Archive for the ‘MEMPHIS’ Tag

MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE PART 5   Leave a comment

Memories are a funny thing. I moved to Memphis in October, 1969 and for 2-3 years I lived at the Hamlet apartments which was on East Popular Avenue which turned into Poplar Pike Extended. I only remember 3-4 incidents associated with that apartment but they are for another blog.

I once did a blog about the fact that I averaged a move every 5 years and of the 10 years I lived in Memphis 7 of them were at Chatham Village and 3 at the Hamlet. I loved the townhouse on Park Avenue (in the picture above) and have many great memories of the years I lived there. It was next to the Methodist East hospital, which came in handy a few years later, when I was drunk, returned from a trip to NYC arriving in Memphis in a snow storm, slipping on an icy step from where I had parked my car and split my forehead above the eye. (That’s another blog–hopefully I’ll remember all these separate blogs I have been talking about. LOL) I, also, lived across from train tracks but never heard the trains going by. Ummmmmm, do I talk about the red light or is THAT another blog? Okay, another blog!

 

One of the first ‘sightseeing’ things I did after a week in Memphis was to go to see The Pink Palace. It was originally built by Clarence Saunders who owned the Piggly Wiggly (I’m sorry but even 41 years later I laugh when I say, see or write that name.) It was built with pink Georgian marble which is how it got its name. I don’t remember the history of when he lost the home to bankruptcy and it became a museum of natural history and planetarium but I do remember the afternoon I spent there and thinking it was quite impressive.

After the assassination of Martin Luther King certain ‘events’ started to go downhill and I was lucky enough to see two of them before they were changed. One was the Cotton Carnival which was, at one time, a salute to cotton, and took place in June every year,with krewes like they had in New Orleans at Mardi Gras time. There would be a Royal barge come down with the debutantes of the season and then a parade plus special balls all over town. In the middle of the 70s it became more of a salute to ‘sister’ cities around the world.

Ever since I was a teenager and we had a summer home in Lake Hiawatha, New Jersey and I would go to the end of the summer fair near Morristown this city boy has loved fairs of all kind. It didn’t take me long to hear about the Mid-South fair and I was there for the rides, concessions, 4-H club and, of course, all the food competitions.

Both events started going downhill in the mid 70s and I don’t know what happened after I left Memphis but I have heard both the Carnival and the Fair have made a big comeback in the 2000s. I’ll have to check that out with Chuck and Terry.

Just before I left Memphis they started to construct Mudd Island which would eventually get the Pyramid sports arena. It had a monorail from downtown to the Island which was featured in the Tom Cruise film, “The Firm”. I didn’t get to Mudd Island until I visited Memphis in the 80s with Bill and we went to see an outdoor production of the touring company of “A Chorus Line”.

When I arrived in Memphis it was a ‘dry’ State which meant you couldn’t buy drinks in restaurants or bars but you could bring your own bottle and would be charged for set ups and/or a corkage fee. It would be 2-3 years before the law was changed but until then people would get drunk as they had to finish the bottle before leaving the restaurant/bar because you couldn’t have an ‘open’ container in your car. I wish I could remember the name of the jazz club I use to spend a lot of time in not only because of the entertainment but they had lockers that you could rent to leave your bottle of unfinished booze and have it there the next time you came to the club. That whole thing was quite the ‘culteral’ shock to this New Yorker but I did adapt, quickly.

Though I didn’t go there often there was a park on the bluffs of Memphis overlooking the Mississippi river that offered awe inspiring sites of the river, downtown Memphis and the shore line of Arkansas.

There was a lot to see and do in Memphis and I did and saw a lot but the place I spent most of my time was Overton Park in the center of Memphis with many different aspects including a band shell that Elvis did a show or two, a zoo, a natural woodland but that’s only part of the story and they weren’t  the reason I spent so much time there–besides, and how dare I say this, I didn’t care for Elvis!!!

     

Still to come: Gig Young, Overton Park, Overton Square, picking greens in the field, JWag’s, Goldsmith’s, Jackson, Jonesboro, Chattanooga, Circuit Playhouse, Theatre Memphis, sex in the buckle of the bible belt, Joe, Issac, Gene and more!

Posted October 23, 2013 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE PART 5   Leave a comment

Memories are a funny thing. I moved to Memphis in October, 1969 and for 2-3 years I lived at the Hamlet apartments which was on East Popular Avenue which turned into Poplar Pike Extended. I only remember 3-4 incidents associated with that apartment but they are for another blog.

I once did a blog about the fact that I averaged a move every 5 years and of the 10 years I lived in Memphis 7 of them were at Chatham Village and 3 at the Hamlet. I loved the townhouse on Park Avenue (in the picture above) and have many great memories of the years I lived there. It was next to the Methodist East hospital, which came in handy a few years later, when I was drunk, returned from a trip to NYC arriving in Memphis in a snow storm, slipping on an icy step from where I had parked my car and split my forehead above the eye. (That’s another blog–hopefully I’ll remember all these separate blogs I have been talking about. LOL) I, also, lived across from train tracks but never heard the trains going by. Ummmmmm, do I talk about the red light or is THAT another blog? Okay, another blog!

