


Christmas Story Re-run

I've told this story  before,  but I think about it every year at this time.....

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.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Mary Sue Banks Burnett (1936 - 2017)

Mary Sue Banks Burnett, passed away on Sunday, December 10, 2017 at Hospice of Union County with her beloved husband by her side.

She was born on September 29, 1936, a native of Charlotte, NC at St. Peters Hospital in Charlotte, daughter to the late Thomas Richard Banks and Edith Sue Harris Banks. Mary Sue received her high school diploma from Charlotte Central High School, Class of 1954. Pursuing her love of teaching, she went on to receive her undergraduate in Education from Appalachian State University in 1958 and her Master's in Education from the University of Alabama in 1963. Mary Sue had 50 years in elementary education starting in Alabama followed by teaching in Memphis, TN and Erie, PA. She returned to Charlotte, NC to continue teaching for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School system and later became Principal at Billingsley Elementary, and later at Starmount Academy and finally at Windsor Elementary School where she remained until her retiring in 2007.

She was a fantastic wife and wonderful mother and grandmother. In recent years Mary Sue enjoyed attending the monthly class luncheons at Jimmy's with her fellow 1954 graduates of Charlotte Central High School. She was a musician, playing the violin, piano, bassoon and other instruments. Mary Sue was always planting flowers, bushes, shrubs, grass or trees. She particularly enjoyed traveling, visiting many countries in Western and Central Europe. The Surfside Beach "beach house" was another favorite place to relax and enjoy the grandsons. She always accompanied her husband on numerous business trips and conventions. Mary Sue was a member of Myers's Park Methodist Church in Charlotte. She will be remembered for her devotion to teaching, even well beyond her career years, teaching academics to her grandchildren.

Survivors include her husband Clyde R. Burnett of the home; sons Steven F. Burnett (Marie Beth) of Raleigh, Christopher R. Burnett (Becky) of Charlotte; grandsons Ryan A. Burnett (Brenda) of Birmingham, AL, Anthony R. Burnett and Christopher A. Burnett of Charlotte; and sister Mrs. Marge Drier of Ocala, FL.

Visitation will be held from 12:00 PM until 12:45 PM on Friday, December 15, 2017 at Heritage Funeral Home, Weddington Chapel, 3700 Forest Lawn Drive, Matthews, NC 28104. Graveside services will follow at 1:00 PM at Forest Lawn East Cemetery.

The family acknowledges and is grateful for the care and compassion given to Mary Sue by Hospice of Union County and asks that memorials in lieu of flowers be made to Hospice of Union County, 700 West Roosevelt Blvd., Monroe, NC 28110.

Arrangements are in the care of Heritage Funeral Home, Weddington. An online guestbook is available at
> This is the contact information we have:
> Mr. Clyde Burnett
> 5320 Beritstrasse Ct.
> Charlotte, NC 28277
> Telephone 704/846-8619>

Monday, December 11, 2017

Mary Sue (Banks) Burnett Passes

By Jerry Gaudet

Though not unexpected as she has been in a Hospice facility, it none the less was a hard blow when Clyde, Mary Sue's husband, called to say Mary Sue had slipped away about 10 o'clock last night.

Arrangements are incomplete at this time.  An obit will follow this when available.

This is the contact information we have:
Mr. Clyde Burnett

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Edgar Smith Passes

Edgar Williams Smith (1937 - 2017)

Edgar Williams Smith, 80, of Denver, NC, passed away on Sunday, December 3, 2017.

He was born on June 18, 1937 in Union County, NC, to the late Stephen "Ike" and Sarah Williams Smith. Mr. Smith was Owner/Operator of Service Bolt and retired from Dow Chemical Company. He was very active with the Piedmont Boy Scout Council. He was an amateur actor and was in the first Carolina Panther commercial and in several other commercials as well. He was the postman in the Hallmark movie "Love Letter". He served his country proudly in the US Air Force for six years and retired as Captain. He was a graduate of NC State University. He was a loving husband, father and grandfather.

He is survived by his loving wife Sandra Brown Smith; daughter, Laura Lynn Smith; step-children, Stacy McCoy (Jason), Robert Fisher (Beth); brother, Stephen Smith (Mary); five grandsons, Grant and Brady McCoy, Tom, Robert and Charles Fisher.

A Celebration of Life will be held at 4:00 PM, on Saturday, December 9, 2017 in the Cavin-Cook Funeral Home Chapel with Pastor Michael Carson officiating. The family will receive friends prior to the service from 2:00 - 4:00 PM at the funeral home.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Hospice & Palliative Care of Iredell County, 2347 Simonton Road, Statesville, NC 28625.

