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Part 5 of My Good Old Days In Radio:

Jordan's glimpse of the Underworld, the Manager's secretary and Landa's unreasonable reasoning.

By Brian Lord

Not long after CFUN changed format from MOR to Rock my wife and I moved into one of those old Shaugnessy Mansions that had been renovated to accommodate suites. One evening when my wife was at a shower party I invited Al Jordan and Dave McCormick to come over for a few beer. Al's wife had just had their first child and after he ran out of stories about what the baby did or didn't do we switched to music edging closer to our favorite topic, the radio station.

Before we got there, and for what reason I don't remember, I asked Al if he was going to subject Randy, his son, to all kinds of music at home including classical. Both Al and Dave looked at me like I was a snail on their toast. "Whaddaya mean Classical music Blue? -- (my nickname was Baby Blue and the announcers off air shortened it to Blue which was acceptable and insured they stayed alive) -- Classical music is crap" or some such description. Dave took Al's side and an argument commenced which lasted for a good 15-20 minute -- my point being that the more kinds of music Randy was exposed to, the more he'd have to enjoy. My dad had taught me about Classical music and although it's the far end of the stick from Rock, I still love it.

The argument ended with me losing and there settled on us one of those pauses where nobody says anything because they are thinking too loud. The worst thing in the world in those days was "dead air" and after a couple of minutes had gone by, Jordan, who like all of us hated "dead air" said "Hey Blue, What's your favorite Sandwich"? Huh? Dave and I looked at each other because of the sheer enormity of subject change. Neither Dave nor I had ever thought much about favorite sandwiches, who does? Things like favorite sandwiches can change from day to day; one can get sick of peanut butter and switch to egg-salad and then to ham. I told my friend, Sun reporter Phil Needham about Al's question and Phil never forgot it … always asked "what's knew with 'What's your Favorite Sandwich'".

Al did that a lot … asked questions that blistered in from left field and were completely out of context. We grew to expect it. That same evening the subject of bootleggers came up and I happened to know the top bootlegger (for delivering beer) in town, a great guy named Pete who I'd met at various Hydroplane races -- we were both nuts about hydroplanes. Al was overcome with interest and wanted to know all I could tell him about bootleggers.

This is back in 1961 and the BC Liquor Control Board still ran the distribution of alcoholic beverages like they were in the front seat beside heroin. Archaic. Dave knew about bootleggers but Al, not really a worldly kind of guy, did not so I suggested I'd phone Pete and get a case of beer (12 long-necks in a flat box) delivered. So I put the order in. Al had entered some interior passage of his mind where he suspected that he was going to witness a form of crime and was giggling and asking questions and seemed to McCormick and I that he was on the verge of wetting his pants.

The way it worked was, you put in your order, the driver -- Milt -- shows up, gives you the booze, gets paid and asks to use the phone. He would then call back to Pete to find out where he'd be going next. He had the booze in his trunk. Milt looked like Frank Nitti on The Untouchables. He always wore a wide brim fedora, and a long overcoat (or a raincoat in summer) with the collar turned up and had no discernable personality, at least not one that ever made itself evident when he arrived with his delivery. He wasn't a hood but he'd have made a great Hollywood extra.

The doorbell rang, I answered it and got the usual, "Hi Brian 'zit okay I use yer phone?" "In the kitchen, Milt". Milt had to pass through the living room where Jordan was jerking and bouncing in his chair and as Milt came through Al Leaped up, stuck out his hand and said "Hi, I'm Al Jordan, nice to meet you". Milt came to a full stop, stared at Al as if he was an alien, quickly shook his hand, glanced at me, used the phone and split. McCormick was in stitches. Al looked like he'd just met Marlon Brando and … although there was a million things I could have said I just shut up and filed it all away for later.

Frosty Forst reminded me in an email the other day of a story about Barb Tisman. Barb was General Manager, Jack Sayers secretary. Cute? Wow. Ray Torgrud, our super hot newsman and I both had schoolboy crushes on her and got all tongue-tied when she was around, turned red like idiots. Anyway Barb developed her own crush on a one-hit wonder out of Nashville named Bob Luman who had a record called "Let's think about Livin'". And it so happened that Luman was playing in a Room in Vancouver, a one-night stand and Barb begged Frosty to get her tickets which he managed to do along with a backstage pass.

The morning after the concert she came into the station all radiant and bubbly and announced that she had indeed met Bob Luman, spent the night with him and was going to marry him. Of course we all said "sure you are and goats play trombones." Well we were wrong. Barb took time off on occasion to join him at some gig he was doing somewhere, eventually quit CFUN and indeed did marry Luman and moved to Nashville where Bob made decent money as a session man. He had one other minor hit "The Great Snowman".

Dave McCormick visited them in Bob and Barbara's home several years later and they were still happy. However the story takes a dive when Bob became ill and died before he was very old. Barb stayed in Nashville for awhile but eventually came back to her home in Chilliwack where she recently passed away.

Jerry Landa will, he says, die his beard green this coming March 2nd. He has been doing so for 51 years. People who used to golf with him say he was really funny on the golf course, but I was talking about his beard. I was under the impression it was St. Patrick's Day. No, he told me. He was working at a radio station in Regina and used to shave every other day in front of the station's bathroom mirror and on March 2nd, 1958 before the razor touched his face and while staring at the cover of the latest LP by the Modern Jazz Quartet, he decided to grow a beard. A member of the MJQ did have a beard as I recall and this may have pushed Jerry to quit shaving.

He didn't say, but he swears and I believe him, that he dyes his beard green in commemoration of that March 2nd a half century ago when he decided to grow a beard. Instead of some kind of reasonable explanation tying these events together he just says "the rest is history". Jerry Lee Landa is the only man in the world who celebrates the day he decided to grow a beard by dying it green. I can say that with conviction.

If, reading this, you have some kind of logical reasoning about why Jerry does this, I'd love to hear it.

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