First things first…How could anybody let me walk around in these clothes?!
Done laughing yet?…I’ll wait….
Alright, let’s move on…
- In the late 60’s and 70’s, there were only 3 TV stations and 3 radio stations: WBT with Ty Boyd, WSOC with Jack Knight, and BIG WAYS with Jack Gayle. FM was still a step-child. Radio was never better in the 70’s — when clowns like Jay Thomas, Murphy in the Morning, Larry Sprinkle, Bob & Harold, and HAT hit their stride.
- The Biggest con game that ever came through Charlotte was the PTL Club. Jim Bakker founded his empire in 1972 in an abandoned furniture store on E. Independence Blvd. The headquarters building is still there, in Ft. Mill in Regency Park. If you were in radio, you loved the PTL Club (AKA Pass The Loot Club). Their intentions were good, but they always tripped over Tammy’s tears. The best thing about the PTL Club was the band and singers; some of them are still around. Remember Nancy Stainback’s spectacular voice? PTL closed in 1987.
- Remember the C’est Bon Club on Central Ave. in the 1970’s? Morgana, at the time, was about as famous as Marilyn Monroe. She would come to town and display her talent, in the Queen City, as an Exotic Dancer at the C’est Bon Club. Her nickname was the ‘Kissing Bandit’ because she would run out on the baseball diamond and kiss the players. One of her regular stops was WBT, and we put a show on in the studio.
- Doug Marlette was such a great political cartoonist. He was in Charlotte for many years in the 1970’s when Charlotte had two newspapers. His favorite target was Senator Jesse Helms. One cartoon said…”North Carolina was the largest turkey producing state” and the cartoon he drew was Helm’s face in a flock of turkeys. You had to see it to appreciate it.
- Pat Hall was a visionary. He dreamed of Carowinds, like Walt dreamed of Disneyland and Disneyworld. It became a reality in 1973 and a grand fun place for Carolinians. The Palladium Amphitheater had big name entertainment.
- Remember the old Charlottetown Mall…now called the Metropolitan? Charlottetown Mall was a big draw because South Park didn’t open until the early 70’s. Belk had a store downtown near Trade and Tryon for about 75 years. There’s a brass plaque in the sidewalk where the store once stood. The Belk’s had a big family and John, one of the founder’s sons, was mayor for many years. Sue Myrick was our first lady mayor, and then moved on to serve in Congress.
- The first professional golf thrill in Charlotte was the Kemper Open about 1973. Lee Trevino was in his prime, and nobody since has provided as many laughs around the course. Eastwood Golf Club off the Plaza is long gone…it’s all condos now — up near Garinger High. Players used to call it “Eastweed”. If you sliced a bad one, you played it out of the next fairway. It was just a public track in the 60’s, but who cared? It was a hangout for locals who loved to gamble. Leon Crump made Eastwood his bank. He was the most famous golf hustler who would bet 6 or 7 guys playing and gambling in a ‘foursome’. If you saw a crowd of men heading for the green…Leon Crump was one of them. In the earlier days, Clayton Heafner played on the PGA tour and this was his hangout. I came to Charlotte in 1968 and played a lot at Eastwood, but I never got in that crap shoot.
- Everything has a shelf life — especially restaurants. Let’s remember a couple of gems. The Epicurean Restaurant in Dilworth at one time, was the best fine dining restaurant in town. Remember the Lamplighter on East Morehead Street? The Pineville Dinner Theater had a show with good food. I miss the Ranch House. No, I miss the shrimp cocktail sauce (You can buy it! http://www.charlotteobserver.com/living/food-drink/article32871660.html). Horseradish so strong you could start a fire with it. And it worked better than a sinus doctor. What happened to the Nixon Brothers’ Steak House? Three Greeks had the best night club in Charlotte in the 60’s and 70’s. Ziggy Hurwitz’ Trio played dance music every night. Helen O’Connell, big band vocalist, stopped in when she came through Charlotte…
- I miss Paul Buck. He was the last of the big time wheeler dealers. If you needed a couple of hard to get tickets, he had them in his desk drawer. When Elvis came to town in 1973 and 1977, Buck and Colonel Tom Parker moved thru the coliseum like two generals running an army. Don’t get in their way. Paul Buck came to Charlotte in the 50’s from St. Louis, and retired in 1988, when the new coliseum opened on Tyvola Road.
- Now that the Panthers have had the best year in their history, we’re all hoping for the big one! They even played on Monday Night Football. Do you remember Howard Cosell on Monday Night Football? He and Dandy ‘Don’ Meredith were the best. Today’s guys aren’t as colorful. Cosell said what he thought. Boxer Muhammed Ali always threatened to pull off Cosell’s toupee.
Sometimes the good old days were better…