MATT DRINNENBERG ON MATTIE STEPANEK
I just got back home from New York City where I was at conference, and checked PCR first thing to see that Mattie Stepanek has passed away.
I'm not sure if you ever had the opportunity to see him on talk shows or, more specifically Larry King Live, but let me share with you something he said once that has just stuck with me ever since. To the point where I think about it all the time, and not just during remembrance of Mattie.
Larry King was asking him questions about his illness, and proposed that possibly Mattie could be angry that he had this terrible desease and ask the proverbial question of God, "why me"?
Mattie responded by saying something along the lines of "why not me", and that he wasn't angry with his lot. He also said the thing that I now think of all the time. He said he chose his mom to be his mom when he was in heaven with the Father, before he was born, and knew what he was facing, and never regretted it. Naturally, King rightly persued this and asked for clarification. Mattie insisted he picked him mom when he was in heaven with the Father, God.
Mattie continued that he didn't fear death, because he knew He was going back to be with the Father, in Heaven, where he remembered being before he was born.
His heartsongs reflected the truth of the God I love, not the God wielded as a weapon by a political party, but the God of love, grace, and forgiveness. One that many of you may not know, due to the way His name is used and disgraced repeatedly.
By the end of the interview I was crying like a baby, and I am not ashamed to say so. This beautiful child was truly the embodiment of everything I believe to be Christian. Not thru affiliation, but deed. Not through pompous proclamation, but humble honesty.
The one I think of now is his mother, who lost 3 other children to this desease. Because of it, her husband left her. When I learned this, you know what my first thought was, don't you? I was immediately stopped cold in my tracks when she added: "But I forgive him. He just couldn't handle the stress". If there is a more forgiving person on this earth, I don't know them.
As for Mattie, I can rejoice because I know that right now he is not only in Heaven, but in the presence of God the Father, where he remembers being before he was born.
I am a better man today because of this child. And I'm certain he is getting all the blessings God can possibly bestow.
WILL MORIATY'S MESSAGE TO TEDD WEBB
"Hi everybody, I'm Tedd Webb and this is my favorite time of the year. Number one, college basketball is heating up and getting closer to the 2A's, NBA basketball is heating up, it's always exciting, but the boys of summer, major league baseball, they're invading the State of Florida. Who's gonna win the division? We'll talk about that and a whole lot more on Sunday night at ten - - Sports Rap, right here on Channel 28. I'll get together with a couple of my newspaper buddies and ask you to call in. Put it down in your calendar, Sunday at ten o'clock, right here!"
Remember that, Tedd?
That was you on a Friday evening broadcast in March 1988 sandwiched between the introduction to a movie called "The Day it Came to Earth" hosted by "Elvira, Mistress of the Dark", and an ad for National Sleep City of Tampa on WFTS TV, Channel 28.
Other ads that night of a Tampa long ago included a monologue by the late John Eastman about depression; Lloyd Townsend Auto Sales; a message from TV Manager Jim Major; and Jack Patterson bidding "Bye Bye from Jai-Alai (now a Home Depot in the neighborhood I grew up in South Tampa)" after quoting that night's Quiniela, Perfecta and Trifecta results.
I thought I poured a lot of my heart and soul about Florida and the Bay area's Pop Culture and history into my on-line column ("La Floridiana" in Nolan's Pop Culture Review at www.crazedfanboy.com), but your web site is the most incredible web site of its kind. An absolute masterpiece with history that really tugged at my heartstrings.
My mother was a sales accountant for WFLA Radio between 1971 and 1973. Her name was Florence Moor and she worked for Art Ross who was featured in your "Where Are They Now?" column. Jack Harris might still remember her, but he was a young buck back then.
In 1973 she moved over to WWBA Radio in St. Petersburg where I also worked as an art Director. Ed Winton of Miami owned the station and Bill Schricker was my immediate superior.
I would run into Jack Harris years later when filming an interview with him about my tree planting organization, T.R.E.E. Inc. on Big 13, WTVT's "Pulse Plus" in October 1984. My cousin, Dave Markwood, was a studio engineer there from 1973 to 1988.
Larry Elliston, also at Big 13, featured my organization and me twice on his "Assignment Florida". I will never forget when the two of us met for a shoot at the I-75/I-4 interchange east of Tampa, filming a segment prior to a tree planting we would undertake at that location. Always having an eye for action and the aesthetic, Larry requested that I throw a rock into a nearby retention pond next to a wading Blue Heron. I did, and he immediately began filming the bird as it flew off. On the news, this graceful avian's "unplanned" flight was the highlight of the film shoot as he waxed pathetic about how our planting was "giving back to nature". He was absolutely great to work with!
For some reason that I can no longer remember, Tony Zapone rode around with my mother and I around 1979-1980 when she was at WBRD and WDUV Radio in Sarasota. After reading your bio on him, I had no idea that he brushed shoulders with so many incredibly famous people - - my mother did also - - one day I might share her history with you one on one. One thing that Tony said that stuck with me life-long was "Frustration is due to unfulfilled expectations."
Too true Tony, too true.
As mind-blowing as that was, I did not know that you were a DJ at my very favorite Bay area radio station, WFSO! No other station came close, nor ever will, to the incredible music on that wonderful station (the old WQSR and WUSF's Underground Railroad came close, though).
