What a little love can do

Today’s installment really doesn’t have to do with Dave Garroway. (Well, maybe tangentially, because it does involve RCA and something that NBC once used a lot of, although long after Dave had left the network.) Instead, it’s kind of a love story, an unexpected one. And in the spirit of the season, it’s kind of like my version of Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree: maybe it just needed a little love.

Let’s begin the story with a younger version of me, surfing the web, coming across websites like the one Chuck Pharis has, being green with envy at that kind of camera collection. Or the great collection at Eyes of a Generation. For a long time, I’d wanted a decommissioned television camera of my own. But I had a feeling it would be serious money getting into the hobby. Much as I would dearly love a TK-11/31 or a PC-60 (for my money, the most beautiful camera ever built), I knew from looking around that they were too rich for my blood. Still, a girl can dream, and every few days I’d do a search on eBay just for fun.

Bailey Stortz at his TK-47 on Letterman’s program in the early ’90s. This is how I best remember these cameras.

A couple years ago, a search yielded an RCA TK-47. Now, the TK-47 never really got me excited. I remembered them from Letterman’s later years on NBC, and you’d occasionally catch glimpses of them on Saturday Night Live, but I never cared much for how they looked. They were a little too modern, I guess. The newest RCA camera I really cared for was perhaps a TK-44; maybe it was all those years of watching Johnny Carson when I was a kid, but the -44 spoke of a time just as those beautiful Norelcos epitomized the CBS of my childhood.

And yet…the more I looked, the more that TK-47 tempted me. It had a buy-it-now price of $500. And the manuals were up for sale, too. I dithered and dithered on it. By the time I decided to act, the manuals were available but the camera had disappeared. I bought the manuals and told the seller if he still had the TK-47, I was interested. He replied that he didn’t have that TK-47 any longer, but he did have a second one and some additional components, and told me to call him.

That afternoon I gave him a call, and he told me what he had available. The TK-47 he had was stripped of most of its internals, but would make a fine camera for display. Better still, this one still had its lens and cables. And even better still, the set included the components of the camera chain. He sounded a little reluctant to sell, but the more we talked, the more he warmed up to a deal, and we finally arrived at a number that worked for us both.

A tired TK-47 and matching Fujinon lens on the afternoon they arrived at my home. My feelings were an amazing combination of “I can’t believe I own a studio camera!” and “How am I going to do this?”

A week or so later, a series of large boxes showed up at the office. One was particularly large, too large to fit in my car, so a co-worker and I ripped it open. Inside was the blue-and-cream body of the TK-47, which barely fit in my car’s little trunk. Somehow, I got it all home: the control units, the lens, the setup console. The only item that didn’t come in the deal was the camera computer, which was too heavy to ship (about 90 pounds), so I’d agreed to let that one go since I knew where to find another one closer to home. The zoom and focus controllers, I hunted down from another source (and I’m fortunate to have found them, since I don’t think I’ve seen another set since).

My little helper inspecting the restoration.

The poor TK-47 had seen better days; it had years of dust and a little dirt on it, and for a time I thought about stripping and repainting it. But as I started to clean it up and applied some polish to some stubborn spots, I saw it was worth keeping as it was. Besides, those little scrapes and dings were part of this camera’s story. And, about that story…

The seller had sent some pictures before we closed the deal, and on the lens I noted an intriguing detail. Seems the lens had a property tag for KCET-TV. When I opened the camera body, I found another KCET-TV property tag. If that call doesn’t ring a bell, let me do a little explaining.

It’s a ratty picture, a screengrab from an old RCA publication, but I’m pretty sure that’s my TK-47 on the set of “Cosmos.”

Back in the day, KCET-TV was the PBS affiliate for Los Angeles (it’s since gone independent). And in the late ’70s, KCET replaced its TK-44s with new TK-47s. And the new capabilities of the TK-47 – the only RCA studio camera to win an Emmy – would aid in the production of a new series that was in the works. Perhaps you’ve heard of it. Much of the series would be shot on location using film, but the in-studio segments, notably the famous “Spaceship of the Imagination” sequences, were shot with TK-47s. Which meant…yep, this camera met Dr. Carl Sagan.

The more I thought about the property tags, the more I knew what I had to do.

My original plan for the camera was to put it in NBC markings, as a tribute to all the late nights I spent watching Letterman or staying up for SNL. But the more I got into the KCET story, the more I knew what I had to do. A conversation with Bobby Ellerbee convinced me it was the right thing to do. So I did.