Cavin-Cook Funeral Home & Crematory, Mooresville, is serving the Smith family.

Condolences may be made to the family at

We have this contact information:
Mrs. Sandra Smith
Telephone 704/483-4083

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

LDL Tuesday December 12th

By Jerry Gaudet

Can you believe it's already December and Christmas is coming?  Christmas is not the only thing coming... 
"LDL" (Let's do lunch) will be held on Tuesday, December 12, 2017, 11:30 AM at "Jimmies" Restaurant in Mint Hill.
Help spread the word!  Invite other classmates to come!  Even better, bring someone with you! 
We sure hope you'll "JINGLE" on by!


Thursday, November 30, 2017

Beautiful Music Together

Anyway, that's what Mary Sue Banks and I thought.

And, in fact, from our years at Piedmont on through Central....our orchestras never got less than a Number One rating from the State Music Judges!

We had some very talented kids in those orchestras!  I doubt that any of us continued with our music after high school, but as my friend Julian Barber used to say...."I may be a "has been"....but look where I has been!"

Mary Sue and I sat next to each other in the first violin section of those orchestras for 6 years....and literally could read each other's musical minds.

Our senior the final orchestra competition and "official rating" of all the State high school orchestras and bands (a really big deal) that we had practiced the whole year for....I was convinced that I had BLOWN it !

All those days of practice....and rehearsal....

Me....the concertmaster....the so called leader.....had blown it!

I obviously let the pressure and excitement get to me...and when Jack Stern, our director...moved his hand...adjusting his glasses or something....I mistakenly though he had given us the "downbeat" and  I began to play....half the orchestra followed me...and also began.

All those months of practice.....sweat and tears....

Mr. Stern directed us to stop immediately.......

But there I was...guilty as Hell.  In front of all those State Judges.

After all that practice....(our entire year was pointed toward performing well for that State competition,  and I had just caused us to look like the SPIKE JONES band!

I looked over at Mary Sue, expecting her to have fire in her eyes...directed toward me for my stupid mistake....But, she just smiled.....

What a relief her smile was to me.

Maybe my goof didn't really spoil our chances at a good rating after all!.

And she was right. The judges interpreted my mistake as an indication that I must be a strong  "leader".....since the rest of the orchestra began to play...after I falsely started.

We got an A plus rating.

That was many years ago, but I guess it's never too late to thank Mary Sue and those excellent student musicians in the CHS orchestra who once protected me from looking like a complete jerk..


(Jerry Gaudet informs me that Mary Sue is currently very ill.  I'll let you know if I hear anything more.   -Ed)

Friday, November 24, 2017

Tragic Death of Warren Sparrow's Daughter

Monday, November 20, 2017

By Jerry Gaudet

Great sympathies to Warren Sparrow following the tragic death of his daughter, Dora, from complications in recovery following what seemingly was to be routine outpatient arthroscopic surgery.

Blessings to Warren and his family.

We have this contact information:

Friday, November 17, 2017

Bob Raiford

My good friend and long time broadcaster, Bob Raiford died this morning.  He was 89.
His nightly program, "Raiford at Random" on WBT in the early 50's was when I first heard of him...and instantly became a fan.

As a member of Mr. Balance's "radio class" at Central High, I  personally proposed that we invite Bob to speak to our class.  I had no idea if he would or not, but I wanted the chance to have an excuse to meet the DJ I so admired.  He accepted.

I still remember part of his talk to our class, at one point he quoted "keats....or Shelley," he said "I don't remember which, but he wrote, "I'm a part of all that I have met...."

That's all I remember of his talk...but personally I had met a man....some of whose talent I was hoping would rub off on me.
As a fledgling DJ and radio announcer myself, I became an instant admirer and fan of his. His choice of music was impeccable. His "patter" was different from anything I had ever heard on the air. It was...for a better word...."sophisticated."  Highbrow, if you will....but down to earth at the same time.
And his voice?  Classic old time radio announcer quality...but with sincerity and conviction to spare.

I was very happy and.....honored that Bob and I became friends.

