My good friend and former Overlord of the League of Savannah Bloggers, Sam Johnson, posted an entry Sunday about how a casual e-mail brought back a flood of memories of a cable access comedy show he and his fellow unemployables directed, wrote and produced called Underground Savannah. (Keep in mind, folks, that Savannah isn’t too far above sea level, and that any real attempt to go underground will result in a big honkin’ tidal wave of salt water.) Apparently one of the people who worked with “Blaxstone” has put the series on DVD and will be shipping him a copy sometime this week.
Now, I’ll come clean and admit that I did get kind of snarky when it came to teasing Sam about this…particularly since if you look at this photo…
…he looks like Alfonso Ribeiro’s twin brother (or, at the very least, a refugee from DeBarge). But since that time, I’ve had my own walk down Memory Lane. (There is a picture involved, but it will not be of me. You’ve seen me in my younger days already, with the infamous “fruit hat.”)
The other evening, I was checking on the huge readership stats for Thrilling Days of Yesteryear when I noticed someone had “Googled” my name…and it wasn’t me. This sort of thing has a tendency to make me nervous, because I can’t for the life of me figure out who would take precious time out of their busy schedule to fill in the missing portions of my life via the Internets. (Honest to my Grandma, folks…I’m one of the most boring people you’re ever gonna meet.) The only conclusion I could come to is that the “Google” came from someone I owe money to…although again, tracking me down in a web search isn’t going to yield anybody any additional funds.
My curiosity having been spiked, I clicked on the Google link to see how I rated. (220,000 hits for “ivan shreve,” in case you’re curious, too.) Most of the links listed are pretty much related to the blog…but this one here stood out—a collection of comments from people who sat in front of a mike at WMUL-FM 88, the student station at Marshall University in Huntington, WV. They invite former alumni to write about their favorite memories working for the "Mighty Mule", and my good friend Jeff Lane contributed some involving him and yours truly:
In 1984-85, Ivan Shreve and I started a Friday Afternoon Country Show on WMUL. We got new releases from Davidson's Record store downtown and played all our country favorites. At the time there had never been a country show on the MUL! Ivan also did an updated rewritten version for radio broadcast of "The Iliad" that featured many of the staff in some small role.
As I do my best Maurice Chevalier impression, “I remember it well.” Jeff and I were bosom buddies during my brief academic career at Marshall (which sort of went south because, ironically, I spent so much time hanging out at the station I neglected my studies) and one memory he left out (which I have since submitted) was an occasion when he and I ventured out to Huntington’s amusement park, Camden Park (“...at the sign of the Happy Clown!”), and ran into our student advisor, Keith Spears. Keith was Camden’s promotional director, in charge of booking the entertainment at Camden, which consisted mainly of country music stars.
Keith sees Jeff and me, and he walks with us over to the corn dog stand (Camden Park calls them “Pronto Pups”). He tells the corn dog maitre’d to set us up with some “puppies” and cold drinks, and then pulls out a fistful of ride tickets. “Now, I’m not suggesting this is a quid pro quo,” he admonishes us, “but maybe you two could see your way clear to mentioning Camden Park and how much fun it is to visit…like on that new country music show I agreed to let you guys do.” (Yes, this was my first taste of payola…and since then, my credo has been: “I can’t be bought…but I can be rented.”)
Jeff and his lovely wife Mary Ann stopped Rancho Yesteryear last year on their way down to her mother’s place in Florida, and that visit itself would have made perfect fodder for a sitcom episode. See, what I didn’t tell them at the time was that I sort of overindulged in some Chinese food the night before (and I mean overindulged) and when Jeff called me to let me know he was in town and wanted to take me to dinner, I turned three shades of green. (Sort of like Dawn French in The Vicar of Dibley episode, “The Christmas Lunch Incident.”) We all went out to Carey Hilliard’s and I think I remember eating a hamburger along with CH’s best-in-Savannah onion rings; in between bites we reminisced about all the crazy things we did long ago…most of them at WMUL. (We were so inseparable that one day I walked into the station’s “bullpen” and the news director glanced up at me and cracked, “Hi, fellas.”)
Jeff now works as a magistrate in Logan County (yes, I found it difficult to believe, too) and in his spare time moonlights as a wrestling manager (his wrestler has the quaint nickname, “Psycho”) and as a member of a country band, 119 South. He’s the guy with the green shirt in this picture (which I liberated from 119 South’s website):
Somewhere amidst all this junk, I have a photo of Jeff and I that was taken many years ago here in Savannah. If I find it, I’m not going to post it…because Lord knows I don’t need to give Sam any more ammunition in our ongoing feud.