Showing of JAWS a night to remember … again

My wife and I were among the couple of hundred patrons who gathered in the Paramount Arts Center on Friday to watch the special showing of JAWS, the 1975 blockbuster classic that can still make you afraid of getting in the deep end of the water.

We arrived early, about an hour before show time, and had already shared most of a bag of popcorn while waiting for the doors to open. It didn’t exactly fit into my diet, but who can resist that smell as you walk into the place?

Once the doors opened at 7, we had only a 30-minute wait until the movie started. Or so we thought. The screen wasn’t as big as I remembered, but still much bigger than my television.

However, you could sense a bit of panic in the place and it wasn’t because of the giant shark. It was because of technology.

What was showing on the “big screen” was the DVD startup page with Play underscored – and in black and white. OK, we thought, it was a shot of the ocean with a buoy floating so maybe, just maybe, it was a darker shot.

Try as they might, though, the two workers who were frantically and faithfully trying to make the movie happen for us were failing. They were making multiple trips up and down the aisle and then behind the curtain on the stage to try and fix the problem.

It made you wonder about the man behind the curtain. But that’s another movie, isn’t it?

They kept making those trips, faster and faster it seemed and sometimes running with a cellphone to the ear. They were dripping with panic. You could almost smell it.

The audience came to witness the panic of JAWS, like we remembered it some forty-two years ago when the movie literally kept people out of the ocean water. We all knew that ,while it had been a few years since the movie was produced, the film wasn’t in black-and-white or silent.

When they were finally able to get the “play” button pushed, the movie came on not only in black-and-white but also without sound. Oh no! But here’s the best part: In a day when nobody exhibits patience, this friendly crowd did. We laughed a little, recited the lines because we’ve seen the movie so many times, and even tried to “sing” the JAWS theme when the giant shark came after the swimmers in those opening scenes.

My wife correctly observed today how cool it was that everybody in the place (or at least that we could see) was gracious and patient. There was no booing or hate speech toward the Paramount workers who tried so diligently to make this movie happen. The audience clapped and cheered each time they were able to start the movie, in black-and-white and with or without sound.

Eventually, forty-five minutes after the scheduled starting time, we enjoyed JAWS again in beautiful color and booming sound in the theater of our childhood (for a lot of us anyway) and on a screen that wouldn’t fit in your house. We jumped at several parts of the flick even though we knew what was going to happen.

One couple that got up to leave went back to their seats after the movie came back on in color. The crowd gave them a nice round of applause, too, and I’m sure they enjoyed the movie as much as anyone.

There were some good lines before the sound started: “How will the people know when the shark is coming without the music?” The JAWS theme song is epic. Even though the mechnical shark they named Bruce had few screen shots the use of constant, pulsing notes made the ocean monster even more mysterious and menacing.

Instead of a crowd turning ugly because of impatience, they were forgiving and determined to have a good time no matter what the circumstances. They applauded when the movie was over and have a good memory to share beyond watching the classic again.

To the two Paramount workers who never gave up, thank you for your diligence in making JAWS a night to remember again.



They will always be my Heroes of the Faith

It was nearly four months ago that my brother found out his sweet wife had a brain tumor. She passed away early this morning around 2:45 in their Jacksonville, Fla., home. Their journey brought sadness, but also spiritual strength to all those who were touched by the courage Pam showed throughout the ordeal.

She is certainly at peace now with her Heavenly Father while also enjoying time with her earthly father, Leonard Sloas, who went on before her several weeks ago. That had to be some kind of special reunion today.

Watching from the outside, we have stood amazed at the grace that fell all over my brother and our family, their church at Fruit Cove and their many other friends throughout the country and even world. What a joy to know and believe that God never leaves us nor forsakes us, even in the darkest of hours. As Tim has repeatedly said throughout this journey, our God is a good, good father.

Beth and I were blessed to spend a long weekend with them back in late June. It was some of the best spiritual refreshing that either of us could ever remember. God was in that place as we shared together. Nightly devotions became prayer meetings full of praise and tears. We prayed for complete healing and she has that now in heaven where there is no suffering. Tim and Pam showed remarkable faith that belied the situation. They had a way of making you feel better even when Pam’s outlook turned bleak.

