January 2012

In 1958, the late Dorothy Hamill, Johnson City Press-Chronicle writer, interviewed the executives of Dale and Carroll Productions, a local animated cartoon production enterprise.

Hamill quizzed Glenn Dale and Larry Carroll (now deceased) about their creation of an adorable little cartoon teddy bear named Henny. Actually, the company’s top brass were enterprising 16-year-old Science Hill High School juniors who possessed an overt desire to produce quality cartoons.


Glen Dale Holds Henny / Glenn and Larry Carroll at Work under a Tree on a Cartoon 

Henny was born in 1956 in a makeshift studio in the Dale home on W. Locust Street. The youngsters fashioned the character from a favorite stuffed animal that belonged to Glenn. The one-room operation was comprised of a couple of adjoining tables, typewriter, cameras, oil and water based paints, record player, reel-to-reel tape recorder, microphone and a storyboard.

Within two years, the indomitable pair generated a sizable quantity of work that included building much of their studio equipment, experimenting with techniques, sketching the hundreds of painstaking drawings necessary for animation and writing story sequences.

Glenn and Larry had known each other since elementary school days. Both were gifted artists and had created some beautiful oil paintings. They attributed their inspiration to pursue the vast technical field of animated film to Walt Disney. Henny became to Dale and Carroll what Mickey Mouse was to Walt Disney. Over time, Henny was almost like a real person to his producers.

The youngsters initially fabricated flipbooks (small volumes containing images on each page that give the illusion of continuous movement when the edges of the pages are quickly flipped). Their journey into film animation received a significant boost when Glenn was given a movie camera for Christmas. 

At the time of Hamill’s interview, the young men had five films “in the can” with two more in production. They added a soundtrack for one episode by synchronizing it with the film; they even composed the music score. The youngsters described the tune as being catchy with a fast-beat rhythm. They played their clarinets into the microphone of a tape recorder while Glenn’s younger brother, Don, displayed his talent on piano. They further added sound effects and supplied the all-important voice of Henny.

According to Glenn in 1959: “First, we try to get an idea of the story, making it as original as we possibly can. We feel that originality is very important in movie making. Then we sit around and discuss the story and when we have it in mind, we write down the outline.”

During this process, the talented twosome decided on the characters they would use in the film and the role each would assume. Then they made a series of small sketches that highlighted the main facets of action. The young artists accomplished most of this with pen and ink and, on one occasion, used shoe polish.

A few of the individual pictures were pinned on a beaverboard (light wood-like building material) storyboard (graphic organizer in the form of illustrations or images displayed in sequence for the purpose of pre-visualizing a motion picture, animation, motion graphic or interactive media sequence). With these items visually before them, they began filling in the story line.

Larry further stated: “Every camera angle has to be figured too and then, of course, comes the drawing. For a 7-minute cartoon, over 9,000 separate frames or drawings are needed. If, for instance, Henny throws a ball, a series of sketches had to be made. In each one, the position of the arm was changed ever so slightly.”

Since every sketch had to be filmed individually, the camera was equipped with a device that enabled the boys to film one frame at a time with one of them operating the camera and the other moving the pictures in and out. The initial three cartoons made were referred to as “gags,” which were mainly isolated incidents such as Henny finding a firecracker that explodes.

In one production, “The House that Henny Built,” the little teddy bear decides to build a dwelling in the woods. When he stops to rescue a rabbit being attacked by a fierce bear, the larger animal turns on him causing the forest creatures to come to his aid and even help him build his house. This cartoon was composed of background music, sound effects and spoken lines.

Early in their animation efforts, Glenn and Larry drew in the background, cut it out, superimposed it on the picture, sketched their characters on a sheet of heavy cellophane and placed it on top of the background. That changed when they built a multiplane, a contrivance whereby the camera can be set at the top and take pictures on three different levels, thus giving the illusion of depth. 

Dale and Carroll mixed their own paints using mostly watercolor, but used oils for the background. They also constructed sound equipment utilizing a camera tripod for the base, another one on top and a microphone hung on one arm.

In one film, Henny was launched to the moon, but not before his creators extensively researched the subject of outer space to ensure completely scientific accuracy. In the production, they used composer Stravinsky’s music as background and then added tunes of their own composition.

In another cartoon titled “For Sale,” Henny purchases a dog, loses it and then finds it. Once a story was developed, the boys could sketch the action at their individual homes, but during preliminary drafting, it was imperative they work together in the studio.

