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January 24, 2013

From Gorgeous George, Charlie Keller to Beyoncé

Harry M. Covert

Back in the olden days as the hot blood of youth began to bubble and gurgle, I learned at an early age when something seems too good to be true, it usually is.


The old saw remains on the money and in these days young and old alike continue to be fooled. And they like it no matter how preposterous such claims and promises may be.


At our house we were the first family to have a television set. It was a 14-inch black and white Westinghouse brand. There was only one channel and our viewing began about 4:30 in the afternoon. It was exciting to watch Test Pattern for an hour or so. We were glued to the tiny screen and often watched and listened to the midnight hour when The Star Spangled Banner engulfed the sound and jet planes soared in the background.


It wasn’t too long before entrepreneurs discovered the new-fangled device and attempted to sell a spinning fan of all colors which would create color television. We didn’t fall for the sham as the heat from the screen burned the cellophane off the device.


On Thursday nights neighbors found their way to the darkened living room to watch the professional wrestling. The mayhem of the likes of Gorgeous George and Mr. Moto and others enthralled everyone who just knew the eye-gouging and sleeper-holds were real. Not much has changed today. Professional wrestling and car racing draw more spectators than the traditional athletic prowess in the National Football League, Major League Baseball and maybe bass fishing. I forgot to throw-in collegiate football and basketball.


Sportswriters of times past often described amateur athletes as “simon-pures,” the guys who didn’t get paid a cent and if they did were banned for life. Nowadays everybody is paid.


I still believe that politicians of all persuasions and others like them on the public dole should be required to swear to “tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth” in their oaths “to preserve, protect and defend” their local, state and national constitutions so help them God. It won’t happen, of course, but it should.


It was quite noticeable that lots of “God bless yous” and “God bless Americas” were running rampant at the presidential inauguration. I also noticed the numerous references to the president using his middle initial and not his middle name. A minor note and no mention by the reporting class.


I began this jeremiad to talk about the hoaxes we gentle folk are forced to see. The Notre Dame football player who was fooled about a girlfriend he never met, a girlfriend who allegedly died of leukemia and carried on this frightful thing for several years. He may have been a “leader” of the Irish but a mighty immature young man. Shades of Lou Holtz, the Irish coach of days past. As an amateur magic performer, he wouldn’t have fallen for the dodge. Coaches in South Bend today may know all about recruiting and x’s and o’s, but they don’t know squat about the wizards of woe and self-promotion.


Then there’s the saga of Lance Armstrong. He’s now bleeding all over the sports pages and broadcast media obviously seeking forgiveness for lying all these years about performance enhancing drugs in his bicycling adventures. Isn’t it sad when truth wills out. We knew it anyway.


Performance enhancing drugs? I have to be careful here. Advertisements are everywhere for all of the potency pills for love lives. A good thing I’ve been told. What’s wrong with a little help even if you’re a baseball player? Pete Rose ought to be in the Hall of Fame, as should Charlie Keller, the late Middletown native and horseman and New York Yankees star.


Mr. Rose was the consummate player and manager. He sold his soul to bet on his Cincinnati Reds only to win. “Charlie Hustle” admitted his errant ways and was banned for life. Where’s the forgiveness there?


People and voters everywhere have to suffer through hoaxes and shams and usually from people they trust. But, humans want to believe in things that in common sense just aren’t right but are good advertising sales pitches … the Loch Ness monster, talking dogs, “divine” snake handlers, UFOs (unidentified flying objects), space ships that burn circles in the farmlands, growing hair on bald heads and, “my name is (fill-in the blank), I’m from the government and here to help you.”


I’m duty bound as a born and bred American to watch inaugurations. Some musician in the Marine Band blurted out to a news hound that Beyonce’s singing of the National Anthem was pre-recorded with the President’s Own. Sounded mighty good to me coming from an elegant and talented woman.


Not a hoax either as I watched her on my 42-inch HD color set and online on my 15-inch-plus computer screen. The inauguration at its best and the vice president was smiling and grinning as he ogled the singer. She didn’t fool me either and her performance was enhanced gratefully.


God Bless America and thank you.


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