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My Hometown: Growing Up In Pineville, Louisiana

Pineville, Louisiana is located across the Red River from Alexandria, Louisiana. It has a population of 14,555 according to the 2010 census.

Front of Alexandria Hall the main building at Louisiana College. 

Louisiana College where my father Dr. Paul R. Godfrey taught chemistry for 24 years was founded in 1906 and is now 108 years old. 

I was one year old, when our family moved to Pineville, Louisiana from West Lafayette, Indiana in 1946. Our first home was located on 110 Lawrence Boulevard if I remembered the correct house number. We later moved to 1608 Holloway Drive and then moved to 313 Burns Street in February of 1952.

We started attending College Drive Baptist Church on College Drive in Pineville in 1948. The church was originally comprised, of Army barrack buildings moved from Camp Livingston. I remember apple boxes being used as pews in the early days of the church, before the modern building shown in the photo was built. The church was founded in 1947 and is now 67 years old. I can remember driving home for supper one night and the Masters V gospel singing group had their bus in front of the church. This was when James Blackwood, Jake Hess, J.D. Sumner, Rosie Rozell and Hovie Lister comprised the Masters V. We attended College Drive for many years and I later led the music there, from 1997-2007, before we moved to Tennessee.

The home at 1608 Holloway Drive was unusual, in that our home was only separated by only a ditch, from the railroad track that ran next to us.

My first year at Pineville Elementary started in 1950 and remember walking to school, with my older brother for about a mile to school each day. I can still remember the 10 cent school lunch back then. The price has probably gone up over the years since then.

Moved To 313 Burns Street

I can remember living at 313 Burns Street. We had a cow, some sheep and chickens back then. It was like living on a farm inside the city limits.

Radio Hall of Fame disc jockey Dick Biondi once worked for KSYL in Alexandria, Louisiana.

Dick Biondi lived in the house behind us for a while, and he worked for KSYL radio station. He would later become famous, as a disc jockey in Chicago and was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1998 and is now 82 years old. His main claim to fame is that he was the first disc jockey to play a Beatles song according to his Hall of Fame page. This is his Radio Hall of Fame page, which includes a very short clip of his radio program.

http://www.radiohof.org/dick_biondi.htm

 

I can remember going to see Roy Rogers dock his motorboat on the Red River and he stayed at Hotel Bentley.

Earl K. Long once gave away free chickens at a political rally at the Trailways station in Alexandria.

Faith Ford

Kelly Ripka and Faith Ford

The best nationally known person from Pineville would probably be Faith Ford. She attended Pineville High School many years after I attended there. She is best known for playing Corky on Murphy Brown television show. She also appeared in Hope and Faith.

The middle building is drugstore where we bought our prescriptions.

Veteran’s Hospital where I still go for medical services many years after this photo was taken.

Vincent Price

I can remember the time Vincent Price made an appearance at Louisiana College, with protesters carrying signs that were protesting him appearing in a liquor commercial.

This photo was taken from the Pineville side of the Red River, that was adjacent to Alexandria, Louisiana. The pedestrian walkers going across the bridge had to be careful, to see if there were any missing planks, to avoid falling into the river. I walked across the bridge for many years as I walked to job at the Alexandria Daily Town Talk. One time I was walking across the bridge to work early in the morning, when I was stopped by police and questioned by police, since a murder had just been committed at a night club in Alexandria. I convinced them I was not a murderer and they let me proceed on to work.I never saw the Red River look as blue as depicted in the photo.

I attended this school from 1950-1958 and it burned down in 1959.

I can remember finding out about the fire that night and rode my bike the mile to school. A Town Talk photographer had climbed up the fireman’s ladder, that was attached to the fire truck to get a photo looking down into the fire. I was a sophomore in high school the night of the fire. Had a lot of memories over the years at Pineville Elementary School and it was sad that the building only lasted one year after I started high school.

Summary:

68 years have passed since we first moved to Pineville in 1946. We used to ride our bikes out Highway 28, without encountering much traffic, but today Highway 28 is not the safest place to ride a bicycle, with so many businesses along the route now and many cars traverse Highway 28 today.

We left Pineville in 2007 to move to Tennessee, but it will always be home for us, since I spent most of my life here. It is the perfect size for me. Not too large and yet not too little. Pineville has a lot of businesses for a city of less than 15,000.

Maybe someday we can move back to Pineville. We do come back from time to time, for appointments at the Veteran’s Hospital. I have always been puzzled why the Veteran’s Hospital uses Alexandria as their address, when the buildings are in Pineville.

Thanks for the memories Pineville, since you will always be home to me.

 

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Mary Tyler Moore Has Battled Diabetes For 44 Years

Mary Tyler Moore

Mary Tyler Moore was born on December 29, 1936 in Brooklyn New York. She will be 78 on her next birthday.

