The truth about the Lowe’s $200 coupon, and that poor bloody dog

March 29, 2015 at 5:37 pm

If you’re on Facebook, you see all kinds of posts: birthdays, baby pics, get-well wishes, proms, pets, and jokes, to name a few.  Facebook is a great place to re-connect with friends, and stay in touch with relatives, often in far away places.  It’s been great for me.  It has helped me sell some books, and it just might be how you discovered my blog.  There is a downside, however.

Unfortunately, those same scammers who once ripped you off in person, or by mail, can now do it online.  Facebook gives them a golden opportunity.  They can hack into your account, take over your identity, and even trick you into giving up personal information.  They can adopt fake identities, and hide behind anonymity as they say and do cruel things.

Right now there are (at least) two viral posts on Facebook that I wish would go away.  Those who spread them have good intentions, but they lead nowhere.  The first is a coupon, promising you $200 off any purchase of $220 or more at Lowe’s.  Let’s stop right here, and think about it for a moment.  How long would Lowe’s stay in business if everyone on Facebook marched in there today, made a $220 purchase, and paid for it with a twenty-dollar bill?

Here is the statement from Lowe’s that they have posted repeatedly on their own Facebook page:  “The post on Facebook is not affiliated with Lowe’s in any way. This is a phishing scam to try and gain personal and secure information. Please be careful.” 

I have great sympathy for Lowe’s cashiers who have to tell customers that the $220 weedeater they just put on the counter, will indeed cost them $220.  Let’s help Lowe’s spread the word.  As my dear friend and former colleague Russell Martin used to say on the news every night, “If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.”  Words to live by.

Now, on to the poor bloody dog.  I am not going to reproduce the photo here, because it’s been seen enough.  Someone recently re-posted a 2013 photo from Michigan, and put it on a Hamilton County “Buy, Sell, Trade” Facebook page.  Immediately, folks started putting it on local news media pages, encouraging reporters to track down the guy who was wanting to give away a dog who was not brave enough to fight (I’ve cleaned up the language).

It got to the point where people starting calling 9-1-1 about it, forcing Hamilton County’s Emergency Communications District to post this message:

“We need your help!  We are still receiving messages of concern regarding the posted ad for the injured bait dog. It seems this “internet troll” has accomplished his goal by causing outrage and distress as the original post was shared far and wide, even after it was pulled from the on-line trade/sales page.  We are glad there are so many loving and caring folks out there willing to report these things, but now we need to get the word out about the real story and the final outcome of this sweet dog.”

They linked to this 2013 story, about a dog in Michigan named Toledo, who was a “bait dog” in a dog fighting operation.  The dog was picked up in critical condition by a canine rescue group called “Home Fur Ever,” nursed to health, and is now doing well after being adopted by a caring family.

Again, there is no connection whatever to Hamilton County, Tennessee, and even though the story is two years old, the 9-1-1 folks are trying to make something good come from all this.  They encourage you to “consider making a donation to a local animal shelter or rescue of your choice, to help turn the re-victimization of this dog into something positive.”

Hopefully, these false postings will soon disappear from social media.  Only to be replaced by something just as bad, or worse.  I’ll add my own piece of advice: “Just because you saw it on Facebook, doesn’t mean it’s true.

My new theme song: “Biscuits”

March 26, 2015 at 11:46 pm
Kacey Musgraves (ew.com)

Kacey Musgraves (ew.com)

“Just hoe your own row and raise your own babies

Smoke your own smoke and grow your own daisies

Mend your own fences and own your own crazy

Mind your own biscuits and life will be gravy”

 

That’s the chorus of what some folks are calling a new anti-bullying anthem, and others are calling a rare country hit by a female not named Carrie Underwood or Miranda Lambert.

 

“Nobody’s perfect, we’ve all lost and we’ve all lied

Most of us have cheated the rest of us have tried

The holiest of the holy even slip from time to time

We’ve all got dirty laundry hanging on the line”

 

It’s called “Biscuits,” and it’s sung (and co-written) by Kacey Musgraves, a 26-year-old Texan who hasn’t quite made the jump to country superstar status.  About a year ago, she won Best Album in the ACM awards for “Same Trailer Different Park,” followed by the CMA award for Best Song for “Follow Your Arrow.”