As you’ll notice in the restoration photos, the original jeweled finish on the handle recesses was long gone, probably stripped off when the KCET logos were removed. I searched as best I could for something that could replicate the finish. Nothing quite matched it, but I did find some self-adhesive vinyl that was almost the same. I cut some sheets of plastic in the shape of the insets, applied the wrap to the plastic, and stuck them in place with archival-grade adhesive dots. If I ever need to remove them, it’s as easy as just peeling them off. The KCET markings were drawn in Adobe Illustrator and laser-printed on clear decal film. (I still need to have some “4” decals cut for the top of the camera below the tally light, but that will come in time.)

All cleaned up and reassembled and looking almost as good as new, with new KCET logos in the right places. Temporarily bolted atop a Vinten Radamec plate so it won’t topple over.

To be completely accurate this camera should be atop a Vinten Fulmar pedestal. Unfortunately, those cost a lot more than I can afford. A month or so before I got this camera, I’d happened across an inexpensive ITE pedestal and head for sale in Virginia (and the story of how I got *that* beast home is one I’ll have to tell someday…it involves an overnight trip, a rented van, a Tina Fey audiobook and a front-end loader. Seriously). It was all I had, so I used the TK-47 with this pedestal. To my knowledge KCET didn’t use this setup, but I have seen photos of TK-47s atop this very pedestal (including pictures from CNN’s earliest days), so it’s allowable. The head was missing its handles, so I had to buy some aluminum stock and my father and I formed them into passable handles one afternoon. (Isn’t it sweet, that kind of father-daughter bonding over metalwork?) The rubber grips were from a medical supply house, intended for canes and walkers, but they worked fine here.

A very happy TK-47 back in its natural environment.

After a few months it was time for the completed project to make its debut. I wasn’t going to park it in our living room, though; our cats would find it a plaything, and aside from that it would be weird having a studio camera in our little den. Nope, this belonged in my office. I rented a truck one afternoon and brought it all in, and put everything together at last. I hung a spare Clear-Com box and a retired headset on the side of the camera. And, like Charlie Brown’s little tree, all it had needed was a little love. That camera, all cleaned up and back on a pedestal, looked happy. A few days later, we had a special event in our television studio, and I wheeled out my TK-47 alongside one of our current studio cameras, and alongside one of the new HD cameras we were switching to. It was quite the exhibit.

That TK-47 now lives in my office. I still wheel it over to our seminar room sometimes if we have guests in, or on special occasions I’ll take it down to the studio and put it on display. It’s not quite complete; I’d love to find an original-equipment lens hood, a shade for the viewfinder, and a shot box to hang on the side, and I still want to get an equipment rack to mount the control room side of the chain. It’ll never function again as it originally did, but even as a static display it tells a great story.

And don’t tell anybody this, but most days I give that camera a hug. It’s my baby, and I’m proud of it.

A moment of whimsy

We here at Garroway at Large World Headquarters have to apologize for the lapse. The culprit was the other manuscript on which I was working. The good news is, it was submitted to a prospective publisher last week. The bad news? It’s left my writing impulses a little depleted, and I’ve yet to recover the energy needed to do one of the in-depth pieces of the sort we’ve recently featured here.

Instead, here’s a little moment of wonder that never fails to lift my spirits. Here’s Chicago School-era Dave stopping by to visit his friends Kukla, Fran and Ollie. Whatever’s in your head right now, whatever worries you may have, put them aside, click “play,” and let these few minutes of kinescope footage work their magic.

The Great Paris Blackout of 1959

It had all the makings of television history. For the first time, a regularly-scheduled program would not only originate from overseas, but it would do so through a series of fascinating new technologies that would revolutionize the medium. That’s what Today had planned for April 1959, when its producers planned to originate the show from Paris, France. But what should have been a triumph instead was a fiasco involving a network, a broadcast union, and Brigitte Bardot. Sounds implausible, doesn’t it? But it happened.

To give you the whole picture, let’s begin with a little bit of technological history. For much of the 1950s, getting pictures from Europe to America had been lengthy and complicated. Communications satellites were years away. Transatlantic cable lines had nowhere near the bandwidth for live television. In 1953, CBS and NBC had raced to get films of the Coronation on the air, which turned into a giant and expensive mess involving jet bombers, chartered P-51s, and two television networks desperate to be first. (That whole story, a particular favorite of mine, is worth a blog post of its own, but it didn’t involve Dave Garroway all that much; instead I’ll refer you to this story from someone who was there. And this one is pretty darn good, too.)