Mary Tyler Moore as the Happy Hotpoint Elf at the age of 16 in 1952.

Mary was seen in seven episodes of Richard Diamond, Private Detective, but her face was never seen, so only her voice could be heard on the show.

Mary Tyler Moore appeared on Dick Van Dyke from 1961-1966

She did a lot of free lance acting in various television shows, till she got her big break, when she was cast for the Dick Van Dyke Show playing Laura Petrie the wife of Rob Petrie portrayed by Dick Van Dyke.

Mary was given the role, despite being 11 years younger than Dick Van Dyke.

She won Emmy awards for Outstanding Lead Actress in a comedy series, for the 1963-1964 and 1965-1966 seasons.

Diagnosed With Diabetes

Mary Tyler Moore was first diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 33 in 1969. Her diagnosis came three years after the Dick Van Dyke Show had ended and a year before Mary Tyler Moore Show started.

These are some quotes by Mary about diabetes from Brainy Quotes website:

Diabetes is an all-too-personal time bomb which can go off today, tomorrow, next year, or 10 years from now – a time bomb affecting millions like me and the children here today.

I’ve always been independent. I’ve always had courage. But I didn’t always own my diabetes.

I can’t eat pure sugar. I can’t have candy.

When the doctor said I had diabetes, I conjured images of languishing on a chaise longue nibbling chocolates. I have no idea why I thought this.

I need insulin to stay alive. It’s just therapy to keep going. What I can do is make sure that I keep my blood sugar down to a reasonable level. I can exercise, and I can eat properly. And insulin plays a very big part in that.

Mary Tyler Moore played a nun in Change of Habit with Elvis Presley.

When Mary was in between finishing the Dick Van Dyke Show and starting the Mary Tyler Moore Show she appeared in Change of Habit in 1969 with Elvis Presley and Edward Asner, who would appear in the Mary Tyler Moore show next year in 1970.

Mary Tyler Moore seen on the Mary Tyler Moore Show.

Grant Tinker, who was the husband of Mary Tyler Moore talked CBS into making the Mary Tyler Moore Show into a regular series. It first aired in 1970 and it ran for 168 episodes, which was 10 more episodes than the Dick Van Dyke Show had ran.

Mary’s new show focused on life in the newsroom of a Minneapolis television station. The show had one of the best ensemble cast ever, with Edward Asner, Betty White, Valerie Harper, Gavin McLeod, Ted Knight, Georgia Engel and Cloris Leachman being regulars on the show.

Some trivia from imdb.com about the show:

The show was originally planned to be about a divorced woman, but because divorce was still a hot subject in 1970, they settled for a broken engagement instead. Also, the network was afraid people would think that Mary had divorced Rob Petrie, her character’s husband on The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961), losing the audience’s sympathy.

When casting the part of Sue-Anne Nivens, producers were stumped for an actress to take the role. They wanted “someone like Betty White.” Eventually, someone asked “Why not cast Betty White?”

Mary’s house, which appears in the opening credits, is still standing in Minneapolis, Minnesota – the city in which the show takes place.

Following the conclusion of the series, Edward Asner continued to play Lou Grant in a long-running dramatic series of the same name.

Mary would win an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series three times for the Mary Tyler Moore Show. She won in 1972-1973, 1973-1974 and 1975-1976 seasons.

Mary Tyler Moore in a scene with Timothy Hutton in Ordinary People.

Mary Tyler Moore appeared in Ordinary People a movie, which was released in 1980. The movie won a Oscar for Best Picture, but Mary was nominated for Best Actress award, but did not win.

Future Project

There is a movie being planned in Mary’s future, but it is not a sure thing at this time. She is rumored along with other famous stars of the past to appear in a movie named Big Finish.

However, it is not to be released till December 11, 2016. Some of the other stars rumored to be appearing in the movie include: Debbie Reynolds 82, Bob Newhart 85, Jerry Lewis 88 and Tim Conway 81. All of the stars will be two years older, if the production is released in 2016. Jonathan Winters was scheduled to be in the movie before he died.

Mary Tyler Moore may have aged over the years but still has that dazzling trademark smile.

Personal Life

Mary Tyler Moore has been married three times. Her first marriage ended early during the run of the Dick Van Dyke Show. She then married television executive Grant Tinker. After 19 years of marriage to Tinker she married Dr. Robert Levine in 1983.

Robert Levine (23 November 1983 – present)
Grant Tinker (1 June 1962 – 11 June 1981) (divorced)
Richard Meeker (25 August 1955 – 1962) (divorced) (1 child)

 
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Posted by on November 19, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

LBJ: JFK Assassination Kept Him Out of Prison

Bobby Baker and President Lyndon Johnson

If President John F. Kennedy hadn’t been assassinated on November 22, 1963, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson would have almost certainly been removed from office.

