Monday, June 29, 2015

Hospital fire in Effingham....WCRA my first job? empty the wastebaskets...but I was in radio!

My Dad woke me up one night "Stanley there's something wrong on the north side.  Let's go have a look." We got to within about 2 blocks of the hospital...the stench was brutal..and we could exit the car and walk to where we could see the fire.   I begged Dad to take us home....I wanted nothing more to do with this scene.                                             instant repost

On the left is the park where I played catch with my Dad everyday. One the right (in rear) was open patio (now closed) where I slept for a week after being struck by abut 30 bumble bees in the woods. I would only eat red raspberries!
                             Lived there from about 1948 or so thru high school. 

where's it at?
the 2 Interstates my Dad as Chief Highway Engineer helped design.

                                                        I-57 comes from Chicago goes south
                                                        I-70 comes from Indianapolis goes west
My first job at the movie theater.....look closely on the right and that's the cafe where they had the best coconut cream pie ever! 



      My 50 + years in radio began in my bedroom in our small house in Illinois...when I was in the 7th or 8th grade.

       After my Father arranged a visit to our local radio station WCRA I had the bug and fixed up my own control board with wooden dials and buttons for my “lets pretend broadcasts”.  I used one of Mom's candlesticks as my mic!

     Edward R. Murrow was my hero so I mainly read new stories from the local paper into the wooden mic.  Several years later while still in high school I was signing that station on each morning and signing it off after school...the real one that is.  I also emptied wastepaper baskets and made a whole $20 a week!  But I was in radio...working seven days a week.  It was great. 

       My ambition then was to make it to a big Springfield, Illinois station WMAY.  I skipped that one and was program director of a Chicago station at age 24.  I did make it onto the airwaves at WMAY in 69-70...but from Saigon as a correspondent for NBC News!

    Stan sings a country with a c & w group in the studios of WCRA...during their show.

can’t remember the name of the song...Faron Young I think...but I sang it on  WCRA radio Effingham my first radio only singing appearance!

sorry...not recorded!  You didn't miss much.


      When I was in high school in Effingham, Illinois back in the early 50’s...there were two men who were the “great intimidators” in town. The one I dealt with the most was the high school basketball and baseball coach who’s name escapes me(thank goodness). just came to me...Coach Martin, I believe.

      He was a big man...and his claim to fame was he played for the St. Louis Hawks basketball team for a few years.  He wasn’t too good and you can tell by the fact he ended up coaching in high school.

      We’ll get back to the coach in a bit...the other great intimidator in town was the manager of the local movie theater.  His name as I recall after all these years was, I think, Mr. Strom...or something close to that.  But no kids called him that...they had nicknames for him.  Most of the time he was a son of a bitch to work for or even know.

      He gave me my first job which was part time usher at the theater.  I got that job basically because my resume at the time consisted of winning a movie theater contest by writing about Superman.  They gave me free admittance for one summer.

      As usher I was allowed to charge kids who came in after the ticket window had closed.  Obviously some of that money never to got Strom and when he caught an usher doing it it was hell.

      I pocketed a few bucks and got caught and he fired me but not until he screamed all kind of stuff at me...a teenager...easily intimidated.

      But the real story here is how nasty Mr. Storm got HIS comeuppance. 

 He drove a big Cadillac convertible and one night he was coming back from St. Louis on old route 40...which paralleled the main line of the Pennsylvania railroad tracks.

      Strom was driving east toward town...and a freight train was going west.  As if by an act of God...a wheel on one of the railroad cars busted off and flew into the air and landed in the driver’s seat of Strom’s car!  Needless to say there wasn’t much left of mean Mr. Storm.

      When your time is’s really up!    

Now to coach Martin.

      I started working at the local radio station in my junior and senior years in high school.  But I liked sports and in middle school was first five basketball and I even made the high school football team for a couple of years. But baseball was my favorite...and I got on the high school team (barely) because they needed pitchers and I wasn’t bad.  Also it was my last chance to win a letter and get a jacket and you know that’s a big deal in high school.   There was one more cut to be made by Coach Martin before the actual season began.

      He named me starting pitcher for an exhibition game against our crosstown rival the St. Anthony Bulldogs. 

      Pitchers only worked three innings at a time in the pre season and in my three innings not one St. Anthony Bulldog got a hit or on base.  I was curve ball but all the times I played catch in the park across from our house with my Dad and my older buddy Jim Parker(now a lawyer) paid off.

      The next day Coach Martin put up his final list of players and my name was missing.  I couldn’t believe it!  Three no hit innings and getting cut.

      Well...back to the radio station... and by the way the coach was not happy about that job and word got back to me that he cut me because he thought my head was getting too big. later years I was sad I never got a lettermen’s jacket 

 I thought after making it to NBC News as a war correspondent they might invite me back and present me with one but it never happened.

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