There had been a couple of major advances since the Coronation race. For one, commercial jet service between Europe and New York, which in 1953 had been in the teething stages, was now routine. It would be easy to have footage flown back on a scheduled flight to New York. The other big innovation was the dawn of videotape. Today had already moved to previous-day taping the year before, so it was nothing new. But it added new flexibility to an overseas remote. Today segments, or entire shows done live-to-tape, could be recorded and the videotapes sent to New York, ready to put on the air just as any other Today program would be at the time.

But all this raised another issue. Sending NBC mobile units to Paris would be a huge and expensive logistical effort. Budgets were already tight, and Jack Paar had to cancel a planned series of shows from Paris due to budget issues. The Today adventure had itself been at risk for a period. The services of Intercontinental Television were contracted for production of the Paris remotes, using what was billed as “a 15-ton, 35-foot, self-contained mobile videotape unit.”

Garroway told AP television writer Charles Mercer what he hoped to achieve. “I want to show Paris to Americans in the way that only television can,” he said. “Tape, you know, has a live quality unlike film.” Garroway envisioned going to a different spot in Paris each day and doing the program from there. “There won’t be any editing or retakes. I’ll talk and interview people and generally be a guy showing Paris to friends back home.” NBC’s publicity held out promises of such famous sights as the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Left Bank, the Eiffel Tower, and others. The usual Today hosts – Garroway, Jack Lescoulie, and Charles Van Doren – would do stories from around the city, while the role of “Today Girl” would be filled each day by a different French actress. The first program, to be aired Monday, April 27, would feature an interview with actress Brigitte Bardot.

While the Bardot interview would make headlines that Monday, it wasn’t for reasons she, Garroway, or NBC anticipated.

At 7 a.m. that morning, at the time Today was to go on the air, the NBC employees responsible for airing the tape walked off their jobs. As members of the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians, they claimed the tape had been produced with the help of non-union French personnel in violation of NABET’s contract with NBC. In solidarity, NABET workers with the NBC Radio Network also walked out. In all, about 1,500 workers across NBC’s operations nationwide walked out that morning, including engineers, news writers, traffic and communications personnel, operations directors, and even publicists and air-conditioning technicians.

NABET spokesman Tyler Byrne claimed that NBC was in violation of its contract with the union regarding video tape jurisdiction. Byrne said that NBC had promised to use union technicians and had taken nine union members to Paris, but claimed that many technical jobs were being done by local men being paid “coolie rates.” Byrne charged NBC with using a “runaway shop” approach on the Paris remotes, and warned, “If the networks find it cheaper to produce video tape abroad it will result in unemployment and cutbacks among workers here.” (The president of Intercontinental Television later claimed his workers were paid equal or higher to the NABET personnel, and that they belonged to the French union.)

NABET had initially called the walkout a “no-work period” so workers could write grievance letters, but later conceded it to be a general strike. Picketers outside NBC headquarters at 30 Rockefeller Plaza carried signs reading “lockout.” But NBC countered, “They simply walked off their jobs. There was no lockout.” NBC held that the tapes made in Paris were done in compliance with its contract with NABET, and threatened to sue.

For three hours, NBC network programs were off the air. There was no Today program in most markets. KSD-TV in St. Louis found itself having to fill time with old films from its film library. WINR-TV in Binghamton, New York aired several films, whose subjects included the Sea Scouts, diesel engines, and even one about men cooking, during the time Today would have been on the air. On radio, the biggest loss was NBC’s five-minute News on the Hour updates at the top of each hour, so the effect was limited on that side of the network.

Not until 10 am that morning did supervisory personnel have both networks back to regular operations. The television network had Dough-Re-Mi airing on time at 10 am, and News on the Hour and other news programs were back on the air soon. The Associated Press reported “there were occasional fluffs,” and noted that NBC had received calls from ad agencies complaining about commercials being inserted abruptly, appearing dim, or not having sound. (At least one of Kermit Schaefer’s “Blooper” record collections includes a clip from a News on the Hour from that day, with audio from another circuit intruding on Howard Reig reading the sponsor billboard.)

