Thursday, April 29, 2010

1957 WABC RADIO, New York City

Recently I came across an old RCA tape featuring the songs of the legendary Jim Reeves and it brought back many memories.

I was working at WABC radio in NY City in 1957 and it was a very shaky time for that industry. The stations were losing audiences by the droves (as TV was just cresting on the horizon) and WABC was making a last ditch stand with their promotion, “Live and Lively Radio”.

The idea was to present interesting personalities performing live on the radio. The “Jim Reeves Show” and the “Merv Griffin Show” were two that recorded from New York. We also had “Don McNeill’s Breakfast Club” that aired from Chicago.

My job was to write promotional material aimed at selling time on the live shows. Our studios were on West 86th St. and I can remember it all so clearly. I even recall how we were all impressed with the fact that Jim Reeves piloted his own plane. He would fly up from the South to perform his weekly live radio show in New York. (Tragically he died in that same plane when it crashed in 1961.)

But here’s the strange thing. I have made an extensive search of the internet to see if I could pick up any other interesting tidbits about this time when I worked at WABC but I can’t find one reference to “Live and Lively Radio”…and the bio’s of these stars do not mention it either.

At one time I had a 78 rpm record with the label “Live and Lively”. It was given out as a promotion gift and had pictures of all the performers on the cover. I wish I still had it. At least it would be proof that those days really happened.

I was there, I remember it, but it’s like it never existed. How odd is that?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Power of Imagination …

This may look like a strange building at first glance but it’s actually the end product of an amazing re-cycling idea.

The small village of Granados, in central Guatemala was badly in need of a school. The community could barely afford books, let alone have money to build a schoolhouse. It looked like an impossible situation until a young Peace Corps volunteer by the name of Laura Kutner put her mind and her imagination to work.

Building materials such as brick or wood were prohibitively expensive but, as she wandered the streets wondering how to approach this problem she became aware of the abundance of plastic waste she saw. Why not put this to use?

Laura presented her idea and the enthusiasm grew. Local “Hug It Forward” volunteers joined her Peace Corps group and, with the help of the children they gathered over 5,000 plastic bottles which they stuffed with other trash and these were used to construct the walls. The whole community was involved by the time the building was completed … total cost $3,000.

Isn’t this inspiring? I often feel like a pessimistic and world-weary blogger but this really lifts my spirits. Let’s hope that the idea catches on

Monday, April 19, 2010


My oldest son Mark graduated from the School of Architecture at the State University of NY in Buffalo in 1991. He then remained there and got his Master’s Degree.

Since then he has been working with a firm in the area where I live. It is wonderful to have him nearby but the poor economy has been devastating for his field. It seems that the days of hiring expensive Architectural firms may be on the way out.

With this in mind he has decided to expand his horizons and see if he can make a go of it on his own in the drafting field. Any new enterprise is a challenge so we are anxious to see what transpires.

However I can’t help but think that he will be successful when I look at his outstanding business card. The simple lines of his logo belie the fact that he spent many hours creating it.

Design development has always been his strong point so I can’t wait to see how his artistic creativity will be put to use.

(PS: he just got his first assignment !!)

Thursday, April 15, 2010


These lovely birds were hand stitched by my Mother when I was just 3 years old and I have no idea how my Mother could have found the time for this.

I was the youngest of FIVE girls and we had all been born in the time span of eight years. She must have been a whiz at organization or else she had help. I do seem to recall a young woman who came in once in awhile.

The other thing that I love about this cross-stitch “painting” is that it is inscribed with her name and the date … a leap year, no less. February 29th, 1935 .

My Mother loved birds and she could distinguish them by their chirps and trills even when they could not be seen. I’ve tried to do that but “Bob White” is about as far as I can go !

You will notice the little wooden red-headed woodpecker that I’ve fixed on top of the picture frame. This is another memory of note.

My Mother’s father was an avid wood tinkerer and I still remember the lathe that he had in his workroom. He would cut out these little birds and then add them to a piece of wood that simulated a tree branch. A string attached to the tail would make it a door knocker !

Many years after my grandfather’s death I attended an auction in Brattleboro, Vermont and was thrilled to acquire this little woodpecker that he had made.

The perfect place for him to perch was atop Mother’s other birds and there he remains.

Saturday, April 10, 2010


My daughter and her husband, who live in NY State, searched for a long time to find a small house that they could refurbish and have as an investment.

They finally found this gem 3 years ago. It is about 20 minutes from where I live so I was thrilled. The house is charming and sits on almost 2 acres of land with a small stream in the back…but, the real deal clincher was the ENORMOUS tree that stands watch over their dream.

It was the first thing that caught their eye and they fell in love with the tree even before they saw the inside of the house. Maybe that was a good thing since the house needed everything ... new wiring, heating, plumbing etc.

The house was built approximately 100 years ago and as is often the case in Southern homes of this era there was not a basement nor a crawl space. As the years went by the tree matured and the roots spread under the building ... eventually lifting and tilting it.

The challenge was enormous because there wasn’t a straight line anywhere and all the rooms were out of sync; but, they had a professional house lifter come in and when the building was off the ground they were able to dig out a crawl space. That was phase #1.

Since then the refurbishing goes on whenever they are here visiting. There have been many dramatic changes but one thing has not changed. That magnificent tree remains and, hopefully, it will reign supreme for many years to come.

Monday, April 05, 2010


Our AA community is mourning the loss of one of it’s oldest members. He had 49 years of sobriety and was an inspiration to young and old. But his fame goes way beyond the halls of Alcoholic’s Anonymous.

Randall was the undisputed King of the Sardine Festival … a yearly celebration that he founded in 1993 in the small town of Aberdeen, North Carolina.

He had a business across the street from the town park and, as the story goes, his wife insisted that he go there to eat whenever his lunch consisted of sardines. She couldn’t stand the smell of them !

Randall’s favorite lunch was a can of sardines, crackers, a Moon Pie and an RC Cola. Day after day he would take his lunch to the park and it wasn’t long before he had a following. He was great company and these were his fans. Pretty soon they were all eating the same lunch and the word spread. Music was added to the mix and good natured teasing and laughter abounded.

Each year the crowd grew and now the sardines are provided by Maine’s Port Clyde Sardine Co, Moon Pies from the makers in Chattanooga, Tenn. and RC Colas from a bottler in Raeford, NC.
The event is free to the public but donations are accepted and are turned over to the Aberdeen Parks & Recreation Dept. to defray the cost of it’s youth baseball programs.

Randall had not been well enough to head up the event for the last few years but he always attended and I’m pretty sure that he still got the first kiss from the newly elected Sardine Queen!

You are gone but far from forgotten, Randall. Long live the Sardine King.