What We Got Here
Merry Christmas! Happy New Year! Festive Holidays for All!
This issue has much video, making a text version ridiculous. So while you’re waiting for Santa, kick back and learn a little about the beginnings — and branches — of C.W. McCall.
- A Blast from the Not-So-Recent Past Scraping the barrel of archives and adding some new stuff.
- Surfin’ with the Rubber Duck. Items about C.W. McCall that aren’t pages on this site.
- Our Man in Ouray. A dispatch from the San Juan Mountains.
- Previously, in The Legend-News: a Christmas story. No, not A Christmas Story.
- Song A’ Th’ Month: “Sing Silent Night”
A Blast from the Not-So-Recent Past
Puffing up his chest and hooking his thumbs around the top of his suspenders, he prepared to preachify to the assembled multitude.
“As you may recall,” he began, hoping that they didn’t recall, “about three years ago I told you of the existence of the C.W. McCall clone, A.J. Tucker, and his efforts to advertise for Mama Kern’s Bread, an East Coast brand. For your perusement and knowledgefication, here is the relevant article from the The Legend-News:”
Previously, in The Legend-News (Part One)
From the 2009 November 10 issue of The Legend-News.
Separated at Birth?
You know the story: Bill Fries — the creative director at the advertising firm of Bozell & Jacobs from 1968 to 1975, working at the Omaha, Nebraska office — created the character of trucker “C.W. McCall” for a series of television commercials for the Old Home Bread brand of the Metz Baking Company of Sioux City, Iowa. History ensued.
But what you didn’t know (and honestly, even I didn’t know, until October 26, when Crispy Critter Walter Pickett informed me) was that the idea of a trucker delivering bread wasn’t used just for Old Home Bread!
Bozell & Jacobs of Dallas, Texas, had Kern’s Bread as a client; Kern’s was a regional brand, headquartered in Murphy, North Carolina. Bozell & Jacobs Dallas wanted to see if Bill’s Old Home Bread spots would work for them, so Jim Finlayson (“C.W. McCall” in the Old Home Bread commercials) and Jeannie Capps (“Mavis Davis“) replayed their parts in some new commercials that were filmed especially for Kern’s. Bill wrote new words to the familiar “Old Home Filler-Up and Keep On A-Truckin’ Café” music, changing the “Old Home” references to “Kern’s” and inserting the names of small towns in the Kern’s distribution area, such as Pine Knot, Kentucky and Etowah, Tennessee. “C.W. McCall” was renamed “A.J. Tucker”, and the cafe was rechristened “Mama Kern's Filler-Up and Keep On A-Truckin' Café”. “Mavis” was still “Mavis”.
KnoxNews.com has posted a video of four of the commercials (they’re hosted on YouTube).
Also on YouTube is a video of a Food City commercial announcing that Kern’s Bread is being sold in their stores.
“Have your memories been refreshed?” he asked, searching the room for confirmations and puzzled looks. He saw many nodding heads, and was satisfied. “Good!” he said. “And so, several of the Old Home commercials were modified and re-shot: “Kern’s Is Good Buns”, “Kern’s Is Good Bread”, “Kern’s Is Good Rolls”, and “Kern’s Is Far Out”; all of which you can find on YouTube (search for “kern’s bread commercial”).”
“Well, Skywalker found another Kern’s-related video: a report about the Kern’s commercials. There’s no mention of Old Home, but we know where it began.”
Surfin’ with the Rubber Duck
Dig deep enough into the archives of the World Wide Web, and you can find a lot of information that you never knew. Herewith, a few items of interest.
- C.W. McCall at The Full Wiki. Ever wanted to write a report on C.W. McCall, and be able to cite your sources? (Like C.W. McCall: An American Legend isn’t enough of a reference!)
Curious knowledge: “In addition to the ‘original six’ McCall albums released between 1975 and 1979, two rare singles exist. ‘Kidnap America’ was a politically/socially-conscious track released in 1980 during the Iran hostage crisis…” However, “Kidnap America” is not about the hostage crisis.
Also, there is a list of ‘related topics’ at the bottom of the article, including Butterfly McQueen, Anton Solomoukha, and Tom Gilb. If anyone can figure out the connection between these people and C.W. McCall, please tell me.
