Thursday, July 31, 2014

I REMEMBER CHARLESTON, WEST VIRGINIA


The Strand would eventually morph into the trashy and verboten Greenbrier Theatre

I was born in Kanawha Valley Hospital in 1941 and grew up in Charleston. I no longer dwell there, but get back occasionally to visit family. Wish I could do it even more often. Almost every photo I see of Charleston on the net triggers a petite madeleine or two. . .or more. I had a Charleston Daily Mail paper route downtown in my late adolescence. And I can recall every stop on that route as if it were yesterday. I had several subscribers in the Security Building on Capitol Street. On the ground floor there was a concession stand and the man who ran it was blind. He informed me one day that he could FEEL the difference between all paper currency denominations. Blew my mind! There was a barber shop in the basement but I always patronized the Lyric Barber Shop on Lee Street whose schtick was a very light-skinned troupe of barbers who snipped away at a strictly white clientele. A couple of doors down from the Security Bldg stood Frankenberger's, a men's clothing store. If you told me back then that the day would come when there would be no more Frankenberger's I'd have thought you were out of your mind. To a pre-adolescent such as I, it seemed timeless and eternal (I think it folded sometime in the eighties). The very nice woman who ran the boy's department was Mrs. Satterfield. When I was seven or eight I was in a filmed TV commercial for Frankenberger's that, for some peculiar reason, only ran one time. . .very late at night on WSAZ. Almost at the corner of Quarrier and Capitol Streets there was a Planters Peanut Shop with a mechanical be-derbyed Mr. Peanut in the window. He tapped on the display window glass with his cane every few seconds year in, year out. I can still recall with vivid sense memory the sound this made. Eventually he/it tapped a hole right through the window and so the operators of the place scotch-taped a quarter over the hole and he tapped THAT. Eventually I worked for my two big teen-year heroes, L.T. Anderson at the Charleston Gazette and Bob Turley at 'KAZ Radio. The records mezzanine at Galperin's, the first escalator in Charleston (at the "new" Stone and Thomas Department Store) , the "dirty" movies at the forbidden Lyric and Greenbrier, etc. I could go on and on. I guess I'll save some of it for some other long dark night around the campfire. Or another blog post.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Friday, July 25, 2014

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Elaine Stritch R.I.P.

My favorite joke of all time can be told in less than thirty seconds, preferably from the lips of Stritch from whence I first heard it at 3 a.m. on some talk show re-run in the long ago before time. To wit: A nonagenarian couple goes to a judge and say, "We want a divorce." "How long lave you been married?," he queries. "Seventy years," they say. "Why did you wait until now?," he asks. They reply, "We wanted to wait until the children were dead." Bud-a-bing! Strich was on Johnny Carson one night and left the panel and moved center stage and sang "My story is much too sad to be told" (First line of the verse to "I Get a Kick Out of You.") BLACKOUT Cut to commercial. Then back to Carson, and Stritch has returned to the panel. Doesn't get much hipper than that! Segment was recalled for me by my friend, singer Kurt Reichenbach.