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38 Years of Newspaper Production – 1966-2004

1883- Present

The first Alexandria Daily Town Talk newspaper was published on March 17, 1883. I started working there in 1966, when the paper was 83 years old and today it is 131 years old, so 48 years have passed since I first set foot inside the Alexandria Daily Town Talk at the time. Today it is known as The Town Talk.

I had returned earlier from my tour of duty in Hawaii and Vietnam and was 21 and looking for work. The lady from the Louisiana Employment called and said there was an opening at the Town Talk. Found out later that the previous worker had drowned and they needed someone to take his place.

Earning $11.20 a Day

The interviewer told me they usually don’t start workers, as much pay as I was getting.  I found out later, that I was making the minimum wage of $1.40 an hour, which came out to $11.20 an eight hour day and $56 a week. The pay for a typical 22 day month was $246.40 and $2,912 a year. Four years later I had worked my way up to $3 an hour.

This is the way we saw hot metal type when working with it – upside down and backwards.

First Job As a Dump Boy

My first job was as a dump boy and went to work on August 24, 1966, and  received type from those working with the linotype machines. They would bring the trays called galleys with very hot metal slugs, with each slug being about an inch tall and a line of type printed on it. The proofreaders would read a proof of the story in that galley and if there was a mistake we would take out the old lines and insert the corrected lines. Then we would turn the galleys around, so the page compositors could place the type in the page forms, in the proper place according to a page layout designed by the wire desk or sports department.

Stopped By Police

When I first started working at Town Talk my starting time was 5:30 AM. One morning I was walking the usual two miles to work and was crossing the Murray Street bridge, when I was stopped by police. Someone had been killed at the Melody Grill Bar that morning, so they questioned me, before realizing I was just walking to work and had nothing to do with the murder.

Became A Page Compositor

After I had been dump boy for a while I became a page compositor. Our job was to place the ads in the page, then place photos and type to fill in the rest of the space on the page. Each page form was on a truck with wheels. that sometimes was called a turtle for some unknown reason.

We were using the hot metal process, so we used zinc photos or photos from scan-o-graver that would make photos. Things really got hectic around deadline time, as we rushed to get the pages ready for the press. After we finished the pages a pressman would process the pages in a mat rolling machine, that would make impressions of the page, that would be placed on the printing press.

Sunday Paper Starts in May of 1967

The first Sunday paper was published by the Town Talk in May of 1967 and has been published each Sunday, for the last 47 years since that date. I had been walking to and from work, but with the night hours finally bought my first car a 1954 Oldsmobile, so I wouldn’t have to walk through town at 1 AM in the morning.

Friday Night Football

To say nights at work during Friday night football were chaotic is putting it mildly. The sportswriters would return to Town Talk, to write-up their articles on that night’s game. It took time for them to write their articles and then sports desk person had to decide how to lay out the pages and what photos of the games to use. Those of us in page composition couldn’t do much, till the pages were designed and we received the layouts. The sportswriters would work with us on the page, in case we had any problems and if an article ran long they would tell us what part of the article to cut, so it would fit in the page form. It was always a relief to turn the last page over to the pressroom, so they could get it on the press, as soon as possible.

Election Night Fun

Elections were a lot of fun, if someone thought working way past time to leave work is fun. We had to wait till late at night, so we could get the latest results of the elections in the newspaper and we would make a second edition to get even later election results. Election nights would see many of the politicians gathering at the Town Talk, so they could see firsthand how many votes they were receiving.

Pressman Died At Work

I was talking to a pressman about a pro football game and it wasn’t long after, when I found out he had a heart attack and died at work. He had been a long time employee, but it still came as a shock to me, when learning he had passed away.

Married and Moved to Riverfront Street

In September of 1970 was married and moved to Riverfront Street in Pineville. I walked to work, so my wife could drive to her work and I remember there was a Russian lady living on Riverfront, that was living in a tent. Never did find out what had happened to her, after the last day I saw her.

Our $75 a month rent was too much to pay at once, so our landlord let us split it up into two $37.50 payments.

End of Hot Metal Composition

It was in 1972, that the Town Talk ended hot metal composition and started using cold type composition. Those of us working hot metal no longer had ink all over our hands, since we were working with paper. Working with the hot metal had caused most of us in hot metal composition, to have to have hernia surgery.

