Monday, February 29, 2016

A Leap Day Bonanza in 1976

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway


With leap year only hitting our calendars once every four years, you might think there would be a dearth of dynamic leap day cards during the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling era. But that wasn’t the case, and in fact, on February 29, 1976 there were TWO major cards both of which arguably had historical significance.

Greenville, South Carolina received a special leap day treat, as the Memorial Auditorium hosted an extremely rare Sunday card on February 29, 1976. Monday was Greenville’s regular wrestling day. But on this Sunday star-studded leap day lineup, NWA World Tag Team Champions Gene and Ole Anderson battled to a wild double disqualification result with the charismatic team of the “American Dream” Dusty Rhodes and Rufus R. “Freight Train” Jones! Dusty was brought in as a special attraction from outside the Mid-Atlantic area for this bout. The fans in Greenville also got to see Geto and Bolo Mongol dominate Tiger Conway and Swede Hanson, and the Mongol’s manager “Professor” Boris Malenko make an increasingly rare visit into the ring, dispatching the young but talented Larry Zbyszko. Rounding out the leap day card in Greenville, rough and tumble Ronnie Garvin whipped up on the crafty Bill Howard, while the curtain raiser saw Tio Tio draw with “Dynamite” Jack Evans.

The second leap day card in 1976 occurred at none other than the cavernous Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, North Carolina. And it featured a spectacular main event, with NWA World’s Heavyweight Champion Terry Funk defending his prized belt against number one contender and reigning United States Heavyweight Champion, Paul Jones!

At this point in time, Paul Jones was at the absolute zenith of his Mid-Atlantic career. Paul had beaten Terry Funk on November 27, 1975 in Greensboro for the U.S. belt, and widely proclaimed to the fans that he had Funk’s number. Jones was defending his U.S. Title impressively against the mammoth Blackjack Mulligan, and Paul’s popularity was through the roof. It appeared to many that Jones would ride his wave of staggering momentum to a World’s Title victory on this night. Alas, it was not to be as Terry Funk disappointed everybody in Greensboro with a pinfall victory.


In my opinion, Paul Jones never recovered from this loss fully, as within two weeks he would drop the U.S. Title to Blackjack Mulligan. Paul was never again the number one contender to the World belt, and as tantalizingly close to the NWA World Title as he was that leap year’s night in Greensboro, though Jones certainly had his fair share of triumphs throughout the remainder of the Mid-Atlantic years.

Despite the bitter disappointment of the Paul Jones defeat, the fans in Greensboro did have a lot to cheer about on this leap day, 1976. In the semi-final, they saw the skillful Tim Woods heap a rare defeat on the brutish Blackjack Mulligan. These two had been battling since around the time of the big U.S. Title Tournament in Greensboro on November 9, 1975, when Woods had cost Mulligan a chance to advance in that epic tournament. Dusty Rhodes continued his leap day “double shot” in the Mid-Atlantic area, dropping a disputed decision to the chicanery of Ric Flair, which of course silenced the fan’s cheers again for a bit. 

The undercard of this Greensboro leap day show was excellent, and was very fan friendly! The high-flying duo of Roberto Soto and El Rayo outlasted the powerhouse duo of Angelo Mosca and Steve Strong. A significant losing streak for Strong was continued by this bout. The impressive new duo of Mike “The Judge” DuBois and “Sergeant” Jacques Goulet battled to an entertaining time limit draw with Johnny Weaver and the powerful Tony Atlas. Ronnie Garvin completed his leap day “double shot” 2-0 with a win over the always obnoxious George “Two Ton” Harris. Klondike Bill opened the festivities with a decision over big Jim Lancaster.

Yes, in 1976, Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling was the place to be on leap day! With leap day cards like that, it’s a shame there was a four year wait for the next leap year to roll back around!

Memories of County Hall in Charleston

by Andy McDaniel
Special to the Mid-Atlantic Gateway

I think all of us have at least one moment in our lives that really stands out. There are the obvious ones like children, getting married, dream vacations, etc. Although I have been blessed to have all of those moments take place over the course of my life, there is one extra event that just continues to live on.

In May of 1998 a childhood dream came true and after months of planning, along with my good friend, Mike Mooneyham, we created a special moment that has been celebrated in some form or fashion every year since. I am speaking of the Charleston County Hall Reunion which featured some of the greatest wrestling legends from the past and even a few from the present. Looking back on that night, Mike and I often talk about the truly fond memories and sadly enough the reality that many of our dear friends are no longer with us. Tim Woods, Rip Hawk, Swede Hanson, George “two-ton” Harris, just to name a few of those who attended this great event and how could I ever forget the joy it was to have the one and only Johnny Valentine with us. In a word, this event was awesome!

A while back Dick Bourne and I were talking about this great night from 1998 and he asked if I had ever considered writing a book about it. While the thought had crossed my mind, it was mostly a passing thought. Life for me is very busy and extra time is something I have very little of. However, the more we talked about it the more the idea was taking on some true reality. Sorting through old pictures sure did bring back great memories and this book idea was beginning to seem like a truly good idea. I did not have some grandiose idea of millions of copies being sold, it was simply a labor of love and a way to preserve these great memories and honor the memories of those who had stepped into Eternity.

The stories shared during that weekend were incredible. I was like a kid in a candy store sitting there with Ole Anderson and Sandy Scott. Seeing the tears well up in the eyes of Rip Hawk and Swede Hanson when they saw each other for the first time in over 25 years. It is something I will never forget. These and many more stories are in the book along with some great pictures from this event.
I have made it a goal to give a copy of this book to all of those from the business who were there and are still with us. I have been blessed to personally deliver a copy to Ole Anderson. I have sent additional copies out to Abe Jacobs and others.

WWE Referee Charles Robinson
Recently, through a chain of events I have become friends with Lodi. Yes, that Lodi, the WCW sign guy from Raven’s Flock. In one of our conversations Lodi mentioned to me that he has lunch with Charles Robinson, WWE referee, at least once a week. Immediately I had to plug the book about County Hall and ask Lodi if he would be able to get a copy to Charles for me. Charles was one of our many special guest that weekend, 18 years ago and even blessed us with refereeing a match on the card that night. During that time Charles was working for WCW and he along with Mark Curtis (Brian Hildebrand), also from WCW, joined legendary referees Tommy Young and Ron West and the blessing was simply amazing.

