Oh, That Buddy Houts - And Response

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

To Jim Ashley:

I loved reading about Buddy Houts. I worked at the Free Press for seven years from 1974-81 (only barely overlapping  your arrival)  in what was originally known as the Society Department. Then it became Features, but it was still all women.  Buddy came in our big room to see us often.  One day he had on a beautiful new suit, which his mother, an accomplished seamstress, had made.  We oohed and aahed over it, but Buddy said, “I will never have her make me another suit with two pairs of trousers.”   Why, we asked Buddy?  “Too hot,” he replied.

Still, another time was on a hot summer day when one of our staff had sent up a filler to be used when there was a little spot left over on a page.  We got these off the wire service but had to put a title or headline on each story.  The one she had sent up to the composing room was about taking care of your dogs while it was so hot – provide water, shade, etc.  Her headline was, “Watch Dogs in Heat.”  Buddy came in our room with a big grin on his face, holding up that page with the headline circled in red. “Well,” he said, “I guess if you’ve got nothing else to do.”

When it snowed, Mr. Roy, whose first priority was getting the paper out every day, came into our area and announced that he had reserved rooms at the Read House for any of us who wanted to stay there and not try to drive home and back.  Buddy, standing behind Mr. McDonald to see what was going on, said he believed he would go down to the Read House with us.  “That could be dangerous, Buddy,” Mr. Roy laughed.  “Well, if it kills them, it kills them,” Buddy answered.

 That was Buddy Houts.  Such fun.  Thanks for the memories, Jim.

Margaret Kelley

* * *

I have a Buddy Houts story for you. Back around1975, on a snowy winter day, Buddy decided to test -drive a Peterbilt Truck...those long-haul machines that have a gazillion gears. He invited me to join him.

I think we went east on East Eleventh Street and then got onto McCallie Avenue. At some point, he stopped and asked me if I wanted to drive. Well, of course.

Somehow,  I got us onto M.L King Boulevard headed for Riverfront Parkway. We stopped at the Chattanooga Housing Authority, where my husband Mark Rudisill worked. I started tooting the horn until people started coming outside to see what the ruckus was all about. When they recognized me, they went and got Mark. He about died when he saw me in the driver's seat. What a hoot.

Betsy Bramlett


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