 

One of the first ‘sightseeing’ things I did after a week in Memphis was to go to see The Pink Palace. It was originally built by Clarence Saunders who owned the Piggly Wiggly (I’m sorry but even 41 years later I laugh when I say, see or write that name.) It was built with pink Georgian marble which is how it got its name. I don’t remember the history of when he lost the home to bankruptcy and it became a museum of natural history and planetarium but I do remember the afternoon I spent there and thinking it was quite impressive.

After the assassination of Martin Luther King certain ‘events’ started to go downhill and I was lucky enough to see two of them before they were changed. One was the Cotton Carnival which was, at one time, a salute to cotton, and took place in June every year,with krewes like they had in New Orleans at Mardi Gras time. There would be a Royal barge come down with the debutantes of the season and then a parade plus special balls all over town. In the middle of the 70s it became more of a salute to ‘sister’ cities around the world.

Ever since I was a teenager and we had a summer home in Lake Hiawatha, New Jersey and I would go to the end of the summer fair near Morristown this city boy has loved fairs of all kind. It didn’t take me long to hear about the Mid-South fair and I was there for the rides, concessions, 4-H club and, of course, all the food competitions.

Both events started going downhill in the mid 70s and I don’t know what happened after I left Memphis but I have heard both the Carnival and the Fair have made a big comeback in the 2000s. I’ll have to check that out with Chuck and Terry.

Just before I left Memphis they started to construct Mudd Island which would eventually get the Pyramid sports arena. It had a monorail from downtown to the Island which was featured in the Tom Cruise film, “The Firm”. I didn’t get to Mudd Island until I visited Memphis in the 80s with Bill and we went to see an outdoor production of the touring company of “A Chorus Line”.

When I arrived in Memphis it was a ‘dry’ State which meant you couldn’t buy drinks in restaurants or bars but you could bring your own bottle and would be charged for set ups and/or a corkage fee. It would be 2-3 years before the law was changed but until then people would get drunk as they had to finish the bottle before leaving the restaurant/bar because you couldn’t have an ‘open’ container in your car. I wish I could remember the name of the jazz club I use to spend a lot of time in not only because of the entertainment but they had lockers that you could rent to leave your bottle of unfinished booze and have it there the next time you came to the club. That whole thing was quite the ‘culteral’ shock to this New Yorker but I did adapt, quickly.

Though I didn’t go there often there was a park on the bluffs of Memphis overlooking the Mississippi river that offered awe inspiring sites of the river, downtown Memphis and the shore line of Arkansas.

There was a lot to see and do in Memphis and I did and saw a lot but the place I spent most of my time was Overton Park in the center of Memphis with many different aspects including a band shell that Elvis did a show or two, a zoo, a natural woodland but that’s only part of the story and they weren’t  the reason I spent so much time there–besides, and how dare I say this, I didn’t care for Elvis!!!

     

Still to come: Gig Young, Overton Park, Overton Square, picking greens in the field, JWag’s, Goldsmith’s, Jackson, Jonesboro, Chattanooga, Circuit Playhouse, Theatre Memphis, sex in the buckle of the bible belt, Joe, Issac, Gene and more!

Posted October 23, 2013 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE PART 3   Leave a comment

   

 

February 29, 1976 I celebrated my 10th Leap Year Birthday by having a party at the Memphis Hilton hotel for 300 of ‘my closest friends’, more about that in a minute. There was a reception from 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM in the Toastmaster’s room with cocktails, appetizers and a jazz trio followed by a sit down dinner, in the Director’s room, featuring Prime Ribs, Yorkshire pudding,Caesar salad and a band ending with desserts and dancing in the Corporate room with another band and a singer.

 

  

 

Needless to say, if you know me, the 5 tier cake was a carrot cake with cream cheese and walnut icing. The whole affair was on the front page of the Commercial-Appeal society section and hundreds of pictures were taken which is a good thing as I was drunk the whole evening, (that wasn’t inthe newspaper story), and only remember minutes here and there including a ‘thank you for coming’ speech sitting in front of the bandnext to the singer and not making sense!

 

 

 

Regardingthose 300 ‘friends’ there was my lover, Johnny, his parents, most of the employees of the business I had started, Our Weigh, plus about a dozenpeople who had lost 100 pounds and more under my guidance , 2 tables of gay friends and friends who had flown in from Chattanooga, Atlanta, Kansas city, New York, St. Louis and so on. It was the people who weren’t there that was a bummer such as my Aunt Flo who was the first one to show me unconditional love, my father who had come to Memphis the year before and we were on the verge of a reconciliation, a group of people who decided to stay with Bernie when we split, not to forget Bob, Nina, Jean, Ladye, BJ, Chuck, Bob,  Gene, Joan, Addie,  Joe, Issac and, yes, Bernie himself (which didn’t surprise
me) and my brother and his family and many others. Of the 300 people there I have only heard from and/or seen 5(!) of them since 1979–goodthing I have albums of pictures of them!  LOL