My sister, Merry Moor Winnett used to be a photographer for both White Witch and the Outlaws back in the '70s. I remember going with her to a smoke-filled old stucco house at the corner of Interbay and MacDill to see Buddy Pendergrass and friends practice for White Witch's second album.
Those incredible people who defined the Tampa area's pop culture and media as I was growing up: Arch Deal; Andy Hardy; Dick Crippen; Hugh Smith; Roy Leep; Ernie Lee; Lt. Al Ford; Howard Hewes; Salty Sol Fleischman: George Michelle; Al Berry and Ercelle Smith; the Legendary Q-Morning Zoo; Ron and Ron; even Dr. Paul Bearer - - you have barely skipped a beat in this comprehensive labor of love.
Exemplary work - - you are the Hampton Dunn and undisputed (if not unofficial) king of Tampa's pop culture and media history!
God Bless and Thanks
TEDD WEBB ON WILLIAM MORIATY
Hi William,READER RECALLS SHAWNEE AIRLINES
Thank you so much for the kind words about teddwebb.com (Re: letter immediately above. --N). Man, you had me blushing.
I have read your work at crazedfanboy.com, a great web site dealing with Tampa bananas, I love Nolan as well. It is on my favorites listing.
You certainly have a great memory, you did that CH 28 open almost word for word. WOW.
Again, you made my day.
Greetings from the Great Land and the Top of the World!
I have just finished reading your six part series on the commuter airlines in Florida and you and I must be of the same flock!
What a quick trip down memory lane, I commend your efforts and I am so very glad that you put your thoughts and memories
down on paper, for all to enjoy.
I'll chat more later, when I have more time but I wanted to comment on one airline that you mentioned that is of particular interest
to me, Shawnee Airlines. As a kid of perhaps 11 or 12, I flew from TPA to ORL to visit my Aunt, who worked in Operations for
Shawnee. The first trip was aboard a Twin Otter and it made an intermediate stop at the Mouse's house! I could not have known
at the time what a rare event that would actually be. On a later visit, my younger brother and I made the trip on a DC-3, I believe
it was N45366. After a weekend visit in Orlando, we returned home via FLL to TPA on the same aircraft. It was my first DC-3
trip and I am sure that you and I feel just as strongly about the nostalgia and the significance of the greatest airplane there ever was!
I also recalled the time that some friends and I took the Bay Tour on a Dolphin Bandit! We must have been there the same day as I
took a photo of Chicago's Fanjet Falcon on the ramp as I prepared to board the Embraer. What an awesome day that was too!
Again, thanks so much for sharing, I have really enjoyed reading your report and look forward to hearing from you as your schedule
permits. Now that I am older, there is so much that I want to know about Shawnee and the history and the info seems really hard to
find. I'll look forward to talking to you soon.
WILL MORIATY RESPONDS:
It's an honor to hear from you Mr. Jordan, and I'm so pleased that my series on Florida's commuter airlines brought back some good memories. As fate may have it, you and I may even have taken the same Dolphin Banderante tour flight back in 1983 - - my flying companion at the time, Greg Van Stavern, also took a photo of Chicago's Falcon jet once we deplaned after the tour!
It sounds like life has taken you about as far away from the Sunshine State as you can get, but you are probably living in the land where the last of the large recips such as the DC-6 and DC7 are still flying.
There was still a DC-7B dolled up in old American Airlines colors flying once a week within the past several years out of Opa Locka to the Bahamas hauling freight (I remember that same aircraft as long ago as 1984 sitting at the north end of FLL next to a PBY Catalina - - the 7 survived, I don't believe that the Catalina did, though).
The last DC-6 that I would see fly was a cargo hauler taking off on Runway 27 at FLL in October 1997 - - it was an incredible sight and sound, and I was aghast at how shallow and drawn out the aircraft's angle of attack was. A mile out from the runway and the plane was still barely over 100 to 200 feet agl. The last DC-6 that I saw was a Trans Air Link 6 at Opa in 1999. The staff was kind enough to let Greg and I roam the tarmac to get photos of it.
As you might note in Part One of my column on Key West, there was still an old but operable Goony Bird parked along with a Cubana An-24 and a Beech B-18 on the east end of the tarmac at Key West International Airport. I also saw a Dak on my return trip to St. Petersburg-Clearwater (PIE) this past Monday that was hidden amongst some hangers near the Coast Guard hangers. It's amazing to think that this Grand Lady of the skies is still plying its trade almost 70 years after it began service - - that we should all be that productive in our seventh decade on this planet!
In addition to the commuters, I have timetables of most major trunk and several regional feeders dating from the 60's to the 80's.
Thanks so much for reading our on-line magazine and feel free to share a Florida memory with our readers (I have several friends native to Orlando who remember seeing the Eastern Air Lines Lockheed Constellations at the old Herndon Airport in downtown - - now that is also a neat Orlando memory - - back before the Mouse when it was known as "The City Beautiful").
To send an email to Letters to the Editor write to: Crazedfanboy1@aol.com. Any emails sent to this address will be assumed intended for publication unless you specifically instruct me not to. I can and do respond privately, if that is your preference. Frequently, it's both ways.---Nolan