Friday, March 30, 2012

Our town gets a face-lift !

Up until the 1950’s Route #1 was the fastest and most direct route from Maine to Florida and our little town of Vass, North Carolina, flourished since we sat smack dab in the center. Even when Interstate 95 diverted most of the long distance travelers we still remained a thriving little community.

Well, that all changed a few years back when the State built an express section of Rt. 1 that by-passed our center completely. Many of the Vass citizens thought that would be the death of our town but we’ve managed to hang on.

But the saddest thing, to me anyway, has been watching the old buildings sit idle. Many of them date back to the late 1900’s and I can remember (when we moved here in 1978) that they would be filled with happy crowds and all sorts of fun enterprises … flea markets, hardware goods, farmer’s produce stands… and it was a wonderful way to meet and get to know your neighbors.

So…you can just imagine how pleased I was this week when I drove by these buildings and saw an artist painting this delightful scene. Of course I had to stop and congratulate him (not to mention the fact that I wanted the inside dope) ! And, yes, it’s as good as it looks. A wholesale company called “Carolina Seed & Feed” has already moved in and they commissioned the mural.

Hurray for them and I wish them all the luck in the world.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Folk singer and activist Peggy Seeger comes to town

We are very privileged in our area to have a nightspot that features a variety of music for our enjoyment. It’s called “The Rooster’s Wife” and this past week the featured performer was none other than Peggy Seeger.

Of course you’ll recognize the name Seeger (her half brother Pete is often referred to as the “father of American Folk revival”) but Peggy can stand on her own, often being considered one of North America’s finest singers of traditional songs, many of them her own creations.

This is the final tour for this still vibrant 77 year old and it was a thrill to hear her in person. She is still very much the activist and had even written a song in support of the Occupy Wall Street group. It was like going back in time and reminded me of the years of Peter, Paul & Mary, Bob Dylan and Joan Baez. (A thrill for this old liberal, to be sure!)

However, an even bigger thrill was in store for me and everyone else.

Peggy introduced us to Rhiannon Giddens, the lead singer of the Durham, NC based Carolina Chocolate Drops , a group that culls their sound from the 1920s and 30’s Southern black music. They are quickly gaining National acclaim and I can see why.

Before she sang Rhiannon revealed that Peggy Seeger has been her mentor since she was a small child and that she was following Peggy’s example by writing her own words and music. She then picked up her banjo and began to sing. Her haunting voice depicted a chilling conversation between a slave girl and her mistress at the end of the Civil War. We were mesmerized to say the least and she received a standing ovation.

It was a memorable evening and I can’t help but wonder if someone had once given Peggy the boost that she gave to Rhiannon that night. What a loving gesture.

Thursday, March 22, 2012


Foosball (sometimes known as Table Football) is a fast paced and very competitive indoor sport and my “children” (50, 51 and 52) thrive on it !

I don’t have the coordination and I can’t seem to get my wrists to move fast enough to be competitive so I rarely play. But I do find it fun to watch and cheer them on.

Actually I had no idea that it’s a game that’s been around for a very long time. It is generally believed to have been originated in Germany where it’s called fussball …literally translated as football and pronounced like “foosball”.

After World War II it was often used as a type of rehabilitation for returning servicemen and it continues to be used as such today. The complete concentration needed to be proficient in the game tends to overcome the wartime memories…or at least that’s the theory.

I also read that foosball ranks up there with billiards and chess when it comes to being the most popular indoor sports game so I can only assume that some of you who read this have had the thrill of competing at a foosball table. I sure hope you enjoy it as much as my kids do!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Green with envy …

Some of you might think this is just a picture of Kermit the Frog, (which it is, obviously) but it’s much more than that … it’s the epitome of how I feel … GREEN WITH ENVY ! And why, you might ask, am I in this unenviable position?

Well, I’ve always loved Elton John and never more so than when he turned his life around in 1990. That was when he decided to play it straight and he’s lived a sober and clean life since then. I started the same journey a year before him and it’s been fun to watch his progress.

I heard Elton John interviewed in 1995 and got a big kick out of it when he said, with a huge grin, “Man, living sober is a trip”. He went on to say that sobriety had opened doors that he never knew existed and that he was living a life that he wouldn‘t trade for a million dollars.

But what does this have to do with my being envious? You may remember a few blog entries back where I wrote about my son receiving a crazy NFL Giant’s toaster as a thank you bonus from one of his clients. Well, the same son was given another gift from a different happy customer and this time it was no joke. It was two very choice tickets to see John Elton in person, performing at the RBC Center in Raleigh this past Friday night.

Now wouldn’t you think that any loving son would take his mother to a concert like that? But, oh no, he took his girlfriend with him and even had the audacity to tell me how exciting it was and how much they loved it !!