We would have to lift full pages of type from the bottom shelves of page racks, which was extremely heavy, since the full-page galleys were full of metal that was inch high. Imagine how heavy that is when you look at a page, in the newspaper and think of it being full of inch high metal.

Cold Type Composition 

Now we were no longer working with metal, but worked with paper type. We now used scissors, glue sticks, X-Actos and razor blades, to work on the new technology. It took some getting used to the new technology, but thanks to Elvis Presley I wouldn’t be working in hot type composition from April of 1974 till March of 1976, except at the very end.

Elvis Presley Finds Me a New Job

We were watching television, once when we found out Elvis Presley was going to be in concert at Monroe, Louisiana.  So we bought our tickets and drove to Monroe later to see the show. While we were driving to the concert we saw the local newspaper plant and my wife suggested I try to find a job there. I sent in my application and was called in for an interview and was hired. So if it hadn’t been for Elvis Presley I would have never worked for the Monroe Morning World.

Had worked for Town Talk for almost eight years, when I got the Monroe Morning World job and got a huge raise from $159 a week to $167 a week. I didn’t know at the time that I would earn $5,000 more in my first year at the Morning World, because they offered much more overtime. In fact I worked 49 days in a row, without a day off for one stretch. Boss kept asking if I wanted to work both my days off and I kept saying yes.

To Be Continued – Part 2

 
 

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President Reagan Assassination Attempt: 33 Years Later

 

                                                                                                                         President Ronald Reagan pushed by Secret Service agents into the presidential limousine.

 

The United States came very close to having two presidents assassinated in 18 years, when President Ronald Reagan was shot by John Hinckley Jr. 33 years ago, who wanted to impress actress Jodie Foster, by shooting President Reagan the 40th president of the United States. President John F. Kennedy the 35th president had been assassinated only 18 years earlier in Dallas, Texas.

President Reagan had been in office only 69 days, when the assassination attempt took place on March 30, 1981.

Rohm RG 14 revolver used by John Hinckley Jr in attempt to kill the president.

 

The day started off as another normal busy day for the president and he entered the Washington Hilton Hotel at 1:45 PM ET. He was delivering a speech to AFL-CIO representatives. The president and his party emerged from the hotel, at 2:27 PM ET and chaos ensued as Hinckley fired six shots at the party, which took only 1.7 seconds to fire the six shots. The bullets were the Detonator type, that were supposed to explode on impact, but only the bullet hitting Brady exploded. Hospital staff had to wear bullet proof vests, when removing the bullet from Officer Delahanty’s neck, because the bullets still could explode at any time.

1st bullet – Hit White House Press Secretary James Brady in the head.

2nd bullet - Hit District of Columbia Police Officer Thomas Delahanty in back of head, as he tried to protect President Reagan.

3rd bullet – Hit window of building across the street.

4th bullet – Hit Secret Service Agent Timothy McCarthy in abdomen as he attempted to shield President Reagan.

5th bullet – Hit bullet resistant glass window of door of limousine.

6th bullet - Ricocheted off the armored side of the limousine and hit President Reagan in his left underarm, grazing a rib and lodging in his lung, stopping nearly 1 inch (25mm) from his heart.

                                                                                                                                                          Secret Service Agent Robert Wanko wields Uzi at shooting scene.

Aftermath of Shooting

Chaos ensued after the shooting as onlookers and Secret Service agents brought Hinckley to the ground and relieved him of his gun. Meanwhile, others at the scene were trying to assist the shooting victims.

The presidential limousine left the scene and Secret Service Special Agent in Charge, who had earlier pushed Reagan into the limousine had first thought Reagan was alright. Parr ordered the limousine to return to the White House, after saying Rawhide is OK, with Rawhide being the code name for the president.  However, after seeing that the president was in pain he ordered the limousine, to be driven to George Washington Hospital.

The limousine arrived at hospital only four minutes later and the president attempted to walk on his own, but his knees buckled and he had to be assisted, as he entered the emergency room.

President Reagan was upset that his suit was cut off of him, since it was a $1,000 suit and had been a gift from his wife Nancy. His systolic blood pressure was only 60, while it was normally 140. It helped the president by being shot  with a 22 caliber bullet, rather than a 38 caliber, which may have lessened his chance of survival.

The president’s wife Nancy had learned of his shooting and arrived at  the hospital in time for the president to tell her “Honey, I forgot to duck”.  He later would tell the operating room staff “I hope you are all Republicans”.