I wrote a column for the newspaper back in April when they were at the beginning of this journey and, while a lot has changed, much has not. The sentiment expressed in the column remains the same and my brother and his wife are still at the top of my Heroes of the Faith list, maybe now more than ever before.

Here is the column from April 19:


JAWS sure to bring back some memories

My wife and I have a date with a shark on Friday night.

We’re going to see “JAWS” on the big screen at the Paramount Arts Center. The last time I saw it up close and personal like that may have been the summer it hit theaters for the first time in 1975, the summer after Beth and I graduated high school.

My good buddy Bill Hornbuckle was an assistant manager at the Midtown Cinemas which, if rumor is correct, will soon be a Planet Fitness gym. Bill worked the weekend shifts and I was working the same at the newspaper. When a new feature came to the theater, it often came on the bus and it was dropped off late Saturday nights. I’m not sure Bill was supposed to be showing the movies to anybody, but he did anyway.

I worked until about midnight and Bill called and invited me over to watch this new movie about sharks. It was practically a private showing with a handful of us there to catch the first glimpse. We were all terrified, especially with that initial scene, when the swimmer gets taken down in the dark ocean. That gets me every time! (I’ll let you know if it does this time as well).

All movies are better on the big screen and this one particularly belongs there. I’ve watched JAWS on television screens many times over the past 42 years. It’s never been quite as startling as that first time, sitting in the dark movie theater, practically alone, when the swimmer goes down for the last time. Too bad she couldn’t hear the music like the rest of us. We knew that shark was coming!

The late Bill Tom Ross saw the movie in Myrtle Beach while vacationing with Herb Conley that summer. The coaches were plotting summer camp for the Ashland Tomcats football team and the 1975 season looked to be particularly promising. Ross was so engrossed with the movie he thought it’d be a good idea to name the Tomcats’ defense JAWS. Coach Conley didn’t exactly jump at the idea. He wanted to make sure the Tomcats could live up to the nickname because it could be a big embarrassment if they couldn’t. He was imagining headlines like “JAWS defense toothless in loss” or something similar.


He need not have worried. Coach Conley got his answer in the first week of the season in a thrashing of Johnson Central and officially began calling the defense of Ashland’s 1975 team “JAWS” after the high-grossing movie. The Tomcats showed some sharp teeth in a 14-1 season that featured some terrifying hits from the likes of Terry Bell, Jay Shippey, Chuck Anderson, Casey Jones, Rick Sang, Greg Jackson and others.

When the band played the JAWS shark approaching song became a fan favorite. Everybody caught on to the JAWS theme, especially the players who knew they had a lot to live up to that season. Forty-two years later, people in Ashland still talk about the JAWS team. One of its key members, Casey Jones, recently passed away.

JAWS is a classic movie too and one of several the PAC is showing for a $7 admission. The next one is “Gone with the Wind” and we’ll probably be there for that one, too.

I’m sure none of our area football teams want to use that one as a motto for the season.


13 to be inducted into CP-1 Ashland Baseball Hall of Fame on Aug. 19

ASHLAND, Ky. – Thirteen inductees, including seven more from the Ashland Tomcat baseball state championship “Dynasty Era” of 1965-1969, will be honored at the third annual CP-1 Ashland Baseball Hall of Fame ceremony on Aug. 19.

A Kentucky Historic Marker recognizing Baseball in Central Park will be officially dedicated on the same day. Ceremonies begin at 1 p.m. beside Ernie Chattin Field in Central Park.

“We’re thrilled to be able to add to our Hall of Fame with these outstanding players and umpires who contributed so much to Ashland baseball,” said CP-1 Hall of Fame chairman Mark Maynard. “These are some of the best players to ever put on cleats and step onto the big diamond in the park.”

The park’s legacy of producing top-notch baseball players is noted in the Kentucky Historic Marker.

