Amy and I have had the privilege of knowing a number of fascinating people over the years.
We were longtime friends, for example, of Adrian and Jean Cronauer. Adrian was the Air Force airman who served as the “Good Morning Vietnam” disc jockey in the early day of the war. After his service, he became general manager of Channel 27 in Roanoke and did plays with Showtimers.
I worked with him in one play and reviewed him in another and we shared a passion for good scotch whiskey and a love of the music of offbeat artists like Shel Silverstein.
When he worked in New York City, Amy and I would visit he and Jean there and they became close neighbors when they moved to Washington and bought condo unit in the building where we lived for 23 years in Arlington.
Both are gone now. They died not long after moving back to the Roanoke area.
In 1982, we met former Texas Gov. John Connolly and dinner with him in Albuquerque after he appeared at a fundraiser for Rep. Manuel Lujan, the New Mexico Congressman who was also my employer.
At that dinner, he told us that he didn’t believe a word of the offiical report on JFK’s death. When I asked him why he didn’t take the lead in revealing that, he said “I love this country too much to do so.” We stayed in touch with him until he died.
Amy worked with actor Al Pacino when she was part of the team that helped honor Lee Strasberg at the Lincoln Center in Manhattan in 1995. She also appeared on stage with Regis Philbin on the Goldenrod Showboat in the St. Louis Riverfront in the 1970s.
During the decade of the swinging 70s, I covered many of popular music acts of the time at The Mississippi River Festival on the campus of Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, just across the Mississippi River from St. Louis.
I interviewed many of the artists following the shows and got to know Glenn Frey of the Eagles, John Fogerty of Credence Clearwater Revival and others. Fogerty asked for a print of one of my photos of the band’s concert and he later gave me blanket permission to use music from songs he wrote in some of my video work.
During our 12 years in Alton, I met and became friends with Thomas Scortia, an author whose book with Frank N. Robinson, became the primary source of the movie, “The Towering Inferno.” He was born in Alton but lived later in California but came back to the area several times, and we had dinner or drinks. He died in 1086.
When I wrote about Ken Burns’ documentary on country and folk music last year, I heard from fiddler John McEuen of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, who I had met during my time in Alton, and he asked me to come down to see he and others in Boone. Sadly, I could not, but we stay in touch via email and texts.
When Kris Kristofferson appeared at the MRF he asked if we could go “get a beer” and I took him to Vanzo’s, a local bar in Edwardsville. I sent him a set of photos from his show, and we kept in touch over the years.
My job has given me opportunities to meet and get to know several interesting people. Former Buffalo Bills quarterback and then Congressman Jack Kemp became a friend during our time in Washington. So did Fred Dalton Thompson, who served as a Senator after his time on the Law & Order television series and in movies.
The time I spent in Floyd in the early 1960s gave me a chance to know NASCAR legend Curtis Turner. He was also a friend of my mother, who dated motorcycle champion and NASCAR driver Joe Weatherly before she met my father.
My first daily newspaper job at The Roanoke Times led to a friendship with actor David Huddleston, who managed the Mill Mountain Theater and later became a popular character actor in Hollywood movies. We stayed in touch over the years and mourned his passing in Santa Fe in 2018.
They, and others, remained acquaintances and friends. They accomplished much more than I in their chosen avocations but many of them kept in touch.
They provide cherished memories. We cherish our friends. Amy and I have met so many good friends since moving to Floyd County in 2004. Strong friendships that have lasted in good times and bad. It’s part of what makes living here so unique.