I had not seen Charles since the book was printed so I wanted to make sure he got one. I gave Lodi the book and he ensured me that he would get it to Charles as soon as he got back from Europe where the WWE was on tour. Staying true to his word Lodi not only delivered the book for me, but also sent me this great picture of Charles holding the book. Although I have a long way to go to capture as many pictures with my book as my buddy George South has had taken with his, each one I get is special to me.

Thanks for letting me share this little story with you and if you are curious about this event from the historic wrestling venue, Charleston County Hall, please pick up a copy of the book and take a step back in time and enjoy the pictures and memories. A special thanks to Dick Bourne and the Gateway for keeping the wonderful world of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling alive. It has been a part of my life since 1974 and I count each moment as special.

http://amzn.com/1502350963

Order your copy of "Reunion at County Hall" on Amazon.com
Black & White Version   |   Color Version

Read the review by Mike Mooneyham of the Charleston Post & Courier
Wrestling Book Takes a Look at County Hall 

http://amzn.com/1502350963


Sunday, February 28, 2016

Sold Out in Spartanburg, Two Years in a Row

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

For the second year in a row, Big Time Wrestling sold out the Spartanburg Memorial Auditorium for a big nostalgic card Saturday night (2/27). It was the second big night of the weekend that Big Time Wrestling drew huge crowds to classic Mid-Atlantic Wrestling venues.

Tony Hunter / Facebook

The event drew over 1,800 fans and turned away several hundred more for a mix of nostalgia and modern day independent stars. The night before (2/26), Big Time Wrestling drew a similar sized crowd at the Dorton Arena in Raleigh. Both buildings were a fabled part of the circuit of venues that Jim Crockett Promotions ran weekly in the 1950s-1980s.

The arena section of the Memorial Auditorium in Spartanburg, SC, is actually a very large basement under a huge arts theater just above it. It has played host to wrestling events going back to the 1950s. It was always recognizable on Jim Crockett Promotions television in the 1980s by the steel columns across the upper seating areas on either side of the main floor.

This event was headlined by long-time area favorites Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson (the Rock and Roll Express) vs. The Powers of Pain (the Warlord and the Barbarian) in a steel cage match. Also on the card were Jim Cornette, Baby Doll, Road Warrior Animal, Scott Steiner, and an appearance by Lex Luger, among many others.

Doug Canipe / Facebook

I would imagine it took an extraordinary amount of hard work by Big Time Wrestling and its local promoter Tony Hunter to put this card together and to promote in such a way as to draw this type of crowd. They've been advertising it for months. Amazing, really.

But put it in this perspective: during its heyday, Jim Crockett Promotions ran this building every week, nearly 50 weeks a year.  And during the 1960s and 1970s there were often two other shows  being put on by that same company in the same territory the same night. 

That's not to in any way diminish what Big Time Wrestling accomplished this weekend. In this day and age and in this market for pro wrestling, it is amazing what just happened here. By comparison, the WWE with their sophisticated marketing machine and headlining Ric Flair, Randy Orton, and Chis Benoit, couldn't fill this building back in the mid-2000s. It is a credit to the hard work of many folks and in particular Tony Hunter, who might be the hardest working local promoter on this scene in the last 30 years. That perspective is just meant as a reminder of what an amazing time it was long ago when wrestling fans in the Carolinas and Virginias were treated to such great wrestling on a regular basis.

Sam Finley / Facebook
But as the great Don Henley wrote in The Boys of Summer, "those days are gone forever, I should just let 'em go."

In the meantime, fans of all ages and of at least two distinctly different eras of pro wrestling came together in mass for another Saturday night of action in a nostalgic and memorable venue. 

Big time, indeed.

Big Time Wrestling returns to the Spartanburg Memorial Auditorium on September 24, 2016. Stay tuned to their website for more details as they are available.

http://www.midatlanticgateway.com/p/us-title-book.html

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Pro Wrestling Returns to Dorton Arena


by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway  

"I'm the 1st person to lose a pro wrestling match in Dorton Arena in 23 years. #Under4Life #Historic"     - Jake Feuerbach, Twitter

That's one of the first twitter posts I came across this morning when searching for photos of last night's "Big Time Wrestling" card at the historic Dorton Arena in Raleigh, NC.

Fans of the independent wrestling scene in this part of the country know Jake Feuerbach better  as "Man Scout" Jake Manning. Or if you are a devotee to George South's internet TV show "Dad You Don't Work, You Wrestle", you know him simply as "Bullitt."

Regardless of what you call him, I found great humor in (and have great respect for) Jake's self-effacing acknowledgement of wrestling's return to this fabled old building sitting on the state fairgrounds in Raleigh. Jake isn't originally from this area. And even if he was, he isn't old enough to remember the great Mid-Atlantic Wrestling cards at Dorton. I'm assuming his general respect of the history of pro-wrestling here (and hanging out with George South for the last 12 years) has instilled in him the knowledge of just what a special place this was for pro wrestling. Dorton Arena is indeed hallowed ground.

Big Time Wrestling proved they are indeed "big time" as they brought wrestling back here Friday night. There was a huge crowd at Dorton, and they were there to see wrestling for the first time in 23 years if Jake has his facts right.

Photos taken of the building set-up before the doors were opened Friday night.
(Photos from Jake Feuerbach's Twitter)







Dorton Arena was the site of thousands of wrestling shows from the early 1950s through the mid-1990s. Probably its most famous card, at least the one still talked about today, was a turn-away crowd that came to see "Nature Boy" Buddy Landel challenge "Nature Boy" Ric Flair for the NWA World Championship there in 1985. (See "Flair and Landel Sold Out in Raleigh" and "The Lightning and Thunder of the Nature Boys" for more on that.) 

The most special thing for me was learning that wrestling broadcasting legend Bob Caudle was there to welcome the crowd to the show before it began. Bob hosted the "Mid-Atlantic Wrestling" television show taped at Raleigh's WRAL channel 5 studio for over three decades. The TV show was taped on several occasions directly from Dorton Arena, too, and Bob's voice promoted many Tuesday night cards there. Bob still shares a special relationship with fans today, and is one of the most universally well-liked and respected people that worked in the business. He is also a great friend of this website.

