Archive for the ‘personalities’ Category
What can I say? A thousand years from now, people will know This man's name when everyone else from our era is forgotten.
All I can do is link again what I said here.
Never just A Face In The Crowd
“Take it easy.”
“So long, Hollis.” That was Applegate.
The many good-bys. The short farewells. And now the great loose brain was disintegrating. The components of the brain which had worked so beautifully and efficiently in the skull case of the rocket ship firing through space were dying one by one; the meaning of their life together was falling apart. And as a body dies when the brain ceases functioning, so the spirit of the ship and their long time together and what they meant to one another was dying. Applegate was now no more than a finger blown from the parent body, no longer to be despised and worked against. The brain was exploded, and the senseless, useless fragments of it were far scattered. The voices faded and now all of space was silent. Hollis was alone, falling.
They were all alone. Their voices had died like echoes of the words of God spoken and vibrating in the starred deep. There went the captain to the Moon; there Stone with the meteor swarm; there Stimson; there Applegate toward Pluto; there Smith and Turner and Underwood and all the rest, the shards of the kaleidoscope that had formed a thinking pattern for so long, hurled apart.
And I? thought Hollis. What can I do? Is there anything I can do now to make up for a terrible and empty life? If only I could do one good thing to make up for the meanness I collected all these years and didn’t even know was in me! But there’s no one here but myself, and how can you do good all alone? You can’t. Tomorrow night I’ll hit Earth s atmosphere.
I’ll burn, he thought, and be scattered in ashes all over the continental lands. I’ll be put to use. Just a little bit, but ashes are ashes and they’ll add to the land.
He fell swiftly, like a bullet, like a pebble, like an iron weight, objective, objective all of the time now, not sad or happy or anything, but only wishing he could do a good thing now that everything was gone, a good thing for just himself to know about.
When I hit the atmosphere, I’ll burn like a meteor.
“I wonder,” he said, “if anyone’ll see me?”
The small boy on the country road looked up and screamed. “Look, Mom, look! A falling star!”
The blazing white star fell down the sky of dusk in Illinois. “Make a wish,” said his mother. “Make a wish.”
Needless to say, his was not a "terrible and empty life".
Today's pictures come from commenter Alaska Jill, who says:
Booker T. Washington School/George Rogers Mural: I knew I'd best get
pictures of those while I could, too. These were taken on a chilly
Sunday afternoon in February 1999. The mural of George Rogers was a
Blossom Street landmark and could not be missed.
George Rogers and I were at Carolina together, though to the best of my knowledge, we never crossed paths. What I remember though, is that his winning the Heisman Trophy in 1980 was a big deal. A *really* big deal. Quite possibly a deal that was visible from earth orbit, and influenced local gravitational fields..
It was also somewhat of a surprise. I clearly recall that in the run-up to the award announcement, the Daily Gamecock ran an editorial under the head By George, He hasn't got a chance! enumerating all the reasons why it wasn't going to happen. Not being a sports fan myself, I recall the campus events around John Lennon's death that same year more clearly, but I was certainly aware big events were afoot!
I'm not sure when the murals went up, but they were, as Jill says, landmarks for many years. (The road near the stadium and fairgrounds was renamed for Rogers in the same period). I have the vague memory that the Booker T. Washington building itself was at one time a public high school before the property was taken over by USC. I think both the mural and the building came down while I was living out of town, or at least I have no memory of what happened. Today I can't exactly match where it was on Blossom with what's there now...
George Rogers played pro ball until 1987, and is now retired. Wikipedia doesn't really say anything about him after that. It would not surprise me if he had a car dealership or a real estate business somewhere.
(Thanks to Alaska Jill).
I saw a little appreciation ad inside the front page of today's State to the effect that Mrs. Ann Hampton, the first princial of Satchel Ford Elementary School turned 100 years old today.
Mrs. (Or "Miss" as we called all our teachers then) Hampton was principal when I started first grade in 1967 and I think all the students there had an enormous amount of respect and affection for her. We never doubted that if we strayed, she would set us straight, but also never doubted that she had our best interests at heart. As I started second grade, she guided the school through the potentially difficult task of integrating both the student body and faculty, and as I recall it, things went very smoothly. We all looked forward to her daily morning messages over the intercom, and the programs she led in the cafetorium.
Today, the school is led by one of her onetime charges, and the ballfield behind the school bears her name.
Happy Birthday Miss Hampton!
As far as I can tell, Moolah's Hide-Away was a fairly short lived operation, as it appears only in the 1977 Bellsouth phonebook. The restaurant was in the space once occupied by Biddie Banquet and occupied for a good number of years now by Sakura. From the ad, it appears that they were pitching it as a base-gate type operation to draw off of Fort Jackson. Wikipedia claims that the restaurant was actually operated by Moolah's daughter.
Judjing by Wikipedia, The Fabulous Moolah (real name Mary Lillian Ellison) had quite an interesting life, becoming the first woman to wrestle in Madison Square Garden. The Columbia High School graduate went on to become the most famous female wrestler of the the thirty years from the 50s into the 80s and appeared in videos with Cyndi Lauper during her wrestling era. She passed away in Columbia in November 2007.