Some say she hasn’t achieved mainstream success because her lyrics are a little too progressive.  She isn’t shy about courting controversy, and edging away from the tried-and-true country storylines.  Her music is reminiscent of trailblazers like Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette, who rocked the boat a few decades ago with “social issue” songs that shook up the Grand Ole Opry.

“Biscuits” can be interpreted a few different ways.  You might hear an anti-bullying message, or a “don’t judge others” lesson, or even a “stop the gossip” lecture, which would come in handy on various social media platforms.

Whatever you find in this song, it’s enclosed in a catchy tune with some fine instrumentation.  I don’t know if this song’s catch-phrase will end up topping the charts, or just making it on a few t-shirts.  But compared to some of the tired, repetitive themes that keep popping up in current hits, I find this one refreshing.  Like Kacey says, “Mind your own biscuits, and life will be gravy.”  Might be worth a try!

 

My newest, funniest favorite commercial

March 22, 2015 at 11:50 pm

Take a regular married couple, a kitchen table with a sizable salad bowl, and the nostalgic sounds of the “Dirty Dancing” soundtrack….and well, you’ll have the Time of Your Life.  Here’s a new 60-second commercial that will give you a good laugh.  Enjoy and share!

Ask the School Patrol Guy: Questions and Answers

March 22, 2015 at 2:33 am

Education and potential tax increases are always hot topics around here, and people have plenty of questions.  So let’s field a few:

Q: Hamilton County Superintendent Rick Smith will ask the County Commission for a 40-cent property tax increase.  Will he get it?

A:  If that decision had to be made today, absolutely not.  But the budget won’t be presented to the Commission until early May, and six weeks is a long time in politics.  (Probably not long enough to make Commissioners go for a sizable tax hike, however.)  Last year, I emceed a candidate forum for Commission candidates, and all agreed that the county schools had some pressing needs.  All were in favor of addressing those needs.  None, however supported a property tax hike to fund them.  They said the state should pitch in more money, that local businesses should get more involved, and that growth in the county’s tax base would provide additional revenue.  School Board members say all of that sounds good, but it isn’t paying the bills.

Q: It seems like the schools are always wanting more money.  Will they ever get enough?

A:  That’s a fair question.  When I started covering schools a couple of decades ago, I went to the library for some background information.  I saw a 1965 newspaper article that said, “Schools will have to make cuts if tax hike fails.”  Then one from 1975, “Tax hike needed to avoid teacher cuts.”  And yes, every couple of years, there was the same old story.  School administrators and elected officials came and went, the faces changed, but the headlines have stayed the same.  Critics are right: the school budget increases every year.  But will they ever have the money they say they need?  Will any of us?  Probably not.

Q: So is Rick Smith crying wolf, or do the schools really NEED an additional $34 million to operate next year?

A: “Need” and “want” are two different things.  The county schools will stay open if there is no budget increase next year.  But Smith, to his credit, wants to give the county’s teachers a meaningful pay raise, and wants to provide arts and foreign language teachers in all elementary schools instead of a few.  He’s trying to keep schools current with technology too.  He says he will be unable to achieve those goals without a sizable budget boost.

Q:  Would he settle for less than a 40-cent property tax hike? 

A:  I’m sure he’d be thrilled to get half that.  And on the occasions when Commissioners have approved tax hikes for schools, a compromise is often reached.  But today at least, it appears when Commissioners say “No new taxes,” as most did when they were campaigning, they mean it.

Board members Joe Galloway and Rhonda Thurman, and Supt. Rick Smith

Board members Joe Galloway and Rhonda Thurman, and Supt. Rick Smith

Q:  But didn’t Rick Smith get the job because School Board members thought he’d have a better chance of getting tax money than his predecessors?