I promise there will be no mention of food in Part 4 but right now I want to share another memory of that time. Memphis was sort of a hub of many cities within reach by car in a few hours such as Atlanta, Houston, Dallas, Hot Springs, St. Louis and, one trip we took, was on July 13,1974,  to Fort Smith, Arkansas, on the far west boundary of the State. Why? Food, of course.They were offering, to anyone who could eat it all, within an hour, a
free meal of a 72 ounce sirloin steak, a shrimp cocktail, a salad and abeverage. I still have the notarized bill stating that I did it. The next day I had to go on radio and talk about being a Weight Watcher!!! LOL

 


 

I
didn’t drive a car until the age of 33, October, 1969, when I moved to Memphis. Up to that point I had lived where transportation was readily available or I had friends to rely on. Before I left NYC Bernie said I should have a few driving lessons because I would really need a car when I got to Memphis. Joan took me down to Wall Street on a Sunday in her VW Beatle, with a stick shift, to give me a few lessons and without going into the gory details, and her pulling her hair out, after an hour the lessons were over! When I got down to Memphis Bernie spent a weekend teaching me how to drive, then that Tuesday I got my license and three days later the company leased me my first car–a brand new1970 white Cadillac convertble –which I would walk into the dealer 5 years later and pay cash to own it.

 


 

Coming up: Our Weigh, Weight Watchers, Gig Young, Chuck, Bob, picking greens, Overton Park and Overton Square, Cotton Carnival, mid-South fair, Jwags, Mudd Island, the pyramid, my last trip to Memphis, Issac, Joe, red light, Pink Palace, Millington navy base, Carbondale, Jackson, Jonesboro, Chattanooga and, oh yes, SEX IN MEMPHIS

Posted October 21, 2013 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE PART 2   Leave a comment

 

 

It’s no secret that these days I take a camera wherever I go so I am sort of surprised that for the 10 years I lived in Memphis I took very few pictures outdoors–in fact I don’t even have a picture of the new, white, 1970 Cadillac convertible that the business bought for me in 1969!

I’ve gone through google, bing and other search engines but I couldn’t find pictures of what I wanted such as Pappy’s Lobster Shack which was definitely a shack. Not only were all the rooms mismatched but each wall had many patterns of wallpaper and no two tiles on the floor matched. Pappy’s was in Overton Square before it was renovated and was one of the first restaurants I went to after arriving in Memphis. Though it is over 30+ years I can still taste that Pompano en Pappolette that was so good I wanted to eat thye parchment paper it was baked in.

Memphis had many excellent restaurants including The Four Flames and Justine’s, both antebellum homes, with the former serving prime ribs and the latter concentrating on old fashioned French food. Though it was 1969 and Martin Luther King had been shot to death in downtown Memphis the so called ‘better’ restaurants still hung onto Black servers. Justine’s was a 5 star restaurant and as formal as a restaurant could get.

      

Being Memphis there were barbecue restaurants all over the city one being the world famous Rendezvous Room just a walk away from the Peabody Hotel. On the other hand the two or three what they called ‘delis’–with New York always proceeding the phrase–were horrendous. There were many excellent restaurants including The Shelby Motel right out side of town where they had the most succulent fried catfish and, I forget the name, a restaurant right off the Memphis University campus where you could get the best Southern breakfasts, with grits, made as they should be.

It was on top of the Union Planters bank building on Poplar Avenue that I ate in my first revolving restaurant and it was there, having dinner with John, that we sat and watched Nixon resign. There were Italian restaurants like Grisanti’s and—darn! Where did I keep the camera?!–one I loved that was just across the railroad tracks between Park and Poplar Avenues–maybe Chuck remembers the name–he is younger than me!  LOL

I really didn’t mean to make this whole blog about food but the great restaurants in Memphis only added to my joy of living there. Next time I’ll talk about the ice skating rink, picking greens,  seeing “The Boys In The Band”, which was a shock at that time in the Bible Belt, Gig Young in “Long’s Day Journey Into Night”, Mudd Island and the pyramid, Overton Square and park, Our Weigh, Memphis In May carnival, my missing diaries from 1970-1976 and what I think happened to them, my last visit there and why I felt I had to leave in 1979.

Posted October 20, 2013 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE PART 1   Leave a comment

(IT IS HARD FOR ME TO BELIEVE THAT IT WAS 44 YEARS AGO–oCTOBER 1969– I WENT TO LIVE IN MEMPHIS–IT TURNED OUT TO BE ONE OF THE BEST DECADES OF MY LIFE!)

Joan said to me, as we drove out to the airport, “Remember you already have three strikes against you. You are Gay, you are Jewish and you are a Yankee. The only thing saving your ass is that you aren’t Black!”