Bob Caudle (center) with promoter Tony Hunter, and wrestlers George South, Robert Gibson,
Jimmy Valiant, and Ricky Morton (photos from Ricky Morton and Jacob Simms)


There were many other big names from Mid-Atlantic Wrestling's past at Dorton last night: the "Rock & Roll Express" Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson, "The Boogie Man" Jimmy Valiant, Road Warrior Animal, the "Powers of Pain" Warlord and Barbarian, Lex Luger, George South, and Jim Cornette, just to name a few.

Photo by Dick Bourne

I wish other classic old venues in our area could experience another big crowd the way Dorton Arena did last night. Not many of the original buildings that were part of the Mid-Atlantic circuit in the 1970s and 1980s are left, but some are. Wouldn't it be great to see a crowd this size in the old Independence Arena in Charlotte or the Township Auditorium in Columbia? The Spartanburg Memorial Auditorium will see a similar card and similar crowd when Big Time Wrestling appears there tonight.

As "Man Scout" Jake Manning looked up at the lights of Dorton Arena, the sounds of that three count echoed off the saddle-style ceiling and enormous windowed walls of Dorton. He now is part of a fabled history of a building which rekindled great memories of days gone by, and hopefully will enjoy again if Big Time Wrestling ever decides to return to the Raleigh fairgrounds.

* * * * *
See also: Sold Out in Spartanburg, Two Years in a Row

http://www.midatlanticgateway.com/p/us-title-book.html

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Briscos' Million Dollar Smiles

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

I just came across a great interview with Jerry Brisco conducted by Marshall Ward for the Canoe Slam! Wrestling website. While the interview is not dated, I believe it took place not long after the Cauliflower Alley banquet in 2015 where Jerry was presented with the 2015 Lou Thesz Lifetime Achievement Award.

There is lots of great Mid-Atlantic Wrestling content in the interview, particularly Jerry talking about his heel run in the Mid-Atlantic area being his favorite of his career.

He also mentions someone sending him a link to a video promo on YouTube:

There's a promo on YouTube now that somebody sent me the other day that I'd forgotten all about. And you know how Edge and Christian used to do that five-second photo op? Well, Jack and I were doing a promo with Bill Ward, the commentator in Mid-Atlantic Wrestling and so I come out and I said a couple words, something like: "I know you people are tired of what I've got to say, you're tired of listening to me, so I'm going to give everybody out there what you want the most. Jack and I standing here for five seconds smiling pretty for you."

So we just stood there and didn't say a word for five seconds, just smiling real arrogantly and then walked off the set. So I said to Edge, "You stole that!" and he said he never saw it. So I joked, that was the original five-second pose (laughs).

Well, that somebody that sent him the promo was me. I came across it on one of David Chappell's old VHS video tapes. I thought you might like to see the actual promo that Jerry mentions. It is just wonderful and embodies the total arrogance of the Brisco Brothers during their memorable heel run with Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood ("Youngboat") over the NWA world tag team titles in 1983.

Jerry and Jack Brisco's Million Dollar Smile!




It didn't get any better than that! "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes wasn't the only one with a "million dollar smile."

The Brisco Brothers remain one of my favorite tag teams of all time.

http://www.midatlanticgateway.com/p/us-title-book.html



Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Harley Race Keeps Fighting


Spotlight: Former world champ wrestler Harley Race still fighting
by Joel Holleman
St. Louis Times Dispatch

A metal utility building is far away in many ways from Madison Square Garden, and there are few moves you can make from a motorized chair.

But after more than 55 years of belts, bruises, wins, pins and falls, “Handsome” Harley Race is still in the wrestling game.

“I’ve wrestled on every continent but Antarctica and in every country in the world except for China and the USSR,” said Race, 72, as he sat behind the desk of World League Wrestling in Troy, Mo.

Conspicuously, Race now sits in a cushioned, motorized chair and readily admits that getting around is no longer his strong suit — thanks to having had hips and knees replaced, five vertebrae fused together, multiple abdominal surgeries and a metal rod for a forearm.

“You do what I did to my body, for as long as I did, and it’s bound to take its toll,” said Race, with not a hint of regret in his gravelly voice.

>> Click here for the rest of the article on the St. Louis Times Dispatch website.
Print Version 


The Lost Art of the Abdominal Stretch

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Here at the Gateway, often living in the past as we do, we long for the day when some of the more simpler holds were actual effective finishing holds. I'm talking about, for example, a standing vertical suplex used as finisher. Indeed, Harley Race defeated Dory Funk, Jr. for the NWA world championship with a simple suplex.

My favorite all time pro wrestling hold is the abdominal stretch. It was perfected in the 1960s by the legendary George Becker, who won many matches with it, especially on television. When he locked it in during his main event arena matches, you knew victory was at hand - - until a dastardly heel made the save and cheated us of that victory celebration with "the stretch."

When Johnny Weaver came to the Mid-Atlantic area in the early 1960s, George Becker took him under his wing and one of the things Becker taught Weaver was the proper way to apply the abdominal stretch.

As Becker would demonstrate with great success over the years, the most effective way to apply the hold was to hook the toe his behind the calf or ankle of his opponent.

Weaver learned this well, as demonstrated in the photos below from a match with Jumbo Tsuruta in Japan.



Notice Weaver's left toe tucked securely behind the ankle of Tsuruta's leg, allowing Weaver to apply maximum torque in applying the hold.

Next time you see someone apply the abdominal stretch during a match on Monday Night Raw or at your local independent show in your hometown, remind yourself that if they had just hooked the toe, they likely could have gained a submission victory.

Hey. You do know that the abdominal stretch is real thing, right? Ahhh, the good ol' days.

(Photos are from Johnny Weaver's personal scrapbook.)


Monday, February 22, 2016

Wooo, Mercy Daddy! An afternoon with the Boogie Man

by Andy McDaniel
Special to the Mid-Atlantic Gateway

As time has gone by, many of us have come to know Jimmy Valiant as simply, Boogie. He is truly a kind and dear man that has found a special place in many of our hearts. My memories are many and to be honest I probably cannot remember how many times I have seen him wrestle in my favorite place for wrestling, Charleston County Hall. Street fights with Ivan Koloff, cage matches against Paul Jones’s army, Siberian salt miners glove matches, Charlie Brown “from outta town” these are all fond memories and for a bright eyed kid during the eighties, they were really fun times.

