The recent death of Baltimore radio and TV personality Garry Moore caused me to recall our initial meeting. It was 1947 and, having completed my sophomore year in college, I was traveling the country during summer vacation. Eating lunch in the NBC commissary in Hollywood, I glanced out the window and observed a strange message on the marquee: "Garry Moore in 'Take It Or Leave It' Tonight."
Now everyone knew that the emcee of that top-rated radio show was Phil Baker, so I sauntered over to the box office where free tickets were dispensed to inform someone of the error. "It's no mistake," I was told. "They are trying out several possible replacements and Garry Moore will be hosting the show this evening."
When I requested a ticket there was only disappointment. "They're all gone," said the woman in the booth. "But I'm from Baltimore and we're both alumni of City College," I confessed, hoping that these magic words might allow my entry into the theater.
Asking me to wait, she phoned someone backstage, perhaps Mr. Moore himself, who apparently thought it would be a good idea to be certain that a person from his hometown was in the audience.
A ticket was provided and the number on it noted, for about halfway through the quiz show, sponsored by Eversharp Pens and Pencils, Garry Moore descended the stage and ran up the aisle to my seat. Of course, completely unaware of my name, he said: "Hi, John, how are you?" then pushed the hand microphone toward my face.
Nonplussed, I blurted out: "Garry, my name's not John, it's Bennard Eversharp!"
"Well, I used to work on our school newspaper, The Collegian, and 'Eversharp' was my pen name!"
Amid a round of laughter from the audience, he chuckled too, then remarked: "Hey, I'm the one trying out for this show, not you," and, feigning hurt feelings, he retreated back down the aisle.
At the conclusion of the half-hour program, Mr. Moore graciously invited me backstage to hear the playback. Afterward, with the producer and others on hand, the 32-year old entertainer placed a fatherly arm around this teen-ager's shoulders and said, simply: "Thanks."
Several weeks later it was announced that Garry Moore had been named the new host of the show, beating out the likes of Phil Silvers and Groucho Marx.
Years afterward, at the opening of a one-man show of my paintings in the Bahamas, we recounted the tale and laughed at it once again.
Bennard B. Perlman is a Baltimore artist.