Mom Now Allowed To Put Spongebob On Sons’ Gravestone

After a year of waiting, the mother of Camren and Damen Rager will be able to have an image of SpongeBob SquarePants carved at her sons’ gravesite.

Tammy Rager received one-time permission from Viacom International, which owns the copyright, to use the image. It took a year of unanswered e-mails and phone calls, an article in the Patriot-News of Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, and some help from Pennsylvania Republican senator Arlen Specter.

Camren, 6, and Damen, 2, are buried at Cumberland Valley Memorial Gardens in South Middleton Township, Pennsylvania. The children of Tammy and Randy Rager died in a fire in their Middlesex Township home last year.

The cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants was a favorite of the two. Their bedroom was full of SpongeBob toys, pictures and other items.

On July 30, 2006, SpongeBob SquarePants was the last program they watched. Their mother had let them stay up past their normal bedtime to watch the show and then put the boys to bed.

That night, a fire started in the family’s second-floor clothes dryer. The boys died when they were trapped in their bedroom by heat and smoke. “My boys died on SpongeBob sheets,” Tammy Rager said.

The Ragers and their daughter Kailyn, now 2, and Randy Rager son, Josh Taormina, now 18, escaped from the fire. But due to intense flames, heat and smoke, they could not rescue Camren and Damen.

Rager has permission to use the image on the gravestone, Nickelodeon spokeswoman Joanna Roses confirmed Sunday. “We just learned about this last week, roundabout through a third party,” she told the Patriot-News. “We want to express our deepest sympathy to Mrs. Rager and the family.”

Last week, Specter got in touch with Nickelodeon on behalf of Rager. The mother said that a member of Specter’s staff called her Friday night to tell her that she could use the image. But on Sunday afternoon, Rager said that she still hasn’t heard personally from network representatives.

“I’m happy with the final result, but I’m not happy about how Nickelodeon handled the situation. My whole complaint was that they weren’t considerate enough to respond to me,” she said. “It still seems cold and heartless.”

There is a temporary marker at the gravesite in Cumberland Valley Memorial Gardens. Cemetery administator Ginnie Weller said that Nickelodeon is sending authorization to use the SpongeBob image to the company that will make the permanent bronze marker.

“It will probably be early next year before the marker is in place on the boys’ grave. It takes five to six weeks to get a custom marker made,” Weller said.

The cemetery wrote to Viacom five times, telling the story of the fire and how the boys loved the TV show.

According to Weller, the Nickelodeon representative who phoned her was unable to explain why numerous messages that she and Rager left with the company went unanswered.

Viacom did not respond to several phone calls and e-mail messages left by the Patriot-News over several days requesting comment.

Dead Pet Bunny Stolen

Muggers snatched an Austrian woman’s handbag unaware that it contained nothing but a dead rabbit.

The two thieves struck as Hilda Morgenstein, 42, was about to catch a train at Baden to the countryside with her daughter to bury the pet. The joke will be on the robbers once they find out that their loot contains nothing but a hare carcass.

Morgenstein said: “They saved us the trip – I told my daughter they were angels and were taking bunny to a better place.”

Police are still searching for the pair and the remains of the rabbit.

I wonder what the black market price is for a dead bunny is?

The Last Gulp of Gatorade Creator – Robert Cade

At this time of the year we are bombarded with all kinds of sports events on TV. During Thanksgiving weekend I am sure many people were watch their favorite football game. At the end of the game one of the most notable scenes is the “Gatorade Shower” at the end a football game, where players from a victorious team grab the Gatorade cooler, sneak up behind the head coach, and pour the contents over his head.

This tradition began in the mid-1980’s when Harry Carson and Jim Burt of the New York Giants doused head coach Bill Parcells during the 1985 season. Burt’s teammates picked up on this practice and popularized it during team’s championship seasons of 1986-87. The tradition gained widespread popularity, and now coaches at all levels get the dunk.

The reason it is Gatorade is that is what is on the sideline of the game for the players to drink. The drink is intended to rehydrate and to replenish the electrolytes depleted during exercise.

It is the inventor of Gatorade, Dr. James Robert Cade, who has taken his Final Taxi.

He was a was a professor of medicine and physiology at the University of Florida when he invented the sports drink.

In 1965, Cade, along with Dr. Dana Shires, Dr. H. James Free and Dr. Alejandro de Quesada were approached by a UF assistant coach who asked them figure out why so many of the players were being affected by the heat and what could be done about it.

In their research, the doctors found the players were losing fluids and electrolytes through sweat and burning large amounts of carbohydrates for energy that were not being replaced. To combat these effects, the team created a concoction they called ‘Gatorade,’ a precisely balanced carbohydrate-electrolyte beverage that would help Gator players replace key components lost through sweating and exercise.