Those two virtues, sincerity and conviction was what got him in trouble.  That and the pure love of radio got in the way of the  his otherwise steel trap mind.   He would have made a great lawyer.  That, in fact, was what he was studying to be....when through a quirk of fate, and an absolutely golden voice pushed him into a totally different direction...a field that was just about the same age as he

As much as he loved radio, his dislike of, in his opinion,  mis-directed management of the medium, tended to "drive him over the edge."   And yes, I'm talking about that time he blew out the control room window of WTOP radio in Washington with a firecracker.  (But in all honesty, that had more to do with too much whiskey and good natured monkey-shines among "good buddies" than anything else.)

The big boss (Meester Big....of WTOP) at the station believed that. too. And although Bob was fired for that incident....he was "re-hired" not long afterward.

Bob didn't have a mean bone in his body.  But yes, some of his antics wound  up appearing mean spirited, they never started out that way.

I consider Bob one of my oldest and best friends.  I will miss him very much.


(Bob's nickname for me.)

Thursday, November 09, 2017


By Jerry Gaudet

"LDL" (Let's do lunch) will be held on Tuesday, November 14, 2017, 11:30 AM at "Jimmies" Restaurant in Mint Hill.
Please help spread the word!  Invite other classmates to come!  Even better, bring someone with you! 
We sure hope you'll come!


Monday, October 30, 2017

Disney Land East

That's one of my favorite names for the city I lived and worked in for most of my adult life, Washington, DC.
If it were a person, instead of a would long ago been committed to an insane asylum.
The latest indignity conjured up by the Wizzards of Smart in a time when all the plaques and statues of Robert E. Lee are being torn to....and I'm not kidding....

ERECT A STATUE OF MARION BARRY.........the crack smoking, whore-mongering, tax cheating, long time mayor of DC.

A number of locals here....are speculating that the plaque at the bottom will memorialize Barry's most famous quote: "The "B....h" set me up."


Monday, October 23, 2017

Lilllian Jane Nance

Ladies and Gentlemen..... This is our great-granddaughter Lillian Jane Nance . She was born Oct. 20th at 7:30 PM to my grandson Nate and his wife Emily Nance.  She is the first girl born to my family in 43 years.   -Don and Letty Nance


Meet Don and Letty Nance's latest grandchild

Sunday, October 22, 2017


Warren Sparrow and Mary Sandra Schulken to marry!

 " The time is 2 p.m, Saturday, January 6, 2018. The ceremony will be at the First Presbyterian Church, Forest City, NC.  We are excited about this and are pleased to make this announcement."
-Warren and Mary Sandra

Congratulations to youi both!

This is the best news I've heard in a long time!


Thursday, October 12, 2017

Timeless Pearls Of Wisdom From Grandparents

This is from the HuffPost:

Everything in moderation, including moderation.” – Oscar Wilde

“The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” ― Socrates

Never leave till tomorrow that which you can do today.” – Benjamin Franklin

Wishing to be friends is quick work, but friendship is a slow ripening fruit.” ― Aristotle

“Any fool can know. The point is to understand.” ― Albert Einstein

“All great achievements require time.” ― Maya Angelou

“Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes.” ― M. Gandhi 


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

LDL Jimmie is BACK!

By Jerry Gaudet

Wednesday, October 04, 2017


By Jerry Gaudet

"LDL" (Let's do lunch) will be held on Tuesday, October 10, 2017, 11:30 AM at "Jimmie's" Restaurant in Mint Hill.
We'd like to see you.  Please help spread the word!  Invite other classmates to come!  Even better, bring someone with you! 
We sure hope you'll come!

Monday, September 25, 2017

New Movers and Shakers

Let's face it. Our days (the CHS class of '54) of "moving and shaking" are over!
However!!!!........We can still bask in that special feeling and glow of  pride when our children and grandchildren receive special honors and appointments!

Such is the case with our own R.L. Clark, whose son, Robert has just received and important and prestigious appointment from the Governor of Michigan:

Gov. Rick Snyder makes appointment to the State Board of Accountancy

LANSING, Mich. – Gov. Rick Snyder today announced the appointment of Robert (Lee) Clark of Saline to the State Board of Accountancy.
Housed within the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, the nine-member board oversees licensure and certification requirements for certified public accountants and public accounting firms.
“I thank Lee for his commitment to overseeing the licensing of Michigan accountants. I am confident he will be a positive asset to the board,” Snyder said.
Clark will serve the remainder of a four-year term expiring June 30, 2019. His appointment is subject to the advice and consent of the Senate.



Goodbye, been nice knowing ya!

Ah. those Sunday afternoons....watching professional football!  Eddie LeBaron scramling.....Sammy Baugh throwing those perfect spirals....Sonny, Billy, Joe, etc. What a hoot!  What entertainment, What pleasure they brought to our Sunday afternoons!