Vice President Johnson was having problems buying life insurance, after a 1955 heart attack. Bobby Baker contacted Don Reynolds, who sold the insurance to LBJ. I thought Reynolds was doing LBJ a favor, but LBJ requested some kickbacks from Reynolds.

Stone writes that Lyndon B. Johnson instructed Richard Nixon to hire Ruby onto the House of Representatives payroll in 1947

President Lyndon Baines Johnson: Most to Gain From JFK Assassination

This is some background of why Vice President Johnson was so concerned, about what was going on, in Washington on November 22, 1963. Whether LBJ knew about the assassination in advance may never be known, but if the whole story had been revealed to media and to the public surrounding the kickbacks LBJ was receiving LBJ almost surely would have been sent to prison.

On the afternoon of Nov. 22, 1963, Don Reynolds, the Maryland broker who had written the life insurance policy for Johnson, was telling investigators for the Senate Rules Committee that he had been pressured to buy advertising time on an Austin television station owned by Johnsoneven though the insurance salesman was unknown in Texas and could hardly expect to generate business there.
“And on November 22 … after lunch, in the Senate Rules Committee investigation [of] Bobby Baker, Don Reynolds was going to really spill his guts. But when President Kennedy was killed, it basically killed the Baker investigation. You know, President Johnson acted like he did not know me. … I think the Reynolds testimony plus the absolute hatred of Bobby Kennedy of Johnson [would have forced LBJ off the 1964 Democratic ticket if Kennedy had lived]. Poor old Walter [Jenkins, one of Johnson’s most trusted aides, who had worked with Reynolds to buy the advertising time on the Johnson station], had President Kennedy not been killed, he either would have had to take the Fifth Amendment and quit, or tell the truth and Vice President Johnson would have definitely been off the ticket in 1964, had it [been] shown that he had really been the party in the back of this.”

The Spartacus Educational website goes into more detail about the background, of Don Reynolds and the kickbacks he paid to LBJ. Reynolds sent a Magnavox stereo costing $585, when including setup and delivery. Reynold was also told to purchase $1,208 of advertising from a television station, in Austin Texas that was owned by Lady Bird Johnson.

President John F. Kennedy shown with Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson on day of assassination.

Can’t help but wonder if Vice President Johnson knew in advance, that President John F. Kennedy would be dead before the day was over. There is only circumstantial proof, that LBJ knew exactly what was going to happen and when. There still has not been smoking gun evidence, that reveals that LBJ was behind the assassination of JFK.

There is plenty of circumstantial evidence and motives to be the mastermind of the assassination:

Had most to gain by the assassination, by becoming president and no longer being in the background, while President Kennedy and his brother Bobby Kennedy kept LBJ, out of the loop as much as possible.

Reportedly had a meeting with Texas oilmen, underworld figures and Richard Nixon the night before the assassination.

Told his mistress Madeleine Duncan Brown that night: “Those SOB’s will never embarrass me again”.

LBJ had motorcade routed through Dealey Plaza.

Don Reynolds was testifying before the Senate Rules committee and was being questioned about kickbacks, at the time JFK was being assassinated in Dallas.

Life magazine was going to release information about the illegal activities of LBJ.

Fingerprints of LBJ’s hitman Mac Wallace found on sixth floor of Texas Schoolbook Depository Building. ( I still believe Oswald was in the sixth floor window, so witnesses would think he was the one firing the shots.)

The only way LBJ would be safe from his name being mentioned in the Senate Rules committee testimony was to become president on November 22, 1963.

JFK Assassination Smoking Gun

Next week will be the 51st anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. You would think, that 51 years later there would have been a smoking gun, that would have proved there was a conspiracy to assassinate JFK.

All I know is that LBJ had the motive to have JFK assassinated, since he became president immediately. He was able to stop the Senate Rules committee investigation, for the most part and prevented his name, from being mentioned in the testimony.

I am not going to say that LBJ had JFK assassinated, but I think he surely had knowledge of it. It was a matter of him using the power, of the presidency to cover it up.

It was no coincidence, that so many witnesses that saw the assassination or had knowledge of who was involved suddenly died.

It is looking like the only way we will ever know more about the assassination, than we do now is when evidence that has been locked up for 51 years is released to the media and the general public.

There is no doubt, that if JFK had not been assassinated, that LBJ would have had to serve time for receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars, in kickbacks during his time in office.

It is no coincidence that LBJ and JFK were the richest presidents, since Teddy Roosevelt ended his presidency in 2009.

