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Vernon Thomas at the Richwood Fair
Transcribed 1963

Tape Transcripts

On Christmas Day, 1961, my parents gave me a tape recorder.  Among the things that I taped in the first two years were a telephone conversation by my mother (her side only -- all I had was a microphone), a comedy sketch from a TV variety show (audio only -- this was almost two decades before home VCRs),  a local radio show featuring my father, and the narration of a televised baseball game.  I no longer have those four recordings, but I did write down transcripts at the time.  Here's one of them.  Click on the links above to find the others.


My father's business was located in Richwood, Ohio, population about 2,000.  There was no radio station or daily newspaper.  So he spent a lot of his advertising dollars in the city of Marion, 15 miles away.  There are three radio stations there now, but back then there was basically only one:  WMRN, "your friendly neighbor at 1490 since 1940."  The account executive with whom he placed his advertising was Jim Rearden.

In a way, Jim helped me get my start in broadcasting.  When I was a high school senior in 1964-65, I found that I had a knack for basketball play-by-play, and I took time off from my duties as a manager to "broadcast" a couple of games into a tape recorder.  Late in the season, WMRN was coming to Richwood to air our game against Marion Catholic.  Jim was the sidekick to play-by-play man Bob Miller, and he talked Bob into letting me describe one quarter on the air.  (No doubt this was a favor for Jim's client, my father.)  So when I got to Oberlin College a few months later, I was able to say that I had actual on-the-air experience, and as a result I got to broadcast Oberlin Yeomen games on WOBC.

A couple of years before all this, my father bought a 15-minute program on WMRN's Labor Day coverage of our local Richwood Fair.  Here's how it aired, from 4:00 to 4:15 on Monday afternoon, September 2, 1963.  (The photos are from 1956.)


JIM REARDEN: Good afternoon.  We're speaking to you from the Vernon M. Thomas display tent at the Richwood Fair by means of WMRN's brand-new wireless microphone.

For the next fifteen minutes, in time made available by Vernon M. Thomas Chevrolet, we'll bring you a roving look at the Richwood Fair and a salute to the dedicated people who work together to create each year this remarkable event.  So, from Vernon M. Thomas:  "WHAT IS A FAIR?"

Let's move back into the Thomas display tent and talk to Mr. Thomas himself.  Hi, Vern!


JIM: How's everything going here on the last day of the fair?

VERNON: Real good. Looks like the crowd is as good as anybody could expect.  And they've had some good racing this afternoon; there's some more racing this evening.  There's a stock sale this evening of 4-H stock, so if anybody's interested in buying some good stock for their locker, it'd be a good opportunity; also help the boys out who spent a lot of time getting this stock ready to show at the fair.  The grand champions will be sold of all the different cattle, hogs, and sheep.

JIM: Now about Vernon M. Thomas.  How's Vernon done here at the fair?  I see you still have the two Chevrolets.  Are they on order now?

VERNON: Uh, no, these two Chevrolets are still for sale, although we've sold one truck here.  We've made several contacts that are very profitable, as time has proven in the past.  We've been to the fair many times, and we don't feel that it's time wasted; it's well spent.  People have time to look, and maybe they don't have time to buy, but they come back later and buy.

(Click the picture for another angle.)

JIM: It never hurts to kind of renew old acquaintances, so to speak, at a fair, when they're in a good mood, everybody having fun.  They may not take the time right then to sit down and talk shop with you, so to speak, but at least they see what you have to offer.  And eventually, after the fair's over, they get back to normal — why, they come in and do their dickering then.

VERNON: I might say that we have a '64 model on display here.  I might hasten to say that it is a truck, because somebody might be on my neck if I was to display '64 model passenger cars at this time.  We have one 3/4 ton Chevrolet '64 in the tent here, and we have several '63s, and we have several more '63s available.  So if anybody's interested in a truck, now's a good time to buy one.  They haven't made the '63 look obsolete with the '64, but it is enough difference that you can tell one from the other as you see them go down the street.

JIM: So any farmer that's getting ready for a big harvest season would be a good thing to stop in at Vernon M. Thomas Chevrolet and talk over a deal on one of these trucks and be ready when that harvest season arrives.  Right?

VERNON: Right.  We're celebrating another thing too, Jimmy, that has nothing to do with the fair; but today marks the beginning of my 35th year in this Chevrolet business.  And that's a long, long time.

JIM: You bet it is.  But it must be a very good car, to have you stick with it all those years.  Congratulations, Vernon.

VERNON: Thank you, Jimmy.