It was always great to see how Jimmy got the crowd fired up for the main event as he circled the ring shaking hands and giving out the occasional kiss, of course watching Mr. Henry Marcus keep his distance was a funny addition to the moment. It was a magical time in wrestling and one that this fan truly misses. As Archie Bunker would say, “Those were the days.”

Thinking over those times reminds me of a great story I would like to share. It was 1989 maybe early 1990, but I had just moved to Charlotte after college. I was a young kid trying to find my way in life. I found myself in need of some car repairs and was at Sears located in the mall. The mechanic let me know it would be a while so I decided to walk around and kill some time. Again, at that time life was somewhat confusing and a little cloudy as to where my next steps were going to be. To have a moment of joy would have been a good thing, little did I know that moment was just around the corner.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

An Upset for the Ages: Keirn and Conway beat the Andersons

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Steve Keirn & Tiger Conway, Jr.
I loved watching Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling on television. In fact, my Saturday’s during the Mid-Atlantic era revolved around TV wrestling! But as much as I loved my television wrestling on Richmond’s WTVR-TV 6 back in the 1970’s, the TV matches themselves were very predictable as far as who won and who lost. And that was absolutely okay with me. It made sense that an established and championship duo like Gene and Ole Anderson would whip up on and defeat the many young upstart tandems that the promoters threw in against them on TV. For me, the team of Tiger Conway and Steve Keirn fit that bill. In my mind they were in the class of a good upcoming tag team, and would certainly put up a good fight, but there was no way in the world they could beat Gene and Ole Anderson. Boy, was I in for a big surprise!

First off, let me say that in September of 1975 Conway and Keirn brought a little more to the table than some of the typical Anderson’s TV opponents. Tiger Conway, Jr. was rapidly losing the “junior” designation…he was becoming his own man, and an accomplished wrestler. Tiger rose to one half of the Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Champions with Paul Jones in late 1974 and early 1975. But in February of 1975 when Gene and Ole Anderson took over as the area’s tag team kingpins, it was Tiger who was effectively booted out of the territory. Conway reappeared in the area with little fanfare a few weeks before being paired with Keirn in September of 1975.

Steve Keirn was building up some credentials as well. Hitting the area in the middle of 1975, the 1974 NWA Rookie of the Year put on an impressive showing against NWA World Champion Jack Brisco in a rare TV match from the WRAL TV studios soon after entering the territory. But Keirn’s performances after that were a bit uneven, and it appeared he was settling into a mid-card tag team slot with partner Ron Starr. Conway’s return to the area seemed to change things, as Tiger liked what he saw in the aggressive youngster Keirn.

Gene & Ole Anderson
During the latter days of September 1975, NWA World Tag Team Champions Gene and Ole Anderson were operating at an all-time high level. Gene and Ole were winding down one of the greatest tag teams programs ever, with Paul Jones and Wahoo McDaniel, having wrestled Jones and McDaniel in lengthy matches throughout the spring and summer. As great as the Anderson Brothers were, they perhaps were never as invincible-looking as they were in the middle of September of 1975.

The Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling TV show that was taped on September 17th was down to its final match of the program, with the World Tag Team champs Gene and Ole Anderson pitted against youngsters Tiger Conway and Steve Keirn in a non-title bout. While the match had no particular build-up, the crowd was super hyped. I probably should have sensed something unusual was up when television commentator David Crockett said, “There’s something in the air; I don’t know what it is, but these fans can feel it. They were up on their feet when Keirn and Conway walked in the ring. They’re ready!”

Friday, February 19, 2016

Live to Tell: Ric Flair's Career in Pictures


A photo montage of Ric Flair, The Nature Boy's 35+ year career set to "Live To Tell", a special version called the "At...
Posted by Joseph Saylor on Friday, February 19, 2016

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Amazing Ric Flair Tribute Video




I'm not so hot on the music choice, but the content and editing are outstanding.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Andersons Headline Singles Events at Starland




Interesting to see Ole and Gene Anderson headlining a card in singles matches during the time they were without the NWA world tag team titles in the spring of 1976. Dino Bravo and Mr. Wrestling Tim Woods had just defeated the Andersons ten days earlier on television for those titles.

This May 15 card took place at the famous Starland Arena in Roanoke.

The main event was an off-shoot of the Anderson family's feud with Rufus R. "Freight Train" Jones. Ole and Gene, along with cousin Ric Flair, had jumped Rufus on TV in April and put a chauffeur's cap on his head in an attempt to embarrass him. That backfired big time on the Andersons who bore the wrath of the "Freight Train" for months.

While one half of the NWA world tag champs Dino Bravo battled Gene Anderson in the semi-main on this Roanoke card, the other half of the tag team, Tim Woods, was in Hampton VA battling Bolo Mongol in a bounty match.

A couple of other notes on grapplers on this card:
(1) "Dr. Fugiana" was future IWGP champion and Japanese legend Tatsumi Fujinami.
(2) Randy Colley would later become one of the famous Moondogs tag team.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Ric Flair Shuts Down "The Pantry"

by Peggy Lathan
Special for the Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Every Monday night after the wrestling matches in Greenville, the wrestlers would go to a local convenience store and buy beer and snacks for the trip back to Charlotte. The snacks were optional - the beer was mandatory. Anyway, one of the local stores where they stopped was at the Day-N-Nite store on Laurens Road.  Almost all of the wrestlers stopped there, along with many of the fans (me being one of them). It wasn't unusual to see the bad guys sitting in their cars waiting on the good guys to leave, and vice versa. In any event, the parking lot and store were full of people, most of them following the Nature Boy Ric Flair, who would graciously pose for pictures and sign autographs for sometimes 30 minutes or more. Ric was always in a good mood. And there was always a huge crowd.

Later, the wrestlers stopped going to the Day-N-Nite store and started stopping at The Pantry on Haywood Road. I'm not sure why. Maybe because it had a bigger parking lot!

One Monday night Ric stopped at The Pantry and the parking lot started filling up with cars.  The cashier evidently was new and nervous about the big crowd, because he called the police. The police car rolls up, barely finding room to park. The officer comes in and is asking what the deal was and why everyone was there. They pointed out Ric and the policeman laughed and worked his way up to Ric and told him he needed to finish up and move on because all the cars were blocking potential customers from coming in the store. Of course, Ric was parked at the front, so he had to wait until all the other cars moved before he could get out, which led to more pictures and autographs.  I'm betting the sales at that store while Ric was there were way more than their "potential customers" spent the rest of the night after he left.