Glenn recalled when Henny was used in SHHS’s student newspaper, the Hilltop: “The paper used a single cartoon panel that appeared in several editions of the periodical. I guess Henny became a kind of school mascot. Caricatures included Henny in class asleep at his desk behind a textbook, looking at one of the many beautiful young women at SHHS instead of face-forward toward the teacher and standing on the football field with a zero on his ill-fitting jersey. Sometimes, he would appear in large-scale posters in the role of instructor or advertising some school cause or event. It still puzzles me that Henny never graduated from high school.”

One episode featured Henny as a baker who falls asleep and plunges into a batch of fresh dough, requiring him to discard it and start over. Two others involved a character named Bax that was designed by Larry.

The Hamill piece was brought to the attention of a freelance writer in Amarillo, Texas who, using material from the Press-Chronicle and from further interviews, produced an article for national syndication. Shortly, it came to the attention of Disney who then contacted the boys with advice, information and encouragement.

“We later designed effects animation for a student film enterprise in Richmond, Virginia,” said Glenn “that was brought to their attention by the syndicated article. Their last project consisted of three short commercials for a bakery whose motto was ‘baked while you sleep.’”

When Glenn was asked what happened to Henny after 1959, he responded, “Henny is alive and well, although he has been ‘renovated’ more than once and now ‘bears’ little resemblance to the ancient prototype (stuffed animal) on which his film image was based. He has, as far as I know, participated in no film projects since the late 1950s, piqued, perhaps, by the fact that none of his cinematic efforts ever won him an Oscar, not even a nomination.”

Glenn Dale and Larry Carroll expressed a strong desire to enter the animated cartoon field professionally after they finished their education. To that end, they learned all they could about motion picture techniques from printed material and kept abreast of new technology by experimenting with color film, cinemascope and stereophonic sound.

Glenn modestly offered glowing words about the talents of Carroll: “Although we both had artistic talent, Larry was the superior natural draughtsman. He, to the best of my memory, produced most of the cartoon panels for the Hilltop. He consistently produced excellent work animating characters, designing backgrounds and background layouts and in story design. I have no doubt that Larry would have excelled in many aspects of motion picture production and design had he chosen that career.” 

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“Go west, young man (and grow up with the country)” became a rallying cry in the United States in 1865, popularized by American author, Horace Greeley. It concerned Manifest Destiny, massive expansion across the continent.

The newspaper editor advocated westward growth because he believed the fertile farmland that extended throughout the west was an ideal place for hard-working people to succeed. Young men from Virginia, Tennessee and the Carolinas readily heeded the call.

Promotions by western railroad agents that beguiled young men with exaggerated tales of high wages and plentiful opportunities in the west. With imaginations inflamed by these fanciful “artful dodgers,” they saved their hard-earned cash for the extensive and expensive journey ahead. They arrived to find that the west was saturated with hopefuls like themselves who were looking for easy money that did not exist. They likely could have done as well or perhaps better had they stayed home. 

Some found higher wages, but with them came increased living expenses. Instead of land being cheaper, it was often higher and fraught with added costs, including irrigation equipment needed to make the ground more fertile. Even when productive crops were grown, the railroads took the bulk of the profits in transporting them to populated areas where there were enough residents to consume them.

Many young men drifted from place to place, which further added to the railroad’s revenue. Countless drifters, realizing their circumstances were not what they desired, longed to return home but were too embarrassed to do so.  They learned that there was no pot of shiny gold waiting for them at the end of the rainbow because the land was too desiccated to produce the colorful arc. Indeed, the “fine medicine” that was advertised in local papers was not for the drifter from the east but for the greedy agents who solicited them.  

CC&O Railroad Trussle in Boones Creek

My September 5, 2011 Yesteryear column dealt with the festive celebrations that occurred in Johnson City and Spartanburg with the completion of the Carolina, Clinchfield and Ohio (CC&O) Railroad between Dante, Virginia and Spartanburg, South Carolina on October 29, 1909. The new railroad, built at an enormous cost brought by significant engineering challenges from laying track over abnormally rough terrain, was now ready to transport coal from a rich coalfield in the mountains. The risky venture greatly enhanced the economic outlook of the area.

By 1910, mountainous folks initiated their own rallying cry to “Come back east, young man (and help move coal). Many of the native-born people had been gone for a considerable number of years. They were needed to lend a hand with the development of the country that had been opened up by the presence of the new railroad.

The economy in the four states was so greatly improved that it was advertised as “the most popular movement of recent times.” Local newspapers became the primary medium for convincing home folks to return to their native land.

The CC&O Railway printed 5,000 circulars for school children to use in gathering the names and addresses of persons who had moved west. In turn, they were delivered to the board of trade and then to the railroads participating in the “Back Home” movement. Also, the railroad placed identical ads in newspapers. It was estimated that a million former southerners were asked to visit their old homes.