JIM: Now we'd like to move over here.  Madge Cooper has a very special guest, and I think we have a few minutes — we'd like to have her introduce you to a very special person.

MADGE COOPER: Yes, this is an old friend on radio, a newer friend in actuality.  This is Dorothy Albaugh, whose poetry so many of you have heard for a number of years — Dorothy, you'll have to excuse me, but that is true — on the Betty Newton program.  I know you like it, and you listen for that name Dorothy Albaugh, and you write for copies of poems.

And Dorothy is our neighbor.  She lives in Richwood; she's Dorothy Albaugh Stickell.  Her husband Mr. Stickell is here, remaining in the background because this isn't his turn.  And Dorothy has some poems on fairs.

DOROTHY ALBAUGH: Thank you, Madge.  This one is "County Fair."


This is America.  The old and new
Blended together with the same desire:
To hold what has been won
And make it still better and stronger.

Here the selfsame fire
Burns in the eyes of father and of child.
Here are abiding things:  the ancient trust in God,
The love of land, the pride of rate.

Here, scuffing gaily through the warm, white dust,
Pass youthful feet that may, in future,
Leave their prints upon our soil.

Here, where the shrill, insistent vendors
Shout above the din of gaudy carnival,
Some memories will outlast the years.
Some standards will be set.

Racehorses and spun sugar and the crowd
Are only surface things.  Beneath them all
There are strong roots that make a nation proud.

MADGE: How nice!  What a nice, really, interpretation of the meaning of a fair!

JIM: Just kind of makes cold shivers run up and down your back, doesn't it?  (laughs)

MADGE: What else, Dorothy?

DOROTHY: This one won't.  This is very personal.  It's very sad to me, but it may be funny to you.  "County Fair Entry."


Posterity will not breathe "oh"
Nor "ah" at anything I sew.

I made no lovely patchwork spread,
No counterpane for trundle bed.

My only needlepoint will be
On shirts and socks and BVD.

MADGE (laughing): So very, very true of so many of us!  Very, very good.

Dorothy's such a little girl, I mean really; what?  Five feet maybe?

DOROTHY: Oh, two. Five feet two.

MADGE: Five feet two, really?

DOROTHY: Yes, uh-huh.

MADGE: And great big brown eyes that just snap and sparkle in a kind of a crinkly nice smile.  She has one more for us, "Last Day of the Fair."

DOROTHY: This one is "Last Day of the Fair."  It is written about a little girl whom I saw at the Delaware fair several years ago.


Her eyes, behind thick glasses,
Were like stars, too bright for any pane of glass to dim.
The lack of two front teeth could not destroy
The rapt perfection of her childish joy.

Her talk of Ferris wheels and pony rides
Was rhythmic as a sonnet to the moon;
And just as out of reach, apparently,
To one who came with such a family.

Dear God, like loaves and fishes,
Please expand the sticky nickel
In her small, hot hand.

MADGE (softly): Isn't that . . .

JIM: Wonderful!

MADGE: Dorothy Albaugh — Dorothy Albaugh Stickell to us, because she's one of our neighbors — Ohio poet, and a delightful one.    Thank you, Dorothy.

JIM: And now, for a special program, we switch you for just a few minutes to our Richwood studio here at the fair.

ART MARTIN: Thank you.  In our studio and on stage now we have a young man here who's going to sing for us.  His name is Ronnie Lane, and he's going to sing "Whatever Will Be, Will Be."  He'll be accompanied by Nancy Bevis at the piano.  Both of these students, Ronnie Lane and Nancy Bevis, are from the Richwood area.  Okay.

RONNIE LANE (after introduction):


When I was just a little boy, 
I asked my father, "What will I be?
"Will I be handsome, will I be rich?"
Here's what he said to me:

"Que sera, sera; whatever will be, will be.
"The future's not ours to see.
"Que sera, sera.  What will be, will be."

Now I have children of my own;
They ask their father, "What will I be?
"Will I be handsome, will I be rich?"
I tell them tenderly:

"Que sera, sera; whatever will be, will be.
"The future's not ours to see.
"Que sera, sera.  What will be, will be.
"Que sera, sera."

ART (after applause): That was Ronnie Lane singing, accompanied at the piano by Nancy Bevis.  And now we switch you from our studios back to Madge and Jim.

JIM: We're standing alongside of one of the display automobiles here at the Vernon M. Thomas tent at the Richwood Fair; and this is really a little beauty.  It's a white Chevy II station wagon with red interior; has a radio, automatic transmission, and a real down-home look as far as service goes, but yet it's right up in 1963 style.  Anybody that has the use — or could use a station wagon in their business or to transport a growing family, this would be a wonderful automobile for you to take a look at.

