Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Don't Touch That Dial...

One of the great parts of being in the Publicity Department for the tour at Universal Studios in the late 1960s was the fun weekends you could have with your kids.

Stand in line with all the other people at Disneyland? Not hardly when you could drive them around the Back Lot on a Saturday for a private excursion and let them mess with the props!

This giant phone eventually ended up at the Tour Center where thousands and thousands of kids gathered... to look at the signs that said "Keep Off." Hey that thing had a huge rotary dial and someone could get hurt. And sue the big old studio.

"The Incredible Shrinking Man" was the film that created the phone, a light plug and socket more than 6 feet high and a mammoth-sized 35mm camera.

A few months ago I returned to tour Universal Studios in the San Fernando Valley and it looked VERY different. Nothing was the same except they still had a tour of the lower lot using 3-car trams similar to what I remembered from my days there.

But now, each tram had tv monitors that showed Whoopie Goldberg telling you about all the sights and short clips from movies filmed on The Old West streets and the New York Brownstones or the Psycho house/Bates Motel outdoor sets.

Back when I was there as a publicist, I wrote scripts with awful puns for the tour guides to use as they roamed the Back Lot, talking on the mike while riding backwards in the trams loaded with 90 camera-toting tourists.

I remember some REALLY bad jokes. ("...and the road up past the Bates Motel is called the Psycho Path." Groan.)

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

What ? Wait a minute....?!?

Faithful readers of this blog know that I usually keep a camera with me. Today of course, it's a small digital one, about the size of a deck of cards.

About 14 years ago we all still had film cameras and I often would take a roll of film in to be processed and have color prints made. Sometimes I went to the nearby K-Mart and other times I drove further to Wal-Mart.

I was walking toward the store, getting ready to take out the film to drop off in the camera section, and luckily there were several exposures left on the roll.

Naturally I snapped THIS scene.

I still am in the dark as to what was going on this day in Tallahassee, Florida.

(Click on picture to enlarge)

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Sunday, August 19, 2007

A Musical Signature...

Went to hear some James Island Blues at my favorite non-smoking club, The Pour House,on Maybank Highway and also checked out my newest new favorite club, A.J.'s Sports Bar & Grill at 1291 Folly Road by the Wal-Mart, in the shopping center with Gold's Gym.

Actually, it's very easy to find and has lots of free parking.

Miss Wanda Johnson, our own Upstate musical Blues star, was showcased with Shrimp City Slim's band at AJ's ...AND she graciously signed the 2005 Kiawah Island Blues Festival t-shirt I was wearing. Shrimp City also added his signature so I was on a total Blues fan kind of night.

AJ's has been opened only about 3 months but is doing it right. Cold beer and drinks selection, tasty food, speedy staff and a room set up to benefit the musicians on stage and the fans in the comfortable booths, tables and chairs.

Oh, did I mention they decided not to have smoking inside.

Mac Arnold and Plate Full O' Blues started right at 11 at PoHo and, since he had been bass man to Muddy Waters and others, it wasn't long before there were dueling basses. At the break, Mac added his signature to the t-shirt so 3 of the performers from the Kiawah festival had signed in.

Miss Johnson was relaxing in the Pour House crowd and said she seldom has the opportunity just to sit and enjoy performers she had worked with so this was a treat. Naturally she was asked to come up onstage and she unleashed a torrid rendition of "Rock Me Baby, All Night Long".

If her earlier performance at AJ's was family-friendly PG, this was the R rated Blues highlight of the evening.

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Monday, August 13, 2007

Now, my OLDER brother....

OK, I've written about my younger brother - and he denies everything - so here's a tidbit on my older brother, the first born of the Boyd Brothers.

We're sitting (he's on the right) on a chain at an entryway to Marion Square on a Sunday outing during WWII. We lived a few blocks away in Ansonborough on Society Street.

Spread out about 4 years apart, all three of us attended St. Joseph's grade school on Anson Street and the best summer of my life was 5th grade, the year I had a growth spurt and became taller than he was. What a difference it meant to be a BIGGER little brother! There was a definite power shift.

We still hung out together and that summer on Folly Beach, we wanted to surprise our grandmother with a fancy, smancy fried chicken dinner at Tommy Wienges' News Stand on Center Street. The sumptuous meal would cost $1.25.

We roamed Folly all day, collecting empty pop bottles and lugging them to Tommy's restaurant to collect the deposit. Naturally we had to have 125 and we were short about 15 as the afternoon waned.

Big, er, older, brother said "wait here" and darted away.

He returned quickly with 6 bottles and said "we still have time," and ran off again. He came back balancing 8 empties and Tommy laughed and said "close enough."

Grandma was a little leery when we insisted she come with us that evening and, after she was seated, the ladies brought out her dinner and she truly was surprised and pleased.

As we watched her eat, I whispered to my brother "how did you get so many bottles so quickly?" He smiled and said "from Tommy's back porch."

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Friday, August 10, 2007

Younger brothers and memories...

Well, that didn't take long!

My younger brother has entirely different memories of the days when all three brothers were delivering newspapers around the Charleston peninsula. He says he NEVER asked us to substitute for him to carry papers on his route. Never.

Our dad was a younger brother. He's the shorter one on the left in this priceless old framed photo. Oddly enough, I never saw this till after he died and I was cleaning out a huge storage area. Cute outfit, dad. I really like that belt.

Mom tells a story that shortly after they met, my dad was smoking a cigarette and kept flicking the ashes into his shirt pocket. She finally asked him to stop doing that..it could burn the shirt. He replied "so what, it's my brother's shirt."

At least I never did that to my brother.

There was the time he was seen by a cousin leaving the house with a salt shaker and a small cardboard box. She inquired and he explained that I had told him if he sprinkled salt on a bird's tail, it couldn't fly away.

He was on the hunt for a pigeon.

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Monday, August 06, 2007

My early newspaper career...

"Sometime shortly after my career as a paperboy, life got a lot more complicated."

During a carefree summer at Folly Beach, none of the three Boyd brothers knew they soon would be in the newspaper business.

My brother Jerry (right) and I (middle) eventually delivered the News and Courier in the early, early hours but Dennis, on the left, was not a morning person and carried the Evening Post in the afternoons.

We never had a compelling reason to ask him to deliver for us but, at times, we had to substitute for him.

He was my brother so I did what was needed but it always was hot, bright and sunny lugging his full sack of papers in a bag draped over my bicycle handlebars in full daylight. Especially if I had raced back from the beach, sunburned, salty and sandy.

The quiet cool low country mornings were better for me.

I remember asking my dad to let me get a bright shiny metal coin changer to hang on my belt so I could cha-ching nickels and dimes and quarters for my customers. He suggested I paint a bullseye on my t-shirt so early morning robbers could spot me easier.

The fact that I seldom saw any of my customers during my dawn delivery also was mentioned.

Collections - on my own time - often produced "can you come back next week, I don't have the money right now," and, once, "do you have change for a fifty?"

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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

"I'm not from around here..."

Two years ago, after I had retired and was in the midst of a 30-day Amtrak North America Rail Pass excursion, I was in Montreal sightseeing and about to enter the Catholic Basilica to look around.

A tv newsman with a microphone in his hand caught my arm and said something about "what's your opinion on the election?"

I looked back and saw his cameraman was rolling tape and zooming in as I answered "Sorry, I'm just visiting, I don't live in Montreal."

I continued on into the church and my buddy asked me if I had heard the question. "No, not really, some local thing I guess."

He laughed and, as our eyes roamed around the interior of the beautiful cathedral, he said "he wanted to know what you thought about Benedict, the new Pope."

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