Benjamin L. Aaron the surgeon performed a thoracotomy which lasted 105 minutes. The president lost half of his blood volume during the surgery.

President Reagan was the first president to survive after an assassination attempt.

Vice President George Bush was in Fort Worth, Texas and when told the president was alright went on to Austin to make a speech. After learning the seriousness, of the president’s injuries Bush flew to Washington immediately.

Meanwhile back at the White House, Secretary of State Alexander Haig announced that he was in charge at the White House, despite being fourth in line of succession, when House speaker Tip O’Neill should have been next in line, since President Reagan was unable to govern and Vice President Bush was in Texas at the time.

President Reagan left the hospital on April 11 after 13 days in the hospital. He didn’t return to the Oval Office, until April 25 which was about 27 days after the shooting.

John Hinckley Jr. mug shot on day of assassination attempt.

Background of John Hinckley Jr.

John Hinckley Jr. was born May 29, 1955 in Ardmore, Oklahoma. He will be 59 years old next month and was 25 on the day, that he shot President Reagan 33 years ago.

Hinckley moved with his family to Evergreen, Colorado when his father moved his Hinckley Oil company headquarters from Dallas.  He graduated from high school, but seemed to have little ambition. He attended Texas Tech University from 1974-1980.

The movie Taxi Driver released in 1976 had a character played by Robert DeNiro, who was planning to assassinate the president. Hinckley saw this movie many times and the movie also starred Jodie Foster. He would become obsessed with Foster and went so far as to enroll in college at Yale, when he heard she was attending there and stalked her with notes and telephone calls.

 

                                                                                                                                                                                  Jodie Foster stalked by John Hinckley Jr.

John Hinckley Jr.’s obsession with Jodie Foster led him to also stalk President Jimmy Carter during the 1980 presidential campaign. He was in shooting distance of President Carter once, but had left his guns at the hotel that day. He posed for a photograph in front of Ford Theatre, where President Abraham Lincoln had been assassinated. Incidentally, President Reagan had visited Ford Theatre only 9 days, before the assassination attempt and mentioned, that if anyone really wanted to assassinate a president, that they would be successful.

This poem written by Hinckley shows how troubled of a mind he possessed:

Guns Are Fun

See that living legend over there?
With one little squeeze of this trigger
I can put that person at my feet
moaning and groaning and pleading with God.

This gun gives me pornographic power.
If I wish, the president will fall
and the world will look at me in disbelief,

all because I own an inexpensive gun.
Guns are lovable, Guns are fun
Are you lucky enough to own one?

Back to Hinckley and Foster, he called her and wrote notes and letters to her many times. This is the letter that Hinckley wrote to Foster on the day of his assassination attempt, but it was never mailed:

3/30/81

12:45 P.M.

Dear Jodie,

     There is a definite possibility that I will be killed in my attempt to get Reagan.  It is for this very reason that I am writing you this letter now.
     As you well know by now I love you very much.  Over the past seven months I've left you dozens of poems, letters and love messages in the faint hope that you could develop an interest in me.  Although we talked on the phone a couple of times I never had the nerve to simply approach you and introduce myself.  Besides my shyness, I honestly did not wish to bother you with my constant presence.  I know the many messages left at your door and in your mailbox were a nuisance, but I felt that it was the most painless way for me to express my love for you.
     I feel very good about the fact that you at least know my name and know how I feel about you.  And by hanging around your dormitory, I've come to realize that I'm the topic of more than a little conversation, however full of ridicule it may be.  At least you know that I'll always love you.
     Jodie, I would abandon this idea of getting Reagan in a second if I could only win your heart and live out the rest of my life with you, whether it be in total obscurity or whatever. 
     I will admit to you that the reason I'm going ahead with this attempt now is because I just cannot wait any longer to impress you.  I've got to do something now to make you understand, in no uncertain terms, that I am doing all of this for your sake!  By sacrificing my freedom and possibly my life, I hope to change your mind about me.  This letter is being written only an hour before I leave for the Hilton Hotel.  Jodie, I'm asking you to please look into your heart and at least give me the chance, with this historical deed, to gain your respect and love.

I love you forever,

John Hinckley

http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/hinckley/hinckleytrial.html is a website with much more information about John Hinckley Jr. and excellent source of trial information.

 

 

The above letter shows just how deranged of a mind Hinckley had, at the time of the assassination attempt. This letter was written less than two hours, before his assassination attempt to kill President Reagan. The timing of the assassination attempt may have been influenced by the ultimatum by his parents, to move out of their home by the end of March.