Soon after making Gatorade available during games and practices, the Gators began outlasting their opponents in the heat and had their first winning season in more than a decade. In 1967, the team not only finished 9–2, they also won the Orange Bowl for the first time ever in the history of the school.

Word about Gatorade spread outside of Florida as colleges from across the U.S. began ordering it for their teams.

According to the Gatorade Co., in 1969, Gator’s Coach Ray Graves suggested to the Kansas City Chiefs that they use Gatorade. The Chiefs were so impressed with the effect the drink had on the team, they kept it on their sidelines throughout the entire season which ended with a surprising Superbowl win against the Minnesota Vikings.

Over the years, more NFL teams began making Gatorade available on the sidelines of their games and practices, and in 1983, Gatorade became the official sports drink of the NFL—a title it holds to this day.

Dr. Cade continued to work at the university, where he taught medicine and conducted research, until the age of 76.

One of my favorite comedies, The Waterboy, has a great scene where Coach Klein (Henry Winkler) tells Bobby Boucher (Adam Sandler) that Gatorade is better than water, in an effort to harness Boucher’s rage for the football field. I am sure there are people who prefer the many flavors, from the original lemon-lime to the new Cran Raspberry A.M., to water.

PODCAST: Life Squeezed From Mr. Whipple- Dick Wilson

Mr. Whipple Takes Final Taxi- Download the MP3

The man who made the phrase “Please don’t squeeze the Charmin” famous, Dick Wilson, has taken his Final Taxi at  91.

Mr. WhippleFor more than 20 years Wilson appeared as Mr. Whipple in the television ads for Charmin. As a grocery store manager he would monitor the aisles and ask customers to refrain from picking up the paper product and squeezing it.

Wilson also appeared on several episodes of “Hogan’s Heroes” and “Bewitched.”

The Sun Sets On Another Day – Laraine Day

When growing up in the 70’s we had an afternoon TV program called “Dialing For Dollars”. I was suppose to be doing homework but my afternoon was watching the host as he called a house and asked them the ‘count and the amount” of the money they had to give. To get us to watch this show, besides winning cash, we were asked to watch old movies. Many were bad “B” movie sci-fi but we were graced once a week to a Tarzan movie.

One of these classics was the film “Tarzan Finds a Son (1939) ” with Johnny Weissmuller playing Tarzan. In the film the plane of a young couple and their baby crashes in the jungle. Everyone on the plane dies, except for the baby who is rescued, by Cheeta, Tarzan’s chimpanzee. Tarzan and Jane adopt the child and name him “Boy”. Jane was played by the legendary Maureen O’Sullivan and the mother of the child was played by a new actress whose name was Laraine Day.

Laraine Day has taken her Final Taxi at age 87. Day appeared in over 80 films and TV shows during her career. She was also voted most promising film star in 1940 by American distributors.Day began her stage career with the Long Beach Players in 1931. A talent scout saw her there and got her a contract with the Goldwyn studios, for whom she made her cinema debut in the celebrated Barbara Stanwyck drama, Stella Dallas (1937). She had four lines. RKO offered her the female lead, billed as Laraine Johnson, opposite George O’Brien in three minor westerns: Border G-Men, Painted Desert and Arizona Legion, before she went to MGM in 1939 and became Laraine Day. Her first role there was as a lively Irish lass, the adopted daughter of cop Wallace Beery in “Sergeant Madden.” That same year she signed with the Dr Kildare series. (These were films that were replaced with TV soap operas.)

“Calling Dr Kildare (1939)”, in which Day played Mary Lamont, a nurse who becomes involved in a murder case with Dr Kildare (Lew Ayres), was the second of the studio’s series featuring the young doctor and his gruff mentor Dr Gillespie (Lionel Barrymore), and Day remained as Kildare’s love interest for six more films until, in “Dr Kildare’s Wedding Day (1941)”, Mary was fatally struck by a truck on the day she was to wed the doctor.

Day’s performance was so affecting that the studio was inundated with letters from grieving fans. In order to console them, MGM cast her again opposite Lew Ayres in “Fingers at the Window (1942)”, hoping to create a husband-and-wife detective duo to rival “The Thin Man.”

Day was lent out to United Artists for Alfred Hitchcock’s second Hollywood movie, Foreign Correspondent (1940). She played the daughter of Herbert Marshall, who heads a peace organization, although she does not know that it is a front for fifth columnists. Joel McCrea, on the run with her from Nazi agents, says: “I’m in love with you and I want to marry you.” She replies: “I’m in love with you and I want to marry you!” “That cuts our love scene down quite a bit, doesn’t it?” he retorts. The film received 6 Oscar nominations.

Day was excellent as a rich socialite whom gambler Cary Grant tries to fleece in Mr Lucky (1943), and, in Cecil B DeMille’s The Story of Dr Wassell (1944), she provided sterling support as a nurse to Gary Cooper’s missionary doctor in Java during the war.

