Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Little Old Lady Ringside

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway Archives 2006

Fans from the old days of wrestling, the 50s through 70s let's say, will always remember that litlle old lady at ringside who could really get the wreslers going. Every arena had one. It was part of the wrestling experience and part of what made wrestling fun and special. Peggy Lathan's grandmother was just that type of person.

Nannie, as she was called, was a regular on the front row at the Charlotte Coliseum and other venues, raising cane with the wrestlers in the ring, giving as good as she took. Peggy sent me this photo, and although we may not know her personally, we all immediately recognize her. There was a Nannie in every wrestling arena.

Peggy wrote me about her grandmother:

"Everyone loved Nannie. And she enjoyed her wrestling, too. This photo was taken before she started having to use a cane - she really had a good time shaking that cane at the heels. 

"The wrestlers always played up to her.  Jimmy Snuka asked me one time if she was in good health. I told him yes. He said, "she gets so mad at me, I'm afraid she's going to have a heart attack, and if she wasn't in good health, I wasn't going to mess with her anymore." I told him that would just kill her if he didn't fuss with her and to keep it going.

"I loved taking her to wrestling. She was so much fun and so loved by everyone. She had a ton of friends. She loved Ricky Steamboat and Don Kernodle. Those were her two favorites. Once in Charlotte, Steamboat gave her one of his Hawaian leis. It absolutely made her day.

To this day, Don Kernodle always tells me how much he misses Nannie. She was a special lady and I hope I'm going to be just like her as I get older. 

"When she was in the hospital 2-3 weeks before she died, Danny Miller, Johnny Weaver and Wahoo McDaniel called the hospital and talked to her and told her they missed her and hoped to see her back on the front row again soon. Sadly, she died a few weeks later. Danny attended her funeral, and we got a flower arrangement from Jim Crockett Promotions."

Nannie passed way in 1983. Thanks to Peggy for sharing the memories and photos of her grandmother with the Mid-Atlantic Gateway.

* * * * *

Can you imagine any wrestling promotion today sending a floral arrangement to a fan's family after the death of a longtime fan? What an amazing time that was.

Peggy tells the story about Jimmy Snuka and her grandmother in John Andosca's documentary film "Mid-Atlantic Memories" that premiers in Charlotte this Thursday at the Mid-Atlantic Legends Fanfest. 

Edited from an original post on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway July 24, 2006.