Organizers underestimated how successful the “come back home” crusade would be to area residents. The campaign achieved its noble goal.  

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Prior to 1840, political campaign music was immensely in vogue with local voters because it added a new exciting facet to the gatherings. However, beginning that year, the music fell into disfavor until its use was revived for the campaign of 1860. Its newfound popularity was credited for sparking enthusiasm throughout the north to bring Abraham Lincoln to the presidency.

After the 1860 election, music once again fell into disuse. Although campaign songbooks continued to be popular and circulated to the masses, there was less picking, singing and bowing at political stumps and rallies.

The seesaw scenario cycled again in 1886 when two Tennessee brothers, Bob and Alf Taylor, made state history by competing against each other for governor of the state in a spirited contest known as the “War of the Roses.” Both men were accomplished fiddlers and employed music to energize their campaigns and their audiences.

Robert L Taylor undoubtedly aided himself in his canvass for Governor when he developed the curious habit of carrying his fiddle to meetings and entertaining audiences with renderings of popular tunes. Even his critics could be observed discretely tapping their toes to a lively fiddle tune such as “Old Joe Clark.”

Bob Taylor became known as the fiddling governor, but he obviously possessed other leadership qualities since he was thrice elected to the governorship and became a U.S. Senator in 1907. Several years prior, Taylor defeated Congressman Augustus Herman Pettibone who was a classical scholar and one of the ablest Republicans of that era. Bob’s ridicule, stories and spoof were considerably over the top for the always-serious politician.

On one occasion, Augustus, a Carpetbagger (a Northerner who went to the South after the Civil War for political or financial gain) scoffed at his competitor as a mere fiddler who was trying to break into Congress. The next day, Bob brought his fiddle and a carpetbag (a traveling bag appropriately made of carpet fiber), arrayed them on the platform and asked the audience which they preferred to follow. The crowd applauded heartily.

At night, Bob attended country dances and furnished music for the ever-growing crowd, charming them with such selections as “Molly Hare,” “Polly, Put the Kettle On and “Rare Back Davy.” Republicans from that East Tennessee district deserted Pettibone and supported his admired competitor, electing him by over a thousand votes.

Pettibone’s rhetoric and sophistry were not vote catchers like Bob’s pastoral fiddle and charming eloquence. During one gathering, Bob brought his zealous crowd to an elevated pitch of merriment and enthusiasm by one of his incomparable anecdotes. When his challenger arose to reply, he said to the large crowd, “I will not attempt to excite your ‘risibles’.” At this juncture of the speech, a nearby countrified Republican asked a bystander what he meant by “risibles” and was told that it meant “laughter.” The old man promptly responded, “Then why didn’t he say so.”

Bob’s fiddle was obviously a love of his life. Once, during a speech, he described what he deemed to be the key to happiness: “A nice farm of 75 acres about five miles from a small town with a clear stream of water traversing its entire length, a smokehouse in the rear of the house tilled with fine meat, a barn with a pair of good coachers (large, closed, four-wheeled carriages with an elevated exterior seat for the driver) and a saddle horse, a springhouse, four or five peacocks, a drove of geese and ducks to sport in the stream and a quaint little orchard of productive trees.

Every Saturday, the former governor saddled his horse and rode into town to buy the weekly newspaper. Here he met two or three friends in front of the corner grocery where they chewed tobacco and swapped yarns. One would surmise that Bob always had his fiddle with him   

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 In the 1950s, many of us can recall owning a phonograph with a selection lever near the turntable that allowed the listener to chose between four separate record speeds: 78, 45, 33.3 and 16 rpm (approximate numbers).

As a child in the late 1940s, I became a devotee of 10-inch 78-rpm records after my Grandmother Cox gave me her collection of discs that she stored in a sturdy fabric case with a hinged lid. Cardboard dividers inside the case separated and identified the selections. During this time, I was recovering from a bout of rheumatic fever that greatly restricted my physical activity, including walking, for six months. I spent hours sitting in a chair while being entertained by my close proximity combination radio and record player console.  

I handled my fragile collection carefully and kept them inside the case when not in use. Records came in paper sleeves with circular cutaways that allowed the labels on both sides to be visible. Each side of the disc was limited to about three minutes of playing time.

By the 1950s, I had graduated to 7-inch 45-rpm records, even though 78s had by then become unbreakable. The 45s attracted the younger crowd with its trendy compactness and unique large hole in the middle. Newer phonograph models had to be redesigned to play them. Otherwise, the user had to put an insert in the larger hole or place a small round disc about the size of the hole on the turntable.