Other credits include “I Take This Woman” with Spencer Tracy, “Unholy Partners” with Edward G. Robinson and John Wayne’s “The High and the Mighty.” She also hosted a TV program called “The Laraine Day Show (1951)”

For her contribution to the motion picture industry, Laraine Day has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

The Final …..’Tractor’???

Down here in the South people tend to depend on their farm tools a lot and will grow attached to them. Many people love their trucks and tractors and it shows with the rise in clothing with the John Deer logo on it. But it is not just a Southern U.S. thing as a man in the UK has asked that his Final Taxi be a ‘final tractor.’

Jimmy Haythornthwaite and his tractors

A Yorkshire farmer, Jimmie Haythornthwaite , owned three vintage Massey Fergusons and used an adapted 1960s model to go shopping and pick up his pension.

A tractor fanatic, Haythornthwaite told his son that his last wish was to have his body towed to his funeral on his favorite tractor. That wish was granted when he died and his coffin was pulled to a crematorium on a trailer attached to his beloved red 1956 model driven by pal Colin Moses.

Daughter Vicky, 35, said: “It was his last wish to be towed behind his favorite tractor and that his ashes should be scattered at the farm.”

Her father was a well known character in the area and could often be seen standing outside his home surveying the countryside.

She said he lived an old-fashioned life alone in his house that had hardly changed in decades. It was several hundred years old and still had a butchery area and between 1870 and 1878 was a brewery serving the men who built nearby Ponden reservoir.

Invite an axe-murderer into your home this Christmas

It has been a week since Halloween and my podcasts of ‘ true stories of horror ‘ went over well this year it seems. I couldn’t help but laugh a bit when I read a news story this morning. It would fit in my true horror tales and also the death history stories I tell.

It seems the German city of Hanover is getting slammed for featuring an axe wielding serial killer on a children’s Christmas advent calendar. Tourism officials have defended the move by saying mass murderer Fritz Haarmann was part of the German city of Hanover’s history.

Haarmann killed 24 young men, chopped up their corpses and dumped their remains in the local river Leine. He appears on the Advent calendar hiding behind a tree on the river bank.

Haarmann stalked Hanover more than 80 years ago and his victims were aged between 13 and 20. Rumors had it that he would then peddle meat from the bodies of his victims as black market pork. His accomplice, Hans Grans, sold the clothing of his victims. Haarmann was sentenced to death and beheaded in 1925.

The calendar is already on sale at tourism offices and shows children singing Xmas carols and laughing as Santa hands out Xmas gifts – and the Star of Bethlehem twinkles over the rooftops.

But over the first door of the calendar, a trilby wearing man peeks out from behind a tree with a meat cleaver in his left hand.

Mass murder stalk vitims on Christmas calender.
Head of the Hanover tourism board, Hans-Christian Nolte, has defended the calendar, saying: “He is part of our city’s history. Even on guided tours the serial killer’s story is told.”

Among The Honky Tonk Angels – Hank Thompson

Few country music artists can claim a longevity and track record to equal that of Hank Thompson. Between 1948 and 1974 he scored no less than twenty-nine Top Ten hits, with another nineteen in the Top Twenty, and continued to chart into the 1980s. Many of these, including “Green Light,” “A Six Pack to Go,” and “Waiting in the Lobby of Your Heart,” he penned himself, thus proving his stature in country music’s great singer-songwriter tradition.
Hank Thompson has taken his Final Taxi.
He decided to pursue his musical talent after serving in the U.S. Navy in World War II as a radioman and studying electrical engineering at the university level. His first single was “Whoa Sailor” in 1946. The year 1952 brought his first #1 disc, “The Wild Side of Life”, which contained the memorable line “I didn’t know God made honky-tonk angels” (which inspired the Kitty Wells answer song, “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels”). Subsequent Thompson chartmakers of the 1950s included “Waiting in the Lobby of Your Heart,” “Rub-A-Dub-Dub,” “Yesterday’s Girl,” “Wake Up, Irene,” “Honky Tonk Girl,” “Most of All,” “The Blackboard of My Heart,” and “Squaws Along the Yukon,” all in the Top Ten.
Thompson’s musical style, characterized as Honky Tonk Swing, was a mixture of big-band instrumentation, fiddle and steel guitar that featured his distinctive, gravelly baritone vocals. His backing band, The Brazos Valley Boys, was voted the No.1 Country Western Band for 14 years in a row by Billboard Magazine.
In 1997 Curb Records released Hank Thompson and Friends, a critically acclaimed collection of duets pairing Thompson with Lyle Lovett, Vince Gill, George Jones, Kitty Wells, and others.
The last show Thompson played was Oct. 8, 2007 in his hometown of  Waco Texas. That day was declared “Hank Thompson Day” by Gov. Rick Perry and Waco Mayor Virginia DuPuy.