This is strictly my opinion, but I think if John Hinckley Jr. had not seen Taxi Driver he would not have had the motivation, to attempt to kill President Reagan and his obsession with and stalking of Jodie Foster would never have happened.

 

The Trial

John Hinckley Jr. went on trial in 1982 and the trial ended on June 21, 1982, when the jury rendered a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity. If he had been found to be sane, then he would have probably would have been sentenced to life without parole, but instead he was sent to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington, DC, where he still resides 33 years later.

The prosecution insisted that Hinckley was legally sane, while the defense said he was insane. Jodie Foster was distraught to know that Hinckley had been found not guilty. She may have not been shot on March 30, 1981, but her life was forever changed, by Hinckley stalking her on the Yale campus and then finding out, that John Hinckley Jr. had attempted to kill President Reagan to impress her.

Hinckley was able to book several flights in various places, during October of 1980. He was in New Haven, Connecticut at least three times in that October, and he flew there at least twice that month. Just my opinion, but I don’t think an insane person is capable of  booking flights and being on the plane in time for takeoff.  That brings to the mind, that Hinckley was not working, yet was able to fly around the country many times, while being bankrolled by the wealth of his parents.

The not guilty by reason of insanity verdict for Hinckley has brought about changes in some states. Those changes have made it more difficult in those states, to receive a not guilty by reason of insanity verdict.

Addenda

It was ironic that all four shooting victims were Irish with surnames of Reagan, Delahanty, McCarthy and Brady.

John Hinckley, Jr. is now permitted to spend 17 days a month, which is 204 days a year at home in Virginia with his mother Jo Ann who is now 86. Hinckley is now 58 and is even allowed to drive a car and likes to buy cheeseburgers at Wendy’s. James Brady will be in a wheel chair the rest of his life, while Hinckley can drive his Toyota Camry around and walk wherever he wants.

Hinckley still was obsessed with Jodie Foster as late as 1987, when he still had a collection of Jodie Foster photographs.

It is being requested by Hinckley to have 24 days of freedom a month, but so far that request has been denied. That would give him 288 days of freedom a year, if allowed in the coming months or years.

George Bush I would have been president 7 years sooner, if President Reagan had died on that day in 1981.

The Daily Mail from Great Britain has an article in today’s edition about John Hinckley and shows several photographs of him today at 58 and a photo of his 86-year-old mom Jo Ann.

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                                                                                                   

 

 

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Cancer Surgery: A Year Later

Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston, Texas

This time last year I was in the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston, Texas. First, let me go back in time to some of the events that may have led to me having duodenal cancer.

May of 2012 was a traumatic time for us, after being evicted from our house in Sulphur, Louisiana. We then moved to DeRidder, Louisiana on July 20 and it took almost two weeks to move our belongings to a trailer. I think the eviction and move took a toll on me emotionally and physically. I truly feel that financial stress played a part, in me acquiring cancer last summer.

I began to lose an alarming number of pounds in July and would have lost 45 pounds by the time I entered the VA Hospital in Houston in October. I vomited 17 times in a two-day period, which contained blood. I went to the VA Hospital in Pineville, Louisiana and they thought at first that I had acid reflux, peptic ulcers, duodenal ulcers and H pylori. I was sent home with various prescriptions that didn’t control the vomiting.

Finally on September 28 of 2012 I was admitted into the VA Hospital in Pineville and the next day September 29 they transported me via ambulance to the VA Hospital in Houston.

One of the first things they did in Houston was insert a tube down my throat and connected it to a container that received the contents of my stomach continuously to prevent any more vomiting. The inserting of the tube was one of the most stressful medical procedures done, while in the hospital and very uncomfortable having a tube, but it did prevent any further vomiting.

It took almost two weeks before the oncologist determined that I had duodenal cancer, after unsuccessful CT scan which was too cloudy because of a recent CT scan at the Pineville VA Hospital. Then the doctors tried an endoscopy, which didn’t work, since it the instrument wasn’t long enough to reach the blockage, which they were trying to biopsy.

The oncologist still could not get a biopsy, so they tried another endoscopy that reached the blockage and then prescribed a Petscan to get a better look at the blockage. After these two procedures they determined that I did have duodenal cancer, a cancer that is in beginning section of small intestines. It is also referred to as adenocarcinoma.

