Monday, July 03, 2006

"Good night and may God bless"

I started too late in the year to call it spring cleaning, so let's just say that I was cleaning and organizing my stuff the other day when I found, in the bottom of a dresser draw, a single sheet of paper ripped from a standard-issue Reporter's Notebook.

People younger than me (51 going on 52) probably don't remember the comedian Red Skelton. But in his day, he was among the country's leading comedians. Unlike today's stand-up acts, which jam their routines with scatalogical and sexual references -- and lace them with four-letter words -- Skelton ran a clean show. His trademark sign-off was "Good night and may God bless."

About the autograph: Skelton came to Western Illinois University do a show, and there was a press conference beforehand. It must have been during the 1973-4 school year. I don't remember for sure, but I believe I was there as a member of the Public Information Office staff (as opposed to journalist on a campus newspaper).

It is considered "bad form" for a journalist to ask a source for an autograph, but I couldn't resist that day 30-plus years ago at WIU. The autograph probably is not worth much (anything?) today, but now it did give me a fleeting recollection of meeting one of comedy's greats.

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