Other Articles Related To Assassination:

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2012/04/02/the-transition

http://www.jfklancer.com/pdf/LBJ-Reynolds.pdf

http://spartacus-educational.com/JFKreynoldsD.htm

http://jfkfacts.org/assassination/poll/why-roger-stones-jfk-book-cant-be-dismissed/

http://www.dallasnews.com/news/jfk50/reflect/20131123-swift-merciless-transition-elevated-lyndon-johnson-of-texas-to-the-presidency.ece

 

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Classic Southern Gospel Quartets – The Blackwood Brothers

This record album was my favorite Blackwood Brothers album. It was released in 1964 and my favorite

songs on the album were I’ve Got To Walk That Lonesome Road, The Old Country Church, God Made

                   A Way, In Times Like These and Precious Memories. I played this album so much I wore out grooves on

the record and had to order a new copy.

The Blackwood Brothers Quartet bus which can be found at the Southern Gospel Music Museum at Dollywood.

The original Blackwood Brothers quartet was formed 80 years ago in 1934. The group was founded in Choctaw County, Mississippi and some of the descendants of that group are stil singing, under the Blackwood Brothers Quartet name in 2014.

Roy Blackwood, James Blackwood, Doyle Blackwood and R.W. Blackwood was the original configuration for the Blackwood Brothers in 1934.

Tragedy For Blackwood Brothers in 1954

Tragedy struck the Blackwood Brothers Quartet, when two of its members R.W. Blackwood and Bill Lyles were killed, in a plane crash on June 30, 1954. Cecil Blackwood would later replace R.W. Blackwood and J.D. Sumner replaced Bill Lyles as bass after the plane crash.

The Absolute Gospel website has an excellent article describing the accident and the aftermath:

http://absolutelygospel.com/index.php?/content/articles/3948

Trendsetters For Southern Gospel Innovations

The Blackwood Brothers were the first southern gospel group, to customize a bus for traveling to concerts.

They also founded the National Quartet Convention which started in 1957 and is still active 57 years later and is held every September.

James Blackwood 1919-2002

I was fortunate to see James Blackwood sing with the Blackwood Brothers many times over the years, when they performed in concerts in the Central Louisiana area. He was an excellent spokesman for the group, during their concerts and was one of my favorite Blackwood Brothers singers.

J.D. Sumner 1924-1998

J.D. Sumner is credited by the Guinness Book of World Records, as singing the lowest note ever sung. I remember in one Bill Gaither video, that he was singing a song, when the organist started to play faster, than Sumner wanted him to. The look he gave the organist was priceless. It may or may not have been a prank on Sumner, but if it was a prank it was not well received.

Two of my favorite Blackwood Brothers Quartet songs featuring Sumner were I’ve Got To Walk Than Lonesome Road and There’s A Light. 

J.D. Sumner on stage with Elvis Presley in 1976, which was a year before Elvis died.

J.D. Sumner and the Stamps Quartet often toured with Elvis Presley. Still not sure if southern gospel was represented well during this time, since they were singing so much secular music during these years. J.D. Sumner gave credit to Elvis for helping him stop being an alcoholic. Shame J.D. couldn’t return the favor and convince Elvis to stop using drugs. Instead J.D. was more of an enabler and more or less discounted reports, that Elvis was a user, when he debunked those reports at the funeral for Elvis. That was before the extent of drug usage was known by the general public, but Sumner with his close proximity to Elvis probably knew exactly what Elvis was doing with drugs.

The golden era of the Blackwood Brothers Quartet are long gone, but their music will live on for years to come. I have a collection of their music from the early days till later years on cassette. It is great to hear the gospel style singing and piano playing, that most of us grew up with in the 50’s and 60’s.

James and J.D. and most of the Blackwood Brothers Quartet singers of the past are gone, but they will never be forgotten.

 

 

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Dick Van Dyke – Eight Decades of Entertaining

Dick Van Dyke in a scene from Sgt. Bilko television series in 1957.

Dick Van Dyke was born as Richard Wayne Van Dyke on December 13, 1925 in West Plains, Missouri. Van Dyke had considered becoming a minister at one time, but decided to become an entertainer, after appearing on stage in a high school play.

His first job was as a disc jockey on a local radio station in Danville, Illinois. He later traveled across the country as part of a comedy act, till he was hired by WDSU TV in New Orleans as an entertainer. That job led to a job with the CBS network on their morning program. He anchored the program, which also featured Walter Cronkite as his newsman.

Dick Van Dyke and Chita Rivera in Bye Bye Birdie.

His big break came when he appeared in the Broadway play Bye Bye Birdie playing the part of Albert Peterson and won a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor.

Mary Tyler Moore and Dick Van Dyke.

Then in 1961 he was hired to portray Rob Petrie on the Dick Van Dyke Show which ran from 1961 to 1966 and 158 episodes were filmed. The show was on the brink of cancellation, before it caught on with television viewers. Then five years later he starred in the New Dick Van Dyke Show which ran for 72 episodes from 1971-1974.