NBC hoped to work out an agreement with NABET before the next morning, but had plans in place to make sure Today got on the air as scheduled the next morning. As it happened, no agreement was reached, so network supervisors were at the controls the next morning and Today aired as scheduled. Part of that morning’s program included the Bardot interview that hadn’t aired the day before. Meanwhile, the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service scheduled a sit-down between NBC and NABET that morning. An hour and twenty minutes of meeting later, nothing was accomplished, and NBC filed a $500,000 suit against NABET. On May 5, it rescinded the NABET contract and invited negotiations for a new contract.

Two days later, NABET employees picketed the Emmy Awards in Hollywood and New York. Three of the marchers in Hollywood wore black tie. Finally, on May 14 NBC and NABET reached an agreement, and operations began to get back to normal. No longer were salesmen having to do double duty as cameramen.

As for the program that started the whole affair? Television critic John Crosby wrote, “One can’t escape the impression that this is the sort of thing television should have been doing all along – bringing a city like Paris right into your living rooms with live cameras (even if the show is on tape.)”


  • Associated Press, “Fluffs Mark Strike Of Television Crews,” Dover, Ohio Daily Reporter, Apr. 28, 1959, 1.
  • Associated Press, “Garroway TV Show Aired, Despite Row,” San Mateo, Calif. Times, Apr. 28, 1959, 23.
  • Associated Press, “NBC Rescinds Union Contract,” Corpus Christi Caller-Times, May 6, 1959, 33.
  • Associated Press, “NBC Technicians Quit in New York,” Muncie Star Press, Apr. 28, 1959, 1.
  • Associated Press, “Sudden Strike Disrupts NBC’s TV, Radio Chains,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Apr. 27, 1959, 1.
  • Associated Press, “TV Pickets Dress Right,” Klamath Falls, Or. Herald and News, May 7, 1959, 3.
  • Associated Press, “U.S. Mediators Try to Settle Strike of Technicians at NBC,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Apr. 28, 1959, 2.
  • John Crosby, “Garroway View of Paris in the Spring,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Apr. 29, 1959, 72.
  • John Crosby, “Tape Crews, Crowds Raise Issue of Reality,” Hartford Courant, May 4, 1959, 17.
  • Charles Mercer, “Dave Garroway Has Interesting Theory,” Pensacola News Journal, Mar. 5, 1959, 59.
  • “Monday Television Highlights,” Salem, Oregon Statesman Journal, Apr. 26, 1959, 36.
  • “Strike Over Paris ‘Tape’ Ties Up NBC.” Chicago Tribune, Apr. 28, 1959, 54.
  • Marie Torre, “‘Maverick’ Garner To Gambol,” Rochester, NY Democrat and Chronicle, Feb. 26, 1959, 40.
  • Marie Torre, “Video Strike Yields Laughs Too,” Rochester, NY Democrat and Chronicle, May 15, 1959, 8.
  • United Press, “Bardot Tape Brings TV Strike,” Cincinnati Enquirer, Apr. 28, 1959, 2.
  • United Press, “NBC, Union Negotiators In Accord,” Tucson Daily Citizen, May 15, 1959, 30.
  • United Press, “Strike Hits NBC, Protests Bardot Interview in Paris,” Binghamton, NY Press and Sun-Bulletin, Apr. 27, 1959, 1.

Lost Garroway: “Dave’s Place,” 1960

There are moments in Dave Garroway’s career that are well known. But for every one of those, there must be at least ten that have vanished into the ether and are likely gone forever. One of those is a curious entry from 1960, when Dave Garroway tried one more time to bring the Chicago magic to prime time. Very little material exists on it, and so far as we can tell there’s no known recording – not even the Paley Center seems to have a copy. Which is a shame, because on Friday, November 18, 1960, NBC invited viewers to spend an hour at Dave’s Place.

According to Robert Metz in his book The Today Show, the idea for Dave’s Place began sometime in 1960. Garroway had sensed his days at Today might be numbered, and that a good showing on a prime-time special could lead to a series. Garroway asked his producer, Robert “Shad” Northshield, to head the project.

Northshield hired Andy Rooney, who had written for Arthur Godfrey, to write the program. At least once, Rooney visited Garroway’s town house to discuss the project. But Garroway was unhappy with Rooney’s script, and turned to Today writer I.A. “Bud” Lewis, on whom he had come to depend in recent years – so much that Garroway informed other Today writers that he refused to speak any lines unless Lewis had approved them. Lewis and Lester Colodny completed the script; more than a decade later Lewis himself later referred to the script as “slap-dash” and “not a particularly good show.”