Thanks, Guys!

But your bosses (the NFL) have ,by  allowing all this political  BS  (Colin Kuperknick, etc. to get out of hand) in essence, told us to take our white, conservative  butts and take a hike.

And that's exactly what I'm going to do!  And I have a feeling I won't be the only one.

This ain't 1950 (unfortunately).  There are lots of other things to do besides watch football games on TV.

By the time you realize the huge mistake you're making  by caving in to this "political correctness crap," it will be too late.

We'll be gone, baby.....GONE!   And we ain't coming back.



Tuesday, September 19, 2017

A Note from the Highlands

I love getting emails from old CHS54 buddies!   It's a feeling very close to the way our soldiers overseas must feel when they receive a "LETTER FROM HOME!"  -Ed

   "I can't remember whether or not I sent you the picture from Warren and Mary Sandra's visit.  They came to Highlands for a brief overnighter and it was great.  We did some reminiscing but actually spent more time sharing our thoughts and opinions about what is happening in the here and now.  Pretty amazing that we are all "on the same page"! Wish we could do more real life visits rather than virtual visits.  I will say that if things play out, Frances and I will be in the DC area twice in the coming months.  We will be there the last week in October and probably the first week in December.  I'm thinking the December visit will give me the opportunity to visit with my classmate Edward.
    Irma hit us up here, some places worse than others.  We lost power for about 18 hours but I have a small portable generator that runs my refrigerator, furnace and one circuit of lights that I can hook up in situations like this.  My adopted hometown, "The Holy City", Charleston sustained a lot of flooding.  Am attaching a picture of the market.  They just deal with and move on.  My first hurricane experience was in October of 1954 as a freshman at The Citadel.  Hazel came roaring through moving up the coast to Ocean Drive and wiping that place out.  Then in September 1989 hurricane Hugo did a direct hit on Charleston and headed due north and slammed Charlotte.  We were out of power for two weeks with that one. Opal hit us here in Highlands in 1995 and we sustained a lot of tree damage and power outage.  In 2004 Ivan ripped through and brought about 8 inches of rain.  This was the hurricane that swept the community of Peeks Creek down the mountain killing 4.  Now here comes Irma September 2017 and I go through that again.  What's wrong with this picture.  Here we are in the mountains, elevation 4118' and 200 miles from the coast and we keep getting hit by hurricanes! "
Obie Oakley

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Say WHAT?!

There'll be no peaches down in Georgia, no oil in Oklahoma
No sun in Arizona, no stars in California
No cowboys out in Texas, no wheat fields in Kansas
No Colorado skies of blue
When I stop loving you

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Donald Cooke Update

Note from Donald Cooke's Daughter:

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

LDL Next Tuesday

By Jerry Gaudet

"LDL" (Let's do lunch) will be held on Tuesday, September 12, 2017, 11:30 AM at "Jimmies" Restaurant in Mint Hill.
We look forward to seeing you.  Please help spread the word!  Invite other classmates to come!  Even better, bring someone with you! 
We sure hope you'll come!


Saturday, September 02, 2017

It Takes Courage...

...sometimes when you're our make a simple phone call.

I had been planning on calling an old radio and TV buddy of mine I hadn't spoken to  in years to see how he was....and probably reminisce a bit....BUT....what if all I get for my effort is "bad news!"  ...such as....he's very ill, or he's in some old folks home...and can't take phone calls.....or...or....who knows...maybe he isn't even "vertical" any more.

I have enough "old man" issues of my own (Nothing big at the moment, thank the Lord) without hearing about others.

But, I gathered up what courage I have left....and dialed!
Lo and behold, "HELLO" a strong and familiar voice answered......
It was the same one we all were so familiar with....when we were "young and beautiful!"

Image result for jimmy kilgo tv legend charlotte nc
Jimmy Kilgo
I almost expected him to say, "Welcome to another big old Friday date night...."
but then, I remembered ....we were on the phone....not the radio.
....and I was talking to a Charlotte teenage idol of the 1950's.....and a good friend of mine from our days at WSOC-TV...Jimmy Kilgo!

What a "hoot" it was talking with it was 1958 again!
Who says there's no such thing as "time travel?"  Balderdash!

He still sounds exactly the same as he did almost 60 years ago!

He said that I did too.  

Which gave me a great idea!

We'll produce a new TV show called...."Dancing With the Fogies" featuring seniors over 80 jitterbugging....and shagging....and ....and....

Oh well....back to the drawing board!