It was about this time, that Van Dyke publicly announced he had been an alcoholic for 25 years.

1988 would see Van Dyke appear in his third show, with his name in the title, when he appeared in the Van Dyke Show, that only lasted for 10 episodes.

Dick Van Dyke portraying Doctor Mark Sloan on Diagnosis:Murder

His next starring role in a television series was when he portrayed Dr. Mark Sloan, in Diagnosis Murder. It would run for 180 episodes, which was even more episodes, than the original Dick Van Dyke Show had run.

Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins.

He was best-known for his movies Bye Birdie (1963), Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1964) and Mary Poppins (1968). He has appeared in three of the Night of the Museum movies.

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb movie, in which Van Dyke appears was recently completed this year and another movie Life is Boring is in post-production at the time of this writing. He also appeared in Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, which was released in October of 2014 by the Walt Disney Pictures.

Van Dyke is now in his eighth decade of entertaining.

Dick Van Dyke and Arlene Silver don’t seem to be concerned about their 46 year age difference.

Dick Van Dyke was married to Marjorie Willett from 1948-1984, then lived with Michelle Triola from 1976 till her death in 2009. Van Dyke reportedly paid Triola $600,000, which was the amount she had sued actor Lee Marvin for in a palimony suit, but the court ruled against her. That ended Van Dyke’s marriage to Marjorie Willett, when she learned about his payment to Triola. Van Dyke has been married to Arlene Silver for the last two years. She is 46 years younger than Van Dyke and is about 44 years old now, while he will be 89 in December.

Imdb.com has some very interesting trivia about Dick Van Dyke. These are just a few of them since there 106 in all.

Van Dyke turned down a chance to host Price is Right. If he had taken the job he may never have become an actor, when considering, that game show host for the most part stay game show hosts.

He and his first wife Margie were so poor after their wedding, that they lived in their car for a while.

Was a heavy smoker for 50 years before quitting. He used to smoke 60 cigarettes a day.

Was 36 when he appeared in his first movie.

Received a lemon cake at Christmas for 16 years from actor Charles Bronson.

Producer Sheldon Leonard gave Van Dyke the lead role, in the Dick Van Dyke Show, after seeing him in stage production of Bye Bye Birdie.

For more trivia and quotes from Van Dyke:

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001813/bio?ref_=nm_dyk_qt_sm#quotes

 

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Book Review – Unsinkable: A Memoir: Debbie Reynolds

Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher on wedding day in 1955.

Her second autobiography Unsinkable: A Memoir: Debbie Reynolds is a book about her life after her marriage to her third husband Richard Hamlett, who turned out to be a dirty rotten scoundrel, who took her money just like her first husband Harry Karl had done in her previous marriage.

The earlier autobiography Debbie: My Life dealt with her marriage and subsequent divorce from Eddie Fisher. It also tells of her second husband Harry Karl gambling away his money and hers, in an uncontrollable gambling habit. She wound up homeless and living in a car, by the time he was through spending her money.

She married her new husband Richard Hamlett on May 25, 1984.

Richard Hamlett was no better, even though Debbie had him sign a pre-nup. He just took her money before the marriage ended, instead of waiting till it was over, so the pre-nup was a non-factor.

Collected Hollywood Memorabilia

Debbie built up a huge collection of Hollywood memorabilia, by going to auctions and buying costumes, props, posters and other movie memorabilia. Eventually, she had bought millions of dollars worth of memorabilia and her dream was to build a museum to house her collection.

Her husband Hamlett was helping her build a museum for the collection, but it is better to read about it in her last book, since it is filled with too many details and machinations, to reveal them all in this article.

The same thing goes for the way Hamlett wasted and stole her money, by taking Debbie’s name off of legal documents and making himself the owner. He even went so far as to have his girlfriend listed as owner of some of Debbie’s properties.

Debbie Reynolds with her third husband Richard Hamlett.

Marriage To Hamlett Ends

Debbie found out that Hamlett was having an affair behind her back and went to confront him about it and his financial dealings. He tried to get her to go out to the balcony and discuss their problems, but Debbie was wary of her being thrown off the balcony and him claiming it had been a terrible accident. So she notifies the landlord to never let him back in the building, since she didn’t feel safe, with him around after the argument.

The 12 year marriage ended in 1996. Debbie has never remarried after her first husband Eddie Fisher left her for Elizabeth Taylor. Her second husband Harry Karl cheated on her and took all her money, while the third husband Richard Hamlett also took her money and cheated on her while doing it.

Eighteen years later Debbie has not remarried. She finally learned an expensive lesson. She is back in control of her finances and Celebrity Net Worth website lists her as being worth $60 million, mostly because of her selling most of her movie memorabilia, when it was evident she would never realize her dream of having a museum to house the memorabilia.

