I was crossing Bay St. at Richmond in downtown Toronto when I saw two old acquaintances coming towards me, neither of whom I’d seen in over twenty years. Bill, with whom I had played hockey, and Jack, whom I had taught in a Dale Carnegie course, both greeted me at the same time and I turned around and walked with them to the curb. We’d been chatting and catching up for a few minutes when I asked, “How did you guys get together?” They informed me that they’d never before laid eyes on each other.
I don’t remember the exact date, but I do remember that it was a Monday in 1985. I was at Anne Murray’s office to be interviewed by someone from Westwood, an LA-based, US radio network that was doing an hour-long feature on her. Her personal manager, Leonard Rambeau, her husband Bill Langstroth, and Anne had already finished their interviews. At 10:00 am I walked into the boardroom where the Westwood interviewer had set up his equipment and, although I was told later that I didn’t show it, I got one of the great surprises of my life. The Westwood interviewer was none other than John Dean, he of Watergate fame, who, many insist was the key person in bringing down President Nixon. He shook hands with me saying, “Hi, Lyman, thanks for doing this. I’m John.” (No mention of his last name.) That particular week I was filling in for Betty Kennedy on her very popular afternoon public affairs show on radio station CFRB, and I sure wasn’t going to let this opportunity go to waste. When my fifteen-minute interview with Dean ended, I said, “John, I know who you are, and I’m going to ask for a huge favour.” I told him about filling in for Betty and asked if he’d let me interview him. He replied, “I’ll do it on one condition; that you don’t refer in any way to what I’m doing now. Anything else is fair game.” I quickly agreed and said, “I’ll call CFRB and have them get some equipment here right away.” “No need to do that,” he said, “we can use mine.” I opened the Betty Kennedy Show that afternoon with an exclusive half-hour interview with John Dean.
Another CFRB interview I did a few years earlier had also attracted some attention. I was filling in for someone; I’ve forgotten who. A spy story had broken in the UK and there was some suggestion that its tentacles may have reached even the corridors of Ottawa. CFRB decided it would be a good idea to interview Igor Gouzenko, the main player in Canada’s most famous spy story. In 1945, Gouzenko, a cipher clerk at the Russian Embassy in Ottawa, defected, admitted he was a spy, and exposed a number of other espionage folks around the globe. Gouzenko was now living under an assumed name on a farm just northwest of Toronto. Any time he appeared on television he wore a brown paper bag with eye holes punched in it, just like disgruntled sports fans do in arenas these days. Unlike the Dean interview, which was taped, Gouzenko was live on the telephone from his home. But he was mumbling so badly that I was having great difficulty making out what he was saying, and I knew our listeners wouldn’t understand him at all. I said, “Mr. Gouzenko, would you please take the bag off your head.” He hung up in a snit and I entered Canadian broadcast lore.
My first car was a 1946 Mercury. The transmission had been partially stripped so the car had no second gear. I had to shift directly from first to third, and having to effect this manoeuvre dozens of times every time I drove it was troublesome to say the least. As I didn’t have enough money to replace the transmission, after about a month I sold the car to a work colleague who said he could fix it himself. But, that’s not the reason I’m relating this anecdote. The reason is that I recently had to buy a new tire for my current vehicle. This one tire cost two-and-a-half times more than the car I bought in 1955.