I thought of this story because I work for a law firm and a lady came in a few months ago because her dad had died. She mentioned that he was the owner of the old Day-N-Nite store. I told her I used to go there every Monday night.  She said, "Were you part of that wrestling crowd?"  I said yes. She said her dad hated Monday nights because of so many people being in his store. He loved all the money that came in, but that many people in his store made him nervous.

Forty years later, we're talking about wrestling on Monday nights in Greenville. Small world, huh?

Monday, February 15, 2016

Saying Goodbye to Johnny Weaver

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway 
Originally published February 21, 2008 

Note: The legendary Johnny Weaver died on February 15, 2008 - - eight years ago today. The following article was originally written for the "Johnny Weaver Blog" website following his death.

Funerals are never fun to attend. But there was something uplifting about what took place at Johnny Weaver’s funeral. That was due largely to the honest and moving words delivered by two who eulogized him, and the grace of a grieving daughter still wounded by the sudden and unexpected loss of her father.

Johnny Weaver was buried yesterday in Forest Lawn East Cemetery in Mathews NC. Ironically, he was buried less than 15 yards from where another legend of wrestling was laid to rest 16 years ago, his friend Gene Anderson.

I had never been in a funeral procession for someone in law enforcement before. One of the lasting memories I will have of that day was topping each hill on the way to graveside and seeing stretched out before me a line of seemingly endless patrol cars with blue lights flashing, slowing winding through Mecklenburg County, on their way to see Johnny laid to rest. It was a jolting reminder that a brotherhood of officers had lost one of their own. And they were there in force to say goodbye.

Many in the wrestling community had come to say goodbye to Johnny as well, great names in the business spanning generations, much like Johnny’s long career had touched so many generations of wrestling fans. Those that were there either at the family visitation or the funeral included wrestlers Ivan Koloff, Abe Jacobs, Sandy Scott, Don and Wally Kernodle, Rene Goulet, Nikita Koloff, Tony Romano, Bill White, Jim Nelson, Belle Starr, Jim Holiday, Rick McCord, George South, and Mike Weddle. Also present were wrestling broadcasters Bob Caudle and Rich Landrum, referees Tommy Young and Stu Schwartz, and a member of the family that ran wrestling in the Mid-Atlantic territory for over 50 years, Jackie Crockett. There were certainly others who I didn’t know or did not recognize or I may have forgotten. I apologize to them for not including them here. And of course, one of the biggest names ever in the business was there, supporting her daughter and her family, the gracious Penny Banner.

Thanks Kid (Remembering Johnny Weaver)

The legendary Johnny Weaver died on February 15, 2008 - - eight years ago today. These remarks were made by Johnny Weaver's supervisor, Captain Michael Smith, of the Mecklenburg Country Sherriff's Department. They were made at Johnny's funeral in Pineville NC on February 20, 2008. They are posted with Captain Smith's permission and the blessing of Wendi Weaver, Johnny's daughter. My personal thanks to both Wendi and Mike for allowing them to be shared here.  
-Dick Bourne



REMARKS MADE AT JOHNNY WEAVER'S FUNERAL
BY CAPTAIN MICHAEL SMITH

I was hoping this moment would never come. As Johnny’s supervisor for many years I am proud to say we lost one of the preeminent hardworking, dedicated, enthusiastic, fanatical, focused, dependable, reliable, entertaining, pleasurable, compelling, witty, loyal, truthful, steadfast, professional, employee and friend that we will never be able to replace.

I guess a prodigy is a good place to start as I am about to take many people to places and events in the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office never before seen heard of or even believed by many. I have had the distinct pleasure of working directly with Johnny for about 10 year’s out of the 19. I will cherish my experience forever. I guess the one thing I can pat myself on my back for today is I finally have Johnny dressed the way I wanted to see him dressed for years and he doesn’t have a dip in his mouth and I don’t have to worry about how I would handle the complaint for him using tobacco products while on duty. We as command officers are continuously reminded to treat all our staff fair and equally. Favorites are not the way we do business but I must confess I have only had one favorite in 21 years and it was Johnny, so I guess I will never have another.

I am going to take you back to this last Friday February 15. It started out as any other day we all spend together except we couldn’t find Johnny. We all knew Johnny did not just not come to work or call, that was not the Johnny we all knew. Judges and juries don’t think we as officers have instincts but trust me, we do. I think we all new something was wrong and we need to go check on Sleeperman. As the first unit arrived he called out on the radio for others with a tone in the voice describing a sense of urgency telling us something was not right and Johnny needed help quick. Medical staff were summoned and so where his co-workers who just went on their own because the tone in the voice told it all. My instincts told me this was going to be the part of this job I have been trying to avoid with Johnny for many years. I turned on my lights and siren and began my journey to go get my friend and do what I could do to help. I was in the downtown area and as everyone knows sometimes traffic just doesn’t move too good then if you add the little blue lights and a siren you better hold on to your seat because it is show time.

So as I am proceeding to Johnny’s house under the sound of the siren and the minute of focus and decision making for some odd reason I heard a Rolling Stones song on my car radio. I leaned over turned up the volume and thought to myself as the adrenilin increased wow I wonder if this is what they listened to as they all road together in Johnny’s Cadillac from show to show. Now the siren was gone it was just me and the Rolling Stones and Johnny on the road. It made me really think because Johnny told me some of the stuff all you wrestlers did and if I stopped that Cadillac today, somebody would be going to jail, unless of course Johnny was driving and then it just might be your lucky day. So I say to you look around and take a good look at all these co-workers in uniform and realize one thing. We are well aware of what fun you all have had in the past in that Cadillac telling them lies and cherishing those moments as friends do. I asked Johnny one day how long it took to get from one place to the other and he said it depended who was in the car but usually two cases a beer and a bottle would get us there. Yep Johnny told on all of you. As I pulled up to Johnny’s house I saw the co-workers the expressions on there face and it confirmed what I already knew and it was not good. The second thing I saw was that old Cadillac still sitting in the driveway holding all the good times to it's self and then I said to myself, “well Johnny what do you think about that ride we just took that was some pretty good driving on my part”.