For a period of time, manufacturers released selected hit songs at both 78 and 45-rpm speeds while consumers began making the transition to the newer format. The 78s were rapidly heading toward extinction.

Next came 12-inch 33.3 records, known as “long play” records that typically contained six songs per side for a total of about 30 minutes of music. This new multi-selection format quickly became popular with record aficionados.

The fourth speed on the selector lever was for 16-rpm records, which arrived in 1953. I never owned any records with this speed. Why then was this speed put on record players? Truthfully, some manufacturers omitted the 16-rpm speed option on their machines. Although I cannot recall ever seeing a record of this speed in racks at the Music Mart, Smythe Electric or other downtown record shop, I suspect the businesses had some behind the counters for sale to customers who requested them.

The16-rpm records had a distinct market. The plus for the slower speed was much longer playing time; the minus was decreased sound quality, but the products did not necessitate this. Also, they were generally pressed as monaural (one-track) instead of stereo (two-track). They were ideal for low volume “dinner” (a.k.a. “elevator” and “filler”) music because one side would play for an entire meal without anyone having to change it. If a family held a Christmas outing at their home, they could play 16-rpm records of holiday favorites that would set the tone for the evening with infrequent attention to the machine.

The records also offered an advantage to the blind who were able to listen to them for long periods of time without having to change sides or disks.

My column photo shows four additional uses of 16-rpm records (left to right, top to bottom): sets containing the “Spoken Bible”; Edison recording of Ernest “Pop” Stoneman, known as the Blue Ridge Mountaineer, singing hillbilly ballads; children’s records such as “Be a Train”; and “The Audio Book of Great Essays.” Older folks may recall when 16-rpm records were used to distribute political campaign speeches. Also schools incorporated them in classrooms to teach foreign languages.

As the parade of progress marched along, next came reel-to-reel, 8-track and cassette tapes, but that is the subject of another column.  

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Today’s column is about former Johnson City School Superintendent C.E. Rogers. I don’t remember him because he left the position three years before I entered the first grade. My article also mentions a host of teachers and principals, some of whom I had in school. I am hopeful my readers will find a relative or friend listed.

On June 30, 1946, Rogers left the important education position after a 30-year career to accept administrative duties with several Johnson City and Elizabethton business colleges that included Steed College. In his early years, he was briefly affiliated with East Tennessee State College.

The City Teachers Association honored him and his wife with a reception in the gymnasium of Science Hill High School on Roan Street. The guest list comprised 200 names. In the receiving line were Miss Lottie Price, president of the association; the superintendent and Mrs. Rogers; Mrs. Orville Martin (my occupations teacher at Junior High School); Miss Nancy Beard and George Greenwell (my Science Hill High School principal).

Decorations for the affair consisted of spring flowers with yellow tulips and predominating purple irises. The Science Hill orchestra, under the direction of Warren F. Weddle, furnished a musical background for the evening.

As a token of appreciation to Mr. Rogers for almost two decades of dedicated service as superintendent of Johnson City schools, the teachers presented him with a nice piece of luggage. Refreshments were served from a photograph table covered with lace and decorated with flowers and yellow candles. Presiding at the punch bowl were Nelle VanGorder and Margaret Fain. The refreshment committee included Hattie Hunt, Elise Lindsey and Alma Barnes.

Teachers who assisted serving were Margaret King (my third grade teacher at Henry Johnson School), Eva Grigsby, Edith Keyes, Edna Mackey, Margaret Woodruff, Elizabeth Jones, June O’Dell, Mary Agnes Donnelly, Ruth Martin, Mildred Adams, Edith Bray, Fannie Taylor (my fourth grade teacher at Henry Johnson School), Josephine Moore, Dorothy Mingis, Frances Wildasin and Rosalie Link.

Assisting in entertaining were Marjorie Hunt, Thelma Walker, Helen McLeod, Margaret Crouch (my principal at Henry Johnson School) and Mrs. Kathryn Corpening.

On the decorations committee were Nancy Beard, Lenore Anderson, Dorothy Thomas, Levinia Bowers, Carrie Lou Yoakley, Pauline Peoples, Mabel Anderson, Harry Freeman, Coy Trivett, Ruth McAnally, W.Z. Harshbarger and George Greenwell (my principal at SHHS).

The committee selecting the gift for Mr. Rogers was composed of Helen McLeod; Gordon Grubb (my sixth grade co-teacher at Henry Johnson School); and George Greenwell, who made the presentation. Guests were the honorees, present members of the board of education, members who had served during Mr. Rogers’ tenure of office, city commissioners, presidents of PTAs, teachers and husbands and wives of members.

