I was in several
commercials while at BT and really enjoyed
seeing how everything in that end of the business worked. One day Ty
Boyd was doing a Hanes Underwear commercial and I got picked to be
in it because I knew how to play handball. A simulated handball court
had been built in the studio. The commercial was to start off as a
voice-over, with the cameras on me and Ty playing handball. The mikes
in the studio were on so they would pick up the thump and whack of
the ball and the noise of me and Ty running around. The voice-over
started, “The sport of handball
was invented by the Phonecians over 5,000 years ago……”
Ty and I were really playing to win. At one point he
missed a shot and said “SHIT”……of course the
mikes picked it up, so cut and start over.
Also in the studio was a shower stall. The voice-over would
the game, a nice soothing shower…..” A wet arm was to reach
out of the shower and take a towel from a towel bar. The mikes were not
on for that shot, and one of the floor crew was in the shower with a
bucket of water to wet his arm. So since the mikes were not on for that
shot, Ty and I kept playing handball. Just as the arm reached out to
take the towel, I totally missed a low bouncing handball off a side wall,
and it bounced across the shot of the shower…….cut!!!
Took us all day to shoot the damn thing. The last
scene was of Ty opening a drawer and taking out a pair of boxer shorts
and a tee shirt. Voice over said, “And finally a clean, fresh set of Hanes underwear.” I
left and didn’t get to see any surprises in that segment.
Here is one for you,
but first you have to recall how strait-laced, prim and proper Tom Cookerly
was. On a sales seminar to the beach one time (read boondoggle to the
beach) we planted a real live hooker in Tom's room while he was out.
When he came back, opened the door and walked in, she was there in skimpy
and inviting pose, and we were all in the next room listening through
the wall. Tom apologized for entering the wrong room, walked out, came
back in and told her that was really his room. She said things "Well,
can't we share it Big Boy?" and "But this room makes me so horny." Tom
tap danced her out of there, finally, embarrassed that such an event
had happened in his life.
Later, when I was
over in radio and we did a beach boondoggle, we tried the same thing
on Paul "Bosco" Marion. It backfired, big time. When Bosco found the "lady" in
his room, his first comment was "When I find out who sent you, Babe,
they are going to get a raise."
Joe Dawson, who used to work
for John Dillon and later went to Florence to work for Foster, used
to come in to work, discover the gospel groups were recording that
day, immediately claim he had a terrible migraine and go home for the
day. He said the perfume smell in the building was beyond his powers
to cope. I can still hear him saying, "Yeee Gods!! Som'un Reeks!!!" Then
he would go home. (I think he was replaced by a young guy named Pic
As I recall, the saying of the day when the gospel groups
were there for taping was "Geeeeezzz, someun' reeks!!!" I could
have killed Keller [Bush] the week he accidently, mistakenly, or stupidly
erased the master and they had to come back and tape the whole show again.
I'd like to say a word
about Mr. C......The Boss..... Crutch. I hope everyone remembers
him as fondly as I do. He always called me "Boy" and I always called
him "Boss." One day he asked me to help him carry some stuff
to his car, in his reserved parking space at the back of the building.
It was just before four o'clock in the afternoon. We went out the back
door and started toward his car. He said, "Boy, if you'll look around
at the building, in the windows of the second floor you will see (so
and so, and so and so, I forget the names but one was the building
maintenance guy then!!) looking out the windows to be sure I am leaving.
As soon as I leave they will, an hour early. They think I don't know." I
looked around and he was right. Heads in windows.
After I had left the company for Duke Power Public Relations
and had been gone about six months I was back visiting the station, having
lunch at Miss Billie's with Larry Harding. Crutch walked up to the table
and I said, "Hi Boss, good to see you." With a peevish grin he
said, "Where you been, Boy? I haven't seen you at work lately." Then
he sat down and wanted to hear all about my new job, new baby and family.
I loved that guy.
Here is another Crutch story. After
I went to Duke Power I helped Larry Harding and Floyd Grass get good
lots on Lake Norman. One day Crutch called me and said, "Boy, I want
a lot on Lake Norman too." I said, "Well you are a personal friend
of Bill McGuire (President of Duke) why don't you call him?" He
said, "Because you must have more power than he does. Only someone
with great power could get reprobates like Harding and Grass lots." I
knew how much respect he had for Larry and Floyd and we had a big laugh
at his joke. Then I went down and got him a lot.
One of the great ones. A
pretty lady named Helen Bassett often sat at the reception desk in
the little lobby beside the parking lot entrance. She would call whomever
a visitor was coming to see and announce the visitor’s presence.
One day a distinguished-looking man walked in and asked to see Mr.
Crutchfield. So the lovely lady asked, "What is your name, please? "Terry
Sanford," the man said. "And what company are you with?" Helen
asked. Flummoxed, the guy said, "Well, I work for the state of
It was, of course, the Governor. And the lady failed to
recognize him or his name.
John Dillon hired me to come
to WBT-WBTV. First thing he sent me to the mail room to get some supplies.