A:  At least, partially, yes.  In 2010, it appeared then-Superintendent Jim Scales’ political capital had run dry, as Jesse Register’s had five years earlier.  Many believed a hometown product like Smith would be able to charm the Commissioners better than the others had done.  He’s certainly well-liked in local government circles, but you know what they say about getting blood from a turnip.

Q:  Why don’t we just use funds from the state lottery?  That money is supposed to go to schools, right?

A:  It’s true that lottery money goes to education, but not to school districts, or individual schools.  It goes to after-school programs, and college scholarship funding.  It would take a constitutional amendment to overhaul the current program, and that isn’t happening anytime soon.

Q:  So when are they going to build new schools for CSLA and East Hamilton Middle?

A:  No one can say, for now.  Last year, the county issued bonds to pay for four major projects, but not those two. County Mayor Jim Coppinger can’t say how soon those projects will get off the ground, but they seem to be on everyone’s wish list.  No tax increases would be required, but the county wants to keep its AAA bond rating intact, so they move cautiously.

Q:  But why does it seem like some areas get all the new school buildings, and others get the shaft?

A:  In some cases, it’s the degree of need, and in others it’s simply politics.  Politics involves geography, clout, and the ability to make a deal.  Some elected officials took ownership of their neighborhood schools and were tenacious in their efforts to build new school facilities, or replace old ones.  Unfortunately, other areas have not had that sort of advocacy.

Q:  Who’s been left out?

A:  An argument could certainly be made for CSLA, which has been on the “runner-up” list for a new school since 1999.  And although Central High doesn’t need a whole new school, it astounds me that a fine arts building/auditorium which was in the original 1968 architectural plans never got built.  It was a victim of budget cuts.  To this day, Central has a too-small band room, no auditorium, and only one gym (many nearby high schools have two).

Central High Band practicing

Central High Band practicing

Q:  So with all these apparent needs, why doesn’t the public rally around Rick Smith, and demand a tax increase to get these things done?

A:  First, there are large segments of the local populace who have no interest in paying for local public school needs.  Many retired folks feel they’ve already paid their dues. Thousands of others are home schooling their children, or sending them to private schools, often with a huge price tag.  And even some who have children in school think their taxes are high enough, and that they’re already being nickel-and-dimed to death with fees and fundraisers.  Smith will be taking his message on the road in April, hosting nine district meetings to sell his plan to the public.  Some Board members say that’s a noble effort, but those most likely to attend will be “the PTA folks who are already on board.”  Much like church on Sunday, the choir will be present.  But what about the people who really need to hear the message?  How do you get them in the house, and convert them to your side?  That is the challenge facing Rick Smith.

 

 

How to live to be 100: You start with a Hardee’s biscuit each morning…

March 18, 2015 at 9:48 pm

I should have seen it coming.  When Ken Ogle invited me to interview his almost-100-year-old dad, Claude Ogle Sr., I asked him, “So is he still pretty sharp?”  Ken said, “Oh yeah.  You’d better be ready for him.  He may be turning 100, but he’s as quick as ever.”  So off to Cleveland I went, with a photographer and my list of questions.  We got to the entrance of his apartment building, and this sprightly fellow with a big smile and a bounce in his step lets us in.  “Good morning,” I said. “I’m here to see Mr. Ogle, the 100-year-old man.”  I’m looking over his shoulder, trying to spot some elderly guy in a wheelchair, or maybe with a walker.  “You’re looking right at him!” the man said.  He offered to help carry the camera and tripod we were lugging in.  I almost took him up on it.

Claude Ogle Sr. on his 100th birthday, Feb. 22, 2015

Claude Ogle Sr. on his 100th birthday, Feb. 22, 2015

As we sat to do the interview, I was ready with question number one.  I thought I already knew the answer, since Claude’s son Ken had given me his life story.  “Have you lived your whole life here in Cleveland?” I asked.  “No sir,” Claude said, pausing just long enough to make me wonder.  “Not yet, I haven’t!” he continued, letting out a big laugh.  “I’m not through living here yet!”  This was only the beginning.