Board members, both past and present, who were listed  on the guest list included H.E. Miller; W.B. Miller; Dr. John Lamb; James A. Pouder; H.M. Burleson; J.H. Preas; J.E. Brading; S.D. Jackson; Harry Range; Frank Taylor; J.M. Masengill; Walter Martin; Paul Jones; John Anderson; D.R. Beeson; George Oldham; Carl Jones, Jr.; Mrs. L.D. Gump; Mrs. J.A. Summers; Mrs. J.E. Crouch; Mrs. William Dubbs; Mrs W.A. Starrett; and Mrs. H.C. Black.

Left to right: C.E. Rogers, John H. Arrants (who replaced Mr. Rogers as superintendent) and C. Howard McCorkle (who replaced Arrants). I remember Mr. Arrants from my younger school years and Mr. McCorkle from my later ones.. 

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I have been a big fan of University of Tennessee football for 46 years, attending at least one game at Neyland Stadium most of that time either as student or alumni. In the spring of 2011, my wife and I reluctantly did not renew our two Section O, Row 51 season tickets.

In spite of this, I firmly believe that even with high definition flat screen television, there is no comparison to savoring the exhilaration of the crowd at the game, something TV cannot offer.

Today’s column is a look back at almost a half-century of “Football Time in Tennessee” memories that produce a lump in my throat when I think about them. Hang on:

Attending games with our close friends, Allen and Charlotte Stafford; enjoying pre-game entertainment on Cumberland Avenue; eating an open-fire grilled hamburger at Gus Campus’s Varsity Inn; occasionally eating uptown at the S&W Cafeteria before it closed in 1981; enjoying the view of boaters as they navigate the Tennessee River to the stadium; munching on rare big orange-flavored moon pies that were handed out to the crowd;  …

Getting excited over 32-year-old Doug Dickey as he takes the reigns as head coach of the Vols; admiring other favorite head coaches: Bill Battle, Johnny Majors, Phil Fulmer; and Derek Dooley; recalling such outstanding quarterbacks as Dewey “Swamp Rat” Warren, Bobby Scott, Condredge Holloway, Jimmy Streater, Heath Shuler, Peyton Manning, Tee Martin and Casey Clausen to name a few; …

Observing Alabama’s quarterback, Joe Namath, in 1964 as he concludes his final collegiate year; beating the Crimson Tide in 1982 just a couple months before Coach Bryant’s untimely death; cheering as the goal posts collapse after beating a heavily favored opponent; watching the stadium grow to 108,000 seats and then lose some of it due to modernization; hearing a hot dog vendor selling his product by yelling, “yummy, yummy, yummy, for your tummy, tummy, tummy”; seeing Colonel Sanders make a surprise visit …

Riding a trolley car to watch Tennessee beat Air Force at the 1971 Tulane Stadium Sugar Bowl; attending several Citrus Bowl games in Orlando; singing “Rocky Top” a zillion times; cheering as the players, coaches, cheerleaders and Smokey charge through the band formed “T”; seeing a new Smokey occasionally take over the leash; …

Enjoying a Tennessee Walking Horse’s majestic four-beat “running walk” around the field before a game; hearing a cannon being fired from a grassy knoll on “The Hill” after each touchdown and field goal score; later enjoying the same ritual from fireworks positioned across the Tennessee River; carrying a battery powered radio to the game to tap into John Ward and Bill Anderson’s outstanding play-by-play and commentary of the games; …

Looking to the skies waiting for military planes to fly formations over the stadium; gazing skyward while paratroopers jump onto Shields-Watkins field; participating in the “wave” as it flows like a river around the stadium; hearing my favorite cheer, “T, E, Double N, E, Double S, Double E, Tennessee”; getting soaked to the bone numerous times by downpours in the stadium; attending frigid games dressed warmly to support my favorite orange and white team; …

Seeing the field transition from natural sod to artificial turf and back to grass; listening to George Bitzas electrifying the crowd with his incredible vocal rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner”; enjoying halftime shows with such entertainers as Charlie Daniels, Lee Greenwood, John Denver and the Osborne Brothers; applauding Dr. Julian’s “Pride of the Southland Band” as it performs “circle drills”; seeing former players and coaches introduced at halftime …

Going to the Smokies after a fall game to enjoy the colors; fighting the crowd to get away from the stadium; observing game officials being quickly escorted away from the campus in a police cruiser; battling traffic to get on the Interstate and, if that wasn’t enough, listening to the post game call-in radio show during the drive home.

This and much more was truly … “Football Time in Tennessee.” I will miss it.

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