Lewis Van Leuven, the mail room manager, ignored me for about 10 minutes.
Then he said (having never seen me before) “What do you want, Stupid?” I
told him I needed some writing supplies. He said, “You look too
damn stupid to write.” I wondered what kind of hell I had joined.
I want to tell everyone a
true story about Ty Boyd. One year Jim Cremins and I promoted Ty to
be a replacement for Arthur Godfrey for a week, while Godfrey took
a vacation from his show on the CBS Radio Network. We sent in tapes
of Ty and he got the job. Ty asked the great Loonis McGlowan to be
a guest every day of the week on the show. Jim Cremins, Loonis, Ty
and I stayed at the company’s New York apartment for the week.
On Monday morning of Ty’s first day, I thought he
was nervous as a long-tail cat in a room full of rocking chairs. One
minute before air time he had his head on the console desk as if he were
praying. My thought was Ty is going to blow it, by not being himself.
But right on cue he raised his said and spoke into the microphone: "GOOD
MORNING, VIRGINIA, GEORGIA, CAROLINE AND ALL YOU OTHER BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE!!!
THIS IS TY BOYD SITTING IN FOR THE VACATIONING ARTHUR GODFREY. AND DO
WE HAVE A SHOW FOR YOU!!!!
For a week Ty had the listeners eating from his hand. Loonis
was a great hit and someday I’ll tell you of all the great musicians
who came by the apartment to talk with Loonis. It was only then I realized
how respected in the field of music he was.
After Ty’s Friday show we had lunch with Axle Peterson,
who was the Program Director for CBS Radio, a guy I had come to know
over the years and with whom I worked to get Ty as a replacement for
Arthur Godfrey. At the luncheon, and right in the presence of Cremins,
Loonis and me, Axle made a pitch to Ty. He told him Arthur Godfrey would
soon be retiring and he wanted to offer Ty the job as the permanent replacement
for Godfrey. He said, “We can pay you XXX dollars annually.” (Now
this was a nationally broadcast show!!) Ty replied, “Gosh it is
an honor to get this offer. But first, I really don’t want to move
my family to New York. And second, I don’t want to take that much
cut in pay.”
Without a doubt Ty was one of the greatest radio and television
personalities to grace the airways. You had to be there when he was,
and in on a lot things, to realize just how great.
And Loonis. I don’t believe there was a serious musician
in the country who didn’t know and respect him. In New York everybody
from Rock and Roll stars to Country and Western Stars to Easy Listening
stars came by to say hello and pay their respects to him.
I went to New York that week in awe of the talent at WBT-WBTV.
I returned in shock and awe. Now I knew the giants I walked among.
Here is one of my favorite
WBT stories. It took place the week Ty Boyd replaced Arthur Godfrey
on CBS while Godfrey went on vacation. Loonis was a guest on the show
every day. We were staying at the company apartment in New York and
it seemed every musician in the town dropped by to see Loonis. Cremins
and I were to give a presentation to the Blair Agency people, in their
conference room. Cremins came up with the idea of presenting a genuine
Winchester commemorative rifle to the salesman who sold the most time
on WBT for the next month. We together came up with the presentation,
which included a pellet pistol Cremins wore in a hoster. We put up
posters and hung big balloons over them so nobody could read a poster
until Cremins pooped the balloon with a pellet from his pistol. We
practiced the thing several times and Cremins busted every balloon
he shot at. First thing to go wrong was I was taking the rifle to the
presentation and no taxi would pick me up. Guy carying a rifle??? No
way I'm picking him up. So I started walking from the apartment and
the cops picked me up. I finally convinced them what was going on and
they gave me a ride. Next thing that went wrong was when Cremins shot
the first balloon of the presentation the pellet bounced off the balloon
and richocheted around the confernce room. The client sales people
were diving under the table. Jim looked over at me, said "Shit!" and
shot again. Every balloon broke from then on, but it sure didn't get
the presentation off to a great start.
I sure remember the client party
when Loonis, Jim Cremins and I wrote new lyrics for songs from "South
Pacific". I had visions of being one of the lead singers. At the first
rehersal I sang the first two lines of a song. Loonis stopped playing
the piano. He and Cremins looked at each other. Then Loonis said, "Camp,
you are terrible. In all my years I've never heard anyone sing that
badly. You are off-key, out of tune, out of time with the music, just
horrible!!!" Cremins came up and shoved me off the "stage." I
finally got a walk-on as a cop, with no singing part and not even a
speaking part. I still contend it was a great loss to the world to
not hear my voice in song.
Does anybody remember a DJ at
WBT named Tom Loony? Tom was in my basic training Army unit at Fort
Jackson. He had been a dj at a radio station in Florida, and there
could not have been a more inept soldier. He screwed up everything.
Had it not been for friends he would still be at Fort Jackson trying
to complete basic. When we finished the 10 weeks of basic he and I
were both shipped to Fort McPherson, where he did some kind of audio
tapes. Had a great voice that was made for an easy listening station.