- The Wikipedia article on the Pine Tar Incident neglects to mention Larry Stewart, the actual writer of the related song that was performed by C.W. McCall.
Country music artist C. W. McCall dedicated the song “Pine Tar Wars” to the event, composing a lyric that featured a quite accurate telling of the relevant facts of the story. The lyric is strongly critical of Billy Martin (Baby Billy).
- Number 29 on the KXRB Classic Country Playlist for November 2012? “Convoy”
- FYI: if you’re on Facebook this C.W. McCall is not our C.W. McCall.
- How I Did It: Chip Davis. A 2004 article from Inc. Chip gets half the credit for C.W. McCall, as he should.
- Up next on our playlist: a Swedish cover of “Convoy” by Pierre Isacsson.
- What? That Swedish version wasn’t enough? How about a Finnish electronica version of “Convoy” by Lindelltronics?
- From Iowa to Ouray: The Life and Times of C.W. McCall. A very good article from October 2011, tracing the history of Bill Fries and his creation.
- Pity the poor haters of “Convoy”: Not In Hall of Fame.
- Musing on what “C.W.” stands for in the comments of Vintage Ads: 1977 CW McCall CB Radio.
- And now, without a doubt, the greatest country music singer ever! (From Rational Wiki.)
- Dusted Reviews: C.W. McCall: Wolf Creek Pass. A man, a thesaurus, and a dislike of good music. He must be a critic!
- Several people discuss the true meaning of “Convoy”.
- And finally, Bill Fries on IMDB. Not much there, but it’s there.
Our Man in Ouray
A message was forwarded to me from a fan in Colorado: “Bitter Creek Western Live Steam Narrow Gauge Meet 2007”, with the comment “The Rio Grande lives!”
See if you can spot the D&RG locomotive.
Previously, in The Legend-News (Part Two)
The official Christmas story of The Legend-News. What? I should write something new?
From the stories of Old Home Café: The Next Generation, it’s
Episode XXVIII: The Night Before Christmas
(Originally published in The Legend-News of 2003 December 24.)
Snow was falling as Jon cleaned the tables that night, preparing to close up the Old Home Café at 10. Tomorrow was Christmas Day, and the Café would be closed, not to reopen until 5 A.M. on the 26th. He yawned as he worked; he’d been at the Café since opening that morning, and he was tired.
Out in the lot sat two 18-wheelers, their engines idling to keep their drivers warm. They’d be gone in a few minutes, hoping to beat the storm that was coming across the Rockies tomorrow. For now the snow in Pisgah was just flurries, sticking to the frozen ground and piling in the corners of the curbs, but the roads were relatively clear.
Jon picked up the mike on the Café’s CB, which was always tuned to Channel 19. The channel was silent now, until Jon hailed the rigs outside. “Hey, drivers. This is the Café. Last call! Do you want some road food?”
“Yeah, a quart of Colombia’s best and a burger sound good,” say one driver. “Ditto on the coffee,” said the other.
“Trudge on in. I’ll get the burger started,” said Jon. “10-10,” he added, clipping the mike back on the unit before going to the kitchen and tossing a couple of beef patties on the griddle. Then he when to the counter and checked the coffee. Not enough for two, he noted, so he started a second pot.
A few minutes later, the drivers walked in and stomped the snow from their boots. “Thanks for the holler,” said one. He was wearing a red NASCAR cap and a blue Carhartt jacket. “Nick Santos, out of Custer, South Dakota,” he said, shaking hands with Jon. The other driver introduced himself as “Chris Knowle, from Denver. Been so long since I’ve been home, I’m not sure where it is.”
“I hope that you get home soon,” said Jon. “I’ve had a few holidays away from home, myself. I was working for Uncle Sam at the time. I’m Jon Bach, proprietor of this fine eating establishment.” The three men shared a smile.
“Overseas?” asked Nick.
“Underseas,” said Jon. “Submarines. Six years in the Navy. I spent a lot of time without seeing the sun.” He checked the progress of the coffee: almost ready. “Your thermoses, gentlemen? I’ll fill ’em up.”
Jon took the stainless steel containers back to the kitchen, where he first flipped the burgers then washed out the thermoses before pouring a quart of hot C into each. Capping them, he returned them to Nick and Chris. “Thanks,” he heard from both.