It was the 4th of July weekend in 1969 and I was flying to Memphis for the weekend to see if I wanted to move there permanently. I wasn’t doing too bad in New York, working part-time as a waiter and part time as a lecturer for Weight Watchers at which I was very successful. I had lost 100+ pounds in 1967 and later that year Bernie had shown up at one of my classes. He worked at the main office of WW helping train franchisees. We spent that Christmas together and then we got an apartment between 2nd and 3rd avenues in the 30s. In 1969 Bernie decided he wanted to buy a franchise and Memphis, Eastern Arkansas, Western Tennessee and Chattanooga was the best of the few areas still available. He wanted me to go with him and help get it started and build it up. Addie, and Joan, told me not to trust him, to get it in writing. I trusted him and didn’t get anything in writing   but that’s for another blog.

   

Bernie picked me up at the airport and we took I-40 and I-240 to the Holiday Inn on Poplar Avenue and I fell in love with the city. One of the first questions I asked, and never got an answer,  was why was West Memphis in Arkansas? And that was just the start of 9 years and 10 months living and working in Memphis, Tennessee.


                    

The only thing I had to lose when I left New York were friends and I knew we would keep in contact and we did. I moved to Memphis on October 12, 1969 to become the Director of Operations for our franchise area. I, well Bernie, rented an apartment not too far from the Holiday Inn I had stayed at. I, also, learned that Memphis was the home of Holiday Inn and the original was still on Summer Avenue not that far from our main office.

In spite of Joan’s warning being Jewish wasn’t something ‘bad’ in Memphis. There was a good size Jewish population and many of the upper and influential  families were Jewish. One of the things that did surprise me was that in one of the Memphis suburbs, ironically called Germantown, there was the largest Jewish Community Center in the ‘Bible Belt’.

For almost a year we worked 24/7 to make WW a success and we far exceeded our goals. When I had time I would run around discovering things about Memphis that surprised me and little by little I got to learn the city. The gay life was more plentiful than I had expected but aside from 3 gay bars it was mainly behind closed doors and most men were leading double lives, but more about that later.

               

To this day I will never forget the first time I saw The March Of The Ducks in the lobby of the Peabody hotel in downtown Memphis, They were a famous tourist must. Every morning the elevator would come down from the roof of the hotel nonstop to the lobby, a red carpet would be laid out and music would be played on a recorder as the ducks would march out of the elevator to the fountain, spend the afternoon there and then near the evening would be marched back to the elevator and up to the roof. To see group of tourists watching ducks march to and from an elevator, taking pictures of them was, and still is, one of the funniest sights to be seen anywhere.

This New Yorker was taken aback by the size of the supermarkets which, to my eyes were humongous, and couldn’t be afforded in New York and not to forget the ‘lift’ which raised your groceries up so  the customer didn’t have to empty the basket.

There was so much more to discover about this beautiful city. I always felt that someone ran behind the cars picking up any debris thrown out by the occupants. There was no doubt in my mind that every home and business owner got up at 6 AM and mowed their lawns. Every Spring the city became a perfume factory with the aromas of the jasmine, tulip magnolias, irises, hyacinths, gardenias and roses, just a few of the many blooming plants, trees and bushes that over take and make the place seem even more magical.

Before I talk anymore about the city I came to love, and fell in love with, and fell in love in, I must say that strike against me as a Yankee worked in my favor because everyone wanted to hear my ‘funny’ accent and my classes were always full.

So much to share, so much to talk about, to tell you about Memphis: Justine’s, The Four Flames, Pappy’s Lobster Shack, the Shelby Motel, J-Wags, Whitehaven, the red light outside my door, opening my own business, Theatre Memphis, Overton Square and Park, the first place I saw a revolving restaurant, a city full of things to see and do and people so warm, outgoing and in your face honesty and so much behind doors and all the lies that go into making a life and a city. In the 70s I saw Bette Midler take a staid audience and turn it wild as if to say, “There is no stopping Memphis,” and there wasn’t.

Part 2–the places tourists see and those they don’t–brown bagging booze—small jazz clubs–revitalizing downtown–Mudd Island and the Pyramid–of course, Elvis–the Southern Belle still lives as does the Southern Gentlemen and don’t take their softness as a weakness–so more to come.

Posted October 19, 2013 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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7 DECADES ADVENTURES PART 11 B   Leave a comment

 

CHUCK                                                             ROBERT

If anyone ever gets annoyed with my blogs or doesn’t like me for any reason only from the Internet you can blame Chuck!! Yes it is his fault because he was buying a new computer in 1999 and decided I should come into the new world of computers and the Internet so he sent me the one he had. I have been bugging him ever since!!! Let something, anything, go wrong and I am yelling to him for help– and he has the answer!

How could I not love Chuck when for my  sweet 16th Leap Year birthday he sent me a slab of cooked pork ribs, a bottle of sauce, a pint of baked beans, a package of seasoning, fudge and a pecan pie from Corky’s in Memphis–ahhhhhhhhhh. Who wouldn’t love a guy for doing that????

I’ve done a couple of posts on, and about, Chuck. We almost didn’t become friends as I lost him in traffic but that’s a whole other blog. We have now been friends for over 30 years and a person couldn’t ask for such a nice, great guy as a friend.