For the next hour, Claude Ogle Sr. recited the poetry he had written, sang the songs he had written, and told the stories and jokes he had accumulated from a century of living (so far) in Cleveland, Tennessee.  He sat down at the piano near the lobby and started playing and singing, as a steady flow of senior citizens filed in to be his audience (“I like to entertain the older folks,” said the oldest guy in the 104-unit apartment building.)   Claude taught himself to play various instruments, including the guitar and banjo in his teens.  “Me and God just worked it out,” he said.  These days, he sticks mostly to the piano.

Claude is the youngest, and only surviving member of a large, church-going family.  Two of his three brothers lived to be 96, and the other died in his eighties.  (He also had five sisters.) Starting his work career as a sixteen-year-old, Claude toiled for several years in a furniture factory, before starting a 33-year career with the Church of God Publishing Company.  At the age of 67, he began a 33-year retirement career.  So far.

He has two sons, and one grandchild, Kyle, who you see smiling in the photo below, taken at his 100th birthday celebration last month.  His wife of 61 years (Viola) died twelve years ago, and although he doesn’t have a girlfriend, he professes to have “sixteen lady friends.”  He pauses to think for a moment, spots a woman nearby, and says, “I forgot about her.  Better make that seventeen.”  To the surprise of many, he still drives.  “I get me a biscuit at Hardee’s in the morning, and a hamburger at Wendy’s in the afternoon,” he said proudly.  “I won’t say that’s the recipe for a long life, but it sure hasn’t hurt me!”

Stout and barrel-chested, he mostly shuns exercise.  “I’m strong enough already,” he laughs.  Blessed with a razor-sharp memory, he can recite just about every song in the church hymnal.  He’s also an avid storyteller, recalling life’s events dating back almost to his birth in 1915, when Woodrow Wilson was president.

 

Kyle Ogle, and granddad Claude Ogle Sr. on his 100th birthday, Feb. 22, 2015

Kyle Ogle, and granddad Claude Ogle Sr. on his 100th birthday, Feb. 22, 2015

On a more serious note, he was quick to proclaim his faith, and love for his church, South Cleveland Church of God.  He was invited to sing in front of the congregation on his 100th birthday, and he didn’t disappoint, with his clear, steady voice.  He refuses “to sit around and do nothing.”  He adds, “Too many old folks do that, but I’ve got to keep moving.”  He says music helps keep him young, and he looks forward to his time behind the piano and microphone.

“Some of these people need cheering up,” he said, “and I’m just the man to do it.”

 

 

25 years ago: Karaoke came to Chattanooga!

March 16, 2015 at 2:03 am

Back in 1990, in my early days at Channel 3, I was playing softball for the KZ-106 Foul Tips.  One day my teammate Dewayne “The Big Kahuna” Gass (now widely known as the UTC Moc Maniac) said, “Hey, I’ve got a story for you.”  He told me that he was bringing something big to Chattanooga.  Dewayne operated a restaurant/bar at Northgate called “Shenanigans.”  He said, “I’m about to start something, and it’s been spreading around the country like crazy.”  Of course, I was all ears.  “What’s it called?” I asked.

Karaoke King Dewayne Gass in the fabulous 1990s

Karaoke King Dewayne Gass in the fabulous 1990s

“I think it’s called karaoke,” Dewayne replied, although neither he nor I knew how it was pronounced.  He said it had originated in Japan, and would soon be a household word all over the USA.  “You can be the first local reporter to see how it works,” Dewayne said.  “You can even participate yourself.”  When I asked him what this karaoke thing was, he explained that he was buying a machine that played the instrumental tracks for hundreds of hit songs, with the lyrics simultaneously displayed on a big screen.  You grab a microphone, choose your favorite track, and sing to the music, just like Michael Bolton (random 1990 reference).

This was pre-internet for me, so I had no way of knowing that “Karaoke,” according to the Urban Dictionary meant singing without a live orchestra or band. Originally meaning “without orchestra” it is a combination of Japanese “kara” meaning “empty/bare-handed” as in “karate”, and the “okee” sound from the first syllable of “orchestra” as pronounced by Japanese. The guy who thought it up created a bar owner’s dream, because as patrons provide their own entertainment by singing along with a machine, management saves a fortune by not hiring talented musicians.

