Sunday, December 4, 2016

Tom Miller and His Ton of Fun (1983)

Tom Miller as host of "Wide World Wrestling" in 1978
We remember "Truckin'" Tom Miller fondly for his work as a color commentator on Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling with Bob Caudle in the summer of 1976 and co-host of Wide World Wrestling in 1978. Miller co-hosted Wide World (with George Scott) in between the 3-year stint of Ed Capral that preceded him and the 4-year stint of Rich Landrum that followed him (when the show's name was changed to World Wide Wrestling.)

He was also the well known ring announcer in Greensboro in the 1980s, as well as occasionally on the TV shows of that era, and for many of the pay-per-view events as well.

This newspaper article from 1983 was one of several columnist Jerry Bledsoe wrote about Miller in those years.

* * * * * * * 

Wednesday, February 2, 1983
By Jerry Bledsoe

Tom Miller called the other day laughing. This is usually a bad sign. It means something is up, and with Tom you never know what it might be

Tom is a well-known radio personality in these parts. He has worked in Burlington and Charlotte, but for many years he was in Greensboro at WGBG (now WKEW). For the past few years, he’s been in Danville, now as manager of WAKG, a powerful FM country music station that can be heard throughout central North Carolina and Virginia (103.3 on the dial).

Tom has done a lot of crazy things over the years and, being a good friend, he has managed to get me involved in many of them, sometimes to my regret. So I was understandably a little leery when he told me that he had come up with a great idea. This would be the biggest thing to happen in this area, he said, since……well, who knows when.

“OK,” I said. “What are you up to?

“Two-seventy,” he said.

Pounds, he meant.

And that was precisely why he was calling.

“All my life I’ve been fat,” he said.  “My mama’s fat, my daddy was fat, my sisters are fat. My whole life’s been fat, growing up in a world of fat, riding in cars going one way – leaning sideways.”

Tom has come to the point of not only accepting his size, but celebrating it.

“What I want to do,” he said, “is get a thousand people who weigh 200 pounds or more to assemble in a gigantic parking lot for a group picture. I’m going to call it ‘A Hundred Tons of Fun.’”

Tom has already checked and found out that this would be the world’s largest group picture of heavy people and the people at the Guinness Book of World Records have already indicated that they will record the event for posterity.

But this is only one reason for doing it, Tom said. The main reason is fun.

“We’re going to give away somebody’s weight in hot dogs and soft drinks and ice cream and steaks and anything else we can sell sponsors on. Those are not small prizes. You take a man who weighs 368 pounds and wins his weight in hot dogs. That’s a lot of money.”

There will be other prizes too.

“I’m going to have all kinds of trophies made up,” Tom said. “We’ll give a trophy for the heaviest person, the oldest heavy person and the youngest, the heavy person who came the longest distance, all kinds of things.  You could get in professions, the heaviest doctor and the heaviest nurse. We’ll have a superior-size beauty contest for men and women. There are just infinite possibilities.”

This is not going to be a celebration of fat so much as of bulk. Fat isn’t even necessary.

“The only requirement is that they have to weigh 200 pounds,” Tom says. “In other words, a woman could be six foot eight and weigh 202 and not have an ounce of fat on her and that would be ok.”

People who weigh less than 200 pounds will be allowed to come to the event, to enjoy the entertainment (to be provided by heavy entertainers) and other festivities, but they won’t be allowed to enter the contests, win any trophies or get into the picture.

“We’re not against skinny people,” Tom said. “It’s just that heavy people have always been discriminated against. This is one time being a big-size person is going to pay off for somebody.”

“Nobody will ever be able to accuse you of not thinking big,” I said.

“One thing we’re not going to do,” he said, ignoring me “is make fun of people. And we’re not going to moralize whether fat is right or wrong or anything. We’re just going to have fun. We’re going to say, ‘Hey, we’re big and it feels good.’”

No date has been set for this event. Tom is shooting for May or June. This is where I come into the picture, so to speak. Tom needs help finding people who weigh more than 200 pounds who would be willing to attend and pose for his picture. Write him at WAKG, P.O. Box 1629, Danville, VA 24543.

“Can you really envision it?” he asked. “Can you imagine the grandeur of 1,000 fat people in a gigantic parking lot?”

“I’m not sure I can.”