UPDATE 10 Feb 2011: Added a better picture of the current location
Commenter Dennis sends this link to a bit of Columbia history I don't recall at all -- our own Cowsills / Partridge Family:
There was a family rock band (Before the Cowsills) here in town called Little Red and the Rocking Hoods. For a few years you couldn't go to many public events without seeing them play. I went to high school with a couple of the kids, Julia McGee and Eddie McGee. They graduated from Keenan in '74 and '76, respectively, I think.
Their dad and band leader actually built a sort of recording studio next to their house, which was just across Pinebelt from Keenan HS, on Upland Drive.
I painted a psychedelic design on one of Eddie's guitars.
Be sure to check out the second (1971) picture here, yet another entry in the
The 70s: What the heck were we thinking?
I'd love to hear some of their stuff..
Happy the Tiger was a constant media and "personal" presence when I was growing up. I see from her plaque that she arrived in Columbia when I was three years old, and passed away when I was 18. In between those times, I must have seen her dozens of times, either at Constan Carwash on Gervais Street (where these pictures were taken), or at any number of events at which she appeared.
My memory is that her cage was behind the car wash in the area where you pull your car around to put it on the wash tramline. Such a thing would never fly in today's hyper-correct environment and I think that's good in some ways, and bad in others. I have no way of knowing how truly "happy", "Happy" was, but at any rate her situation doesn't seem to have affected her lifespan, and she got "modern" quarters at Riverbanks.
The plaque says that Marlin Perkins handled Happy's acquisition, but I'll bet he was somewhere nice and cool while "Jim" did the dirty work!
UPDATE 15 October 2009: Added a picture of Happy I forgot.
What to say about the original WIS Radio? Well, I think it's hard to describe to a modern audience, but for me growing up, it was a constant and welcome presence in my life.
WIS started broadcasting on 10 July 1930 with call letters that stood for Wonderful Iodine State (to celebrate the natural abundance of the goiter preventing element in South Carolina, a big deal in the days before iodized salt). I'm not absolutely sure if it signed on with its historic frequency, but for all the time I knew it, it was AM 560 (560 kilocycles or as it is now called, 560 kilohertz). Or if you were in your car, once you set the station, it was was just known, as the drivetime show put it, as WIS:Pushbutton One
In those days (from the 30s to the 60s) AM radio was the norm, and FM radio was a bit exotic. Most radios sold were AM only, and AM radio was the medium for all kinds of music from rock & pop all the way to classical and opera. Most importantly, the clock radio sitting on top of our refrigerator was AM only, and too high for a kid to retune easily, and it was set to WIS.
That meant that all through grammar school and into high school, I mostly started my mornings with toast, orange juice, milk & cereal ... and Gene McKay. McKay was the morning host at WIS, and he ran a very low key show with gentle humor and good helpings of music interspersed with the events and news of the day. He had a number of running jokes, with two of the most popular being first the reports of new doings at the worlds most inept college, Crodney Tech, whose teams, under the aegis of head coach Arms Akimbo had apparently never won a game of any sort, and second, anything involving Irmo. McKay apparently was at first just fascinated with the way the word sounded, and used it as a tag for jokes, but later he started making up "history" bits about the doings of the Ancient Irmese and eventually, in a manner on which I'm not entirely clear, ended up either inspiring or founding the annual Irmo Okra Strut, which endures to this day.
The other personality I remember from the classic era (ie: when I was growing up :-) is Bill Benton. Benton had a talk show, perhaps called something as simple as Time to Talk though I'm not sure that's right and conducted many interesting interviews with local personalities and people passing through town on publicity tours. In general though, I heard few of those because I would be in school during the day, and frankly as a kid wasn't that interested in the abstract, though they did catch my ear sometimes when I was home sick. What I did listen specifically for was Ghost Story Thursday. That means exactly what it looks like. It's hard to imagine now, and even at the time it was a bit retro, but every Thursday night, Benton would bring out a book of ghost stories and read out-loud as many as his time slot allowed. That was some scary stuff! Of course, the only one I can actually remember right now was not scary so much as it was funny, though I'm sure Benton was not amused at the time. Whether a crew member was having a bit of fun by setting him up, or if Benton just pulled a likely book from his stash without having time to pre-read, he ended up one night with a book of "modern" ghost stories and started reading something (think Ann RIce or Lauren K. Hamilton) that was heading in a direction he clearly could not allow it to go on the radio. I was old enough then to kind of appreciate what was happening, and after a couple of references to "thighs" and Benton reading slower and slower, trying to edit in real-time, he finally just had to stop, apologize for not being able to finish and move on to something else. (Yes, I know this is similar to a Garrison Keillor bit, but it really happened).