So a few nights later, my photographer and I headed to Shenanigans to see what all the fuss was about.  The place was jammed, and sure enough, Madonna and Randy Travis wanna-bes were singing their hearts out.  Some of them were pretty good, earning cheers from the crowd.  Others elicited polite applause, amid the tinkling of glasses, and folks urging each other to get up there and sing.  “You can do better than this guy,” was an oft-repeated phrase.

I interviewed Dewayne, and a few of the brave souls who sang not just for the audience, but for my TV camera.  We had our story, and were about to leave when Dewayne said, “Hold on there, Dave.  Did you forget something?”  I shook my head no, because we had our tapes, camera, and tripod.  We were good to go.  “Um, you’re an old deejay,” he said. “Surely, you can sing one for us!”  Two or three people nearby said something like, “Yeah, news guy, we got on camera for you, now it’s your turn!”

The sad part is, they didn’t have to twist my arm.  My son Chris was about three at the time, and as a responsible parent, I was trying to raise him right.  So I had played rock and roll hits in the car since the first time he was strapped in a car seat.  Of course, like all good drivers, I would sing along with these golden oldies at the top of my voice.  So I looked over the karaoke list, and there it was: a mercifully short two-minute song that I knew by heart.  My one and only live singing performance was captured on video, was broadcast on the news in August of 1990, and is now on YouTube for the world to appreciate.

Now I’m not saying my story, or my singing talent helped make karaoke a local, and national sensation.  But it seems like everybody got a karaoke machine for Christmas that year.  I’m just saying.  You may watch and listen by clicking the link below….if you dare.

 

 

Spring training: a cherished family tradition

March 13, 2015 at 2:55 am

I just got back from a cherished family tradition: spring training baseball with my sons in Florida.  Chris and Vince are in their twenties now, and it’s a challenge to match up our vacation schedules.  This was our sixth trip to the “Grapefruit League,” and we’re already looking forward to next year. (Cindy has not yet joined in, but I’m working on her.)

What’s the big deal, you ask?  After all, spring training is like the “Whose Line” TV show: the points don’t matter.  For about thirty days in March, major league baseball teams square off without really caring who wins.  Sure, they keep score.  But it’s not unusual for big-name players to sit after a few innings so the minor league guys can play.  Unlike a regular season game, you’ll see a star like Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman jogging in the outfield while the game is still going on.  The first time I saw that, I wondered, “What happens if a ball gets hit toward Freddie?” I guess he just gets out of the way.

Still, there’s something on the line.  Despite the relaxed atmosphere and cozy surroundings, many players are under pressure.  Those minor leaguers who end up in the game (after many fans have left the park) are hoping to catch the manager’s eye.  A home run here, a great catch there, and Braves skipper Fredi Gonzalez might remember your name: “This kid can play.”

Plus, there are faded stars, often “non-roster invitees.” This year, former everyday players like Dan Uggla, Kelly Johnson, and Jeff Francoeur are hoping to get one last shot.  Most are considered past their prime, and have struggled in recent years.  They’re in their thirties, which is young in most careers but not baseball.  The odds are against them, but who can fault them for trying?  A few players stick around past the age of 40, and they’re the envy of us all.  Who wouldn’t want to play a young man’s game, well into middle age?

Craig Kimbrel signing autographs, March 2015

Craig Kimbrel meeting fans, March 2015

Spring training also provides opportunities for fans to interact with their favorite players, both past and present.  For one thing, the players are in a better mood.  After all, there’s hope, renewal and optimism in the air.  Everybody’s in first place until the regular season starts in April.  Get to the game early, and there’s a good chance of grabbing an autograph or a batting practice home run ball.  My sons have amassed an impressive collection of both.

