Eric on The Road

Journeys into the offbeat, off the beaten path, overlooked and forgotten - by Eric Model

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Passing: Fess Parker, TV's `Davy Crockett'

Actor Fess Parker, who became every baby boomer's idol in the 1950s and launched a craze for coonskin caps as television's Davy Crockett, died Thursday (March 18) of natural causes. He was 85.

The first installment of "Davy Crockett," with Buddy Ebsen as Crockett's sidekick, debuted in December 1954 as part of the "Disneyland" TV show.

The 6-foot, 6-inch Parker was quickly embraced by youngsters as the man in a coonskin cap who stood for the spirit of the American frontier. Boomers gripped by the Crockett craze scooped up Davy lunch boxes, toy Old Betsy rifles, buckskin shirts and trademark fur caps. "The Ballad of Davy Crockett" ("Born on a mountaintop in Tennessee...") was a No. 1 hit for singer Bill Hayes while Parker's own version reached No. 5.

Podcast Posting: A Tribute to John Halligan

We pause to recall John Halligan, afriend and a true professional, who passed away on January 20, 2010 at the age of 68.

A giant in the world of hockey, he spent 21 years with the New York Rangers as their Director of Public Relations and Business Manager (Starting in 1963). He later spent a short stint at the N.H.L. as Director of Communications, then went back to the Rangers as Vice President of Communications. He next became Director of Communications for N.H.L. Anniversaries, helping plan and execute the league’s 75th anniversary celebrations in 1991, and the 100th anniversary of the Stanely Cup in 1993, and then Director of Commuications and Special Projects for the N.H.L.

In 2007, following his retirement, he was saluted for his lifetime of service by being presented teh Lester Patrick Award, reognizing his outstanding contributions to hockey in the United States.

As importantly, he was a “tower of strength” as an individual. Ralph Mellanby (from Hockey Night in Canada and the Olympic) described John as “the gold standard”.

Personally, I was one of many for who he provided time, patience, direction and encouragement.

In this Journey into Hockey, we recall the life and legacy of John Halligan with Ranger and network broadcaster Kenny Albert, as well as with longtime hockey journalist Stu Hackel, these days of The New York Times.

Podcast Posting: A Journey into Hockey - Brian McFarlane’s Life in the Booth

Brian McFarlane is one of hockey’s most familiar names.

As a broadcaster, he speant over 25 years with Hockey Night in Canada, and has worked on network telecasts for CBS, NBC, and ESPN. He is also one of North America’s foremost hockey historians and prolific hockey writers. In all, he is author of more than 50 books of hockey, many of them bestsellers.

In this Journey into Hockey, we speak with Brian McFarlane about his most recent work – From The Broadcast Booth, My Life in Hockey Broadcasting (Fenn, 2009), which chronicles some of the interesting people and events in his long career.

Podcast Posting: A Journey into Hockey - The Western Hockey League, 1948-1974

Technically it was a minor league, but for hockey fans west of the Mississippi, the Western Hockey League provided major-league entertainment for over 25 years.

Known as the Pacific Coast Hockey League prior to the W.H.L., the league aspired to establish itself as North America’s second major league of hockey, a western counter-part to the Eastern-oriented N.H.L. But it never quite managed to make the jump to the majors.

In its time, though there were some 22 teams based in major American and Canadian cities.

In this Journey into Hockey, Jon C. Stott, Professor Emeritus at the University of Alberta and a hockey historian, speaks with us about his book, Ice Warriors – The Pacific Coast/Western Hockey League – 1948-1974 (Heritage House, 2008).

The book provides a play-by-play of the Western Hocket League, its start, how it came to rival the N.H.L, and what led to its disbanding in 1974. By interviewing former players, coaches, and fans, and examining statistical records, Stott captures the W.H.L.’s glory days and pays tribute to a time when hockey was played with heart.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Alabama celebrates small towns in a big way (USA Today)

From USA Today:

By Jayne Clark, USA TODAY

The Year of Alabama Small Towns and Downtowns kicks off Tuesday and runs through mid-December with events in 215 towns statewide. Key among them: performances of To Kill a Mockingbird on the courthouse lawn in Monroeville, home of author Harper Lee, beginning April 23. Birmingham celebrates the centennial of the old Negro League ballpark on Aug. 18. And Talladega will throw itself a birthday bash on March 27. For a complete list of events: 800-252-2262;

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Podcast Posting: Canada’s Olympic Hockey History

Canada added a new and important page to its hockey and national history in the recently completed Vancouver Olympic Winter Games.