WIS was the station for USC athletics and though I was never really into sports, I can remember many times hearing Bob Fulton ("The Voice of the Gamecocks") calling games on the radio. It was also for many years the local affiliate for the Atlanta Braves, and I was listening one night grilling burgers in the back yard (perhaps the last time I did that, come to think of it) when Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth's record. WIS was also the dominant radio news station, and had the first, and still perhaps the only, helicopter radio traffic reports. These were given added authority by the fact that instead of them being done by station personnel, through some sort of arrangement with the Highway Patrol, Sgt. Frank Ravetta flew in the traffic chopper and did the reports live himself. In fact WIS was where most people automatically turned for the news up into the late 70s. I remember when I was in high school around 1977 when Columbia had a terrible ice storm which left people without power for days (we were without for two weeks), one of the girls in my carpool commented that she had heard the station save someone's life by talking him out of running a charcoal grill inside.
Not that WIS was all talk, news & sports. Music was a big part of the format, and they tried to walk a narrow line with pretty good success. WIS wasn't a rock station, nor was it country, jazz or classical (though they did have the Metropolitan Opera on Saturdays for many years before it moved to public radio). The format, I think, was not rigidly thought out as today's are, but was designed to appeal to adults, who had been adult when the rock revolution started. That meant that they played a lot of Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Jack Jones and the like. It wasn't oldies, these were artists still releasing new songs -- it was sort of what pop radio might have been had Elvis and The Beatles not come along. Today the closest tag would be "Adult Contemporary", but that doesn't exactly fit. At any rate, because my parents listened to WIS (they weren't against rock the way some people were, they just didn't like it much), I mostly missed the rock era. On the whole, I'm very happy about that. I got to hear and enjoy a lot of music that was foreign to my peers, and still had rock to discover later (for instance, when I finally discovered Van Morrison, there were about 30 Van Morrison albums to listen to!). Gradually this started to change as the years went by. Personally I think "The Carpenters" were the death of the people trying to carry on the Sinatra traditon. "Such nice kids! So melodic!", but if you listened to the guitars on "Superstar", it was rock, and the dam was broken. The last WIS personality I really remember was Mike Collins, and he epitomized the new style, playing standards or non-edgy rock as the mood took him.
In 1977, the classic era ended. FM and stereo were obviously the coming things for music, and personalities Gene McKay, Bill Benton & Dave Wright jumped ship, buying local station WSCQ (FM 100) as an outlet for their efforts. By this time, we had a stereo with FM in the dining room, and I remember tuning in Gene McKay for what I think was his first morning broadcast on WSCQ. He played Abba's "Dancing Queen", and I remember thinking that I had never heard anything as glorious as that coming out in stereo from the two speakers.
After that, WIS moved more in a news direction with less and less music and finally the station was sold around the early 1980s. The new owners tagged it WVOC (Voice of Columbia) and it remains at AM 560 to this day. Somewhat later, the WIS TV organization decided getting out of radio had been a mistake and started a new WIS radio, but it is a new entity with no real ties to the original.
The pictures at the top of this post are of WIS TV on Bull Street. Growing up, the building housed both stations and had signage indicating that. Sometime in the 70s, I think, despite being the elder entity, WIS radio moved out. I visited the radio studio three times that I can recall. Once to pick up some tickets I had won in a contest, once to take Mike Collins a Beach Boys record, and once for the station's 50th anniversary celebration (which featured Snuffy Jenkins & The Hired Hands -- the same band that had played on-air when the station opened in 1930 if I recall correctly). Despite that, I can not today remember exactly where the studio was. I think it was somewhere off of Broad River Road on a flood plain (the station was set on pilings like a beach house), but I can't for the life of me recall just where. I know the location was always given as "1 WIS Lane", but mapquest doesn't know anything about it, so I'm guessing it was renamed after the station was sold.
I wouldn't go back to the way things were -- I like being able to find any song from anyone on itunes and being able to check the news at any time, but just because I wouldn't create WIS today doesn't mean it wasn't great then.
We'll be right back after tonight's top story.
Update 30 May 2008:
Well, thanks to commenter Jonathan, I was able to find the old WIS studio and towers.
I had thought it was somewhere off of Broad River Road, actually it is on (or off of) Garden Valley Lane, which is off of Bush River Road.
You go down Garden Valley Lane until you hit the Saluda Hydro Project recreation area, a place which seems very nice, and which I had no idea existed. I believe this is the point where WIS Lane used to start, but apparently it is all just Garden Valley Lane now. The studio and towers are about a quarter mile down the road from there on the Saluda River flood-plain.
It appears that, as I recalled, everything at the old station is now owned by WVOC. There are three transmitter towers.
This is one:
This is another:
Here is the old studio. It appears that WVOC does not use the building on an ongoing basis (which makes sense as the phonebook lists their studio as being on Greystone Blvd):
Notice the old broadcast TV antenna. Apparently they never got cable at the studio!
Of course the whole place is posted, so I didn't go up the stairs and take a look inside:
I seem to recall that the last time I was there, the studio did not have the red wood grille work covering the pilings that keep it off the flood-plain:
I'm guessing this antenna mast may connect the current Greystone studio back to the towers here, but I have no real idea:
UPDATE 11 October 2009
WIS Time to Talk ad from November 1970 Sandlapper Magazine:
UPDATE 26 October 2009: Ad from Jan 1972 Sandlapper Magazine: