NOTE: If you can't stand puns, hit the "BACK" icon!
From about 1959 to 1962, when I worked at IBM, the early morning CBS radio
station in New York had a star named Jack Sterling. He filled the slot left
when Arthur Godfrey moved on.
He had from 1950 to 1957 been the "ringmaster" of CBS's TV show "The Big
Top", whose head clown was Ed McMahon, well disguised.
He had a small live band -- a guitarist named Mary Osborne, a bass player
and pianist named Buddy Jones
(obituary) , and a trombone player named Tyree Glenn (ex Cab
Calloway and Benny Carter).
A specialty of the program was a pseudo-history feature called "It
happened this day, I think". I contributed a few, and Jack got to know
me as "the IBM guy", at a time when IBM wasn't really all that big a
company. Tyree the trombonist is featured in the first story.
We could catch them at home in Connecticut before leaving for the train
station to commute to IBM in New York City. Here are some of mine:
- It was on this day in 1917 that Dr. Glenn E. Tyree decided
that he was not making enough money from his practice of
psychiatry. He worked in a college town where there were
more broken limbs from football than there were neuroses,
so he decided to go back to college to study osteopathy.
Then, with his dual practice, he made history by being the
"first trauma-bone man on record".
- Two brothers, George and Jack, owned some vacation land up in
New Hampshire. A river cut through the property and caused
two parallel gorges, one belonging to brother Jack, the other
to brother George. Their chief tourist attraction was the
splendid autumn colors, and each tried to attract as many
tourists as possible. In fact, the competition turned into a
feud between the brothers, and they made a bet with each other
such that whoever attracted the most tourists in a three-year
period would then own both gorges.
It happened that George won the first year, and Jack won in
the second. So there was a lot of excitement as autumn of the
third year neared. This time George's maples were absolutely
perfect. So he won, making history in the process. For this
was the first time George's Gorge won two falls out of three!
PS: No cracks about IBM -- I quit (1962 Jun 05)
Note: If you don't get this due to your youth, a wrestler of that
period was known as "Gorgeous George".
- The Havana harbor used to be a perfect setting for the
lovely island of Gar, sparkling in the clean Caribbean air.
Then Castro started industrialization, and it became as smoggy
as Los Angeles. Cubans even started to talk like Californians,
being as proud of Gar as Angelinos were of Catalina
Island. One day history was made as some Cuban gave new immortality
to an old California phrase by boasting that "On a clear Havana
day you can see Gar". 1964 Nov 09
- Jones' cafeteria was in a mess, because the moving belt to
take dirty dishes back to the kitchen kept going slower and
slower until the dishes were all piled up. Jones called Joe
Crosby, his repairman, to fix it. But Joe said he couldn't
fix it there -- he'd have to do it in his shop. And so he
made history on this day by "Bing the first Crosby to take
a slow belt for China".
- On this day in 1922, Tex Marconi got a new wrinkle
for his Western rodeo, which wasn't drawing well at Madison
Square Garden. He moved the rodeo to an idle freighter
moored in the East River. It was a huge success. There was
calf roping, Brahma bull riding, and bucking Bronx. But the
hit of the show was the wool-shearing contest. History was
made this day, for this was the "first boat to have a sheep-
to-shear rodeo". 1964 Jul 07
- On this day in 1933 a junk dealer was going from house to house
collecting old clothes. A housewife threw a bundle of clothes
into the street. He carefully picked them up and put them in
his wagon. All but an old riding costume, which he was sure
he'd never be able to resell. So, kicking it into the gutter,
he went on his way, having made history by being "the first
junkie to kick the habit". 1961 Aug 16
(this predated Lil' Abner's Cousin Yokum's "horrible habit")
- On this day in 1948 the New York police force was ordered to
get new uniforms. That included Patrolman Blodgett Hemophiliac,
called "Bloddy" for short, because he was such a dull clot. The
new uniform itched when he walked his beat, so he asked his mother
(whom the entire force affectionately called "Ma Hemopheliac") if
she could fix it. It was easy. Ma just dusted some powder in his
pants. Thus history was made, for it was the first time that a
"ma bleeder removed the chafe of police".
1961 Dec 28
- Old Jonathan Bucks had two sons and lots of money. The older
son was mean and crooked. The old man knew this, and hated to
have him inherit his money, but unfortunately the younger son,
who was likeable and honest, had disappeared two years ago to try
to become successful on his own. It happened that the elder son
could not wait for his father to die naturally, so he pushed him
into the swimming pool. But just as he was going under the last
time the younger son arrived home. Quickly sizing up the situation,
he rescued his father as the mean older brother ran to escape.
History was made, for he became the first person to accompany
artificial respiration with the phrase "Out goes the bad heir;
in comes the good heir".
- On this day in 1916 a smallpox epidemic was discovered aboard
a transatlantic ship. And if this weren't enough, the ship hit
an iceberg and began to sink. The quick-thinking captain
decided to group people in lifeboats according to whether they
did or did not have smallpox. Just as he started to launch his
own lifeboat, a female passenger named Dora Mink jumped into
his boat. Obviously the plan had gone wrong, for she was one of
the smallpox victims. The others in the lifeboat knew and liked
Dora, and could not bring themselves to make her leave, for it
was the last boat she could take. Finally the captain found his
courage and told Dora gently that for the safety of all she would
have to stay on the sinking ship -- thus making history by being
the first man to openly ban Dora's pox.
- On this day in 1902, Sam von Freeden and Babbage McBit had just
completed their first model of an electric computer. The power
was turned on, and the lights on the front of the machine showed
it ready to operate. The jubilant scientists then posed the first
problem. 2 + 2 = ? Unfortunately the lights showed 5. Sam
suggested using a higher voltage on the bulbs. They tried again.
Still the wrong answer. Then Babbage suggested that maybe the
wattage, not voltage, should be higher -- to try 20W bulbs instead
This time the answer was correct -- 4! Babbage turned to his
coworker and used a phrase since much in vogue among calculating
men on Madison Avenue -- "It's watts up front that counts!"
1961 Apr 17.
- On this day in 1843 the Snomen family was having trouble again
with their young son Abel, who had the habit of swallowing anything
he could lay his hands on. This time a strange ticking sound caused
them to take him to the family doctor, where a fluoroscope found in
Abel's innards an alarm clock, fastened to what seemed to be two
sticks of dynamite. Thus the unsuspecting doctor made history by
being the first man to actually see a bomb in Abel Snomen.
1961 Jul 07.
In Las Vegas many years later, my wife Marion's
bar companion turned out to be Jack Sterling. He
remembered me and my monstrosities even then. She also learned
that he had had an odd pattern in wives -- A B A B C.
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