Earl Freudenberg Remembers When He Talked With Vice President Richard Nixon

  • Saturday, April 20, 2024
David Cooper, in his book Catalyst for Christ, identifies those in the photo. From left on the front row, Scotty Probasco, Beth Lupton, Boofie Lupton, Billy Graham, Richard Nixon, Ben Haden and Lamar Baker. Second row, Dallas Haden, Kim Lupton, Allen Lupton, Charlyne Haden and Mrs. C.P. Edwards, Charlyne's mother. Third row, Eleanor Bryan, Sue Baker, Betty Probasco, Ellie Bryan and Mr. Edwards, Charlyne's father. Fourth row, Dr. Jack Evans, Jeanne Evans, Betsy Anderson, Tommy Lupton and Teeny Lassiter. Back row, George Bryan, Charles Flatt and Dr. Lawrence Lassiter. Lee Anderson took the picture.
David Cooper, in his book Catalyst for Christ, identifies those in the photo. From left on the front row, Scotty Probasco, Beth Lupton, Boofie Lupton, Billy Graham, Richard Nixon, Ben Haden and Lamar Baker. Second row, Dallas Haden, Kim Lupton, Allen Lupton, Charlyne Haden and Mrs. C.P. Edwards, Charlyne's mother. Third row, Eleanor Bryan, Sue Baker, Betty Probasco, Ellie Bryan and Mr. Edwards, Charlyne's father. Fourth row, Dr. Jack Evans, Jeanne Evans, Betsy Anderson, Tommy Lupton and Teeny Lassiter. Back row, George Bryan, Charles Flatt and Dr. Lawrence Lassiter. Lee Anderson took the picture.

WDEF TV, Channel 12 will celebrate 70 years of telecasting on April 25th. Anchors Chip Chapman and Kay Blevins recently asked me to come up with some memories of the television station.

This memory takes me back to 1968 when I took a break from playing country music at WDOD and worked for WDEF Radio as a control board operator.

While working at WDOD in 1967, general manager Bill Nash sent me to a luncheon at First Presbyterian Church downtown to welcome and meet the new pastor, Ben Haden. The church was a good client of the station having broadcast their Sunday morning service since 1925. That luncheon was the beginning of a lengthy friendship with Ben (who did not like being referred to as Rev. Haden).

On Sept. 27, 1968, Former Vice President Richard M. Nixon came to the Memorial Auditorium in Chattanooga for a campaign rally. Mr. Nixon was running for President.

I was working in WDEF radio control that afternoon and had been alerted we might get a two way radio call and short interview with the former Vice President.

After 6:00, WDEF TV photographer Butch Manning checked in. Manning said, “KIY 521 to radio control.” (Those were the station's two-way radio call letters.)

I responded, “Go ahead, Butch.” Manning said, “Earl, say hello to Vice President Richard Nixon.”

I said, “Mr. Vice President welcome to Chattanooga, a mutual friend of ours, Ben Haden, said to tell you hello.”

As it was, the Nixons had attended Key Biscayne Presbyterian Church where Ben Haden was pastor before coming to Chattanooga. A few days earlier I had talked with Ben and he casually mentioned if I had a chance to tell his friend hello.

In response to my greeting, the former Vice President congratulated the church on their new pastor and noted the Nixons and Hadens were in each other’s homes several times while both lived in Florida.

Mr. Nixon told me if he was elected president he’d invite various pastors and spiritual leaders to speak at the White House.

The former Vice President visited with Jolly Cholly Krause on WDEF radio for a few minutes and then the two said goodbye.

Mr. Manning had parked the WDEF News car on Houston Street next to the auditorium where Mr. Nixon was to speak. As was related to me, Mr. Nixon got out of the news car and held a short interview with Manning and WDEF reporter Red Brown, Julius Parker with the Chattanooga News Free Press and Bill Casteel of the Chattanooga Times. They followed up on my casual comment about Mr. Nixon knowing Ben Haden. In addition to being the lead story on WDEF TV at 11 p.m. it was also on the front pages of both newspapers the next day with a picture.

According to “Hello Chattanooga” by David Carroll, the Nixon campaign event drew a standing room only crowd of nearly 10,000,

Just a few days ago, former Chattanooga School Board member and city high school graduate Eddie Roberson sent me a picture someone had given him. (Roberson’s father was Rev. M.E. Roberson, pastor of the North Chattanooga Church of God for nearly 20 years.) Pictured are Ben Haden, Billy Graham and former Congressman Lamar Baker with President Nixon at the White House for a Sunday Service.

Eddie Roberson wrote:

A friend shared it with me. My dad is not in it. President Nixon professed to be a Christian but did not attend church because his security needs were often disruptive at churches. Instead, he regularly invited pastors from around the country to come to the White House and preach to him and guests. This photo shows Nixon with a delegation from Chattanooga.

David Cooper, in his book Catalyst for Christ, includes this photo that was taken by Lee Anderson, longtime editor of the Chattanooga News-Free Press.

The picture that Mr. Roberson recently shared brought back a memory from 1968 about the comment that then former Vice President Nixon made to me while sitting in the WDEF TV news car on that fall evening.

Memories
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