Debbie Reynolds

Rundown of Her Movies

The next part of the book has Debbie giving a rundown of some of the movies she appeared in. She shares anecdotes of her experiences, while filming those movies and has some unkind things, to say about some well-known actors, actresses and directors. She names Walter Brennan, Walter Matthau and Thelma Ritter as expert scene stealers.

One director even slapped her in the face and that would not be allowed today, but he got away with it back then.

Aftermath

Debbie is now 82 years old and  appeared in the TV movie Behind the Candelabra, which was a movie about Liberace that was released in 2013. She may be the movie The Big Finish in 2016, but so far that is only a rumor.

66 years have passed since Debbie was a 16 year-old girl riding her bicycle onto the movie lot, after she won Miss Burbank 1948, which led to her being cast in the movies.

Her daughter, Carrie Fisher will be 58 tomorrow (October 21) and her son Todd is now 56 years old. She was pregnant with two children with Harry Karl, but neither lived.

Debbie apparently has sold even more of her movie memorabilia collection earlier this year:

http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/movies/debbie-reynolds-set-auction-historical-hollywood-memorabilia-article-1.1794715

Trivia From IMDB.com

She was born Mary Frances Reynolds

Debbie is the ex mother-in-law of Paul Simon, who was once married to her daughter Carrie.

She was awarded a star on Hollywood  Walk of Fame in 1997. Strange that it took them almost 50 years to honor her, since she made her first movie in 1948.

 

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38 Years in Newspaper Production: Last 28 Years At Alexandria Town Talk

Page being built using cold type composition.

When I returned to Alexandria Town Talk, after working for Monroe Morning World for two years it was back to cold type composition again. I negotiated a raise to $190 a week, when I returned, which amounted to a little over $4 an hour. Ten years of experience and making $4 an hour was not exactly making me rich.

This paragraph from Farm Collector tells more about the cold type composition Town Talk had been using since 1972:

Beginning in the 1960s, hot type began to give way to cold type, which is technically neither cold nor type, but rather phototypesetting. Machines generate text printed on photographic paper. Every piece of text is then run through a machine that applies hot wax to one side (wax allows items to be repositioned multiple times), hand-trimmed and positioned on a page-size template.

Once a page layout is complete, a film negative of the page is created. That negative is used to expose the image of the page onto an aluminum plate, and the plates are applied to a printing cylinder on the press.

It was tedious work to place the ads on a page and then wrap the type and photos around the ads, since we had to cut the type to fit the page, according to the page layout. Sometimes a page would be built and an ad, for example which was 3 columns by 8 inches might actually be 4 columns by 10 inches. We then would have to re-do the page moving type and/or photos to make the ad fit the page. This was not easy to do working with paper, since we had to use an X-acto or razor blade, to cut the type where needed to fit the page.

Town Talk Starts Morning Paper

The Town Talk ended their afternoon paper and started a mornings only paper in 1981. The Town Talk missed by 2 years of having an afternoon paper for 100 years.

Some employees left the paper, when the morning paper was announced, since the composing room work was mostly done in the evenings.

The night work was tough on families, in which both spouses worked, especially if one worked days and the other nights.

 

Historic marker telling of history of Alexandria Daily Town Talk

 

Since we worked in the composing room building up pages we had a lot of interaction with editors, wire desk and sports desk employees.

Adras Laborde was the editor when I started working there and sometimes I had to take proofs of his column for him to read and check for errors.

Wallace Anthony was a longtime wire desk employee, that died four years ago. He might not have been the fastest at designing pages, but he was a perfectionist intent on producing an excellent front page.

Bill Carter was an excellent sports editor, who I enjoyed talking to in coffee shop many times about baseball.

Nelder Dawson was the first person I talked to, when applying for work at Town Talk and he was there for 50 years.

Helen Derr was the religious editor and often worked with her making any necessary changes to her Saturday church page.

Ron Grant was another editor and former photographer, who checked page proofs and was always willing to help, with any problems having to do with an editorial page.

Ethel Holloman was very particular about how her society pages looked. This was back in the day when society editor would attend weddings. She is even more famous for her investigative reporting about mistreatment of mental patients at Central Louisiana State Hospital. It would be interesting to check the Town Talk archives, so I could read her articles about the abuse of mental patients.

Jim Butler left the Town Talk way too soon, since he was an excellent editor, who was great to work with and enjoyed our conversations about baseball over the years.

Elizabeth Roberts Martin – She made the news herself when writing a review, of the Elvis Presley concert in March of 1977, which was less than 5 months before his untimely death.

 

 

This is the review reprinted by elvisconcerts.com:

 

 

CONCERT DATE: March 29 1977 (8:30 pm). Alexandria LA..