Later, when I was at WBT-WBTV , there was an opening
for an early afternoon dj. I recommended Tom Looney. He sent in some
demo tapes and got the job. He was single. For many, many months he
came to my house for dinner because he could not cook a lick. Eventually
he went to Richmond for a better time slot and I lost track of him.
I thought I had found him a few years ago when I
read an article in a magazine written by a radio dj named Tom Looney
in Los Angeles. Turned out he was not the same guy but had the same
name. I’ve never heard a better radio voice. Very deep bass,
clear and distinct. When he talked it was if one word naturally flowed
into the next. But gads, left alone to try anything else he was helpless.
He couldn’t boil water and would have messed up a two-car funeral.
remember a security guard at
the station named Vandiver? He was a professional gossip and did everything
he could to find out some dirt on everybody. I recall two episodes
with him. One year I did a promotional piece for WBT-WBTV, to be used
with a couple hundred ad agencies in big cities across the nation (the
ones who purchased air time for clients). The promo piece was a round
piece of art work of an egg in a frying pan. The enclosed message was
something along the lines "Charlotte is an egg. The city is the yoke
(yellow) but the whole egg includes all the white. Then came a message
arguing that Charlotte was one of the largest metropolitan statistical
areas in the nation, and included more people than the statistical
areas of Atlanta, Miami, Richmond etc. In a nutshell, we reach a lot
Teflon had just been invented so I ordered a couple
hundred Teflon fry pans. I stored them in a downstairs room on the
parking lot side, toward the crew lounge. Then I had to get each opened,
the promotion piece (round) placed in the bottom of the pan, then the
box re-sealed, an address label applied and be ready for shipping to
specific people at ad agencies in New York, Chicago, etc. I hired some
ladies from the business office to help me prepare them at night. Every
15 minutes or so Vandiver would poke his head in the door, without
knocking, obviously ready to catch some hanky-panky. Eventually I locked
the door and he nearly pounded it down demanding to be admitted.
On another occasion we were sponsoring a beauty
contest in which various young ladies who worked for companies who
advertised with WBT-WBTV would be the contestants. We asked those advertisers
to nominate some lady in their company. Eventually we asked all the
young ladies to come to the station’s conference room (which
adjoined Crutch’s office) one night, bring a bathing suit to
dress in, and have their pictures made in the conference room. Fiddling
Hank took the pictures. Again Vandiver crashed in about every 15 minutes.
Once when he came in I had a half dozen of the pretty young ladies
gathered around Crutch’s desk, looking adoringly at his chair.
Vandiver asked if I had permission to be in Crutch’s office and
I said no. He told me in no uncertain terms he was reporting me to
Crutch the next day. The reason I had the girls in there is Hank and
I had cooked up a photo in which the girls were gathered around Crutch’s
desk, and Hank had placed Crutch in his chair, then did good work making
it look as if Crutch were actually sitting there with all the pretty
ladies in bathing suits around him. The next day Hank and I gave Crutch
the photo and he thought it was funny as hell. He said, “Wait
til Pee Wee sees this. She thinks I’m worn out.”
I don't go back to the Wilder
Building, but I was there for Betty Feezor and Fred Kirby and Uncle Jim
(Patterson) at one Julian Price Place. Betty (bless her heart) used to
bring me a food portion to my office, which the floor crew probably will
not like to hear. What a lovely lady! Some of my great recollections
are the week Jim Patterson was working with Betty in preparation for
the great week when he replaced her for vacation and they were making
some contraption that required a screw driver. As Betty was driving in
the screw with the screw driver she said said to Jim, "Here, you
do it Jim. You screw better than I do."
Then there was the day the lipsyncing Fred Kirby had his
recording of "Big Rock Candy Mountain" replaced with "I'm
a Ramblin' Wreck from Georgia Tech and a Helluva Engineer." Showman
that he was, Fred actually tried to pick up the words while his guitar
still played "Big Rock Candy Mountain."
Life would have been less without Betty, Fred, Jim, Alan
Newcomb, Arthur Smith and the boys, Charlie "Crutch" Crutchfield,
Jim Cremins, Loonis, Jim "The Silver Fox" Babb, Ty Boyd, Reno
Bailey, The Belmont Tunnel, Big Bill Ward and wrestling taping, the taping
of Gospel Music for a while (gawd, those guys could smell up a bathroom
with their perfume), Paul "Bosco" Marion, Wally Jorgenson,
Larry "The Pipe" Harding, Lewis ("@#$%^&()*&%)
Van Leuven, John Dillon, Erv Melton, Bob Rierson, Tom Matthews, Dick
Taylor, Harold Hinson, Jay and Virgil Torrence, Bill Cook and Bryan Yandle,
Ed Wade and the McDaniels, Alma (what a set!!!), Janet and Barbara, Julian
Massi and Mark Conrad and Cullie Tarleton, and on and on.
My life was enriched then and is enriched now with such
memories! Oh man, Cremins, Loonis, Harold Hinson, Daisy, Pearl, Lacy,
Uncle Jim, Alan Newcomb, Crutch, Larry Harding, Bill Cook, Bryan Yandle,
so many now gone.