I guess I should have known and I actually do know now what Johnny was going to be like to work with and be around. Our first conversation was pretty short. I said "Hey Johnny what’s up?" He said "The price of beer," and kept walking and I said to myself this is going to be alright. Our companionship was off to a good start.

Johnny probably has not changed much over the years. He was still Johnny, strong as an ox, still a wrestler and loved life. We even used some of the skills he had to help us. One day Johnny just like many other days was moving a prisoner from one location to another and when they arrived at the final destination and went to open up the van door, out comes the prisoner without the leg shackles on he had when the trip started. Johnny took that devastating swing and the situation was well under control and as his co-worker said, “I am glad he didn’t hit me because something would have broke”.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Big Gold Turns 30


by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

February 14, Valentine's Day, is the 30th anniversary of the debut of what many consider the greatest world championship belt in the history of the sport. it is without question the most beautiful.

Photograph by Dick Bourne

At the Battle of the Belts II event in Orlando, FL, on 2/14/1986, Ric Flair debuted the belt that would become known as "Big Gold" before his NWA world title defense against Barry Windham.


The first glimpse we got of the belt was when Flair interviewed with Buddy Colt in the dressing room only moments before his match with Windham. Below is the transcript of Flair's words to Colt as he showed the world the new belt for the first time.

Page 161 from the book "Big Gold" by Dick Bourne

 
There is an entire chapter in the book "Big Gold" devoted to that special night in Orlando, including a special section of beautiful color photographs of the belt with the robe Ric Flair wore to the ring. Lots of memorabilia, too, including the event program, event line-up sheet, newspaper and TV Guide ads, a special interview with Flair, and a detailed account of what went down that night.

The FULL COLOR, 250 page book is available on Amazon.com. For more information, visit this page.


Valentine's Day


Friday, February 12, 2016

Thursday, February 11, 2016

More Memories of the Big Brown Box

Last October we posted some memories of the Greenville Memorial Auditorium, affectionately known by locals back in the day as "the big brown box." Our good friend Donald Holbrook from Greenville, SC sent us some of his memories of the auditorium as well. Don's mother was an employee there and worked the ticket office, including Monday nights for Mid-Atlantic Wrestling. Don spent many Monday nights there as a kid with great access because of his Mom's job.



Don's note to me referred to the photograph above:

Take a close look. No canopy out front (as you see in this picture). That's because they added it in the early 70's so all those sell out crowds they used to have wouldn't get wet waiting for the doors to open. The little grass island in front was removed along the same time the canopy was built. And lastly, look at the marquee. Pre-Mid Atlantic Wrestling days...  "All Star Wrestling" and "Southern Tag Team " No doubt would have been Weaver & Becker vs. Hawk & Hansen most likely!! 

I miss this place, it was such a fun place. My life was enriched having had the chance to spend much of my childhood there. Memories I will cherish forever.

  
We have a section still hosted on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway Archive dedicated to the many classic old venues. There is lots of memorabilia related to the old Greenville Auditorium there, much of which was provided by Don himself. Check it out when you have a chance.

One of my favorite pieces of memorabilia Don has in his collection is this old parking token for the Memorial Auditorium parking lot.

From Don - 

Back in those days the auditorium had four huge parking lots on property behind and adjacent to the building. One of the lots was directly behind the building. A service alley separated the building and the lot. This was where the auditorium employees parked. This lot was also used by the public to park while purchasing tickets for upcoming events. You have to remember, this was before the Internet and before credit cards were used to pay for tickets. It was cash only. So therefore if you wanted tickets for events at GMA you had to come to the box office and pay cash. The tokens were given to people when they paid for their tickets so they could exit the parking lot for free. The parking lot exits had a money slot and a token slot. Insert either and the exit arm would open. This system worked well and since street parking was prohibited around the auditorium people purchasing tickets could park for free.

Classic Venues on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway  |  Greenville Memorial Auditorium


And check out our original post on the "Big Brown Box" where our friend Peggy Lathan shared her memories of this classic old venue as well.


Thanks to Don Holbrook for his memories of the Greenville Memorial Auditorium.
Thanks to Brian Rogers for forwarding the exterior image of the GMA to us at the Gateway.


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Crockett Foundation to offer photo autographed by all of Jim Crockett Sr.'s Children


Some great news from the Crockett Foundation regarding an upcoming fund raiser. This, from their Facebook page:

For the first time in Crockett history all four of Big JIm's children, Frances, Jim, Jr., David and Jack have agreed to autograph a family photo. This limited number of 5x7 prints will be for sale exclusively through the Crockett Foundation. The purchase of these photos will help us with our ongoing support of retired military dogs and veterans suffering from PTSD. Stay tuned...

We'll post more information here as it is available. (Visit their Facebook page here.)

Classic Posters

Jody Shifflett sent us some pics of some great old wrestling posters from his collection. The posters are from 1976 and 1977 for cards held at the Roanoke Civic Center in Roanoke, VA.

September 14, 1975


December 12, 1976

March 11, 1977

http://www.midatlanticgateway.com/p/us-title-book.html



Monday, February 08, 2016

Flair vs. Steamboat: How It All Began

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

When I attended a spot show card at the Colonial Heights, Virginia High School gym on March 4, 1977, little did I know that I was witnessing the professional birth of one of the greatest stars in wrestling history, Ricky Steamboat. Ricky defeated the always dangerous Sgt. Jacques Goulet that night in Colonial Heights, Steamboat’s second match in the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling area. The young Steamboat continued his slow ascension up the proverbial ladder over the next three months, with flashes of promise popping up with each succeeding match. But nobody could have foreseen what the late spring of 1977 would bring for the up-and-coming Steamboat.

On the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling television taping date of May 25, 1977, Steamboat closed the show by being interviewed by announcer Bob Caudle. Discussing the tough competition in the Mid-Atlantic area, Ricky commented, “With what I know, I feel I have some confidence within myself. I’ve spent a lot of years and years and years…” But Steamboat couldn’t finish, as he was interrupted by none other than the flamboyant Ric Flair! At this juncture, Flair was a Mid-Atlantic veteran compared to Steamboat, having been wrestling in the territory for three years and Ric was the current holder of the Mid-Atlantic Television Championship belt.