Aquaman Creator – Paul Norris


Name just a few super-heroes that you know and one character may pop up in that list.


He has never got the popularity of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman or Spider-man, but he is a hero that many of us grew up to. Either in comic books or on Saturday morning cartoons, Aquaman was a part of that trivia of our youth.

Aquaman is a superhero in DC Comics that was created by Paul Norris ( and Mort Weisinger,) for More Fun Comics # 73 (Nov. 1941). Initially a backup feature for the main attraction of Superboy, Aquaman was later featured in his own title multiple times. Nearly two decades later, during the superhero-revival period known as the Silver Age of Comic Books, he was a founding member of the Justice League of America. Aquaman is king of Atlantis and has the power to communicate with sea creatures.
Aquaman has also appeared in animated and live-action television programs. Most will remember him from the Super Friends or the long running Aquaman cartoon show in the 60’s.

The man who help create Aquaman, Paul Norris, has taken his Final Taxi at the age of 93.

Born on April 26, 1914 in Greenville, Ohio, Norris studied at Midland Lutheran College and at the Dayton Art Institute before being hired for the Dayton Daily News as an illustrator and cartoonist. In 1939, he headed to New York to seek a better job. By 1940, he was drawing comics for Prize Publications, where he created such “star strips” as Yank and Doodle, Power Nelson and Futureman.

Norris was at DC Comics in 1941. There, he and editor-writer Weisinger created Aquaman.

His first credit with DC is a revamp of the Sandman. Sandman has always been my favorite super hero. The simple green three-piece suit with purple cape and a gas mask was something I could see someone wearing instead of the tights and cape. Norris thought otherwise and followed what was popular for the time giving Sandman yellow and purple tights and a boy sidekick. It worked for the time period but I was glad he turned back to the gas masked hero many years later.

During WW II Norris illustrated propaganda leaflets to be dropped from aircraft over Okinawa, urging Japanese soldiers to surrender. After the war he worked with the King Features Syndicate as a “troubleshooter” with such adventure strips as Flash Gordon and Secret Agent X-9.

I the 1950s, Norris drew issues of Dell Comics’ Tom Corbett, Space Cadet and Jungle Jim, the latter of which he had previously drawn as a newspaper comic strip. The following decade, he drew stories of jungle adventurer Tarzan and science-fiction hero Magnus, Robot Fighter in comic books for Gold Key Comics. He also drew one of my favorite DC speedsters Johnny Quick.

Later he drew comics for Marvel of Hanna-Barbera characters including Yogi Bear, Scooby Doo, and Dyno-mutt.

Noted as one of the last of the great creators of Golden Age DC superheroes, Aquaman stories still get a “Created by Paul Norris” credit on them.

Ramones manager – Linda Stein

Back in the late 70’s I was invited by a friend to a concert at Brother’s Music Hall.  a nightclub in Birmingham. The band playing was The Ramones, who I had not heard of, but it was a night that would change my life. My musical taste would defiantly be influenced by one show.

I had been to several concerts before but this was the first one that I was a participant. There was no sitting down in chairs. This was an event. The music was loud and everyone was pleasant and moved to the music as one. (This was years before slam dancing started at punk shows.) I danced with the entire crowd there.

The Ramones were an American rock band often regarded as the first punk rock group. It was  their appearance in 1976 that  galvanized the beginning UK punk rock scene, inspiring future punk stars, including members of The Clash, The Damned, and the Sex Pistols.

It was a few months after that tour that they played Birmingham. On tour with them was their manger at the time, Linda Stein.  She has taken her Final Taxi at age 62.

Linda Stein, former manager of US punk band the Ramones and realtor to New York’s A-list celebrities has taken her Final Taxi.

Stein, a former teacher, was credited with jumpstarting the careers of the Ramones, The Pretenders ,Talking Heads and Madonna to stardom. She was a fixture in clubs from Studio 54 to the Mudd Club and later a reliable voice in gossip columns, aided by her quick wit and fanciful way with a four-letter word.

In the 1990s, Stein left band management and became a “real estate agent to the stars”. She landed mega-million-dollar apartments for Madonna, Sting, Billy Joel, Christie Brinkley, Bruce Willis, Michael Douglas, Steven Spielberg and Elton John.

According to her friend, author Steven Gaines, Stein inspired two movie characters: the real estate agent (played by Sylvia Miles) who sells a high-rise apartment to Charlie Sheen’s character in Oliver Stone’s Wall Street, and a predatory record executive in the 1998 movie.

She was just getting over breast cancer treatments when she was found murdered in her New York apartment.

Long-time friend Elton John said in a statement: “I’m absolutely shocked and upset. She’s been a friend for over 37 years and will be greatly missed, She did so much for breast cancer and was a huge supporter of my AIDS foundation.”