Mr. D, Babs, Murray, and The Voice All America Wanted To Hear
by POPSIE 1956
Throughout our lives, we all have a great number of people who had a positive influence on us, helping shape our lives, our careers, our path for life.
There’s been so many for me, and I could spend hours talking about their specific virtues, and how they, in some small part, made me who and what I am today.
However, there’s four who stand out to this day, for those who know me, perhaps they had the same affect on you as well.
1. MR. D
Mr. D. was Everett Dickinson, who I met while a student at Southgate Elementary in Loudonville, NY. I never had him as a teacher, and from what i know of him, and from those who did have him as a teacher, I reret I was never in his class.
Mr. D. was Scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 64, a kind, understanding man who knew that every kid, not just those in his troop or his class, were special in their own way.
When I joined the Troop, I was very awkward, socially inept, very shy, and didn’t really feel good about myself, in part because I was one of those kids who wore the husky line of clothes.
I was picked on, made fun of, beaten up, all because i didn’t fit in.
Mr. D. didn’t care; he took me, along with countless others, under his wing, to him, when you started as a Scout, you were all equal in his book.
Mr. D. was the transition for me as the male role model, my father would pass shortly after I joined Troop 64, and he was just what i needed.
In fact, Mr. D. gave me the nickname “Moose,” not as an insult, but as a sign of strength. I remember him telling me of an Old School wrestler named Moose Cholak, a massive man who came to the ring wearing an actual moose head (that must be where all the wrestling influence came from).
And through Mr. D. and Troop 64, I met my life long friend Mike McCumber; no two people could be so different, yet share so much.
Thank you Mr. D.
Babs is Barbara Kelly, another teacher, and another I never took a class with,
Mrs. Kelly was in charge of the Shaker High School Theater Department, and she gave me my first chance to be on stage, when I was cast, in my Junior Year, as “A-Rab,” in the Spring Production of “West Side Story.”
If you’re familiar with the show and the character…uh…I was a little bit big…but to Mrs. Kelly, she must have seen something.
In fact, the ONLY reason I auditioned for the show was music, at the time, 50’s Rock & Roll was going through a revival, and thought of getting a chance to “grease up” sounded appealing.
Mrs. Kelly encouraged not just me, but all of the cast and crew, to give it our all.
It was Mrs. Kelly who got me to FINALLY come out of my shell. She may not have known it at the time, but the wacky, goofy, many times inappropriate, but always wanting to make people laugh idiot whose words you’re reading is all her fault, and that’s a GOOD thing.
Through Mrs. Kelly, I learned the art of timing, of playing to the crowd, of being totally confident in myself, and not giving a damn what anyone thought of me.
Thank you Mrs. Kelly
Murray is Murray Hudson, at the time a Professor at Ashland College (now University), and the man in charge of the Theater Department.
I had classes with Murray, unlike the previous two; I was studying for my Associates Degree in Theater Arts, and he was the one who would decide if I could cut it or not.
By a strange coincidence, my very first show at Ashland was ALSO “West Side Story,” I still played one of the Jets, but the role this time was “Diesel,” (perhaps Murray could see better than Mrs. Kelly).
What made Murray special to me was that, as worldly and intelligent as he was, he was a regular guy, and a fun drunk too.
We made history with many a cast party.
Oh, yes, we DID have cast parties for the shows Babs directed, but we were all (mostly) under age, she wisely stayed away.
Murray’s sense of humor and timing were perfect.
A brief example.
Very early on in my freshman year, i went solo to a Freshman Mixer…i.e. free beer.
I ended up meeting a woman (who shall remain nameless) and we hit it off, she was just as plastered as I was, if not more so.
This particular woman was also “husky,” in 2014 it doesn’t matter, in 1974, that’s another story.
Long story short, I end up back at her dorm room; not a lot happened, just a lot of suck face and very awkward fumbling around..in truth, we both passed out before “the end of the game”
I wake up in the middle of the night, slip out and head back to my dorm room. As I pass a mirror, fear strikes me from head to toe…
Not just any hickey, THE MOTHER OF ALL HICKEYS!
It was like she treated my entire neck like a ham bone and attempted to suck to marrow out of every available spot.
This was Fall, and I had NO turtle neck shirts.
This is on a Saturday night, come Tuesday afternoon, still marked up like The Jets AND The Sharks had a rumble on my neck, I head into Hudson’s class.
By the way, this woman was ALSO in the same class.
I attempted to spend the previous two days walking around campus like the Hunchback of Ashland College; shoulders hunched up as much as possible, going to classes ONLY if I couldn’t skip it, and mostly being a hermit till the injury healed.
As Murray is lecturing the class, i accidentally drop a pencil; as I go to pick it up, Hudson stops in mid sentence…..
His eyes pop out;
Sweat develops upon his brow;
He walks up to me, lifts my head, inspects the injury, and utters in a most dramatic way…
“MY GOD MARCHINUKE…WHO ATTACKED YOUR NECK?”
The class explodes, I turn beat red..as does the woman who performed the deed, causing Hudson to walk up to her and say, again, quite loudly;
“WHAT’S YOUR PROBLEM, DID YOU DO IT?”
The increase of redness in both our faces confirms the truth, I will never be with another woman until graduation.
Later that day, Murray walks up to me with a smile, shakes my hands, and says “Welcome to Ashland College Theater.”
And with that, I was accepted.
Thank you Mr. Hudson.
4. THE VOICE ALL AMERICA WANTED TO HEAR
Jay Pappas was in charge of the Radio side of things in the Ashland Radio-TV Department.
Jay had a voice from God, it was deep, it was resonant, it was authoritative, it was a voice with BALLS!
Jay worked Commercial Top 40 Radio before coming to Ashland, he was only a few years older than me, but he had a lifetimes worth of experience to share, and I wanted to absorb everything.
Jay wasn’t Staff, he as just a Radio Guy in charge of a bunch of newbies.
And he was MORE than willing to take a student, listen to then, give his advice and encouragement, and mold them to where they wanted to be.
Jay always said “try it,” if it didn’t work, try it again.
If there was an idea for a show or feature, he was always open.
By the way, there’s a reason why I call him what I do.
In addition to his duties, Jay was the “Station Announcer” for WNCO in Ashland. I seem to remember he did voicework for both the AM and FM stations, but it’s the FM side where the legend is made.
In 1976, the year of the Bicentennial, WNCO stopped playing Country Music.
Well, they STILL played it, but now it was RED WHITE AND BLUE ALL AMERICAN MUSIC.
Among Jay’s duties at WNCO, he would record a “Jock Intro” for each announcer that would be used at the start of every hour of their show.
In May, 1977, I was hired to work for WNCO, my FIRST professional job.
As such, my first show started with the voice of God saying;
“WITH THE MUSIC ALL AMERICA WANTS TO HEAR, WNCO PRESENTS MIKE PATRICK!”
NEVER did ANYONE record something like THAT for ME!
It was more than thrilling.
Side track, got the same thrill at FLY 92 in Albany the first time I heard Jingle Singers sing out my on air name (Shadow Michaels) at the time.
That would qualify as 51 Shades of Grey.
Thank you Jay.
There’s so many other stories of these people, and so many others, that down the road I want to share with you. These are good people, who were willing to take a chance on me.
That’s why I try to “pay it forward” today, with people like young guys breaking into my business, and to my grandkids.
What have YOU done today to influence someone?
It’s never too late.