The “Nature Boy” dismissively scolded Steamboat, saying, “Step aside kid, the people came to see me and Valentine, not some punk kid! Step aside kid!” Ricky, somewhat taken aback replied, “I’m sorry, I thought this was my interview time.”  Flair, knowing he was effectively pushing Steamboat’s buttons commented, “Don’t make the mistake again…take off kid, take off. And don’t make the mistake of coming in again.” Gaining some confidence, Steamboat counterattacked, saying, “Flair, let me tell you something. I’ve been in this area now for about three months. I’ve been watching you; I’ve been studying you. And let me tell you something; let me tell you something. I can beat you any time of the week, any time of the day, you name it…we’ll go. Don’t YOU make that mistake.” This first confrontation between Flair and Steamboat ended with Flair again trashing the new star from Hawaii, saying, “ Get out of here; get that kid out of here. We got more important things to talk about, get lost kid, we’ve got men to talk about, get lost kid.”

The next week on Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling TV, Steamboat and Flair had their second incident.  Steamboat and Bob Caudle were talking about Ricky’s victory over Lanny Poffo earlier in the show, when Flair showed up again unannounced. Steamboat exclaimed, “What’s going on, what’s going on?!?” Ric countered, “Here I am, $500 suit, looking as only I could look! Step back punk, every time I got something to say, this punk kid is in my way.” Steamboat, incredulous that he was being interrupted yet again, said, “They told me this was MY interview time!” Flair laughingly retorted, “You’re gonna have to learn like everybody else has had to learn, nothin’ goes unless the Nature Boy says so, you  understand that boy, now just step back.”

At this juncture, the youngster from Hawaii had about enough of Ric’s mouth, explaining, “Hey, Flair, let me say something now partner…I do a little bit of talking out here to the fans and everything, but I do my business in the ring. I don’t want to do it right here in front of TV and the interviewer here…I don’t want to get him involved. So let me say something…if you want to go right now we’ll climb in there…” Ric rudely interrupted, “I don’t want to hurt you…get lost punk! I’m dressed up and I’ve got the girls out there screaming! I don’t want to wrestle a punk like you, hurt you and put you in the hospital, how does that make me look? I don’t want to wrestle someone underprivileged like you!” When Steamboat then hesitated, Flair said, “You got something to say? Speak up boy!” A now fuming Steamboat snarled, “This is the second time you’ve done this, the second time. Don’t push your luck too far, you understand? Don’t push your luck too far.” Ric, a little caught off guard by Steamboat’s retort, incredulously asked, “Who does this punk think he’s talking to? You hear all the girls screaming, the guys are in fear, and the mightiest man of them all is standing right here. Take a walk kid!”

The following week on the TV taping of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, taped on June 8, 1977, Steamboat and Flair confronted each other once again on the set. Flair screamed at Steamboat, “I want the whole world to see you and I have this out. You’re trying to tell me and tell all the fans that there is someone greater than the Nature Boy, someone younger someone more beautiful …me with the $5,000.00 robe! Look at it boy!” Ric then proceeded to slap Steamboat in the face and then said, “That’s what I think of him…he’s just a punk and he’s gone. I’m the greatest…you get that through your head!”

An incensed Steamboat fired back, “Mr. [Jim] Crockett, I’m sorry for what is about to happen here. This is the third week now…the third straight week. I have been trying to be as gentleman as I can be…” Ricky then landed a thrust to Flair’s head and knocked the Nature Boy out into dream-land!  Steamboat said, “I’m sorry” as David Crockett, Jim Crockett along with Blackjack Mulligan looked on in amazement as the prone Flair was not moving. After being knocked out with one punch, Flair had to be helped out of the studio as David Crockett exclaimed, “He pushed him too far…he just pushed him too far!”

Fast forward to the end of this TV program, and an agitated Ric Flair comes back on the set where Bob Caudle is talking to Ricky Steamboat. Caudle said to Flair, “I thought you would have had enough.”  Ric responded angrily, “I HAVEN’T HAD ENOUGH OF ANYTHING…THINGS HAVE JUST STARTED!” Flair continued, “Step back kid and hear what I got to say. I want you. You see this robe right here…$5,000.00 and I got bent feathers and feathers missing because of you! Not to mention the humiliation of what you did to me on TV! I know you had something in your hand!” A furious Ricky Steamboat replied, “What you’ve been doing to me the last 3 weeks…every time I’ve been getting out here you’ve been butting in and taking up my time, saying it’s your time all the time!”

Flair scolded Steamboat, “You hear what I got to say and you hear it good. Nobody has ever knocked me out with one punch in their entire life. You took something out of your trunks and had it in your hand…I want you. You see this [Mid-Atlantic TV Championship belt] right there?  Next week…you and me…I want you so bad!” Steamboat jumped in immediately and said, “I ACCEPT; I’LL ACCEPT THE CHALLENGE!” A perplexed Flair said, “You’re pretty anxious aren’t you?  You think you can handle me in that ring??” Steamboat confidently said, “I told you I’ve been watching you for 3 months, I told you I can beat you! Next week brother, it’s gonna happen!”

As Steamboat left the TV studio, Ric told Bob Caudle that Steamboat didn’t know who he was dealing with. Caudle countered, “Did you realize that you may have been suckered into putting that belt on the line…it may be YOU that’s in for trouble Ric.” Flair, not surprisingly, disagreed saying, “I’m going to bring it down to earth for a minute. I know I get a little high once in a while, and sometimes I get real spaced out. But I’m going to tell you something right now…I know what I want. This guy is hording in on all aspects of my life. They even tell me that when I have my back turned, this kid is moving in on my private stock!  Well, Steamboat, like every other punk that’s come around and thought he had something going on…I’m going to teach you the same lesson! You ask Wahoo and you ask Paul Jones what it is to pay the price to get in there with the Nature Boy!! WOOOO!!”

The anticipation was palpable when Flair and Steamboat met for the first time in a singles match on June 15, 1977at the studio taping in Raleigh, NC of the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling TV show. And Flair’s prestigious Mid-Atlantic Television Title was on the line! Ric’s close friend and tag team partner Greg Valentine joined Bob Caudle and David Crockett in announcing the match. This bout had a true big match feel to it!