As if that wasn’t enough, during the special’s gestation, Northshield fell out of favor with Garroway and was soon gone from both Today and Dave’s Place. Norman Kahn was brought in to shepherd the prime-time special to its air date. The program went over budget, and Garroway himself funded part of the production. Lynwood King was tapped to direct.

The thought of Garroway in prime time tantalized columnists. Larry Wolters of the Chicago Tribune noted that the title reminded him of Studs Terkel’s old program Studs’ Place, and that like Garroway’s Chicago program, “the atmosphere will be relaxed, and the format free wheeling.”

As it happened, the completed script wasn’t so much about Garroway himself. Instead, the script connected everything through the RCA Building at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, a place Garroway had called his professional home for decades. “The theme, the mood and even the format of the program are an expression of how Dave Garroway feels about the building and the NBC studios it houses, where he has spent such a large part of his life,” read NBC’s press release. “As Dave puts it, ‘Twenty-three years is a long time to be in love with an idea…but I have…and it’s all been connected with this building.'”

The day before the program aired, newspaper columns previewed the program. Most had high hopes. The Nashville Tennesseean looked forward to “an amiable amble” through the RCA Building as Garroway told stories and met people, while the Salt Lake City Tribune noted “it seems that Mr. Garroway has decided that ordinary stage settings are inadequate for his Friday night show…thinking big, he has decided to use the 70-story RCA Building.” Another columnist suggested, “If you’re one of his early morning addicts or want to know if you could be one, here’s an hour-long amble, visit, sentimental journey or what-have-you, with NBC’s goggle-eyed philosopher-astronomer-huckster at his “home” in New York City…mostly this is Garroway, wandering about from lobby to studios to roof, the happy historian of 23 years at Dave’s Place.” Several listings had it as a viewing “best bet.”

According to surviving accounts, the program began with a view of the outdoor skating rink at 30 Rock. Garroway arrived in his beloved Jaguar, walked to the rink, and began telling the audience about “Dave’s Place” and what it meant.

Inside 30 Rock, Garroway took viewers to several points of interest, including the central videotape facility; Studio 3B, where The Dave Garroway Today Show originated; and the eighth floor, which Garroway noted was the home of all the big shows back in the day. Garroway reminisced about his first job at NBC, as a page on the eighth floor, and about being present on Christmas Night, 1937, as Arturo Toscanini debuted the NBC Symphony Orchestra in Studio 8H.

Along the way, Garroway met up with his old Chicago friend, comedian Cliff Norton; comedians Sid Gould, Bernie West, Helen Halpin, and Al Kelly, known for his double-talk routine. Singer Julie London performed three songs: “Making Whoopee,” “Well, Sir” and “All of You.” The Joe Wilder Sextet performed “Heat Wave,” and the New York Woodwind Quartet presented “St. Anthony’s Chorale” by Haydn. In a joint performance, the two groups presented an original song, “It’ll Never Sell,” by Alec Wilder. As the program went on, Garroway segued into several commercials – for American Tourister luggage and Elgin watches, among other sponsors.

Near the end of the program, Garroway stood on the RCA Building’s observation deck, looked down on the lights of Times Square, and then cast his gaze on the stars above. This led into a sequence (likely based on one of Garroway’s favorite works, The Cosmic View by Kees Boeke) that showed how, in the grand scheme of things, humans and the world itself were both insignificant and unique against the scale of the universe.

Along the way were some innovations. A “motion sculpture” sequence, using stainless steel rods that were vibrated with electricity, provided what one reviewer called “fascinating images” on the screen. And at 45 minutes into the program, Garroway remarked that closing credits usually go unread. As Julie London sang a song, the closing credits were seen in the dark background behind her.

Other little whimsical moments took place during the hour. At one point, Chet Huntley passed by Garroway in one of 30 Rock’s corridors. “Good night, David,” he said, reprising his famous Huntley-Brinkley signoff. As Huntley walked on, Garroway said, “He says that to everybody.” And at the end, in a sequence a reviewer called “eerie,” a photo of Garroway morphed into a photo of RCA chief Gen. David Sarnoff. “We’ve called this Dave’s Place, and it surely is,” Garroway said. “Good night, and thank you, David.”