The Petscan was a unique experience. For 45 minutes they started and stopped the scan. I had the sensation of being on a train. The only thing missing was that no conductor was saying “All aboard”.

My birthday was on October 14, which was two days before the surgery. My wife Rhonda had made a Happy Birthday poster for the door of my room and my daughter, her husband and two grandchildren were there to celebrate. My two sons, who had already arrived a few days earlier were also there, along with my ex-wife who came with my daughter.

I still have the poster that Rhonda made in our bedroom and it has a lot of sentimental value. Rhonda had to sleep in a chair the first few days, that I was in the hospital. She found out later there was a place called Fisher House on the grounds, so she could have a place to eat and sleep during the night.

One of my brothers also made two or three visits to the hospital, while I was there and his ex-wife and my niece also made visits to see me.

The Surgery

I will never forget the day of the surgery, which was Tuesday, October 16, 2012. I was rolled into a hall where patients were lined up for surgery. I recall the nurses were asking about a patient who didn’t show up for surgery, because he tired of waiting for the surgery and had left the hospital.

Once I entered the surgery room the anesthesiologist began sticking with me with needles which were very painful and I was surprised how many times I was stuck and awake to feel the pain. I could hear the surgery room nurses make clanging sounds similar to the sounds of pots and pans being put on tables.

The next thing I knew it was 11 hours later and my surgery which was supposed to have taken 5 or 6 hours had lasted 11 hours, because I had been nicked in the liver and it caused massive bleeding, which required four units of blood to replace the lost blood. The surgeon told Rhonda that they were close to losing me, so I am very fortunate to even be writing about the surgery.

Recovery

I remember being in a very strange room, after the surgery which I assume was the ICU. It seemed like it was very dark in the room and I almost felt like they had sent me to a secluded cabin to recover from the surgery. I still can’t remember much about this phase in my recovery.

One of the results from the surgery was the finding that I had Stage III duodenal cancer. Duodenal cancer is extremely rare and only accounts for 1 percent of gastrointestinal cancers.

At some point before or after the surgery I had a picc line inserted in my arm, so the nurses wouldn’t have to give me so many injections.

However, I still had blood work done every morning at about 5AM. I had insulin shots in my stomach at least once a day, even though I was and am not now diabetic.

One thing I remember is watching the 2012 World Series between the Detroit Tigers and the San Francisco Giants. I tried to watch all of the games, but would sometimes fall asleep during the games.

About a week after the surgery I was finally allowed to eat real food, for the first time since arriving at the hospital three weeks earlier. However, my appetite was not that great and would only eat part of the food most of the time.

It was great to have the tube removed from my throat, even though it was uncomfortable feeling for it to come out. Needless to say I talked differently while having the tube in my throat, so was happy to talk normally again.

It was Halloween night (October 31) when I was finally released from the hospital. The day started off well as I started being readied for release, but I waited a very long time for the Picc line to be removed. The technician came in the room and had me in more of upside down and sideways position, so that he could remove the Picc line.

My high number on the blood pressure reading was 181, when I was finally released late that night. Blood pressure was a serious problem in the hospital, since it spiked to about 220 at one point, so I was given blood pressure medication and wore a blood pressure patch to bring it down.

Returning Home

Immediately after being released I stayed with Rhonda at the Fisher House that night, to prevent traveling immediately after being released.

We made the 160 mile trip back to DeRidder the next day and began the long road to recovery. I was feeling a little better each day and felt much better, when we made a visit to the VA Hospital in Houston in November, to see the oncologist for a checkup. He told us that duodenal cancer has a history of returning, which sort of caught me by surprise.

We drove home on Thanksgiving morning and we were slowed by a massive traffic jam before we arrived at my daughter’s home in Groves, Texas. When we arrived there they told us, that many cars had hit each other in the fog on Interstate 10, so we were fortunate to miss the accident, but were detoured so we never saw the scene of the accident.

Chemotherapy

I started 91 days of chemotherapy after returning home at the VA Hospital in Pineville. There is no chemotherapy for duodenal cancer, because it is so rare, so was treated as if I had colon cancer.

When I told the doctor I read that there was only a 30 percent chance of surviving duodenal cancer he told me not to worry, since my life expectancy was only 76 since I was a male. I relaxed after that figuring what is two years less or more, since I will be 69 this week.