Most teams invite a few of their legendary players to visit each spring.  This serves two purposes.  Retired players get to don their uniforms again, and share a few big-league tips with the prospects who grew up idolizing them.  Plus, they serve as goodwill ambassadors, chatting up fans and posing for pictures while current players are gearing up for the game.

Dale Murphy signing autographs, March 2015

Dale Murphy signing autographs, March 2015

My all-time favorite Brave Dale Murphy makes the trip each year, and he never ceases to amaze me.  More than any professional athlete I’ve ever seen, “Murph” truly appreciates the fans.  I’ve never seen him turn down an autograph seeker, and he’ll sign cards and baseballs until there’s no one left in line.  He had some great years for the bad Braves teams of the 1980s, and never got enough votes in the Baseball Hall of Fame balloting.  I used to get upset about that, but Murph seems to accept it, so I suppose I should too.  He’s in my personal Hall of Fame, and I’m sure his legions of fans feel the same way.

Baseball is still going strong, although it may have lost some ground to a few other sports in recent years.  It doesn’t inspire the same fan frenzy as football, and it certainly doesn’t move as fast as auto racing, basketball and hockey.  Despite the best efforts of TV producers to liven up games with graphics, highlights, and swooshing sound effects, it can be a bit slow.  In fact, steps are being taken this year to speed things along.  Starting in May, there’s a scoreboard clock to make sure innings start on time, and pitchers and batters don’t dawdle too much between pitches.

I’m not too worried about the pace of the game, or even the chances of my Braves winning the pennant this year. For a few bright, sunny March days, I got to see that perfectly shaped diamond, and the men who are lucky enough to call it their workplace.  Yes, I was just a few feet away from the famous players you see on SportsCenter.  I took in the sights, the sounds, and the wonderful hot dog smell of some beautiful ballparks.  Oh, and who won? I did. I got to do this with my two amazing sons who told me there was no place on earth they’d rather be.

chris-vince-st11

Let’s celebrate “Luther Day” on Monday!

March 5, 2015 at 4:08 am

I’m doing something a little different with this blog: I’m giving you a choice!  If you love to read, please read my thoughts below on “Luther Day.”  If you’d rather watch a video, in which I’m saying pretty much these exact words, you may scroll to the bottom, and see the YouTube video of my presentation to the Hamilton County Commission.  Either way, I hope you’ll observe the first annual “Luther Day” on Monday March 9, by being an even nicer person than you usually are.  Here goes, right after my favorite photo of Luther, from the 1970s: big smile, wide tie and all:

Luther in the 1970s

Luther in the 1970s

On October 20, 2014, we lost Luther Masingill, at the age of 92. We’ve missed him on WDEF radio and TV, looking for all those lost dogs.  He was on the same time, same station since 1940; more than 74 years, interrupted only by his two-year stint in World War II.  When you see a list of records that will never be broken, Luther’s longevity should rank at the very top.

 

Take it from me, or anyone else who works in radio or television.  An announcing career is not one where many folks get a gold watch for 25 years of continuous service.  Luther was the exception to the rule.

 

Luther could have taken his show just about anywhere.  Big-city radio stations took notice.  They said, “Maybe we should hire this Luther fellow do our morning show.”  When they saw Luther’s eye-popping ratings, they tracked him down.

 

After all, this is the guy who made an entire city pull over to the side of the road one morning.  As heavy snow began to fall, Luther helpfully advised his listeners to let some air out of their tires to gain more traction.  As witnesses would later describe, main arteries like McCallie Avenue came to a standstill as everyone stopped, got out of their car and began deflating their tires.  Can you imagine anyone, in any broadcast medium, having that sort of influence today?

 

Yet despite the offers from New York, Philadelphia and Milwaukee, Luther chose to stay put.  His family was here, and he always appreciated WDEF for giving him a radio job at the age of 18, which was beyond his wildest dreams.

 

Luther at age 19, at the WDEF microphone

Luther at age 19, at the WDEF microphone

In recent years, this humble man started getting some much-deserved recognition.  Part of South Broad Street was renamed in his honor, and he was inducted into the Tennessee Radio Hall of Fame, and the National Radio Hall of Fame.  Every day someone thanked him for waking them up, for reuniting them with their pet, or for finding their car keys.  Luther knew he was loved, and nothing made him happier than rising bright and early, driving to the studio so he could help brighten someone’s day, one person at a time.