Reviews were lukewarm; the consensus was that while the Garroway charm was there, the execution was off. “N.B.C. made a stab at re-creating the atmosphere of the old Garroway at Large program last night,” read a review in the Louisville Courier-Journal. “A closing sequence rather oversimplified the theory that man is pretty small potatoes compared to all creation. The show, though pleasant in spots, bore out this viewpoint.”

Harry Harris of the Philadelphia Inquirer generally liked the program but was distracted by the constant commercials. “We kept wondering if it wouldn’t have been more appropriately tagged ‘Dave’s Store.’ Almost every moment, he seemed to be peddling something – luggage, watches, spark plugs, NBC and, not least of all, Dave Garroway. Maybe it just SEEMED like a commercial-studded commercial because, except for a song interlude by Julie London, Dave was endlessly present, making with the soft-voiced hard sell.” Harris also noted that by confining the proceedings to within 30 Rock, the former Wide Wide World host “seemed reduced to serving as guide to an extremely narrow world.” However, Harris was entertained enough by the musical and comedy segments to call Dave’s Place “a winner of a ‘Place’ show.”

While Dave’s Place was a pleasant Friday night diversion, it never led to anything beyond that single program, and records about it remain scant; even finding this much about it has been a challenge. I’d like to hope a kinescope or videotape exists – not only because of the obvious Garroway connection, but having roamed the halls of Dave’s Place myself, I would love to see how some familiar places looked in 1960, made even better with Garroway as my tour guide. It may have been an odd little program, but if a copy exists, it would sure be a treat to see.


  • “Dave’s Place.” Fort Lauderdale News, Nov. 18, 1960.
  • Harris, Harry. “Screening TV: Hallmark’s “Macbeth” Is Excellently Filmed But Not Top Video.” Philadelphia Inquirer, Nov. 21, 1960.
  • Londino, Cathleen. The Today Show: Transforming Morning Television. Rowman & Littlefield, 2016. p. 52.
  • Martin, Richard O. “Checking the Channels: TV Goes Bizarre Today.” Salt Lake City Tribune, Nov. 18, 1960.
  • Metz, Robert. The Today Show. Playboy Press, 1978. p. 130-133.
  • “Radio, TV Highlights: Visit to ‘Dave’s Place’ Is All Dave Garroway.”
    Eugene (OR) Guard, Nov. 18, 1960.
  • Rooney, Andy. “The Death of Dave Garroway.” Lakeland Ledger August 3, 1982.
  • Terrace, Vincent. Television Specials: 5,336 Entertainment Programs, 1936-2012. 2d ed. McFarland, 2013. p. 119
  • “TV Review: N.B.C. Tries To Re-create Old Garroway Program.”
    Louisville Courier-Journal, Nov. 19, 1960.
  • “TV Scout: Garroway Ambles Through RCA.” Nashville Tennesseean, Nov. 18, 1960.
  • Wolters, Larry. “Dave Garroway to Do 1-Night Variety Show.” Chicago Tribune, Oct. 13, 1960.

“No wider than the heart is wide…”

I was working on another post for today until I remembered that October 16 is a special day. For it was on this date in 1955 that Dave Garroway welcomed us to Wide Wide World. The ambitious program, which had aired as a special presentation earlier in 1955, made its regularly-scheduled debut on October 16.

Not much Wide Wide World footage is available, and not even the entirety of the debut is out there to see. But about 60 out of those first 90 minutes is available, starting below. Take the time to watch it, and think about how the remotes we take for granted today seemed like a miracle in 1955.

Another time capsule

Time got away from us here at Garroway At Large World Headquarters, and the Wide Wide Blog has suffered as a result. Last week I had to take a trip to conduct research on my other project. (Maybe I’ll write something about that project in a future post. It’s pretty interesting.)

To make up for my absence, here’s a really big present for you. Perhaps the best way for you to get a glimpse of what the Garroway magic was like, as it happened, is to unplug yourself from the present, journey back to November 1957, and enjoy Garroway and friends in long form. (Note: the title gets it wrong – that’s Kokomo Jr. and not Muggs – but don’t let that distract you.)

Convention report!

I’m happy to say the Garroway at Large delegation to the Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention is now home after a successful and fun visit. While it was an intense two days or so, and while it was much less time than I’d have liked to spend there, it was well worth the effort.