The chemotherapy had many bad side effects, with sensitive to cold, jaw pain when chewing foods, unsteady on my feet and the oncologist in Pineville switched me to another form of chemotherapy.

It wasn’t much better as it caused another set of problems, so my chemotherapy was stopped 91 days into the 5 month treatments. The oncologist told me my quality of life was being affected too adversely by the chemotherapy. I was relieved to not have to make the weekly trips to Pineville for the chemotherapy treatments and I started feeling better after the treatments stopped with the side effects no longer a problem.

CT Scan in May in Houston

We went to see the oncologist/surgeon at Houston VA Hospital last May. The first day there we underwent another CT scan and did bloodwork. Then the next day we talked to the surgeon and he said everything looked good on the scan and it was clear. However, he said he was concerned that when he lifted the cancerous blockage off the liver, that some cancer may have seeped into the liver and may sprout up at a later date.

Our next CT scan is scheduled on December 11. Hopefully, the scan will be clear and if not will know it is God’s will being done, so not overly worried about the results.

Thank You

I want to thank all the doctors and nurses at VA Hospital in Pineville and Houston for their excellent care. I want to thank all the family members and friends who visited me at the hospital in Houston and those who stayed with me in the hospital, after Rhonda began staying at the Fisher House.

I would like to also thank those who called my room during my stay in Houston. Those phone calls meant more to me, than you will ever know.

In addition I would like to think those who sent gift cards or checks,  to help pay for Rhonda’s food and expenses, plus help pay our bills, while staying in Houston.

Plus I would like to thank those who contributed to the cancer fund my son started,  in conjunction with his bicycle tour starting this week in Kansas City, Missouri.

My goal is to keep a positive attitude regardless of what the results of the scan show, in December and to continue to sing and praise the Lord.

 
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Posted by on October 7, 2013 in Christian, Doctors, Family, Food, Health, Photos, Religion

 

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Shocking News: J. Fred Muggs Is Still Alive

J Fred Muggs with Dave Garroway on NBC's Today, 1954

J. Fred Muggs (left) shown with Dave Garroway and his girlfriend Phoebe B. Beebe on the Today show in the 50′s on the NBC television network.

It was a shock to me to find out today, that J. Fred Muggs is still alive and living in Florida at the age of 61. His girlfriend, Phoebe B. Beebe is also still alive and they are living happily together.

The addition of J. Fred Muggs to the Today show may have saved the long running show from cancellation as he attracted advertisers to the show.

The Russian newspaper Izvestia had this to say about Mr. Muggs:

In the 1950s, the Russian newspaper, Izvestia, described J. Fred Muggs, as “a symbol of the American way of life”, and said, “Muggs is necessary in order that the average American should not look into reports on rising taxes, and decreasing pay, but rather laugh at the funny mug of a chimpanzee.

Life began for J. Fred Muggs on March 14, 1952 in French Cameroon and is now 61 years old. Age is unknown of his domestic partner Phoebe B. Beebe.

Dave Garroway the host of the Today show grew jealous of Muggs and reportedly spiked his orange juice with benzedrine to make him misbehave.

 

J. Fred Muggs was the subject of a Little Golden Book. The book is currently being sold on eBay for $24.99.

 
 

J. Fred Muggs fingerpainted this cover of Mad Magazine.

There are currently 74 items about J. Fred Muggs for sale on eBay, including a photo of him with President Harry Truman, apparently after Truman left office and was visiting the Today show.

J. Fred Muggs shown catching up on the latest news.

 

 

1955 Chimpanzee - J. Fred Muggs on telephone Press Photo

This is a photo of J. Fred Muggs asking President Eisenhower for an increase in the minimum wage for monkeys.

J. Fred Muggs debating whether to dive from highest diving board or to play it safe.

 

 

1977 Chimpanzee - J. Fred Muggs with graduation cap and gown Press Photo

This is a photo of J. Fred Muggs making his valedictorian speech for the 1977 class of Monkey Business University, which educates monkeys for a career in the corporate world.

 

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Thousands Descend On Livingston, Louisiana For Dukes of Hazzard Family Reunion and Car Show

My son-in-law George, Catherine “Daisy Duke” Bach and myself at the 2nd Annual Dukes of Hazzard Family Reunion and Car Show in Livingston, Louisiana which is in the Baton Rouge area.

Thousands of Dukes of Hazzard fans descended on Livingston, Louisiana on Saturday August 17, 2013, as the town of 1,876 welcomed Dukes of Hazzard fans to the Henderson Auction Barn.

