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Ike Selig's CFN 50's 

& Panama Tales

Part 2

     

 

Menu of Stories
Jewish Marriage     Customs
Hotel on the water
MOS
Radio Moscow
CFN Personnel
Raincoat Jerry
Fish Fry
Entering Military Broadcasting
Voice Recognition
Antenna Down

  

  

Jewish Marriage

Rabbi Witkin , one day, asked me the name of my Rabbi in Lakeland.  I told him Rabbi April.   Sonny April, he asked? and I said yes.  I taught him Hebrew school in Atlanta.  boy talk about a small world.   Now here's the thing.  The army was responsible for me so they investigated Sarita's family to make sure that everything was okay.  BUT  at the same time Rabbi Witkin was investigating me. The Rabbi in Lakeland lived across the street from my parents so Rabbi April told my parents that if they were against the wedding he would tell Rabbi Witkin that I came from an unsavory family and her parents would not let her marry me..   

It would seem that the event that precipitated these investigations was when one of the local girls married a serviceman from Chicago.   When they returned to the states she found out he was a hoodlum and he abandoned her.  SO that's why the investigations.  NOW.  Sarita and I were what you could call a   MIXED MARRIAGE.   NO!!! she WAS Jewish but from a SEPHARDIC  background whereas my family background was ASHKENAZI. 

Now for those of you who do not understand all of this let me give you just a little history lesson.  Sephardic Jews came from a middle eastern background.   My father in law was born in Turkey and his family moved to Cairo Egypt when he was about 12 years old.  My mother in law was born and raised in Greece.  My background was eastern Europe..  all Jews but different customs.  SO  when a grandchild is born my wife's background would call for naming the child in HONOR of a living grandparent.   BUT the European custom would call for the child to be name after in MEMORY of a departed grandparent.  SO  when our first daughter was born my wife was so thrilled, she called my mom back in Florida and told her that she would be thrilled if my mom would allow us to name our first born child after her.   WELL, SHE PRACTICALLY CAME THROUGH THE PHONE. YOU CAN'T NAME HER AFTER ME, I'M NOT DEAD YET. So we jump ahead 30 years and this Number One daughter is now giving birth to HER first daughter and calls her paternal grandmother,   my mom,  and says,  you know gram.  I would like to name our first daughter after you. Well lo and behold,  my mom says. OKAY  that would be nice.

I don't know if any of you are familiar with a movie titled.  MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING. THAT is my family.  There were five daughters, my wife being the youngest, and everyone one of these five daughter has a daughter named in honor of my wife's Mother.  WELL   these five daughters produced 24 grandchildren so you can imagine what a family get together is like.   FUN, FUN, FUN.

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Hotel on the water

First a funny statement. When a new hotel was built, it was built IN THE WATER.  The front of the hotel fronted on Avenida Balboa.  I was going to have coffee with my brother in law and some of his friends and I said.  " HOW COULD THE GOVERNMENT LET THOSE PEOPLE BUILD THAT HOTEL IN THE WATER, THAT'S PUBLIC PROPERTY"  To which the friend replied:  "IKE, THIS IS PANAMA, IF YOU HAVE ENOUGH MONEY YOU CAN  F---- THE PRESIDENTS WIFE."  The hotel that was in the water is NOT in the water anymore because they built another sea wall and filled it in.  Taking a piece of history and basically destroying it's charm of being on the water with this fantastic view, and the rest is just shocking as well.  I guess it's not much different that tearing down buildings in various cities, buildings with historic significance and putting up new modern ones that do not have the character and history of what they tore down.

I am hoping to return to Panama within the next few months, hopefully my back will feel better.  I will take many photos and videos.  This would probably be my last trip back there.

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CFN Porcupine The staff artist's last name was GIAMPAOLI.  When he was on whatever they called it when you had to sleep in the receptionist area on a cot in case there was an emergency during the night.  You had to keep a log or incident report of any and all activity.  Jim never wrote anything down, but put his entire report in cartoon form, Phil Jacobs found one in some of his papers when he and Charlotte recently moved. It is a perfect example of Jim's work.  

One night he heard something at the front door, he went to the door and opened it to look around and a porcupine walked in.  Well,  he found a cardboard box and placed it over the porcupine and the next morning Swede called over to the Atlantic side to Ft Sherman.   JWTC.  (jungle warfare training center)  and they sent a truck to pick up the porcupine.  They added it to their informal ZOO.