I have also written many times about Robert AKA Dr. K. He was the choir director, and a professor of music, at the Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. He was just shy of his 60th birthday when he died and at his memorial  the Shryock Auditorium was overflowing with students and friends. Dr. K performed all over the world with the Robert Shaw Chorale and the Fred Waring Pennsylvanians  and performed with such people as Dinah Shore and Perry Como. With all he did and with all his travels Robert was nothing but a good old Mississippi country boy. Dressed in a tux he looked gorgeous and dressed in his tight worn jeans and plaid shirt he looked gorgeous! In his “In Memorian” book there are a list of a few of his expressions that I will make a post this coming week. Dr. K called every guy “Sport” but you felt as if you were the only one he called that–he, also, called all the women “Darling” and they felt like Scarlett being addressed by Rhett. Twenty five years later I still miss him.

I met a lot of people the decade I lived in Memphis and many are remembered with good feelings, though I don’t seem to be able to connect with any of them on Facebook! I could make a list of names, though I have mentioned a few in this series, but I do want to make a special nod to Layde, who not only was a friend but put up with all my mistakes when editing my book, “The Free Prisoner”, who we lost 2 years ago–a funny, warm and sweet woman. There was also BJ who I reconnected with through Facebook–the only one after looking for hundreds of people! –she died within the past year. The connection with them was through Nina who was Layde’s sister and BJ’s partner. What can I say about Nina? That she still talks to me even if I put the subject lines in my e-mails all in capitol letters? She is definitely one of the good people in this world. Certainly not least, but last in this list, is Jean who I also met through Nina in 1978 and  will be celebrating her birthday this month. As important, maybe even more important, Nina and Jean will be celebrating their 35th anniversary this October 10th and I plan to be at their 50th anniversary!

JEAN                                                        NINA

******************************************************************

HOW TO SPEAK REPUBLICAN BY PETE KOTZ

“ENVIRONMENT: CONVENIENT PLACE TO DUMP CAR BATTERIES AND KITCHEN APPLIANCES. WHILE MAINSTREAM MEDIA INSISTS ON ITS PRESERVATION, STUDIES BY THE BUSINESS FACULTY AT LIBERTY UNIVERSITY PROVE THAT BEAVERS ACTUALLY LIKE SWIMMING IN HYDROCHLORIC ACID BECAUSE IT IMPROVES THEIR SKIN TONE.”

Posted September 3, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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7 DECADES ADVENTURES & DISCOVERIES ADMITTING FAILURE 11 A   Leave a comment

 

NOTES FROM A DIARY JANUARY TO JULY, 1979, 10 YEARS AFTER I ARRIVED IN MEMPHIS-A DECADE AND BUSINESS ENDS

I take complete responsibility for the failure of Our Weigh and I learned a lesson that I already knew but hadn’t put to the test–I was a lousy business man! :O)

Notes added while I type this today are in parenthesis.

January 1  I did a class in West Memphis–ice on the streets  (I don’t doubt my diary notes but a class on New Year’s Day when it is cold and ice on the streets? Did anyone show up?)

January 5-9  3-4″ snowstorm followed by an ice storm–no classes (no money coming in)

January 18  To Atlanta to see “A Chorus Line” 3 times with Chuck, Chuck (from Chattanooga?), Tommy, Nina and Jean (Money going out and not coming in.)

February 6-7 3″ snow (Nothing about classes being cancelled or what days these are)

February 17  snowed again another 3″– really hurting business

February 28  Pepe called to wish me a happy birthday (My first live with lover–The last time I would hear from or about him)

March 23  Betty Tribble quit (I had now lost 3 of the original ladies who came with me from Weight Watchers)

March 25  Gwen called from Chattanooga about resigning (I have no idea who she is/was)

April 13 Had to close Jonesboro class

May 1 diagnosed with arthritis in my neck (Proved to be wrong)

May 5  Tommy, Chuck, Bob Brice and I went to see Diana Ross

May 16 Tommy, his mother, Chuck and I went to see The Village People in concert  (Tommy’s mother was great–wish I could remember her name–it was different.)

May 17 took over the Forrest City class–very short on help–will have to close classes

June 11 Gwen did resign–I think, mentally again, that this is the beginning of the end

June 17 Dr. K, Chuck, Tommy and I went down to Mississippi and I went water skiing for the first (and last) time getting chased by a water moccasin snake

June 28 Took Dr. K. to the Cafe St. Clair for his birthday along with Tommy, Chuck and Johnny–I got smashed

June 30 I am making plans to leave Memphis at end of July. (I really loved Memphis and wanted to stay but not being either Black or a female I wouldn’t be able to get a servers job–remember this was the 1970s and though the South was changing it was a slow change–besides my ego wouldn’t allow me to stay.)

July 21 Sold the business to Helen for $5,000–getting ready to leave for Ft. Lauderdale next Saturday (I would have taken less–I was just desparate to leave and needed ‘traveling’ money and I had run the business into the ground)

July 28-30  Left for Ft. Lauderdale with Bill Hall who helped me move and drove the stick shift truck which, just ask Chuck, I couldn’t drive–arrived in Fort Lauderdale Monday 7/30/79. (I was originally going to return to Miami Beach but at that time there was moratorium on building, South Beach had gone way down hill–this was before it became SOUTH BEACH!–and Joe and Albyn told me to go to Fort Lauderdale instead–they being my ‘parents’ I listened and have never regretted it.)