 

Luther in 2013, pointing himself out in the Gordon Wetmore painting in the Hamilton County Commission meeting room.

Luther in 2013, pointing himself out in the Gordon Wetmore painting in the Hamilton County Commission meeting room.

That’s why I made a suggestion at Luther’s memorial service at Engel Stadium.  Luther was widely known for his many acts of kindness.  In my view, the best way to remember him on his birthday (March 9) each year is quite simple.  Let’s act like Luther.

 

On that date, look for opportunities to make someone’s day.  If you see that young mom struggling with a shopping cart, a baby, and several bags of groceries, maybe you can do the heavy lifting for her.  How about the man standing on the sidewalk, holding a sign and waving folks into a local business?  Odds are he doesn’t get paid much for that, but at least he’s making an honest living.  If you have a few extra bucks in your pocket, I’m sure he’d appreciate the help.  Have you bought anyone’s lunch lately?  March 9th would be a good time to surprise someone.  It could be a friend, or even a stranger.  Luther enjoyed doing nice things for everyone with whom he came in contact.

Phil Cox of WDEF-TV, Evan Brown (Luther's grandson), Joan Masingill Brown (Luther's daughter), David Carroll, Mary Masingill, James Howard and Kim Carson of Sunny 92.3. This was taken at Hamilton County Commission, March 4, 2015

Phil Cox of WDEF-TV, Evan Brown (Luther’s grandson), Joan Masingill Brown (Luther’s daughter), David Carroll, Mary Masingill, James Howard and Kim Carson of Sunny 92.3. This was taken at Hamilton County Commission, March 4, 2015

 

Whether it’s a little cash, a pat on the back, a little yard cleanup, some encouraging words, or a surprise gift,   I saw Luther do all these things and more.  It’s how he connected with people.  It’s what made him special.  This is how he lived his life every day of the year.  He left us with no regrets, no unfinished business.

 

Chattanooga City Council member Chris Anderson, Joan Masingill Brown, Jeff Masingill and Mary Masingill.

Chattanooga City Council member Chris Anderson, Joan Masingill Brown, Jeff Masingill and Mary Masingill.

Luther was blessed to have a long career in the field that he loved, and it made him happy to share his good fortune with others, every day. If Luther could do it 365 days a year, surely we can do it on March 9, 2015 and again on his birthday each year going forward.  I can’t think of a better way to honor the memory of this very special man.

Thanks to the Chattanooga City Council and the Hamilton County Commission for proclaiming March 9 of each year, as Luther Day. I hope area schools, churches and employers will adopt this day and encourage everyone to act like Luther for a day!

 

Now, if you’d like to watch me say these same words, accompanied by Luther’s family, click the YouTube video below!

 

My vote for funniest commercial ever

March 3, 2015 at 11:58 pm

I was going through old tapes, and found what I think is the funniest commercial ever.  Tom Snyder played this on his late night CBS show in 1999, and we must have replayed it 100 times at our house.  It’s for a beeper service (remember those?), and well, it’s a gas.  Enjoy, and share with anyone who needs a laugh.

Who rescues people from a burning house? These guys!

March 1, 2015 at 3:00 am

I’m as bad as anybody else.  Sometimes I get into a lazy, stereotypical mindset. I start believing that most 17-year-old boys stay out late, wake up really late, and have only one thing on their mind.  I love it when I’m proven wrong.

Jacob Gray and Mason Chamberlain

Jacob Gray and Mason Chamberlain

Let me tell you what happened Thursday night.  Central High junior Jacob Gray and Ooltewah High junior Mason Chamberlain were riding around with a couple of friends. They drove by a house on Sims Harris Road, near Harrison.  They saw flames coming from the front of the house. There was no fire truck in sight.