Elvis Concert Termed “Entertaining”
by Elizabeth Roberts
Alexandria Town Talk
March 30, 1977

There’s a show on stage at the Rapides Parish Coliseum that is staged very professionally – that’s with a capital “P” as in Presley. And it’s Entertaining – that’s with a capital “E” as in Elvis. But it’s not a grade A performance, I’ll grade it a B minus, but as I said, it’s entertaining.

There’s no need to rush and push tonight and there’s not a chance of seeing Presley other than on stage. He won’t begin singing until about 10PM (his plane doesn’t arrive until at least 8.30 tonight) and when he does here, he’ll be driven inside the coliseum so there’s no need to stand outside. Once you’re in your seat, you stay there. No rushing the aisles for picture-taking or for a closer look. The guards see to that.

Tuesday night Presley was on stage less than an hour; he was impossible to understand when (or if) he talked between numbers; his How Great Thou Art should have been How Loud Thou Art; he never said one word to the audience or mentioned how nice or not nice it was to be in Alexandria or said “hi, how are you, we’re going to have a good time tonight and hope you enjoy the show.” He came on stage, did a few numbers and then dashed off – no encores, no extra bows, no nothing.

He relied heavily on his back-up group and when one of the singers dropped a microphone after singing O Sole Mio, he made the guy sing it again. There were false starts on a number of songs and his repertoire was mostly 1950’s early-EP songs.

Yes, that’s how he got his start and those are the songs we screamed over years ago, but times have changed and so has Elvis. He’s not the skinny young man from Memphis by way of Tupelo and the Louisiana Hayride. He’s a good singer and a showman but neither talent showed up in Tuesday night’s show.

He should update his performance and add more contemporary numbers. He’s certainly capable – his version of Early Morning Rain was outstanding. The rest was pure early Presley: Jailhouse Rock, Blue Suede Shoes, I Got a Woman, C.C.Rider, It’s Now Or Never.

In between, a lackey followed him around, draping scarves around his neck, so Elvis could toss them to admiring fans. I’ll give The Man credit for consideration, though. He did remember there were hundreds of people sitting behind him and tossed a few scarves in their direction and did a couple of bumps and grinds. Of course, that set off the screaming masses who saw for the first time a bump and grind from the rear.

If you’re going to the show tonight and going only to see Elvis, there’s no rush. The “warm-up” program begins in the vicinity of 8.30PM. Tuesday, it ended at 9.27 for an intermission while we prepare the stage don’t forget the souvenir concessions outside.” At 9.57PM, the “Hot Hilton Horns” began playing the theme from “2001: A Space Odyssey” and the thousands of flashbulbs started exploding like strobe lights.

Then The Man appeared, dressed in gold-embroidered white jeans and jacket and a gigantic belt which he had to keep hitching up. Around his neck were two necklaces (a short neck chain and a gold coin on a gold chain) and on his left hand, a gigantic diamond ring.

There were the usual warm-up groups. Gospel singers in yellow-trimmed-in-black liesure tuxedos; the Jokers: an inspirational” comedian dressed in a denim jumpsuit embroidered with Walt Disney characters (On Gay Liberation: “If God had meant people to be that way, he would have created Adam and Freddie”); and a trio “The Sweet Inspirations” who were worth the admission price.

If you’re a people watcher, the concert is great fun. If you’re an Elvis fan, you might be disappointed. There’s more (and better) music on any record album of his you have.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Courtesy of Scott Hayward

A few more of the people who I have worked with over the years:

Richard Sharkey was known for checking and double-checking pages, before they went to the press. Then after the press started he would check the first papers rolling off the press and have us fix any mistakes made.

Cecil Williams was another editor in editorial department, who was fun to talk to.

Al Nassif was not only a sportswriter and later a wire desk employee, but also published Church Today on the side. Al was one of the nicest people ever to work for Town Talk, and employed me as a page builder for the Church Today for 13 years. It is amazing he could work two jobs and have dialysis treatments for many years.

Bob Tompkins  worked at both the Town Talk and the Monroe Morning World like me. It was good to see someone I knew from Town Talk working there in Monroe.

John Marcase will always be remembered, for his hard work on the high school football section every year and those horrific Friday nights, during high school football season, when he would make order out of chaos.

Melinda Martinez in the Focus department knew it was trouble when I visited the department. Either there was an error on the page or an ad had come up the wrong size, which caused her to have to rebuild a page, which was not exactly a picnic for her.

Mike Branigan was the composing room superintendent and was a problem solver of the first magnitude. I don’t know how many times we had to call him at home, with some major problem and a few minutes later he would be in the Town Talk composing room fixing the problem.