 

The life I had known was over and once again I was starting new but this time I knew who I was–I was 43 years old, had some money to tide me over, was in a way relieved. I rented a car, found an apartment and now was waiting for Chuck and Tommy to bring my car down.

 

 

******************************************************************

HOW TO SPEAK REPUBLICAN BY PETE KOTZ

“EVOLUTION: FRAUDULENT THEORY THAT MAN EVOLVED FROM APE. HAVE YOU EVER SEEN AN APE WITH JUGS LIKE JESSICA SIMPSON’S?”

Posted August 28, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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7 DECADES OF ADVENTURES & DISCOVERIES CALLED LIFE PART 10D   Leave a comment

January 1977 was a mess weather wise–there was a combination of snow, sleet, rain and ice on the 2nd, 6th, 9th and just snow on the 18th and 19th. It was just cold–5 degrees–on the night of the 17th. There is no way to describe what happens in Memphis when it snows. I can start with the drivers who drive like a bat out of Hell to get home and cause more accidents in one hour than would happen all month! Needless to say our classes were empty and we lost money.

Margie quit in March and by August Johnny and I were finished  with his eventually moving out November 6 and the cherry on the top was I came down with gonorrhea! Oh, and I got a speeding ticket in September! Yes, things were falling apart and adding injury to insult I was alone on New Year’s Eve and I had heard whatever you were doing at Midnight on New Year’s Eve you would be doing the rest of the coming year.

1977 wasn’t all bad. During the year I saw Tom Jones, Ella Fitzgerald and Bette Midler in concerts, had a mini affair with a guy named Perry for a couple of months but I have no pictures of him, have no idea who he was/is and I don’t remember a thing about him but according to my diary we went to plays, movies, ate in the best restaurants and slept together quite a bit. On December 27, coming back from Covington ( after doing a class? Having dinner with Johnny’s family? Diary doesn’t say but…) my car broke down near the Millington Naval training place and 2 sailors stopped to help me and I thanked them by inviting them to stay at my place when the came to Memphis. Each did, separately, and the rest is history. I did a post a couple of years ago about Dr.K/Bob, who was the choir director at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, traveled over the world with the Robert Shaw chorale, sang on the Perry Como show, looked like aworldclassconductordressed in his tux and looked like stud of the year in his jeans and plaid shirt when cruising the park. We weren’t soul mates but soul brothers. Bob gave me a gingerbread house for Christmas, the first I ever had and to this day I remember it, how it tasted and every time I see one I think of him and recall the smell when I opened box.

We opened in Pocahontas and Walnut Ridge, Arkansas, but at the same time we had to change our Raleigh meeting room. I went to a Positive Thinking Seminar and on my summer vacation. This was the year that I took the trip to St. Louis with Dr. K to see “A Chorus Line” and life was moving along. I was still having the weekly orgies and people were still responding to my Advocate ad. In July the police went on strike in Memphis and the city was on a curfew but somehow or other Dr. K came home with a couple of them. I had a frightening thing happen on August 29. I was returning from my class in Covington, was stopped at a railroad crossing and somehow or another my car came out of ‘park’ and smashed into the train and spun the car, and me, 360 degrees. I was so mad that I got out of the car and kicked the door until I realized that I could have been killed. The front was smashed in but somehow or another it started up and I was able to drive it totheShell station on the corner of Park Avenue and White Station Road. The next day it was declared totaled by the insurance company. By the way I didn’t have a drink that night.

The beginning of the end, or the realization that things were wrong, was when I got a station wagon, which is so unlike me, but the accountant said that I could claim I was using it for business so that Our Weigh could pay for it. The following week I took Bobby, Ronnie, Larry to Pallazino’s to celebrate Issac’s birthday and the ladies in the office got teed off as did the accountant. I was being questioned about spending money for the first time but it should have happened from the first day!

A very strange thing that I can’t figure out why there was so little mention of Chuck unless I didn’t meet him until after Johnny and I broke up but that doesn’t seem right. I mention Charlie from Spartanberg, Charlie Lee, a Chuck Cagle, a Charles from Chattanooga but no Memphis Chuck. There is a comment about driving up to see Dr. K in Carbondale with ‘2 plus Tommy Stewart’! The first mention I have of Chuck (along with his last name) is on October  18 but that was in relationship for our trip to Dallas with Tommy and Charles Cagle to see, yes, “A Chorus Line” and after that there are a lot of mentions of Chuck. It is hard for me to believe I only knew him for a year before I left Memphis.

On December 1, 1978, the entry states, “Business very bad–I am broke–having book sale”–1979 would bring to a close one of the best, and certainly the best financial, decade of my life.