The journey started for me at the nearest airport providing direct flights to Baltimore. It was a brief but pleasant flight up. Then at the Baltimore airport, it was off to the light rail station for what turned out to be a long ride out to Hunt Valley. As it happened, the light rail trip was longer than the flight up. At Hunt Valley itself, I found that my estimate of the place via Google Maps was mistaken, and that walking from the light rail station to the hotel took some inventiveness. A couple times I crossed myself up. But, eventually, I got there.

The Hunt Valley Delta Hotel is a sprawling hotel. It reminds me a lot of the Doubletree across from the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport: a lot of jogs and doglegs connecting various wings. But, like my memories of countless nights at the SeaTac Doubletree, if you’re fortunate in which room you draw, you feel like you’re staying in a nicely secluded place, and the rooms are pretty nice. I was very happy with my room, which was at the end of a corridor and had a view of a peaceful courtyard. It was certainly a nice place to unwind after a busy and slightly weird day of travel.

The next morning I headed downstairs to the convention. Now, having recently helped plan and run a large national convention, I know what the organizers of something like this are up against. And if anything went wrong while I was there, I certainly could not tell. There were plenty of volunteers on hand, all wearing bright shirts, ready to help (and staying busy helping in a hundred ways large and small). I encountered no difficulties of my own, and I didn’t see anything go off the rails in the time I spent on the convention floor. This convention was competently run and everyone I encountered seemed happy.

The hallways and one ballroom were given over to the vendors. I’ll show you a few photos, and perhaps your billfold will run in the corner and hide when you see it’s possible to find just about anything and everything there:

Here’s one of the hallways. Many vendors emphasized items related to the many celebrity guests; you could buy, for instance, that Annie poster and have Aileen Quinn sign it. (Wasn’t it only yesterday, by the way, it was 1982 and the film version of Annie was everywhere? Aileen Quinn was all over just about every magazine cover when I was a kid. And all of a sudden I’m in a vendor room and I look over and there’s a grown-up Aileen Quinn signing autographs, and I’m reminded again how time flies in this small world of ours.)

Entering the ballroom where more vendors were set up. Some of the guest celebrities were signing in here; other tables hosted some of the most amazing collections of this-and-that you could find. My wallet was not immune.

Here’s another view. Wouldn’t you just enjoy trying to get that framed art on the airplane back home? Heh.

And, this being a convention for fans of pop culture, there’s no shortage of opportunities to indulge your geekery. This particular display had a steady stream of takers.

Here’s a few wares that I found particularly interesting:

Some of those caricatures are better than others. But that one of Ray Bradbury is truly for the ages.

I grew up a Twilight Zone fan and understood what these were supposed to be. But, so help me, the only thing I could think of was a certain stanza of this song.

I’m still kicking myself for not buying this.

But the convention isn’t just about the merchandise. (It isn’t?) Nope. There are panels, presentations, movies and rare programs for the viewing, re-enactments of radio programs. Here, for instance, is a presentation by author Johnny Ray Miller about his research into The Partridge Family.

Another session featured Jeremy Ambler, Cindy Williams, Gary Conway and Dawn Wells discussing their experiences on iconic television series:

(Forgive the pixelation on this; I was at the back of the room when I took this and the next one, and the zoom on the iPhone was screaming for mercy.) This session was particularly fun. Cindy Williams shared a couple of very sweet stories about working with Robin Williams. And Dawn Wells is a hoot. If you ever get to see her, do so.

That collection of pixels depicts Shirley Jones about to take questions from the audience. I didn’t have any interactions with any of the celebrities and really wasn’t around them – the most I did was pull myself to one side in a crowded hallway to let one of them through – but from everything I saw at the signing tables and in the seminars, all the celebrity guests were grateful for the fans’ interest and interacted with them kindly.

While it was neat seeing a few famous faces, the real reason I was there was to meet people and make connections. And I met some nice folks along the way. Novelist John French was very generous with his advice on getting started in fiction, crime writing in particular, and I had him sign a couple books for me (and yes, I bought them when he signed them. Look, make your own jokes on your own blog, will you?).