Most of the fans seemed to have one purpose in mind and that was to have the Dukes of Hazzard stars sign their Dukes of Hazzard memorabilia. My son-in-law and me waited in line for almost three hours to talk to Catherine Bach, who portrayed Daisy Duke on the television series. He had her autograph a DVD of two Dukes of Hazzard movies and she also autographed his General Lee car.

She was extremely gracious to her fans and I was particularly impressed when she stopped the main line to talk to a group, that apparently was from a nursing home. You could tell from the smiles on their faces, that she made their day by taking time to talk with them and to sign autographs.

Catherine Bach may be 59, but she appeared to be a lot younger to me at least. She was born Catherine Bachman on March 1, 1954 in Warren, Ohio.

She has two movies in post production in Book of Fire and Claire’s Cambodia and should be released in the coming months.

Young and Restless fans may recognize her as Anita Lawson and she appears from time to time in the series, with her last appearance being in the August 9 episode.

The Monk detective series also featured her in the “Monk Meets His Dad” episode on November 17, 2006, when she played the part of Sara Jo.

Her second husband Peter Lopez committed suicide on April 30, 2010, about four months before what would have been their 20th wedding anniversary. Their two daughters helped her at the product table and they are Sophia 17 and Laura, who will be 15 in October.

My son-in-law George with Catherine Bach.

George with Mountain Man from Duck of Dynasty fame.

My son-in-law George was next in line, when Mountain Man decided to take a lunch break. George kidded him about it would take a long time, since he was so slow on Duck Dynasty. Mountain Man returned about 45 minutes later and George got his autograph.

Lou “Incredible Hulk” Ferrigno shaking hands with George.

George and Tom Wopat posing for a photo.

I only waited in the line to talk to Catherine Bach, since it was very uncomfortable with the line not moving, till she showed up and then there was another long wait, before actually talking to her.

George waited in one line after another, while I watched the stage show. George said the reunion was planned much better, than the reunion in 2012.

My personal highlights were being able to talk to Catherine Bach and to see the Mountain Man from a distance. Have no idea why he was named Mountain Man, with the highest point in Louisiana being 563 feet, which is only 8 feet taller than the Washington Monument.

It was a brutally hot day, but cold drinks were being sold for $2, which is reasonable for an event like this.

Going to the reunion sparked my interest in Dukes of Hazzard and watched two shows, after arriving back at my daughter’s house.

 

 

 

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Groucho Marx Kept Us Laughing

The elderly lady in this photo from You Bet Your Life program asks Groucho Marx to put out his cigarette in one of the funniest moments in the history of the show.

Julius Henry “Groucho” Marx was born October 2, 1890 in New York City. He appeared as a 15-year-old singer on stage in 1905 and had an excellent soprano voice.

Marx appeared in every entertainment venue , as he was in vaudeville, burlesque, radio, television and movies. He was part of the Four Nightingales singing group with his brothers. A performance in Nacogdoches, Texas would prove to be a turning point in their careers, when they started cracking jokes, which was better received by the audience than their singing.

The Marx Brothers became a major hit when they entertained at the Palace Theater which epitomized success in the vaudeville era.

It would be 1921, before the Marx Brothers made their first silent movie Humor Risk, which was so bad that it was only shown once. Eight years would pass before they appeared in Cocoanuts in 1929 and would be followed by Animal Crackers in 1930. Groucho would appear in his last movie in a brief cameo, when he appeared in The Candidate in 1972.

From 1921 to 1968 Groucho appeared in movies and also was heard in 379 episodes of various radio shows from 1933-1975 with his last five shows having no date shown for those broadcasts. His most famous show You Bet Your Life was on the air from 1947-1956.

Television would become the new home for the show, but it was being heard on radio and seen on television simultaneously from 1950-1957. Marx appeared in 84 episodes of the television show from 1950-1961, but very few episodes were filmed in any of those years.

The show included a quiz, but the show was best known for the humorous banter, between Groucho and his guests. The best way to appreciate the humor in the shows is to watch one of the shows on YouTube.

I can remember when going to summer school back in my high school days, that I would return home and watch the show.

One of my favorite memories of the show was when Groucho asked a girl from India, if she knew who was buried in Grant’s Tomb and she replied “Me??!!” which caught everyone by surprise. He was trying to ask her an easy question and she still missed it. Another easy question was “What color is the White House?” Groucho was one of the best ad-libbers in show business and his ability to ad lib is what made this show so much fun.

