Ask any American who was alive in 1941 where he was when he heard Pearl Harbor had been bombed, and I'll bet he can tell you. It's one of those memories that stick with a man the rest of his days if he lives to be a hundred.
Mister, the wheels began cranking in my head.
I was coming up on my 46th birthday--a little too old to try to be an aviation cadet again. But I don't think it didn't occur to me, brother. Being realistic, I knew age also was against me as far as any branch of the armed forces was concerned. And that bothered me--tremendously. However I was determined to try. Where did I fit into this jigsaw called World War II? I wanted to do something toward the war effort. Something. Anything. The question was, what?
The answer was staring me right in the face. What I could do best had to do with fishing, and fishing had to do with the millions of boys that would soon be inducted into the service. If my demonstrations and films were of interest to clubs and on radio and television, why not to our GIs too?
By the next morning I had my plan mapped. I'd try to enroll in the Army Air Corps. If that failed I'd try to put together a touring show to entertain our troops. If that failed -- well, sir, I didn't even want to think about that.
The Special Services set up a program in which I'd tour the Air Corps camps, centers, radar installations and hospitals all over the state. I'd put on a two-hour show at a different place every night and work the USO clubs on weekends. In between I'd arrange with Special Services to take out fishing parties--often 20 or 30 boats at a time.
Well, sir, I have to say that this period -- 1942-45 -- was one of the most rewarding of my life. Those service boys were just fabulous kids. They were wonderful to me and I shared their laughs and their heartbreaks.
ME AND THE WRIGHT BROTHERS
A Dream came true in 1952. I bought an airplane. It was a red and white Piper Tri-Pacer, and it was a dandy. It was three years old, but to me it was the most beautiful aircraft in the world..
It satisfied a gnawing ambition of darn near 50 years.
WOR takes the show BIG TIME
Winston Mergott is an avid fisherman. When he's not fishing, he is senior vice-president and general manager of Liberty Mutual Insurance Company.
Besides being a fishing nut, Winston is also a very cool business customer. He had already done some research and found out that there were 60 million fishing addicts in this country besides himself, 44 million of them licensed, according to the American Fishing Tackle Manufacturers Association.
Mergot said, "What about the poor fisherman? How is he being serviced by tv?"
Despite stiff opposition from the advertising division, Mergott was given a test run, deliberately loaded against the show -- exactly the way we all wanted it to be. It was run 13 weeks in fall, 1963, on New York City's WOR-TV, whose audience didn't figure to be exactly a hotbed of fishing enthusiasm. Also, the NY-NJ area is the most competitive market in the world for both TV and insurance.
The idea was that if the show could produce against that kind of stacked deck, it would succeed anywhere.
There are a lot of figures and box scores that I won't bother you with. But they all added up to one thing: the show had passed the acid test.
We were in!
We signed a five-year contract and Liberty Mutual put the show into 50 markets from coast to coast.
NEED I SAY MORE !!!!
We would especially like to thank Pocketbook and the authors for giving us
permission to reprint several sections of Gadabout's book!
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