Click picture for an expanded view

Vernon, this other one over here, that's a standard Chevrolet.  What is that, a Bel Air?

VERNON: That's an Impala, Jim.  V-8 engine with automatic transmission, white-wall tires; also has tinted glass and a radio.  And the Impala model is the top of the line.  That car sells for right around the $3,000 mark.  We have a — this one is a white one; we have some others of the same category, only different colors.  So there is a selection in this model.

JIM: I'll bet while we're here at the fair that if they come in and talk to Vernon M. Thomas, you'd probably make a deal on that, wouldn't you?

VERNON: Sure would!

JIM (laughs): I think Vernon M. Thomas will make you a deal on almost any car, as well as the '63 Chevrolet pickups that are on display here for the farm or the home handyman, or even some of the businessmen in town that might be in need of a truck.  These are beauties, and Vernon will make sure that they're ready to go for years of service.  Right?

VERNON:  Right, Jim.  We have to deal in order to be able to sell as many cars as we sell.  This year, in eight months that's just passed, we sold over five hundred automobiles, so you know that we have to be dealing, and — a-wheelin' and a-dealin' to get that many moving.

JIM:  You sure do.  And we don't want to forget, too, that Vernon M. Thomas is known as the Used Car Center of Richwood.

Now, Vernon, we'll walk down the midway here, and we'll probably sign off down along the path, so we'll see you next week.  Goodbye and God bless you; and don't, uh, give up the ship.

VERNON: Bye, Jim.

JIM: I'll see you.

Now Madge and I will start walking back towards our studio in the Old Fine Arts Building.  Maybe we can see something of interest that might be worth explaining to you or telling you about.

The racing is still going on; they've just completed the — uh, one of the heats in the races; the horses are out warming up for the next race now.  We might add that there was an accident, not a serious one:  one of the horses fell, threw the rider, but horse and rider were both back in for the next heat.  So even this fair's turning out all right, Madge.

MADGE: You know, one of the things I like about this fair is it is of a size that children, if they want to, can kind of wander around and poke around at the things that interest them, and their parents don't have to worry too much about their getting lost or about their getting run over, because they're very careful about not allowing any vehicles back here on the midway or places where children are going to be.

JIM: I notice, too, Madge, that the American Legion is out, kind of helping to keep the youngsters from getting lost, and giving directions.  One thing and another, any way to be of service to these people so they can make this 1963, we might say the 74th Annual, Richwood Fair a huge success.

And judging by the crowd this afternoon, we feel that the attendance must be setting a new record this year, because in years past that we've been here we've had kind of inclement weather some of the days, and this year everything has worked out fine.

MADGE:  I think everybody who has ever lived in Richwood, known anybody who lived in Richwood, had any relatives who lived in Richwood, or even ever heard of Richwood is here today.

JIM (laughs): You bet.  And we want to have a special thanks for Dorothy Aubaugh for giving us some of her very, very good poetry.

We would like to say that this program, "WHAT IS A FAIR?", has been broadcast from various places in the Richwood Fair by means of the WMRN's new wireless microphone, with headquarters in the Vernon M. Thomas Chevrolet display.  Vernon M. Thomas invites you to stop in and see Chevrolets at the fair, and listen for announcements of the Chevrolet for '64, coming soon to Vernon M. Thomas in Richwood.

Now back to our studios at the Richwood Fair.

"All in all," the Richwood Gazette reported, "the 1963 fair was one of the best in the history of the Richwood fair," showing a profit of approximately $3,000.

Fifty years later in the local paper, guest columnist Pat Parrott Eby recalled that "the Richwood Fair was a special part of growing up in Richwood."

"The Lions Club had the big food concession at the fairgrounds.  They opened early for the farmers' breakfast.  I remember serving with Marion Winter flipping pancakes when I was a teen.  The members baked cakes and pies to sell along with the ever-popular burgers and hot chicken sandwiches.  The hours were long, but the funds generated were put to good use by the Lions for community projects and for their eye clinics.

"The midway was a popular destination for the young kids.  The swings, cars, and the merry-go-round seem to us today to be very mild, but in those long-gone days they were a thrill.

"Everyone in town could be seen at the fair.  The funeral-home [sponsored] tents had lots of chairs so you could relax and meet family and friends and just chat awhile.  Usually they had cardboard fans they gave out to help keep you cool and to keep the flies off your face.

"Time seemed to go slower then.  Memories make the time perhaps sweeter than it was, but treaure them.  We shall never see them again."



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