The men’s hockey team overtime final win for the gold against the U.S. is already a classic. The tournament was thrilling throughout. And, the women provided an equally inspiring level of skill and commitment. Their accomplishments are second to none.

These recently completed games are but the most recent chapter in a story that started close to a cenury ago.

Andrew Podnieks, author of more than 50 books on hockey, has chronicled the history of Canadian Olympic hockey in his book, Canada’s Olympic Hockey History, 1920-2010 (Fenn; 2009).

It’s a fascinating and diverse story. Canada’s Olympic hockey team has taken many twists and turns over the years.

In this Journey intio Hockey, we speak with Andrew Podnieks about his book and the history it chronicles.

As Canada celebrates the wins of 2010, the earlier contributions of the likes of William Hewitt, Father David Bauer, Dave King and Cassie Campbell should not be forgotten.

Broadcast: February 15 (Before Canada’s 2010 wins)


Podcast Posting: Betting on When The Ice Will Break on an Alaska River

Now that the Vancouver Winter Olympics are over, attention can turn to some other unique activities. How about this one: Alaskans have been betting on when the ice on the Tanana River in the town of Nenana will break each spring since 1917, placing their wagers in red cans in grocery stores, gas stations and other retailers around the state.

This lottery began in 1917 when a group of surveyors working for the Alaska Railroad whiled the time they spent waiting for the river to open and boats with supplies to reach them by forming a betting pool. Interest in the pool continued and spread through Alaska. This lottery has paid out nearly $10 million in prize money with the winning pool in recent years being near $300,000. The 2009 total reached $283,723.

In this Journey into Hidden America, we speak with Sherry Fourness about what they do there for fun, and how you can get involved in it – if betting on when the ice will break sounds like fun to you.

Recorded: February 9, 2010


Podcast Posting: Remembering A Notorious Valentine’s Day in Chicago

The Saint Valentine’s Day massacre is the name given to the murder of seven people as part of a Prohibtion era conflict between two powerful criminal gangs in Chicago in 1929: the South Side Italian gang led by Al Capome and the North Side Irish gang led by Bugs Moran. Former members of the Egan’s Rats gang were also suspected to have played a large role in the St. Valentine’s Day massacre, assisting Capone.

Chicago historian and supernaturalist Richard Crowe - is author “Blood, Roses & Valerntine” – The Haunted Story of the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre – Author of a Tour about Chicago’s Super-Natural. He is alo host of a St. Valentine’s Dinner and tour of the notorious sites of the massacre.

We speak with about the events and his passion in realying them to others.

Recorded on February 16, 2010


Podcast Posting: Buffalo Bills @ 50 Years

In this past football season, we got to see just what a difference a sports team can make to the community when the New Orleans Saints won the Super Bowl.

Another team that has meant a lot to its community is the Buffalo Bills.

This year marked the 50th season of the Bills. The Buffalo Historical Society marked the occasion with an exhibit. It chronicled the unique relationship between the team and the town.

The Bills are most remembered for the likes of Jack Kemp, O.J. Simpson, Thurman Thomas, Jim Kelly, Doug Flutie, Lou Saban, Marv Levy, the old War Memorial Stadium, and one of their most dedicated fans, the late Tim Russert.

In this Journey into Hidden America, we speak with longtime Bills fan and memorabilia collector Greg Taunter about his collection, the exhibit and his love for the Buffalo Bills.

Greg grew up in Central New York (Elmira), and though he now lives near Boston, he remains a Bills fan and a source of Bills History. In fact, after he moved to Boston some 20 years ago, he retained his Bills season tickets and bought a condo in Buffalo so as to cut down on travel between Boston & Buffalo.

His contribution to the exhibit included more than 500 pieces of Bills memorabilia, ranging from game-worn jerseys bobbleheads to Flutie Flakes.