What will Vaughn Meader do?

January17/ 2000

I was in the 11th grade at Jesse W. Grainger High School in one of those hundreds of small towns (pop 20,000) across America.  Yes, I “remember where I was” when the announcement came over the intercom on Nov 22, 1963.  “President Kennedy has been shot”.  It was probably Principal Frank L. Mock that told us but I don’t recall. I wasn’t scared or traumatized, but I recall worrying about Vaughn Meader.

(That RED ACRES parody link is at the end of this article.)

There’s a trivia question for you … Who was Vaughn Meader?  Meader was the JFK voice on a best selling First Family “parody album”.  The only line I recall from the album was something about “a rubber ducky”.  I may be off in my time line but his “First Family” was competing with Alan Sherman’s “Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah” album on the charts.

   What would Mr Meader do now that JFK parodies had likely just run their course?  This was pre Wal-Mart. Everyone bought “albums” at places like The Record Bar where you thumbed thru endless bins of albums or 45s.  Did you join the Columbia Record Club?  I think everybody did.

   The shots rang out across Dealey Plaza just after noon?  It was a Friday.  I can’t recall if school let out early or not, probably not as it was almost over anyway.

   As a Southern boy I knew Kennedy and his bunch were “Yankees” but I wasn’t threatened by that, after all his Veep was from Texas.  There were rumors about him running around with Marilyn Monroe.  I remember thinking “Why would he do that? His wife, Jackie, is so pretty.”

   I don’t think I actually knew any Republicans in eastern North Carolina in 1963.  NC had one Repub congressman but that was way off in Charlotte.  To show you how long ago it was … we didn’t even make up libelous insults about “eeeevilll Republicans”.  I do recall dissing Dwight Eisenhower because “he played golf too much”.

  My memories of that weekend involve Jack Ruby and the horse in the funeral parade.  

   We had the TV on that Sunday AM and I was walking thru the den as the Dallas deputies in those white cowboy hats brought Oswald down to the parking garage.  “Hey, what just happened?  Mom, Dad, come watch this!  Somebody shot Oswald.”

   During the funeral parade my Dad explained the significance of the riderless horse and the boots.  My Dad knew all kinda stuff like that.  He knew about statues of generals and the significance of how many feet their horses had on the ground.  I wonder if John Edwards’ Daddy knew that stuff growing up down in Robbins? This was all pre-snopes so anything “a Dad said” was the gospel.

   I never felt a sense of impending chaos or any need to go into the “air raid shelter” in the backyard.  We didn’t have a bomb shelter but there was a model of one out at Smith Concrete Co. on the by-pass.  I wondered about “going to the bathroom” in those things?

   It didn’t matter whether or not the NFL cancelled its games.  My Redskins always lost anyway.  They still have the best “fight song” in sports.

   Being 16, I was not into the whole “Camelot thing”.  JFK had more hair than Ike and Jackie was sure prettier than Mamie.  His little brother, Teddy, seemed like a real dork who probably could not spell Chappaquiddick.  I didn’t know anyone who had accents like theirs.  I wondered what kind of family had “a compound at Hyannis”.  No one in my hometown had “a family compound”.

   This was 1963.  I lived in what was socio-economically “the deep South”.  All the restaurants had “separate facilities”.  “The colored people’s” water fountains were always dirty.  I never went into one of “their restrooms” of course.  Everyone kind of knew “it wasn’t right” but it was the way it was.  Nobody on our high school basketball team could “dunk” but we won back-back state championships anyway. Except for Bill Bunting who was tall, none of our opponents could dunk either.

   In 1980 I lived in Dallas.  A friend of mine had a Tour business.  I would help her by giving guided tours of Dallas to convention groups.  I had this whole thing where I would slip into my Walter Cronkite voice as “the presidential motorcade moves through the streets of downtown Dallas.  The Texas School Book Depository is on our right and there’s the grassy knoll up ahead.  Suddenly shots ring out …” Folks always said it was the highlight of the tour.  I have to admit, I was QUITE good at it.

   In the late 90s I was heavily involved with NASCAR and INDY car racing.  I was in Victory Lane at Texas MotorSpeedway when Aurie Lyendike and A.J. Foyt got into a fistfight.  I snapped “the picture” of Foyt’s fist landing on Aurie’s jaw.  TMS VP Mike Carancejie called me “the Abraham Zapruder of Motorsports”.  I have a blow-up of that picture in my den today.

   I have a mild curiosity about The Warren Report and all the conspiracy theories.  I know this yahoo who lives in the woods outside Chapel Hill and regularly downloads conspiracy theories from a “mothership” hovering high over the Azores. He’s not shy about sharing them if you ask … or even if you don’t ask.  My fave is the one where Condi Rice is the love-child of a night of illicit monkey love between Lee Oswald and Barbara Bush.  Sure, the time lines don’t work but if you even considered it that far you need to meet this certified crackpot for “coffee and conspiracy”.

   In early October of this year, I was in Washington and met a professional George Bush impersonator.  His name is “John” and he lives in Orlando.  He has been making a good living doing his Dubyah lookalike gig.  He said he was trying to get in as many appearances as he could before November 2 “just in case”.  John now has “four more years” before he has to go back to selling insurance or whatever.  I still don’t know “whatever happened to Vaughn Meader” … do you?

 … and that whole thing with Jackie and Onassis … eeeewwww  yuck!

NOTE: Vaughn Meader died on October 29, 2004 at age of 68.  He never performed as JFK again after Nov 22, 1963. First Family was the fastest selling “parody album” in US record history.


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