“What’s your loads?” asked Jon. “Must be important, if you’re out on Christmas Eve.”
“Canned goods. Vegetable and stuff like that,” said Chris. “I’m hauling the lot to a shelter in Boulder. Picked them up from a charity in St. Joe.”
“And I’ve got a load of donated toys,” said Nick. “Used stuff, mostly, but some new. They’re going to an outfit in Rapid City. They’re giving them to hard-luck kids around town. And I gotta be there by morning,” he said, looking at the weather outside, and hoping that he really wasn’t seeing the snow falling even more quickly.
Jon scooped the burgers off the griddle and wrapped them. “Who gets these?” he asked.
Chris raised his hand. “But I only asked for one,” he said.
“It’s on the house,” said Jon.
“Well, thank you! ” said Chris.
Nick rose from his seat. “Sorry to dash, but I’ve gotta go.”
“Me, too,” said Chris. “Or I’ll be late for my Christmas dinner. Jon, it was nice meeting you. Probably catch you again in a few weeks,” he said, shaking hands with Jon. “Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and all that other stuff.”
“Same here,” said Nick. “I don’t get out this way much, but I’ll be sure to stop in again.”
The drivers waved as they stepped outside and walked to their rigs. Jon shut down the coffee maker, pouring what brew remained into his own thermos. He heard the diesel engines roar as the drivers stuck their trannies in gear and headed out. A final greeting came from the CB: “Merry Christmas, Old Home Café!”, said Chris. “And to all a good night!” added Nick. Jon grabbed the mike and hollered back, “Merry Christmas to you, too!”
Jon clicked off the CB, turned off the lights, and locked the door. As he walked away from the Café, heading for his house three blocks away, he passed the parking lot. Jon gave the view only a quick glance; but a few steps later he stopped, feeling that something was wrong.
He looked back at the parking lot. There, in the middle of the lot, were two clear spots where the trucks had sat. Those spots were clear of snow, and a light dusting covered the remainder of the lot. But he didn’t see any tire tracks! Neither of the lot’s driveways showed that anyone had driven out of or into the lot, and the snow was not falling quickly enough to obscure any tracks in the two or three minutes since the drivers pulled out. Then where are those trucks?
He heard the sound of a distant engine, and looked toward the west. There was no truck over there; only the red lights from an antenna tower shone through the blowing snow. Then Jon realized that the lights were getting smaller, and they were rising in the sky. For the next minute he watched those lights as they faded into the distance. He thought that he heard bells jingling, but that was ridiculous, he decided.
I need sleep, he thought, as he walked home on that Christmas Eve.
Song A’ Th’ Week Month
“Sing Silent Night”
(C.W. McCall, Bill Fries, Chip Davis) From the LP
When the snow falls on Christmas Eve,
And everything’s white
I sit by the window,
And remember another night
When Mama played the organ,
And we turned off all the lights
And we all stood around her
And sang Silent Night
The organ is quiet now,
And Mama’s gone
The sound of that Christmas Eve
Will live on and on
We sang all the old carols,
The hymns she loved to hear
And she played them over, one by one,
From memory, and by ear
And then she’d find the ancient album,
With its pages turned gold
And the crayon-colored paper star
I made so long ago
But brighter than any star
Was the love in Mama’s eyes
As she said, “Merry Christmas, kids”,
And she kissed us goodnight
And the organ’s quiet now,
And Mama’s gone
But the sound of that Christmas Eve
Will live on and on
The years have gone by now,
Since that last Christmas Eve
But the joy is still with me,
And the love will never leave
When Mama played the organ,
And we turned off all the lights
And we all stood together
And sang the last Silent Night
“Sing Silent Night” appears on the LP of Rubber Duck.
The Legend-News is published whenever I feel like it by TechRen Enterprises. Copyright 2012 TechRen Enterprises. Send subscription requests, unsubscribe demands, complaints, kudos, suggestions, news and other contributions to Legend-News@cw-mccall.com. Almost everything in The Legend-News has been written by Ed. Floden, except for the stuff that he blames on someone else. “Aaaaaaaarrrrrrrggggggghh!”