If you missed it, click here to read Part 1.
Tim Brannon, having just received his assignment to accompany that year’s Miss Tennessee on a road trip for a series of Allis-Chalmers’ “Expo Gals” promoting Allis-Chalmers farm equipment, loads up their car…
Speaking of the car, as I stated, it was a 1974 Blue Oldsmobile Cutlass four door. To get all the show stuff in, we removed the rear seat (I took a lot of heat for this, as one can imagine) with the aid of the service department’s air chisel. The rear frame seat supports the trunk and rear seat area to make one big compartment. The screen supports rested between her and me as they ran from the trunk to within inches of the ashtray in the dash. But hey, it was better than dragging a U-Haul thousands of miles. I am sure the Old's lease company had a different opinion.
Our first gig was H&L Equipment in Jackson, Miss. As was the routine, I dropped Miss Tennessee off at the motel and proceeded to the dealership. Dealers were always wanting to help set up the show. It was hard to tell them diplomatically that we did not want tractor technicians to touch the delicate electrical gear and clean white screens. Setup took about an hour. We took great pride in having the “long thin line” run straight across the screens in the straight line as it was intended to. We also made sure all the projectors and movies were centered on the screen and not having the person’s head cut off or big white blanks showing at edges or bottoms — we were professionals!
After making sure all was working and nothing sizzled, popped, smoked or squealed, I headed back to the motel to shower, change and deliver Miss Tennessee to the awaiting customers. The show went perfect. She received a standing ovation.
Reigning Miss Tennessee from 1975-76, Marion Burgess
A few shows later, we arrived in Somerville, Tenn. The program was to be at the Moose Lodge. I should have expected something would go wrong. There is something about the sound of it: Moose Lodge.
Just before the show, Miss Tennessee informed me that her fiancé was coming to see her perform. I looked out between the screens to see what the lucky stiff looked like. Just before the lights dimmed, four of the largest specimens of homo sapiens I had seen made their way to the front row. She hugged and cheek pecked the ugliest one and then came backstage and with the flip of those big fake eyelashes informed me Mr. Wonderful was here along with the center, guard and tackle of the Memphis State Tiger football team. About 5 minutes into the show, Mr. Wonderful stood up, grabbed her by the arm and said, “This is the stupidest thing I ever heard of — singing and talking about tractors, you are embarrassing me in front of my friends. We are getting out of here and taking you with us!”
At this point, she jerked her arm away and, in the process, popped out her contacts, broke a heel of the orange tap dance shoes and snagged a big runner in a stocking. As the lug attempted to grab her again, the lights came up and a couple of Mooses in attendance, who had just enough to drink to make them think they could take on the front line of the MSU football team, came to her assistance. Where the local sheriff came from, I do not know, but I considered it an answered prayer. I had not had time to pray yet. Nevertheless, in less than 10 minutes, it was all over, and the football team had lost to a room full of farmers. No wonder they went 3-8 that year.
Anyway, she came back behind the screens balling, limping and blind. She wanted to go home. In my best fatherly manner, I explained to her that if she valued the life of her beau, she should finish the act. Then I fell to my knees and sobbed that those farmers would kill me, too, if she bolted. I told her she had three choices: finish the show, give me her dress and let me do the rest of the show, or the two of us were going out the back door. She looked around, dabbed at her tears with a tissue from my huge box (remember, part of the equipment) and stated that there was no back door. I looked at her and asked, “Reckon where they would want one?” To which she finally exhibited a smile and just like a trooper, went back out front, apologized, made a few jokes about the jerks and then finished with flair (and a limp in bare feet). Another standing ovation.
This is not the end of the story. She had told her beholden that we were going to Lawrenceburg, Tenn., after the Moose Lodge engagement. We pulled into the shotgun motel around 1 a.m., and I literally fell into bed and asleep. About 2 a.m., I awakened to a bright light from a jacked-up pickup truck and MSU’s finest going door to door banging and yelling, “Come out here, we know you’re in there, we are going to kill yo’ a_ _ ( a part of my anatomy I sit on from time to time).
At that point, I discovered that one could not crawl under the bed of a cheap motel. The beds were built on a boxed plywood frame. I also discovered the black plastic phone had no rotary dial – it was solid, and one had to wait until the office answered. At 2 a.m., it was not quick. I now realized Miss Tennessee was yelling repeatedly through the wall from the next-door room, “Tim, don’t open the door!” I cannot remember what I yelled back, but I am sure I could not write it here anyway. Opening the door was not in my game plan.
The end of the story is that local police arrived just in time to prevent my posterior from meeting its maker. We also spent the next 2 hours making bail for the fearless and brainless foursome, arranging bus fare to Memphis for three and lodging for the least intoxicated so he could drive their mode of transportation back when he could pass the field sobriety test.
Perry Brothers Equipment in Lawrenceburg did not receive much of a straight-line program the next day. They still thought it was great — another standing ovation — and the last time I visited, they still had a picture of the owners, J.B and Roy, and their bald heads in a picture with Miss Tennessee between them, still hanging on the wall.
Told from the perspective of an in-the-trenches owner/operator — Tim Brannon of B&G Equipment, Paris, Tenn. — Equipment Dealer Tips, Tales & Takeaways shares knowledge, experiences and tips/lessons with fellow rural equipment dealerships throughout North America. Covering all aspects required of an equipment dealership general manager, Brannon will inform, entertain and provide a teachable moment for current — and future — leaders within equipment dealerships.
More From Tim Brannon
- Confessions of an Allis-Chalmers ‘Tech-Man’, Part 1
- When Someone 'Moves the Keys' On Your Dealership
- My Days as an OEM ‘Blockman’
- Build Back Gooder
- Fast and Fiery-ous
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