Steamboat showed early on in the match that he belonged on the big stage with Flair. Ricky’s athleticism and hard chops kept the Nature Boy off balance early. Valentine countered that Steamboat did not have the stamina or experience to keep it up much longer. After a period of even battling, it appeared that Flair had the win locked up when he dropped Ricky to the mat with a vicious suplex. To the surprise of everyone, particularly Greg Valentine, who was rendered nearly speechless, Steamboat kicked out of the pin attempt before the count of three! Soon after, Ric flung Steamboat out on the concrete floor and it appeared unlikely Ricky would make it back in the ring before the 10 count…but Steamboat persevered and made it back into the ring!

Flair was never the same after Steamboat made it off of the floor. After several more minutes, a disoriented Flair was wobbling around while Steamboat climbed to the top turnbuckle, Ricky leaped off the top rope with a double-chop that disabled Flair, enabling “Steamer” to capture a three count, and the Mid-Atlantic Television Championship! Valentine ran in from his announce position, and joined an embarrassed Flair to double-team an unsuspecting Steamboat. The “bad guys” were beating Ricky senseless until Wahoo McDaniel joined the fray after a couple of minutes, and pandemonium ensued! Luckily for Steamboat, he was able to leave the ring and not be seriously injured.

As the program was about to go off the air, Bob Caudle got a few words with the new Mid-Atlantic TV Champion. Ricky said, “I’m very fortunate to have won that match; he’s a very tough competitor…but I never knew that Flair was the type of individual to have something going on with his partner. To me, this is just the beginning…but I’m gonna tell you something Flair. Deep down inside, this is just the beginning between you and I. Anytime you want me just let the promoter know, and we’ll go.”

Everything has to start somewhere…including famous wrestling feuds. Even on that Wednesday night way back in June of 1977, Ricky Steamboat seemed to sense that his first singles match with Ric Flair was the start of something big. Really big. But nobody could have known at that time just HOW big! One of the greatest feuds in wrestling history began just because Ric Flair would not let Ricky Steamboat finish several innocuous TV interviews! But thank goodness those interruptions happened, as we fans got to enjoy 17 years of a fantastic rivalry and great matches as a result!

- David Chappell


Saturday, February 06, 2016

Harley Race beats Terry Funk for the NWA World Title


39 years ago today, Harley Race defeated Terry Funk for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship in Toronto's Maple Leaf Gardens.

Although former NWA champion Pat O'Connor is billed as special referee, he was not the referee in that match.

Video of the title change is included below from YouTube. Commentary is by former NWA champ "Whipper" Billy Watson and then former NWA president Sam Muchnick.

The ring announcer at the end making the dramatic call is Norm Kimber. You can jump to the finish and the dramatic call (at 7:00 into the video) in a new window by clicking here






Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Ole Anderson, the Good Samaritan

by Peggy Lathan
Special to the Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Think Ole Anderson was always a nasty, cold-hearted villain? Think again.

Those of you who know me know that during the 1970s, I was a regular on the front row at the wrestling cards in Spartanburg, SC every Saturday night. I went to the matches with my mother and grandmother and I can't remember ever missing one. No matter if I was sick, or if I had attended a Clemson football game that afternoon (and raced to Spartanburg after it was over with a Tiger Paw still painted on my face), or had just gotten back from the beach (I had to be back on Saturday!), you could bet that I was always right there on the front row - - section B, row 1, seat 10.

My mom had bought a new pocketbook that had a zippered pocket on the outside flap that folded over the main opening to the pocketbook. She would put her car keys in the zippered compartment so they would be easy to find. One night after the matches (about 11pm I guess) it was raining and when we got to the car, mom could not find her keys. The zippered pocket was empty, which meant we could not get in the locked car. We had to call my dad in Liberty, wake him up and get him to bring us another set of keys. Those were the days without cell phones - we had to use the pay phone in the auditorium. Thank goodness for collect calls! It took about an hour to get from Liberty to Spartanburg.

Anyway, here we were standing at our car in the pouring rain waiting on dad. Most everyone that had been there that night, fans and wrestlers, had already left and went home. Everyone except Ole and Gene Anderson. Being the hated villains, they would wait until the parking lot cleared out before they would leave.

I had been friends with Ole and Gene for several years. My grandmother Nannie loved giving the Anderson brothers a lot of grief at the matches for many of those years. They knew her well.

Ole and Gene came out and saw us standing there and asked me what was wrong. I told him that mom had lost her keys and we were waiting on dad to bring another set.

"So you're going to stand out here in the rain for an hour" Ole asked? I told him we had no choice.

"Wait a minute, " he said and told Gene to go on to the car. Ole went back inside the auditorium and reemerged a moment or two later with a wire clothes hanger. It took him a minute or two, but he finally got the door opened for us.

He told us to get in and lock the doors. My Nannie, who had given Ole such grief from the front row at matches all over our area, suddenly had a momentary warm spot in her heart for him. "You hurry along, too," she said. "I don't want you to catch cold." That was my Nannie.

We thanked him for going to all that trouble to help us, and he jumped in his brown Ford convertible with Gene and they left.

A few weeks after that at another Saturday night wrestling card in Spartanburg, mom lost her car keys again! We had to go to the pay phone and call my poor daddy again. Needless to say, he wasn't too thrilled about that. But my daddy is a good man and here he came again, another hour to the auditorium.

So here we are again, standing at the car and Ole came out and saw us and said "Not again!" I said yep. He just shook his head and went back inside, got another clothes hanger and opened the door for us.

Mom was so disgusted with the pocketbook, she began cleaning it out to throw it away. After emptying the main compartment, she shook it to be sure everything was out. She heard a jingling noise, but the main compartment was empty. But she could tell something was still in there! Come to find out, when she put the keys in the zippered outer pocket and lifted the flap to access the main part of the pocketbook, the keys would fall straight down into the bottom of a false-pocket. Because of a poor design, that outer zippered compartment was not sealed off at the top! There, behind the main pocket of the pocketbook, were two full sets of car keys.

Many of you may know the story of how Ole was stabbed by fan at the matches in Greenville, SC in 1976. I was there that night and helped administer first aid to him as he lay bleeding in a hallway at the Greenville Memorial Auditorium waiting for an ambulance. He always tells me I saved his life that night. Ole's good deeds to me and my mother and grandmother those two nights in Spartanburg might seem less by comparison, but they were just as significant to me. Ole didn't have to stop and help us. It was late on those Saturday nights and he and Gene needed to get on to the next town. But he did help us, and it was events such as these over many years that have led to our lifelong friendship.

I will never forget him being my family's Good Samaritan. Twice!

- Peggy Lathan