There were some folks I was really hoping to meet, and I met two of the most important. One of them was Mitchell Hadley, of It’s About TV. I met up with him and his wife on Thursday morning. I wish I could tell you about our conversation, but I would have trouble describing it because (a) I don’t think 90 minutes have ever elapsed so quickly in my life, (b) we all got one another’s references on even the most obscure things about so many topics – I mean, how does a conversation that starts out talking about Dave Garroway wind around to us talking about Jimmy Clark and Swede Savage? – and (c) it was just so much fun that putting that conversation into words just would not do. I think at least half of those 90 minutes were consumed by laughter. Having only known Mitchell through his blog and through e-mail, it was great not only to put a face with the name, but to have so much fun and connect so quickly on so many levels (and to find his wife is as much fun as he is)…that was a treat.

The other really good meet-up I had? That was with Carol Ford, who was there promoting her book Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography. In two really good conversations I had with her, Carol shared the lessons she’d learned while working on the book, and gave me several pointers on how to make the process less stressful for everyone involved. And I brought home a signed copy of the book, too, which I am reading and enjoying. There’s a prevailing perception about Bob Crane that’s been reinforced through the years by various stories, a motion picture, and countless tasteless jokes. Ford’s massive, incredibly well-sourced book looks at Crane as a complete human being, and works to put his story into an appropriate context. In my conversations with her, I told her I was interested in how her book handled Crane’s complex story, because we’re dealing with a complicated and sensitive story in writing about Dave Garroway. Carol was incredibly generous with her time and advice, and I am deeply grateful; as I read the book, I am learning not only how to handle such a subject, but I am also enjoying it. (Get yourself a copy, too. And now. You won’t regret doing so.)

What else did I bring home? Well, what good would it be if I spoiled the surprises now? Suffice to say that I found a few Garroway-related items; not many, but just enough to help deplete my cash supply.

Soon, it was time to get back up to the room and prepare for a really early departure. After too few hours of rest, it was out the door and waiting for the ride back to BWI. As I waited out front at 5 am, I caught a glimpse of vendor tables slumbering in the wee hours.

And all too soon, my ride was here; off to the airport, and soon I was headed home.

The world stands out on either side — no wider than the heart is wide;
Above the earth is stretched the sky — no higher than the soul is high.

It was too brief, yes, but it was too much fun. And I’ll be back soon. With some luck, it’ll be with a completed book.

Thanks to everyone who made this convention possible for everyone, and special thanks to everyone who made it extra special for me. And if you’ve never been to one of these, give it some thought. As a satisfied customer, I think you’ll be happy if you attend.

Live from Hunt Valley

Good evening from the host hotel of the Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention. I’ll post a fuller report when I’m home (in the interests of traveling light, the laptop stayed home and my touch-typing skills don’t translate to an iPad at all). And even if I could only be here only one day, I’ve managed to pack a lot in: several sweeps of the vendor room, a couple or three of the seminar and panel discussions, and a few really good conversations. In particular, Carol Ford, who co-wrote an outstanding biography of Bob Crane, was especially generous both with her time and with the lessons she learned while working on that book. The other really big highlight was an incredible, wide-ranging and completely fun conversation with Mitchell Hadley and his wife. Between those two conversations alone, this trip was worth the cost – and everything on top of that is a bonus.

There will be more to come, once I’m back home and have had time to sort through everything. Meanwhile, in the morning I will have to rise when Garroway would have, for mine is the first plane back to where I’m from (or as close to it as Southwest flies direct from here, anyhow). See y’all on the other side.

On the road again

Brief update: I’m well north and east of Irma, and well inland too. Friends and relatives in Florida report they’re safe, and that’s what matters most. We’ve had remnants range out our way, bringing a lot of rain and some wind, but nothing I haven’t seen before; we haven’t been hit the way other areas in our state have been. My husband and I are safe and dry, the power and Internet and satellite TV have all stayed on (knock wood), and our two cats have aggressively napped through it all. We are fortunate, but there have been many who have lost much, if not everything. Keep them in your thoughts, always.

Looking ahead: If all continues to go as hoped I will be headed out Wednesday morning to the Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention. I’ll only be there for Thursday (you can mainly thank a tighter budget than I’d like), but I’m looking forward to making the most of my time there, making a few contacts, and putting some faces with some names I know. And, of course, scouring the vendor room for items I can’t live without – related not only to Garroway, but to any of the 17 million other things I’m interested in.

If you’re planning to be there and want to say hello, drop me a note. And if you’re not…if I get a chance, I’ll post from the convention, and if I don’t I’ll write about it when I get back. And, of course, if I find anything interesting that relates to Dave Garroway, you’ll find out about it here! Stay tuned.