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MOS I have, with the help of Bruce Neale and Phil Jacobs, discovered two more names for the 50's era.   Our NCOIC was an air force master sergeant.  No first name.  known as "swede"  last name Nordquest.  No info before or after but I can recall that if you needed assistance with something, he was your man.  Nice guy.     Then there was a Spec 3 army  Dave Platts.  Dave was there when I arrived in August of 57 but finished his tour probably in the beginning of 1958. Phil had indicated that he went into public broadcasting somewhere on the west coast.   

We had an issue right after we got the mobile TV unit.  We needed drivers and broadcasters so Capt Parrish decided to change the MOS of three men from RADIO BROADCAST SPECIALIST,  to CLERK TYPIST.   This was due too the fact that there were empty slots for clerk typists but none for broadcasters.  Well as I recall the three were  Dave Platts, another soldier, last name HAAS  boy I haven't thought of him in years, and me.  Well Haas and Platte refused to sign the request for the change, they wanted to retain their MOS.  I made a deal,  If I get rank as it comes down the pike then I will not create an issue. Two months later, about a month before Platte was going to muster out, he gets a promotion to Spec 4.  I was miffed to say the least. The additional rank would have allowed Sarita and I to have military quarters rather than paying rent in Panama City. Later found out that several of the radio broadcasters were called back into service even after mustering out due to  some global threat which I do not remember, but since I was a CLERK TYPIST  they left me alone.  also I am pasting a story sent to me by Bruce Neale, Bruce was Navy.  His story kind of reminds me of the "SPUTNIK" news release that I wanted to announce but was prohibited from doing so.

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Radio Moscow

During my very first week at CFN, I was working the radio side and I accidentally put Radio Moscow on the air during the 9pm news from AFRS New York.  I still have a copy of an editorial run in the Panama American newspaper stating how un-professional the staff at CFN was, etc; etc:  I got a call from a General asking me if I knew what was on the air and I said "no sir, I was in the bathroom" and he told me to get that "commie shit" off the air and that was the first time in my life I smoked a cigarette.

I also wanted my mommy;

Swede Nordquist was the ranking NCO and he went to bat for me the next morning when the CO wanted to bring me up on charges of something or other.  In any event the editorial in the paper was the only result. 

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CFN Personnel You do see that we found out the  FINDLEY was DON FINDLEY  I do not recall Jack Hackinson at all.  Waiting for a reply from Phil see if he has anymore insight.   Some more names have come to mind but have no idea of what they did.   A sportscaster by the name of, and the spelling is in question    JIM DEIUX.  and a young solder named JERRY COOPER  from the Denver area.  Tried to find him for ages but without any additional information Jerry and Cooper are pretty common names.  Like several of us have said, just because we worked together doesn't mean we KNEW each other.  A

I was the newbie and the TV newscaster was responsible to supply the radio man with hourly news teasers.  So the guy waits until the mic is open, I'm making the station ID, he comes into the studio and hands me the paper.  The last news headline, which I announced to the Canal Zone was "and finally the little brown fox jumped of the big white fence,  stayed tuned for the stories that made those headlines at 6:00.    

Does anyone out there remember an engineer, army, who name was  LAUN NAPOLEON VAUSS JR.?   JR was a real character,  some of you might have know him when he was at Ft Slocam.  He was eccentric to say the least.  There was a story about when he was at Ft Slocam.  He had just bought a new camera,  remember cameras in the 50's were not some little piece of digital flotsam.  Someone wanted to buy his old one.  He had his own little theory.  I bought it, I've used if for three years so it has outlived its usefulness to me but instead of throwing it away I will sell it BUT do not bargain.  If I say I want $50.00  THAT is what I want and if you argue with me I'll just put it in a vise and destroy it.  WELL  the guy made the mistake of trying to bargain and JR. did exactly what he said he would do, wrapped the camera in a cloth, put it in a vice and destroyed it.   

When we were in Panama Jr. rode a bicycle EVERYWHERE   with a large bullhorn type speaker fastened to the handlebars blaring Panamanian music. Everyone one would tease him about getting a car so he went out and bought this little SINGER convertible  BUT Jr. did not know how to drive so it was parked out back and never used, except NOW when people said get a car he said   "I HAVE ONE" 

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Raincoat Jerry

I have often wondered it the same kind of clowning that went on behind the camera or when the mic was off also took or takes place on network stations.  Occasionally you see someone starting to crack up for nothing that seems obvious.  

I told you the story of NAKED  Jerry Coopers shower photo. To review, someone took a photo of Jerry in the shower, Then one night as a few of us were watching TV in the studio from the "OFF AIR" monitor, one of the engineers patched the monitor into the slide projector on the film chain which made the monitor an in studio monitor, Jerry did not know this and when a station break came up and he looked up and saw himself naked in the shower I thought that he would completely lose it.   WELL  they say the revenge is sweat and several days later during the 10:00 newscast, Jerry was running camera in a RAINCOAT.  I think Chuck Renner was doing the news, about halfway through the broadcast Jerry steps off to the side of the camera and throws open his raincoat to reveal that he was wearing  NOTHING.  Chuck didn't miss a beat but the rest of us were peeing in our pants.

