Thursday, October 2, 2008

Sleepy Jeffers

I was born and lived the first six years of my life in Charleston, W.Va. When I was small, WCHS TV still had local programming which I suppose many stations across the country did as well. One of the programs I watched was a kid's show called Uncle Willie. He was a goofy cartoony kind of guy, not unlike Captain Kangaroo, who told jokes, sang songs and introduced cartoons. He had a daughter on the show who looked to be about my age at the time. Her name was Little Linda. He could make his tie jump up and down with his Adam's Apple. That may not sound like much now, but it killed in my circle of five year olds.

Uncle Willie was played by a guy called Sleepy Jeffers. He was a big time, local radio guy who also had another show called, what else, The Sleepy Jeffers Show. This was a variety program which consisted primarily of down home country music. Not my favorite, but my parents watched it.

Years later when we moved back to W.Va., I got a job at WCHS Radio and who was the over night guy during the week? None other than Sleepy Jeffers himself! I was a part-timer so I never had to attend staff meetings, but I heard that when the meetings would get boring, Sleepy would get your attention and start wiggling his tie with his Adam's Apple.

I worked overnight Saturdays and late evening Sunday. When I worked Sunday nights, Sleepy was the guy who came in after me. He was pretty much always late. I would inevitably get a call from him at about five minutes before midnight.

"Hi Craig, this is Sleepy."

"Hi, Sleepy. What's going on?"

"I'll be there pretty soon, but I'm gonna stop by Shoney's and get something to eat. You wanna sammich?"

"That's o.k., thanks. I'll see you when you get here."

He would never be more than 10-20 minutes late and I always signed out at my regular time. I didn't want him to get in trouble. He was a local legend after all. I admit that despite the years, I was a bit starstruck. It was a pain to stay late when I had school the next day, but I'd always do it for Sleepy.

And sometimes he brought me a sandwich anyway.\

Here's some highlights from Uncle Willie's last show:

16 comments:

Squiddy said...

Heck, we need more guys like Sleepy Jeffers! I especially like when people say 'sammich.'

James said...

I'm glad to hear that some people remember Sleepy Jeffers. As a musician I had the great pleasure to play on the show with a bluegrass group called "The Canfields". The time was the early 70's. It would have been great if WCHS would of had vidio tapes of the programs but, that seems not to be the case. I do have audio tapes of our times on the show.

Craig said...

Thanks, Jeff. I was really young when the TV show was on. I barely remember it. Most of my memories come from when I was a teenager and actually working with him. It's great that you have tapes of your appearances. WCHS has changed ownership so many times, I doubt many tapes of original programs like the Sleepy Jeffers Show have survived. It's a shame.

JeffG said...

Craig, I was very pleased to read your recollections of George Jeffers. I recall both shows vividly. I, too, worked for WCHS/WBES later. I was the afternoon drive jock for WBES weekdays from noon - 6pm for several years, and also had the 6pm - midnight shift on Saturdays, so I saw Sleepy at least once a week. I recall that he was always friendly, but kinda quiet. Sleepy passed away two or three years ago.

Do you recall his sidekick, the lanky guy with the big cowboy hat that he wore sideways? He used the name "Roscoe Swerps" and appeared on both shows.

Craig said...

I actually do remember him, but I couldn't remember his name. Roscoe! Yeah, I got him confused with String Bean on HeeHaw. Too funny. Thanks!

kimvance79 said...

I remember Sleepy Jeffers as well. Way back when, I went to school with his daughter Linda. I was a bit star stuck as well. I felt privledged to have known her. She was on the show on occassion. It's nice to reminise about the "old days".

Richard said...

And let's not forget the Buddy Starcher show where Roscoe Swerps played peddle steel guitar. On another note, however, I just read the obit in the passing of one of Sleepy's daughters, Patricia Jean on December 28.

PDMan said...

Just happened onto this thread...I did mornings on WBES from '79 to '86 and was there during the Sleepy Jeffers overnight era. Sleepy was a great guy - he REALLY was - and funny too.

WCHS ran Larry King overnights until 5:30 and then Sleepy played music until Rocky Steele came in at 6:00. I would always listen on my way in to hear if Sleepy picked up after Larry at 5:30 - sometimes he didn't.

Sleepy had some back problems for which he took meds and every so often he would take a nip which he kept in his car in the lot outside the door. I came in one morning about 5:35 - dead air and he was in the floor between the console and the wall. "Sleepy, you okay?" "Yeah, I'm fine."

Mike Wilson, the news guy, started grabbing carts to at least get some music on the air. Then Rocky rolls in and takes over from Mike. They got Sleepy up and in a chair and told him not to get up until an ambulance arrived - which of course he did.

As I remember, that was the end of his overnight shift, but I really adored the guy - he was super-nice to me - I never told him, but I actually appeared on his TV show playing guitar when I was a kid.

Ben said...

Enjoyed this post a lot! Sleepy was my great uncle.

BARBARA said...

This is for Ben - or anyone that can help -I am trying to find an original (new or used) 45 vinyl of Sleepy Jeffers and the Davis Twins singing Pretending Is A Game - the flip side is My Bluebirds are Blackbirds. Recorded on Starday in 1957 - #45-319. The reason I want to find this pretty hard to find record is that I want to give it to a very dear friend of mine - a rockabilly/c&w musician - this is one of his favorites -he's been trying for a very long time with no luck. Any help you can offer would be greatly appreciated. You can email me at barbara@fdarms.com Thank you for any suggestions as to how I can obtain this record.

Elam said...

I'm so glad that Sleepy Jeffers is remembered. My dad use to sing on his show when I was a little girl. Maybe some of you remember him. His name was Truman Pomeroy. Sometimes they would call him Thurman Potter. Not sure if that was a joke, but I loved watching my dad sing on TV. Great memories

Elam said...

I'm also glad that Sleepy Jeffers is remembered. My dad use to sing on his show when I was a little girl. I was so proud that my dad was on TV. I very much enjoyed watching him sing. His name is Truman Pomeroy. Sometimes they called him Thurman Potter, as a joke I suppose, but it always made me mad. LOL Perhaps some of you remember seeing him. He was in his early 20's, when he appeared on the show. It would be nice to be able to get some recordings of the shows back in the late 60s early 70s.

Craig said...

I wonder if WCHS still has the old tapes of the show?

Sheila12 said...

How can I get the video of my Daddy playing the dueling banjos on the Sleepy Jeffers Show..... His Name is Kevin Cline, and he played along side Don Lester ????? Someone please help me, I have wanted this for years...... My name is Sheila Cline email is Cline121012@gmail.com please any help would be very appreciated........

Craig said...

I have no idea how to get tapes. You could try contacting WCHS directly to see if they have them.

duckboy said...

Has anyone listened to the new Carpenter Ants CD? There's a hat-tip to Sleepy Jeffers in one of the lines.