******************************************************************

 

 

Posted August 27, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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7 DECADES SERIES PART 10 C   Leave a comment

1975 to 1976 were good years for the business and for me. Though I had skipped one summer of my month vacation I was making trips to Houston, New York, Atlanta, Tampa, Detroit, Houston and New Orleans. Those were the years I became a “A Chorus Line” junkie going to a city, say St. Louis, on a Thursday and seeing the show Thursday, Friday and Saturday night along with a Saturday and Sunday matinee.

In 1977 I got into my convertible, put the top down and with Damon’s Guide and the AAA traveling book I took off for the southeast stopping where and when I wanted for as long as I wanted. I went to Mobile, Pensacola, Tampa, Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Baton Rouge, Houston, Dallas and back to Memphis. In 1978 it was Oklahoma City, San Antonio, Albuquerque, Santa Fe and then through Texas and Arkansas.

Oh, I forgot which trip it was on but Johnny and I were in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and went to Lloyd’s Coach House where if you ate a Shrimp cocktail, salad, baked potato and a 72 ounce steak in an hour they paid the check. I have the original check marked “PAID” and has the “Coach House, Inc” seal imprinted on it. I do remember that was after I was on a radio show talking about dieting!!!

Though money was still coming in I wasn’t getting as much I was at Weight Watchers and I was still spending like I did when I was there. Also, another mistake I made was letting the Memphis girls invest in the business and partially because of that I felt if I gave one more pay I had to give them all more pay. I, well the company, was buying them lunches and dinners, got them all personal business cards and stationary. There was also the lawyer, accountant, advertising agency, expenses traveling back and forth to Chattanooga and many expenses that I just took for granted when WW paid for them.

One of the big highlights of those years was going to see “A Chorus Line” for the first time. I had just seen the Tony awards of TV and their number blew me away. To this day I remember sitting in the second row of the Shubert Theatre in New York unable to move when the house lights came up at the end of the show. I felt completely drained as if I had lead each of the lives up on that stage! Due to Dr. K and Buddy Victor, the latter played Zach on tour, I was able to go to the performance celebrating “ACL” becoming the longest running show on Broadway 9 years later. I thought nothing would ever be as exciting, moving, draining as the first time I saw it but that performance will never be equalled in any theatre by anyone,

April 7th, 1978 Bob (Dr. K) and I, along with Doug who I met through the Advocate ad, went up to St. Louis  for a weekend of “ACL” and we stayed at the Holiday Inn near the Opera House and so did the cast of “ACL”! I was in heaven  but, and this may be hard to believe if you know anything about me, though I had the chance to have sex with a couple of the cast members I wouldn’t because I identified them to much with the character they played on stage. How could I go to bed with Paul when all I wanted to do was hold him?!?!?

October 18-22 Chuck, Glen, Tommy and I went to Dallas and guess what–yes, spent the weekend seeing “ACL”. The funny thing that weekend was that we wrapped Tommy in a red bow, and nothing else, for Chuck to come back to the hotel room and see his ‘present’.

Okay, this is suppose to be about Our Weigh and not “ACL” but as you can see I was spending money like water as I usually did but, even though I wasn’t making what I did at WW, I was letting more out than I was taking in. The same thing was true about the business.  And then there was my 10th Leap Year birthday party that I was having at the Hilton Hotel for 350 of my closest friends–of which I only remember about 10 today. Most of the people I cared for didn’t come and the bottom line was that I probably wouldn’t have remembered as I was drunk that whole night. Luckily I have a lot of pictures from that evening. No one, not Bernie, Clara, Bella, Bonnie and others I invited came, which didn’t surprise me but hurt.

Now I have my diaries from 1976 on and there is one entry for February 3, 1976, that says,”Last few weeks been talked to by Barbara and Margie saying that Carole is talking about taking her money out of the company and if she goes she won’t go quietly.”  Carole did ask for her investment back and I paid her on the 5th but she stayed, at least for awhile. When I sat down with Fred, our accountant, he said our monthly statements showed a big loss for November and December, which was expected because people aren’t concerned with diets between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. We had shown a small profit for January, again expected as the New Year’s resolutions are made!

Along with all I was doing for Our Weigh I wasn’t neglecting my social life as I have a lot of entries like; April 30, 1976, Johnny and I went to see Neil Diamond at the Colisuem, had dinner with Gene Crain and and Jack Heilzman May 9, went to see “The Bad Seed” at Theatre Memphis, made a trip to Buloxi for a weekend, not to forget going to endless movies, plays and other concerts but along with the good comes the bad.

We had sold a franchise to James Parker in Jackson, Tennessee, in 1974 and now he wanted out so along with Carole wanting her investment we were caught ‘short’ but still moving along.

I started going back to Joe Cassius because my drinking was becoming a problem to the extent I was doing things that I had never done before like not going into the office, missing classes and I needed to stop that. Also Johnny was having bad back and neck problems and was going to the hospital. Life was crashing and I wanted to stop it from happening.

In August of 1976 I got a call from a Weight Watcher franchisee telling me that Bernie was trying to sell his franchise to Joe Folender, which took me by surprise as I knew we were hurting WW but I didn’t think that much nor would Bernie let me ‘win’ by giving up. He didn’t.