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Fish Fry

One of the perks we got was a fishing trip to the Perlas Islands on a "J" boat.  Everything was furnished, fishing gear, cold drinks and beer, fried chicken, the whole ball of wax.  Several fish were caught. I caught about a 7lb Mahi Mahi.  (pacific dolphin. A fish, not to be confused with a porpoise)  When we got back I cleaned it and took it back to our apartment where I proceeded to deep fry it in flowered cubes.  It was good.  As many of you may recall I mentioned that Sarita did not know a lot about cooking.  When  we finish lunch I had to go to work.  Apparently Sarita waited too long to pour the Crisco back into the can and it solidified in the pot so she turned the stove back on to soften it up and then got busy somewhere else.  Now this apartment was "vacation quarters" and ironically it was the apartment of her home economics teacher.  The kitchen was around 5' wide and 10' long with the stove at the far end, away from the door and by a window. 

WELL  the Crisco reached it's flammable temperature and started to burn, Sarita, not knowing about these things poured water on the fire,  you know most of this, she couldn't get out of the kitchen because the fire had spread to the other side so she was yelling out the window.  The fire department was there in about 3 minutes I was told.  I was running audio in the TV control room.  At that time they had done away with that "booth" in the studio and condensed the job of audio and announcer into one.  The phone rings, I pick it up and there is a voice on the other end that asks for Mr. Selig.  I identify myself and he says:    Mr. Selig, this is the fire chief, don't get excited BUT...  Well I didn't even wait for him to finish, I put the phone down and flew out the door.   The director is yelling that there's no one on audio but I was gone.

Thankfully no one was hurt but until the day Sarita died she would never fry anything.

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Entering Military Broadcasting I was  a junior at FLORIDA SOUTHERN COLLEGE,  in Lakeland, Fl.  It is a liberal arts college.  It's fame is that it has the world's largest collection of FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT architecture.  I was a pre-med student to start. My freshman year was 1953.  I graduated LAKELAND HIGH SCHOOL barely, my nemesis being algebra.  WELL if your going to be in the medical field you need chemistry, and if your going to be studying and using chemistry you need algebra.  Thusly I made straight F's in class and straight A's in lab.  So the only part of PRE-MED that I was good in was penmanship, RIGHT  no one could read my hand writing.  

I was very active in the drama club,  (I'm a kosher ham) and took a few classes in radio speech writing and radio broadcasting technique. A fraternity brother and myself worked, part time, and for free, at a local radio station. We produced a 15 minute comedy show which aired every Friday.  Stupid stuff like one or our sponsors was  YUK CANDY BARS.  IT'S THE ONLY CANDY BAR WITHOUT A WRAPPER AND IT'S HANDLED BY DEALERS EVERYWHERE.   

The time came for me to make a decision.  Draft time was rapidly approaching and my grades were not going to keep me out of the military so "Ed" and I decided to enlist in the Army under the "buddy" system.  this guaranteed that we would be able to go to the school of our choice and that we would remain together during our tour.  We both selected RADIO BROADCASTING, enlisted, went to Jacksonville, Fl. for our physical and that is where the partnership ended.  They deemed him physically unfit due to a mild case of Polio that he had when he was younger. So he waved goodbye to me and I was on my way.  

After basic training in Ft Jackson S.C. I went on to Ft Slocam.  Upon arrival we were told that we needed to supply the officer in charge proof of our employment in a commercial radio or television station. OOPS'  I called my folks back in Lakeland and Asked them to call Ed and see what he could do.  A week later I received a letter, inside this envelope was a SEALED letter to the commanding officer.  I turned it in and was summoned to the Officers office.  He opened his statement with:  don't worry, these papers follow the proper protocols and you are eligible to receive the MOS, BUT, I have a question.  and he asked    "WHO IS EDMUND RICHMOND"? I told him that he was a close friend and fraternity brother.  and he said that according to the letter, which came from Mr. Edmund Richmond Program Director of WLAK RADIO in Lakeland,  I should not be at Ft Slocam.  I SHOULD BE WORKING FOR NBC IN NEW YORK. and then he laughed.  So you see, I cheated.  Graduated Ft Slocam, Got my MOS and went to run a BEDPAN network with Phil Jacobs at the army hospital in Ft Chaffee, Arkansas.  If was a great gig,  Two BUCKASS privates running a bedpan network with no one in charge but us.  As long as the station went on the air at 9:00 in the morning and off at 9:00 in the evening and played acceptable music, we were good. 