Let me stop right here.  How many people, of any age, would have kept on driving and taken little, if any action?  Hopefully, most of us would at least call 9-1-1. But back to the story, now told from a different point of view.

16-year-old Brianna Dobbs, a Central High student was upstairs listening to music.  She thought she heard glass breaking, and then her cat’s ears started to perk up. “I began yelling for my stepdad,” Brianna said.  “I didn’t know what was going on.”  Brianna’s stepfather, Kenny Waldon soon discovered the fire in the front of the house, and tried in vain to put it out.

The next voices Brianna heard belonged to Jacob and Mason.  “Two guys were yelling, your house is on fire!  Everybody get out! I said, we’ve got to get my mom!”  Her mother, Kim Waldon couldn’t immediately be found.  Although Kim’s other daughter was at a friend’s house, she momentarily panicked and looked for her before remembering she was away.

The Waldon home on Thursday night

The Waldon home on Thursday night

Jacob and Mason noticed the front door was in flames.  They tried unsuccessfully to enter the garage.  They ran to the rear of the house, and were able to get in the back door.  Smoke was beginning to fill the house.  “I could see about four feet in front of me,” Jacob said.  While the boys were running up the stairs to find whoever may be inside, Kenny was frantically trying to move gas cans and propane tanks away from the house.  Then there were the family’s vehicles.  As seconds ticked by, Kenny knew everything flammable had to be moved as far away as possible.

By this time, the boys had rounded up Kim and Brianna, making sure they got downstairs, and getting them out through the smoke-filled living room.  “There was no time to call 9-1-1,” Brianna recalled. “We were just trying to get out alive, and we didn’t think about our phones, or any other possessions.”  The lights started flickering.  Then, “POW!” When they got outside, all they had was the clothes on their back.  The family pets, a cat and dog, didn’t make it out alive.  Mason helped Kenny move the family vehicles across the road.

In the meantime, the boys’ friends Cameron Baltimore and Jana Cannon, who stayed behind in the car, called 9-1-1.  Highway 58 Volunteer Firefighters soon arrived, but were only able to contain the fire. The house sustained some $200,000 in damages, and is a total loss.  The cause has been ruled accidental.

The Waldon home, Friday morning

The Waldon home, Friday morning

Cameron and Jana made sure that Kim and Brianna had clothes and shoes for the night, and Mason gave Kenny his jacket.  The American Red Cross arranged for the family to stay in a motel, and provided them with some clothing, money and food.

I asked Mason, “Why did you pull over and go into that house?  You could have been killed.”  He said, “As soon as we saw it, me and Jacob talked.  We said, we can’t just drive by here, and then hear on the news that some people died in a house fire.  We had to at least try.  I wish we could have done more.” Jacob added, “This was just in our heart. I would hope people would do the same thing for my family.”

I’ve known Mason’s parents, Julie and Scott (a KZ-106 radio friend) for years.  Proud mom Julie posted this on Facebook:  “I’m thankful to God he was at the right place when needed and no one was hurt!” Family friend Bruce Garner, a spokesperson for the Chattanooga Fire Department, wrote, “ I wouldn’t recommend making a habit out of that without proper equipment and training. That’s a very dangerous environment. But, Mason and (Jacob) didn’t just stand there, they took action.”

When I spoke to the Waldon family, Brianna said, “We didn’t really get to thank them properly, we were just shocked.  If they hadn’t stopped to help us, there could have been much more damage.  They risked their lives for us, and we can’t thank them enough.”

Having witnessed the recent fire that took the lives of Randall and Candy Lockhart in north Chattanooga, leaving three children without their parents, it’s important to point out that Mason Chamberlain, Jacob Gray and their friends took action to prevent another tragedy.  Did they go too far?  Should they have exercised more caution?  I’ll leave that for others to debate.  I’ll just join the Waldon family in expressing my appreciation.  I’m thankful they didn’t just keep on driving.  Far too many of us, young and old, do that these days.

If you would like to help the Waldon family, contact the American Red Cross of Southeast Tennessee: 4115 S. Access Road, Chattanooga, TN 37406.  Phone 423-265-3455