A few days ago, I saw on Facebook where a mutual friend had visited Doug Nye, and he wasn’t doing well. And I thought, “I need to check on him,” and now he’s gone. My mom called me last night to say it was announced at the USC baseball game…
It’s funny the things you remember about people. Doug was a great guy to talk to about all sorts of things, and not just westerns. To many people he will be remembered as the Father of the Chicken Curse, in terms of having popularized the concept. There are complex permutations on the Curse beyond what Bill Starr wrote about this morning that I could get into, but that’s not what I remember best about Doug.
Here’s what I remember best, and most fondly: Doug and I had a number of conversations sharing our childhood memories of watching “Spaceship C-8,” a kiddie show on WBTW out of Florence, hosted by the late “Captain Ashby” Ward, who was also the news anchor. I really didn’t have all that many specific memories about the show (Doug, being older, remembered more), despite having spent many an hour watching it during the summers I spent with my grandparents in Bennettsville. (Doug watched it from another end of the coverage area — I want to say Sumter.) But I enjoyed talking about it with Doug on multiple occasions.
It was about way more than one kid’s show; it was about remembering an era, a time before media saturation. A time when WBTW was the only station you could reliably get clearly in B’ville with a home antenna (WIS also came in, depending on the weather). Then, in the late 60s, along came cable to small town America, LONG before it came to cities. That way, you could get all three networks, plus some duplicates from different cities. There was less demand in cities, because they could already get three or four channels.
Consequently, we spent an awful lot of time doing stuff other than watching TV, or engaging any other mass medium. A time that in many ways was about as close as Huck Finn’s fictional existence as it was to what kids experience today.
Odd, I suppose, that the thing I would remember best from knowing the longtime TV writer was talking about days that were practically pre-TV. But that’s what I remember. It won’t really mean anything to you, I suppose, but I’m confident it would make Doug smile.
I remember that, and the fact that, as I said, Doug was a great guy to talk to about anything. Always a ready grin (that’s why I know he’d smile at my trivial remembrance), the kind of naturally affable guy who you took a moment to chat with rather than just rushing past in the course of getting through a day’s deadlines. He stood out among newspapermen that way. Not that newspapermen were so awful; I just mean Doug stood out. Which is why so many will remember him fondly.