About three months after we got there orders came down for a radio broadcaster needed in the Panama Canal Zone. No names on the orders and Phil had just proposed to Charlotte.  I had no ties so off I went to CFN. Phil and I kept in touch and a year later I get a letter to pick him and  Charlotte up at the airport.  We spent the next year and a half at CFN and mustered out together returning to the state on the troop ship Goethals.  We have kept in touch with each other all these years but have never seen each other again.  I keep him posted on what is going on in the chatroom but so far he has not given me any indication that he wants to participate.   

NBC would periodically send talent scouts around to the various AFRS stations looking for people.  That is how Joe Daley got his gig with the NBC affiliate in Chicago.  They would monitor your broadcasting and then interview you.  When they asked me if I planned on going into radio when I got out of the service and I told them NO.  they said   "THANK GOD"

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Voice Recognition

Lakeland was a small town back then,  Upon my return I took over the family business which was a retail fabric business.  Unfortunately upon our arrival back in Lakeland, we found my father was terminally ill and only lived a couple of more months, which, as I said before, did not keep me from going into radio as, I was a character actor more than an announcer.  My voice is so different I will relate a story.  

In 1974 I started a sailboat business since the textile business was going down the tubes AND I like sailing.  I acquired the HOBIE CAT  franchise and also started selling very small and affordable plastic covered styrofoam boats.  I was buying these from a distributor in Bradenton about an hour away. The woman who handled the phone and the orders name was Jackie.  Well we moved on to bigger boats so I was not buying from them anymore but I need to locate a supplier of parts for larger boats so I found the name of a supplier in Atlanta,  WHITEHEAD MARINE.  So I call and tell the woman that I am a small sailboat dealer in Lakeland Fl. and she says    "HEY IKE, HOW ARE YOU DOING?"    It seems that Jackie's husband got transferred to Atlanta and since she was familiar with marine stuff she got a job with Whitehead and the minute she heard my voice she knew who it was.

2008 not so long ago. 

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Antenna Down IN 1958 WE GOT UP ONE MORNING AND HEARD THAT EARLY THAT MORNING A SUPPLY TRUCK BACKED INTO A SUPPORT CABLE ON ANCON HILL, KNOCKED THE ANTENNAE DOWN SO WE WOULD PROBABLY BE OFF THE AIR FOR A COUPLE OF DAYS,  BY AIRTIME IT WAS FIXED AND WE WENT ON THE AIR AS USUAL, VIEWERS AND LISTENERS NONE THE WISER.  WE WERE LOOKING FOR A COUPLE OF DAYS OFF BUT THAT DIDN'T HAPPEN.

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Customs About 30 years ago when oldest son Joseph was living and working in Panama, we visited.  It was THAT year that one of my sister in laws asked us to buy a microwave oven for her and bring it down, which we did.  ANYWAY  we were going through immigration and the woman asked Sarita why she gave up her Panamanian citizenship to become American. Apparently she didn't like the answer and held our papers.  Without the papers we couldn't leave the airport.  In the meantime everyone from the flight had picked up their stuff at customs and were gone so we were left standing there with all the luggage, including that gigantic microwave oven and Joseph walks in.   WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON?  we told him about the paperwork he says  DON'T GO ANYWHERE I'LL BE RIGHT BACK.  He returns with an American who asks for our airline tickets and comes aback in less than three minutes with all our papers.  I asked what we owed and he told us nothing, it was his job to help American travelers.  

In the meantime all the customs agents were gone so Joseph goes outside again and comes back with a Panamanian.  and he says  OKAY FOLLOW ME OUT THE DOOR.   I asked what about all our stuff,   DON'T WORRY,  DON'T LOOK AROUND JUST FOLLOW ME OUT THE DOOR.  which we did and ALL our stuff followed as well. Joseph learned the ways of the Panamanian underpinnings.  paid the guy 2 bucks.  That story always made me laugh over the years.   One year I arrived my myself, Sarita
was already there and I had brought 2 5lb kosher salamis with me as they were outrageous in price there.  I had connections in New York and bought them wholesale (WHAT ELSE?  I'M JEWISH)  so the customs guy says  OH YOU CAN'T BRING FOOD INTO THE COUNTRY I'LL HAVE TO TAKE THOSE.  and I said, in Spanish,  NO!!!!! this is COOKED food and IT IS ALLOWED. Well he paused for a moment and said.  OH, THAT'S CORRECT.  SORRY.  Got to learn the game.

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