Y'all knew I would write about Ludlow today, didn't you? We have lost a great friend, and if you have to ask, "Who is Ludlow?" you have missed out on a true Southern treasure.
Ludlow Porch held court on Atlanta radio for most of the last 30 years. If there were a Mount Rushmore of Atlanta radio personalities, he would be the anchor. He was a giant, albeit a gentle one, and didn't have to resort to crudeness or vulgarity to be funny, and he never felt the need to berate his callers in order to raise ratings and revenue.
He was on WRNG radio and then WSB and finally on his own Fun Seekers Network, which at one time claimed 60 stations across the small market South. Ludlow talked about cowboys, television and other trivial matters, and he would stop whatever it was he was doing to tell you how to keep squirrels out of your attic. Spending a morning with Ludlow really was like sitting on the front porch with your favorite uncle or an old friend. He had a keen sense of humor and never felt the need to belittle another human being -- but he wasn't above poking good-natured fun at anyone, especially at himself.
Ludlow would pull your leg in a heartbeat if he thought he could get away with it. He once spearheaded a movement to eliminate Naugahyde sofas because, according to Ludlow, naugas were becoming an endangered species. Laugh if you want to, but he was pretty effective. When's the last time you or a friend purchased Naugahyde for your family room?
Every year on Labor Day, Ludlow would offer a live broadcast of the annual "Flip-Flop Parade." He would describe all the interesting floats and bands and wacky people who were marching by, and honesty compels me to admit that one year I drove to Tucker to watch the non-existent parade in person. It's not as bad as it sounds. I was already in Clarkston, but I had, nonetheless, been had.
Perhaps my favorite of all his pranks was the time he had a person who was supposed to be an NCAA executive on the air explaining that because so many college football games were being televised, no two teams could have the same mascot. Since Yale had been the Bulldogs first, the University of Georgia was going to have to adopt a new mascot -- like dragons or fairies. You wouldn't believe the irate calls he fielded that day from the Billy Bulldogs of the world who threatened everything from violence to legal action.
Ludlow had a group of regular callers he called his "wackos," and I am proud to have been counted among those. He also had regular callers, like Kentuckian Dick Frymire, who knew every folk remedy in the world, could forecast the weather more accurately than Johnny Beckman and who had a rooster that predicted college football games better than Jimmy the Greek.
Although Ludlow was a star in his own right, another dubious claim to fame was that he was the stepbrother of legendary Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Lewis Grizzard. Grizzard, as natives will remember, was married four times and divorced three. And we all know that the only reason he wasn't divorced a fourth time was because he died two days after his fourth and final wedding.
Ludlow volunteered to host one of Lewis's weddings in his back yard. He also served as best man and took care of all the arrangements, including booking a sleeping car for the wedding night on a passenger train to Miami. Grizzard was a nostalgic type and thought a train trip through the night would kick off a really romantic honeymoon. Imagine his surprise when he got to the station and found out that Ludlow hadn't booked a sleeper at all. He and his new missus spent their wedding night sitting upright -- and it's a long way from Atlanta to Miami by train.
When Grizzard arrived at his destination, he called Ludlow to complain about the joke that had been played on him. Ludlow's response was something like, "You think that's bad? Well listen to this. That guy you thought was a preacher was really my mechanic." Grizzard had to come back to Atlanta after his honeymoon and redo the ceremony.
They don't make folks like Ludlow Porch anymore, and he will be greatly missed. Every day at the end of his broadcast Luddie would remind his listeners "no matter what else you do today, find somebody to be nice to."
That's great advice, and Ludlow Porch lived up to it every day of his life. He may not have been in a class by himself as a radio personality, but whatever class he was in, it didn't take long to call the roll. And now, when the roll is called up yonder, Ludlow will be there. I am happy for him, but we sure will miss him down here.
Darrell Huckaby is a local educator and author. E-mail him at email@example.com.