Finally got the settlement from Weight Watchers and that was the last ‘contact’ I had with Bernie for many years.

On January 1, 1977, we had snow, sleet, rain and ice–not a good beginning for the year which was just a sign for the next 2 years.

 

Posted August 22, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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7 DECADES SERIES PART 10 B JOHNNY   Leave a comment

Awhile back I did a post on Johnny (and I wrote about him in my book, “Letting It All Hang Out”) but I can’t seem to find it and my diaries regarding our years have ‘disappeared’ so a lot of this is from memory. He was a country boy living in Covington with his parents and a sister 15-20 years younger than him–yes you read it right–and he was 11 years younger than me and not to forget that I was closer to his mother in age than I was comfortable with. I call our few years together ‘The country boy takes the city slicker’. I’m not going into the whole story but will try to give a picture of our relationship.

Johnny without a doubt was one of the most artistic people I ever knew. When he moved in with me I never knew what the townhouse would look like when I came home because he was always redecorating it, each time better than the last. We met in a bar but he wouldn’t come home with me when I asked him. In a sense I had to woo him which I did and enjoyed doing.

He wasn’t making much money working as a window designer for Sears–or so I thought–and when we met I was having the money pouring in and didn’t mind spending it. I paid for most of our dinners in restaurants though he did pick up a check now and then when we went to less expensive places. Our first trip together was on Christmas weeknd when we flew to Las Vegas staying at the Hilton. There weren’t any good shows so I suggested we go to Los Angeles, rent a car and go to Laguna Beach, Hollywood and Malibu, which we did with me picking up the bills. Don’t get the wrong idea as I didn’t mind, I had the money, and it was fun seeing the places I was familiar with through his eyes. We went on a trip to New York,  to see “A Chorus Line”, which is an event I will never forget and it was also the beginning of the end for us. I was drinking to the point that I checked out of the hotel after a few days, paying the bills, fledbacktoMemphisviaAtlantawhere I lost a very expensive London fog raincoat. I arrived home in an ice storm and slipped on the steps leading to my place and busting my head open not going to the hospital until the next day after getting blood all over.  Oh don’t feel sorry for Johnny as I had left him with an ‘old’ man who I introduced to him at the Ballroom where we had gone to see Charles Pierce. It’s a long story but just let’s say that Johnny had a ‘thing’ for older men with money and I was getting low on the latter.

Johnny was a tremondous help getitng Our Weigh off on track by clerking at classes, expressing confidence that it would be a success and helping the women get to and from classes plus making whatever improvements needed in the office, meeting place and other locations.

The best thing I got from Johnny was a feeling what a family was. I spent holidays with his parents, sister and grandparents with the latter being very warm to me and laughing as I helped pick greens in the field. When I told his grandmother that I loved her turkey dressing she always made  an extra pan just for me whenever we went there to eat. Holidays there felt, and looked like, a Norman Rockwell cover on the Saturday Evening Post. I experienced  things I never experienced as a child and they allowed me to become one along with all the cousins running around.

We did a lot of traveling together separate from Our Weigh and when he could get away from Sears. I did not take a summer vacation in 1975 but Johnny and I did get to Disney World over the July 4th weekend and the following week I went to a TA seminar in New Orleans where I remember seeing the opening of the movie “Jaws”. In 1976 I was back to taking my monthly vacation and drove to Duluth to see Ginny and her family stopping in Louisville, Cinncinatti,  Indianapolis, Michigan City and Chicago where Johnny joined me for a few days. He flew back to Memphis and I went on to Milwaukee, Minneapolis, finally Dullth and then returned via Des Moines, Kansas City and St. Louis.

Before that trip was the gala 10th Leap Year birthday I gave at the Hilton in Memphis and his parents came. After that trip I made a couple of trips to Houston. On November 6, 1976, I came back from my trip to Houston to find out that Johnny had moved out. Did I forget to mention that the old man from NYC who lived in Canada came to Memphis to see Johnny? It was over after it was over but neither of us knew how to end it.

Still talking about Johnny but digressing a little–I did something with him that I never did before or since him. I was faithful for 6 months which is something I committed myself to and kept that committment surprising the hell out of me and I never told anyone. It was on a trip 7 months later, on a trip to Chattanooga, that I rationalized, “At least it wasn’t in Memphis.” For awhile I didn’t play around at home but that would change and one after he came home to find me with Issac. He wasn’t mad that I was having sex with someone else but that I was having sex with a Black man! Look it was the South, 1973 and that was what he was taught as a child. I am glad to say that by the time we split up he had changed somewhat about that and I always thought that he made it with Issac a couple of years later after that date. I know he had sex with Art when the latter came down and I always wondered if he eventually had sex with Bernie butthatwouldhavebeena spite bit on both their parts. And , oh yes, he had sex with Franco after the latter asked permission.

Johnny continued to work for Our Weigh after we split and he was there the day I left Memphis. He moved to Dallas with an older, wealthy guy and I understand he has been with another older guy the past 15 years. It is hard to believe he is now 65. Wonder if he is still as hunky looking as he was back then? LOL

 

Posted August 21, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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