Tuesday, October 15, 2013

three cheers for the US Army!

       The Army does something good!(REPOST)

If you take that long..long boat to Europe...the Army will fly you back!
They don’t make you do the seasick routine going AND coming back. I think this has something to do with them trying to get you to re-up but with me...I was done.
I was ready now, to get on with my life... thank you. I did my two years.
 My wife Ruth met me when we landed in New Jersey. She had left our three year old daughter, Kathy, with her family back home.  
WGEM in Quincy, Illinois was where I had worked for about a year before the Army so they were required to hire me back.  The boss,Joe Bonasinga, said he would have done it anyway...he liked my work.
Joe had his hands full when I was there before.  TV had come to Quincy and we were racing the other main outlet(CBS) to get our TV channel(NBC) up and running.  We beat them...but it was funny.
We went on the air with our tv programming before the competition by one day...but we had NO audio!  We ran NBC programming all evening but not a word could be heard.  It was fixed the next day.  
Also we had been short staffed because of the huge cost of the TV start up and whoever was on radio playing records had to make sure the radio was covered with long music selections because that person (me mainly) had to be in the tv booth for the half hour and hourly breaks of about a minute each.  There were times the music ended before I got back to the radio side.  It was a real education for all...learning about television by actually running a station.
My favorite tv show was the crazy Ernie Kovacs program.  Ernie had this bit where he would do something really nuts right at break time because he knew announcers were going live across the country and so each week one had to either not look at the screen or watch it and try to control yourself because Kovacs WAS that crazy.  He just wanted to “break up” every booth guy on the net.  
He got me one time because I was not aware yet of his gimmick at the breaks.  He made this bit famous...sitting in a tree and sawing the limb he was sitting on off just as the cue was given.  So I watched Ernie in the tree and heard the network announcer say “this is NBC..the National Broadcast Company.
I was about to open my mouth (the engineer had already opened my mike) when I saw the tree trunk fall over and Ernie smiling...sitting in the tree limb!  Great early tv special effect.
It got me good...I never made it through that 30 seconds of copy...and I guess a bunch of live booth announcers across the nation did the same thing.  That was Ernie Kovacs.
Edie Adams...His wife was “hot” (before the phrase was discovered)
“Why don’t you pick up a Muriel and smoke it sometime”
Check her out in It’s a Mad Mad Mad World flick
Years later...the boss...genial Joe Bonasinga would be at the radio convention at the Hilton Hotel in Chicago where we ran into each other in an elevator. He took me aside and told me how proud he was of me and another WGEM alum Fred Briggs...both NBC News correspondents!
Things on the domestic front didn’t work out for Ruth and Me.
and it was all my fault.  Three year old Kathy was marvelous and would be forever...but I just wasn’t ready for marriage.  I had just gone through two years of forced labor for my country and I needed some freedom...so we split.  
Ruth had a son Richard about nine months later and by that time I had moved on to attend the University of Illinois at Urbana.  Both Kate and Ric did all right...so did their Dad as you will see.
Talking about confinement...the University of Illinois is about as big as they come in “confining” thousands and thousands of students in the business of education
I knew I would be leaving after the first semester as this just wasn’t for me.
     I walked into one class...French...and the instructor opened with “there are 12 of you here...ten of you will fail!”
Then as I rushed from the south end of campus to the far north end for my history class (ten minutes wasn’t enough time for that trek) a gentle old history professor announced the first day...no one will fail this course...most of you will get an “A” or “B”.
And then...to make it a lock on getting out..in English most of our time would be spent on “spelling”.  Give me a break. this was a major university?  What a joke.
So...I was there for one semester...just enough time to fall in love with the Homecoming Queen...brown hair and brown eyes and a knockout face to make her perfect: Sue Brunkow from Chicago. 
Alas...I had to admire her from afar...as I did with the Nun running the hospital in Chicago and later with Julia, Meg, Sandra and Amber (but only as Joan of Arcadia.)
I'm crazy about brunettes...but marry blondes.
I remember my first crush. My cousin Jerry in St. Louis. Mom and I visited her sister's family when I was in 
grade school and I think I've loved Jerry my whole life. Brown hair, brown eyes. She set the tone for my favorite girls and it's endured to this day. She also gave me the cold shoulder the couple of times I saw her in later years.
     Such is life.

Now...George’s Dad...Nick Clooney.

Nick returned home about that time and we made contact...he probably gave me a number before I left I really don’t remember.
I was free so he suggested I drive down to Lexington, Ky to a ranch and hang with him and get up at 4AM to clean fancy race horse stables. Boy that sounded like fun (not) but it would be good to see him again. 
I remember I had my first real taste of the deep south...the whites only signs at the water fountains and stuff like that.  I was somewhat startled at this which is strange as I lived in a town that allowed NO blacks...and they couldn’t sit in any Effingham eatery. And this was southern Illinois not Mississippi.
I had been born and lived for sometime in Paris, Illinois where blacks were treated as humans...at least...although they had to live in the southeast section of the city. Black basketball players for Paris High School were great...and I remember lanky Bob Owens leading the Tigers to the state basketball championship two years in a row...whipping the socks off the big bad Chicago teams!
But the Paris Tigers were not welcome to play in Effingham.
No teams with a black could play in Effingham...and you know what...if you read my earlier blurb about the two interstate highways crossing just northwest of the city...then you could guess how that whole thing would radically change.  And it did.
Anyway I cleaned the stables and bid Nick farewell but I got a phone number for him as he said his next stop was Beverly Hills...not necessarily at his sister’s Roxbury address but at an apartment they had on the south side (poor?) of Beverly Hills.


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