 Note: I know I am leaving someone out, but there are too many co-workers over the 36 years at the Town Talk, to mention them all in one article.

Moved To Camera Shop

Will never forget 1993, since that is year I was moved from page makeup to the camera shop. It was a challenge for a non-mechanical person like me and it took a long time to get used to it. Had no idea how hard it was to register photos using register marks and toning photos didn’t come easy for me. We had to register cyan, magenta, yellow and black negatives and if they weren’t registered properly it would make for a very fuzzy looking photo in the newspaper.

I don’t think the other camera shop workers liked me being in the camera shop, since I was clearly a novice that was not mechanically inclined. Changing the rolls of film in the dark for the full-page negative camera was always an adventure for me.

Paginating Classified Pages

I was eventually trained to build the classified pages using page pagination. I would first place the ads in the page using the computer, according to the classified layout, then after all the ads were in place would flow all the other classified type consisting of automobiles for sale, garage sales, etc. After the pages finished filling would place the legal type in the pages. Sometimes, we had more classified type and classified ads, than would fit in the section, so would have to make adjustments to make it work out.

Double truck ads like we did while in platemaking.

The hardest thing in the 38 years was building double truck ads, or as we called them double trouble. Cutting the middle out of the two page ads and then matching, without overlapping the two sides was very time-consuming. Black and white ads were bad enough, since they only had one negative, but the color ads took much longer, since we had to perfectly match up all four color negatives. There must be a way to do these same ads by now with computer.

Plate Made With a Platemaking Machine

Moved to Platemaking

Not sure what year it was, but was moved to platemaking and started working across the street adjacent to the pressroom.

Full page negatives would arrive in platemaking, then we would place them over a metal plate in a plate burner, which would make an impression of the page on the plate. Then we would carry the finished plates to pressroom and they would be placed on the press.

This was very hectic work and we would take most of the night, to get caught up the first time.

It was during this time, that I experienced high blood pressure problems. I went to VA hospital in Pineville and found out my blood pressure was 232/108 and nurse told me I was on the verge of a stroke.

Retired On Halloween Night

My last night of work was on Halloween night of 2004. I didn’t want to retire, but was in a position, where I really had no choice but retire.

Leaving work for the last time knowing I was ending 36 years with Town Talk, and 38 years in newspaper production was not easy. The 21-year-old kid that walked in the Town Talk in August of 1966 was now 60 years old and only two years from being on Social Security.

I will be 70 next week, but still think of Town Talk often. In fact I dream about working on the paper and trying to meet the deadline, then wake up and realize that part of my life is over.

Thanks for the memories to all of those I worked with those 38 years in newspaper production.

Sad Aftermath

The Alexandria Town Talk as I knew it longer exists.

One of the more troubling changes is that the pages aren’t even designed in Alexandria, but rather 857 miles away in Des Moines, Iowa.

Guess the editorial department is relegated writing stories and taking photos, except I guess the editors of different departments still decide, which stories will be used in the paper.  The Town Talk is more of a news gathering company and ad selling company, since the pages are designed in Des Moines, Iowa, the paper is printed in Lafayette, Louisiana and last I knew the circulation department is in North Carolina. I have heard that subscribers have to call North Carolina, if their paper isn’t delivered.

So much for Gannett being a boon to the Central Louisiana economy. They are more concerned about the bottom line, than about the local economy.

The pressroom across the street from the main building lies dormant and the Town Talk is now being printed 88 miles away in Lafayette, Louisiana. I don’t think I will ever understand, why the papers have to be delivered back to Alexandria.

The bulletin board with photos of all the employees is no longer filled and not even sure if it is still there. If it is still there doubt there is more than two rows of photos.

The composing room which once had about 40 employees doesn’t even exist, because of technology advances.

The saddest thing about the downsizing is that many of my co-workers have been let go by Gannett over the years.

The beginning of the end was when the Smith family sold the Town Talk, to Central Newspapers for $62 million in 1996.

Then four years later Gannett buys Central Newspapers as the Town Talk had three different owners from 1996-2000.

Town Talk employees had received a $150 Christmas bonus for many years, but Gannett ended that tradition almost immediately upon taking ownership.

Nationwideadvertising.com lists the Town Talk circulation in a year, which is not shown:

Advertise in the Alexandria-Pineville Louisiana “The Town Talk” Daily Newspaper. Printed mornings. Circulation: 34,437; Sunday: 39,585. 

Wikipedia now list the following circulation for the Town Talk:

The daily newspaper has a circulation of some 19,500 daily and 27,500 on Sundays.

I am hoping that there will always be an Alexandria Town Talk paper edition, since reading news on the internet can never match unfolding a paper, to read the latest news and sports.

I don’t know what the future holds for the Alexandria Town Talk, but for the sake of the present employees I hope  it is a long one.

 

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