“This marker stands as a testament to baseball in Ashland and it belongs to everybody whoever played, watched a game or had anything to do with the success of Ashland baseball in Central Park,” Maynard said. “This park means so much to so many in Ashland. When we started fundraising for the marker, we had what we needed in only a few days. The support was overwhelming.”

Maynard said David Carter and Jim Host were instrumental in “getting the ball rolling” on the historic marker. “It wouldn’t have happened without them and we appreciate the Kentucky Historical Society for allowing the marker to be placed.”

The 13-member HOF class includes some of the best pitchers and hardest throwers in Ashland history, a pair of power-hitting brothers, outstanding umpires, all-around athletes and a Holy Family lefty who also became one of the best coaches around.

Three members of the 2017 class are being honored posthumously: Nard Pergrem, Dale Griffith and Steve Hemlepp.

The other 10 honorees are: J.D. Browne, David “Bo” Carter, Joe Conley, Kevin Gothard, Mike Gothard, Tim Huff, John Mullins, Mike Smith, Jim Speaks and John Thomas.

The 2017 class brings to 36 the total of CP-1 Hall of Fame members since inductions began in 2015.

Here is a snapshot of this year’s honorees:


A left-handed pitcher for Holy Family High School in the early 1960s, Browne was crafty on the mound. When his playing days were over, he coached many of the Ashland Tomcat players who were part of the state championship dynasty era.


He played on the 1967 and 1968 Tomcat state championship teams as a first baseman and pitcher, where he was undefeated in two seasons on the mound. Carter was 6-0 his senior season. He also played on the 1964 Little League state championship team.


Determined athlete for the Ashland Tomcats who was a member of all three state championship teams in 1966, 1967 and 1968. Conley made the All-State team as a senior and made a game-saving catch. He later became an umpire who enjoyed a solid minor league career.


An all-around star player in the late 1970s and early 1980s for the Ashland Tomcats whose high baseball IQ served his team well. He was the player the Tomcats wanted at the plate. Gothard later went on to be a two-year captain for the University of Kentucky.


A natural athlete and leader, this big catcher was known for his strong arm and big bat that produced some mammoth home runs in Central Park. Gothard was a star for the Ashland Tomcats in football and baseball in the mid 1970s. He went on to be a captain in football at Vanderbilt.


One of the most sought after and respected Southeast Regional Umpires. Dale’s 32-year career began at the age of 15 in Central Park. A keen knowledge of Baseball Rules and Regulations, Dale trained and equipped many young men to become umpires.


An excellent and dependable catcher who was a member of all three Ashland Tomcat state championship teams from 1966 to 1968. He handled a stable of outstanding pitchers and came up with the big hit when it was needed. He was All-State as a senior. Hemlepp played on the first Little League state championship team in 1961.


Pitcher on the Ashland Tomcats 1967 and 1968 state champions and was the ace of the 1969 state runners-up. He outdueled Don Gullett in the regional tournament in ’69. He was part of back-to-back Little League state championship teams in 1963 and 1964.


An all-around athlete at Ashland, Mullins made the baseball team as a freshman in 1967. He played on the ’67 and ’68 championship teams, the ’69 runner-up team and was the star player in 1970. Mullins played on back-to-back Little League state champions in 1963 and 1964.


A standout athlete at Ashland High School in the early 1940s, he once had a perfect season without an error at CP-1. He played baseball for Duke University and turned down a contract with the Chicago White Sox to focus on his engineering degree and family.


Gritty second baseman on the undefeated 1966 and 1967 state champion Ashland Tomcats. He was an All-State selection in 1966 who had one of the best gloves on the team. Smith was also on the city’s first Little League state championship team in 1961.


Hard-throwing right-hander who raised eyebrows with his blazing fastball. Speaks played for the Ashland Tomcats in the early 1960s and dominated on the CP-1 field where scouts came to watch him throw. He had several tryouts with professional teams.


Powerful hitter for the Ashland Tomcats, Thomas was a catcher on the 1966 state championship team. He hit .419 as a junior and .371 with five home runs as a senior. He was part of state championship teams in Little League (1961), Babe Ruth (1963) and American Legion (1964).