Groucho was the very first guest on Johnny Carson’s Tonight show in 1962.

Some of Groucho’s quotes:

Marriage is a wonderful institution. But who wants to live in an institution?

While shooting elephants in Africa, I found the tusks very difficult to remove. But in Alabama, the Tuscaloosa…

The husband who wants a happy marriage should learn to keep his mouth shut and his checkbook open.

Even more quotes from Groucho:

The last years for Groucho were not happy ones, as his caretaker Erin Fleming treated him harshly, which is best described in this Wikipedia article:

Relationship with Groucho Marx

Fleming’s influence on Marx was controversial. Many close to him admitted that she did much to revive his popularity; these efforts included a series of one-man shows, culminating in a sold-out performance at Carnegie Hall which was released on a best-selling record album and an honorary Academy Award he received in 1974. Also, some observers felt the apparent relationship with a young starlet boosted Groucho’s ego, adding to his vitality. Others, including Marx’s son, Arthur, described her in Svengali-esque terms, accusing her of exploiting an increasingly senile and frail Marx in pursuit of her own stardom.

In the years leading up to Marx’s death in August 1977, his heirs filed several lawsuits against Fleming. One allegation leveled against Fleming was that she was determined to sell Marx’s favorite car, a Cadillac, against his wishes. When Marx protested, it was said, Fleming threatened, “I will slap you from here to Pittsburgh.” Another allegation had her dancing nude around Marx, fondling herself and asking “Don’t you wish you could have some of this?” Many people close to Marx believed Fleming was abusive towards him. Arthur wanted temporary conservatorship of his father, and took Fleming to court. According to the book Raised Eyebrows by Groucho’s secretary Steve Stoliar, Fleming had several personal problems; he stated in his book that she used drugs, had mood swings, and was given to inappropriate outbursts, both in public and in private.

The court battles dragged into the early 1980s, but judgments were eventually reached in favor of Arthur Marx, ordering Fleming to repay $472,000 to the Marx estate.

Arrest

Fleming’s mental health deteriorated in the 1990s. She was arrested once in the Los Angeles area on a weapons charge, and spent much of the decade in and out of commitments to various psychiatric facilities.[citation needed] She was also reportedly impoverished and homeless in her final years, living on the streets of Hollywood and Beverly Hills.

Death

Fleming committed suicide in 2003 by shooting herself.]

Groucho Marx died on August 19, 1977 of pneumonia. His death wasn’t given much publicity, due to the fact that Elvis Presley had died three days earlier.

 

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Blast From the Past: Burger Chef

Burger Chef was founded in 1954.

 

Burger Chef at one time was the chief competition for McDonalds, but the company no longer existed after the last restaurant was closed 14 years ago in 1999.

The Burger Chef restaurant chain started with the opening of a fast food restaurant in Indianapolis, Indiana in the 1950′s.

 

Burger Chef featured a 45 cent combo, which consisted of 15 cent hamburger, 15 cent French fries and 15 cent milk shake . This same combo today would cost at least $3 and up since shakes aren’t usually included in combo specials.

This menu shows prices of a combo had skyrocketed to 60 cents with 23 cent hamburger, 22 cent French fries and  25 cent milk shake which was still a real bargain compared to what a value meal costs today.

 

The photo above shows coffee being sold for 12 cents. Try going to Starbucks and asking for a 12 cent cup of coffee and see the looks you get. Five apple turnovers for a $1 also sounds like a good deal. Noticed that you had to spring for an extra four cents to buy a cheeseburger for 27 cents.

 

Burger Chef saved on labor costs by having dogs cooking up the burgers.

 

Burger Chef was sold to General Foods Corporation in 1968. They started a Fun Meal for kids in the early 70′s and sued McDonalds, when they started serving Happy Meals, but lost their case in court.

General Foods would divest themselves of their ownership in Burger Chef, by selling the company to Imasco, a Canadian company which also owned the Hardee’s chain of fast food restaurants.

There may no longer be any Burger Chef’s in operation, but will always have the memory of the store in Alexandria, Louisiana too many years ago to remember.

Burger Chef no longer exists, but their competitor McDonalds is still going strong with over 34,000 stores operating worldwide with 1.7 million employees.

McDonalds may have won the burger wars, but they can’t take the memories away from Burger Chef fans.

 

 

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