The Ladies Fair, but oh, what a stadium

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 27, 2000

Features Editor

Oct. 26, 2000 10 PM

Fifty-one years is a long time ago.

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Even for Red Stinson, the memory of 1949 is hazy is some ways. In other ways, it’s as clear as if it were yesterday.

For it was during that year that Stinson, his wife, Fanny, and little son, Roy Gene, were chosen as the "honorary" guests at one of the biggest, most prestigious events that Pike County has seen.

That year, 1949, was the year that Tom Moore and The Ladies’ Fair came to town.

The Ladies Fair was just the most popular radio show to hit the air waves and Tom Moore was its host and the darling of ladies from coast to coast. Having the show come to Troy really put a red feather in the town’s cap.

"How it happened," Stinson said, "was that we were trying to build a big, brand new stadium for our high school and college boys to play football in, but we had to raise a lot of money to get it done. Bill Needham was the manager of the radio station and he had worked with Tom Moore on The Ladies’ Fair before he came to Troy. He told us some ways to raise the money that was needed."

One of those ways was to bring Tom Moore and The Ladies’ Fair to Troy.

"When it was told that Tom Moore and The Ladies Fair were coming, oooh, everybody got excited," Stinson said. "Women, men, children. Everybody liked that show. It was like Queen for a Day was on television later on."

Stinson said there was lot of hoopla surrounding the coming of the popular radio show and its host.

"It was decided that on Thursday night we’d have a big shindig down on the square. The women wore long dresses and bonnets and the men wore beards. They set up Judge Alex Brantley to have court and Joe Bob Reddoch was the sheriff. Judge Brantley would send him out in the crowd and tell him who to bring up before him. Joe Bob would go get ’em and the judge say a whole lot of funny stuff about ’em and make everybody laugh. Then, he would fine ’em $25 or $50. I suppose they had worked it out beforehand how much each one wanted to pay. They raised a whole lot of money and everybody had a whole lot of fun."

There was some tension surrounding the event because everybody in Pike County wanted to "get in on" the Tom Moore show the next morning.

"The Ladies Fair was going to be broadcast from the lab school auditorium (Kilby) over at Troy State and it couldn’t hold but 500," Stinson said. "So, everybody had to put their names in a big box and they drew out 500 names. Those were the ones that got to go to see Tom Moore. Everybody else was disappointed."

Stinson, his wife and son got lucky. Their names were drawn. Then, they got even luckier.

"Tom Moore wanted a red-headed family for his honorary guests," Stinson said. "We were a red-headed family and we were his honorary guests."

The honored guests on each Ladies Fair program got a lot of attention brought to them and they won a lot of prizes.

Stinson didn’t care much about the prizes. He just wanted to be on the show.

The next day he found himself center stage and face-to-face with Tom Moore and on the air to millions all across the United States.

"Oh, we had a fine time," Stinson said. "Tom Moore kept everybody laughing with all his crazy stuff. Each one of the honorary guests had to get up and sing a song. I sang ‘My Blue Heaven’ and everybody clapped and hollered. Fanny sang ‘Carolina Moon’ and they clapped and hollered some more."

The Stinsons were "scared about" their 9-year-old son being on stage in front of all those people, but he surprised them and everyone else.

Little Roy Gene stood tall on the stage in his green shorts and with his bare feet and belted out "Cruising Down the River." He brought down the house.

The red-headed family got several prizes for being the "honorary" guests on The Ladies Fair. The lady of the family got a wringer washing machine and an ironer – "like you press shirts with" – and a wardrobe.

"My wife had to send her measurements to New York to get that wardrobe but she never did," Stinson said. "She said she didn’t care about that."

Stinson, got a

23k gold men’s set from King’s Men.

"It had powder, lotion and soap. It was real pretty," Stinson said. "I also got a year’s supply of EverReady flashlights and batteries. I’ve never seen as many flashlights and batteries. I gave ’em to everybody that needed a flashlight and my little boy got a Schwinn bicycle. The honorary guests usually got more but they saved some of the things, like a refrigerator and stove, to give away the next day to raise more money for the stadium. That was fine with us because we wanted the town to have that stadium more than we wanted a new stove."

On Saturday, the Troy football field took on the appearance of a carnival. It was covered with tents and booths and people, from far and wide, paid six dollars to get in and eat, play games and enjoy the entertainment and fun.

"One thing I remember was that there were three girls – Jean Thompson (Lake), Dot Grimes and I think Joe Frank Walters’ daughter – that went around the carnival playing ukuleles and singing. They were a big hit and they got an offer to go over to Louisiana or somewhere and be on a Mutual radio show. But I guess they didn’t want to go way off over there."

When the dust settled on the football field that night, a large amount of money had been raised to build the new stadium the people of Troy wanted.

"A lot of people helped out to make it come around," Stinson said. "It was just a big gully over there and Joe Frank Walters filled it in and made it level. Sam Murphree was in construction and he built the bleachers. Those are just two that I can think of right now, but a lot of people pitched in."

And, with the money that was earned from The Ladies Fair coming to town, it wasn’t too long before the people of Troy had their stadium.

"We sure did have a lot of fun getting up the money to get it done," Stinson said. "That was some good time when Tom Moore and The Ladies Fair came to town."