Oh, well, I guess I’ll get over it in time and I’ll rest easy in the meantime knowing that he’ll never know about the green-eyed monster dwelling within his mother’s heart since he never reads my blog …

and I’m sure none of you will tell him !

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Shrinking the world … via my blog

Recently I had a comment from a reader in Pune, Maharashtra, India. Now, that’s a “fer piece” from North Carolina, USA, as they say here in the South …

but that’s not what amazed me. What really got to me was when I clicked on his blog and read his profile, only to find that his favorite Country Western singer was a man named Jim Reeves.

Some of you “oldsters” will remember that name and I will never forget it because I was employed at WABC radio in NY City in the late 1950’s and actually worked with Jim.

1957 was a very shaky time for the radio industry. 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 of them. 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 and would fly up from the South to meet with the ABN people, although his weekly live radio shows aired from his home town.  You couldn't find a nicer person and he always treated us (the producers and the lowly writers like myself) the same. We all  were impressed with his gentle manner not to mention his one-of-a-kind voice.

Jim died when the plane that he flew crashed in 1964 but I find it wonderful that he is remembered to this day … almost forty years later and from a man as far away as Maharashtra, India.

Isn’t life fascinating???

Saturday, March 10, 2012

LIVE RADIO SHOWS in the 1940’s

(A few days ago I received an inquiry from a woman named Nina commenting on a blog that I’d written way back in November of 2006. I always love when that happens and thought it would be fun to repeat the entry here and to include her question at the end in hopes that some of you might have an answer for her.)

In the early 1940’s World War II was raging and the live radio shows of that era provided a much-needed respite for the families waiting at home and for the boys on base. “The Jack Benny Show”, “Edgar Bergan and Charlie McCarthy”, “Burns and Allen” and “The Great Gildersleeve” were only a few of the shows
that brought their home-spun humor into our lives.

I was 9 yrs old in 1942 when my family re-located to Wellesley, Massachusetts. I can remember many a night that we gathered around the big, wooden radio in the living room and laughed until the tears flowed. There were also nights when we cried as we listened to the news of our brave boys so far from home. The radio was our lifeline for good news or bad.

One of our family favorites was “You Bet Your Life” with Groucho Marx. He was just as funny on radio as he later was on his TV show of the same name. “The Shadow” was another winner …“Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!” Or, how about “The Aldrich Family”, the story of a bumbling kid growing into adolescence. I will never forget the introduction, with his mother calling, “Hen-reeeeeee! Hen-ree AL-drich!” And also, “Mr. Keen, Tracer of Lost Persons”, the show that we so cleverly changed to “Mr. Trace, Keener than Most People”.

By 1946 my taste in radio shows had changed dramatically. I was now a teenager and my “romantic” self couldn’t get enough of “The Lux Radio Theater”. Their format was to air one hour radio versions of motion pictures, often using the same cast as in the movie. (examples of these were: “Jane Eyre”, “I Remember Mama”, and “Miracle of the Bells”.) The only problem was that my bedtime was before the show came on.

Not to worry. We now owned two smaller radios and I, simply, connected a long extension cord to one of them and took the radio to bed with me!


Nina commented: “I am in my mid-70s and remember listening to a kid's radio show back in the 1940s. Every week they would sing to the kids who were celebrating their birthdays that week. It was a birthday song sung to the tune of "The Merry Widow Waltz." Does anyone remember what the name of that show was? I would love to find it online.”

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

“ATTITUDE” by Charles Swindoll

(I feel a bit of a hypocrite to be posting this since I am not a churchgoer, nor have I ever listened to this man’s Radio sermons. However I’ve always loved these words that he wrote.)

“The longer I live the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do.

It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company… a church … a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day.

We cannot change the fact that people will act a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The ONLY thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude …


And so it is with you …we are in charge of our attitudes.”

Friday, March 02, 2012

Is problem solving easier in the AM ?????

Recently I heard the results of a new study claiming there is now proof that we, as humans, are more intelligent in the morning … so I decided to research it. Of course that brought up reams of info to the contrary (heavily backed up with “proof”, also) so there seems to be no end to the controversy.

However, I have my own research to fall back on. For many years
I have worked on a nightly crossword puzzle. I am hoping that it will stave off Alzheimer’s or, at the very least, help to keep me half-way alert in my old age !

Anyway, I often find (especially with the NY Times puzzles) that I can get most, but not all, of the answers. It’s frustrating but I’ve learned not to let it become a big deal. I simply put the puzzle aside and hope I can finish it in the morning.

What amazes me is that usually I can ! Those troublesome clues seem crystal clear to me in the early hours of a new day. I will fill in the answers and wonder why in heaven’s name I couldn’t bring them up the night before !

So it certainly does seem (for me anyway) that I am more intelligent in the morning; but, what about you? Let’s have our own little independent “blogger poll” and see what it reveals.