Posts Tagged ‘guinness world records’

Photo: Mary McCoy.
Mary McCoy, the longest-serving female radio DJ on the globe, according to Guinness World Records, has no interest in retirement. 

If you are lucky enough to have a job that lights up your life, why would you ever retire? That’s the thinking of the woman featured in today’s story.

Ramon Antonio Vargas reports at the Guardian, “Mary McCoy has broken her neck, had multiple bouts with Covid-19 and grieved the deaths of two husbands. But none of that could get the 85-year-old off the airwaves she has been on for more than 70 years. The transition from vinyl to purely digital control panels was no match either.

“ ‘I have seen it all,’ the radio presenter from Texas told the Guardian, weeks before the end of her 72nd year in her role. ‘And you know what? I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.’

Guinness World Records has confirmed McCoy as the longest-serving female radio disc jockey. She passed Maruja Venegas Salinas of Peru, who died in 2015 during her 70th year as a host.

“Such recognition has given McCoy and her loved ones the occasion to reflect on a remarkable journey. It began with a childhood dream of breaking into the entertainment business – dreamed even as she and her family briefly lived in a tent without running water or electricity. …

“ ‘She’s been through adversity, she’s been through pain, and she keeps going,’ said her longtime co-host, Larry Galla. …

“McCoy was born on a farm in east Texas. Her family soon climbed into their Ford Model A and moved about 200 miles south-west to Conroe. There, about 40 miles north of Houston, life was lived without frills.

“McCoy took breaks from life in the tent by learning how to yodel. She joked that her father probably wanted to strangle her but she became quite skilled. When she was 11, she signed up for a talent show at a local theater. Performing the Patsy Montana yodeling classic ‘I Want to Be a Cowboy’s Sweetheart,’ she won.

“The manager of a new radio station, KMCO, learned of the performance and called her school, inviting her to a recorded audition. McCoy borrowed a guitar she said was ‘three times’ as big as her, took a bus ride and performed. The manager asked if she knew enough songs to play a 15-minute program.

“McCoy said she did, so they recorded a show. McCoy recalls crying when she heard herself on the air. She ‘thought it was the worst thing I’d ever heard – I thought I’d never go back and my career had ended.’ But the manager called back and said KMCO had picked up a sponsor for her program, which would go out on Saturdays.

“McCoy was delighted. Eventually, she convinced the manager to let her host a show. She simply played 78 rpm records by the country artists to whom she listened. That was where the McCoy everyone in her community now knows began to take shape.

“She had on fabled singer-songwriters including Jim Reeves, Hank Locklin and Sonny James. She toured, sang and played the guitar with artists like James and Slim Whitman. She landed a spot on the Louisiana Hayride tour, which came to Conroe in 1955.

On that stop, she performed alongside a rising musician named Elvis Presley.

“Other episodes in McCoy’s career could fill a book with ease. One of her favorites came in 1965, when she performed as a last-minute substitute at a prison rodeo. After she and Roy Acuff sang, organizers let loose some bulls. It was part of the show but it scared her. McCoy tried to climb out of the rodeo ring but couldn’t because the dress she performed in was too tight. She asked some clowns to help her up. She remembers them hugging and even trying to kiss her, smudging her with their face paint. …

“In 2013, she suffered a fall. Doctors diagnosed a fractured neck, performed an eight-hour surgery and sent her home to rest on a hospital-grade bed, wearing an elaborate head brace she said made her look ‘like Frankenstein.’

“By then, 78 rpm records had given way to 45rpms and in turn CDs, before everything ultimately went digital. McCoy said she had minimal understanding of the technology that now runs her industry, but knew she could co-host her show from home if she had to. So she did, with help from colleagues at the station now known as K-Star.

“A similar plan let her stay on the air each of three times she has caught Covid-19.

“ ‘That shows you how much I love this,’ McCoy said.

“She was inducted to the Texas country hall of fame in 2010. In Conroe in 2014, she was added to a wall of local legends. Images since added to the mural include Roy Harris, a boxer who challenged Floyd Patterson for the world heavyweight championship, and the Pulitzer-winning historian Annette Gordon-Reed.

“To see if McCoy had a shot at the Guinness World Records, K-Star enlisted the help of McCoy’s youngest of four daughters, Kim Colette Stout. Beginning last year, Stout gathered photographs, newspaper articles and social security payment records, all to establish that her mother’s career began way back when at KMCO, the station whose nickname, ‘Kim-Coe,’ inspired Stout’s first and middle names. …

“Stout submitted the materials to Guinness. It eventually sent an email back.

“It said: ‘Your mother is now the world record-holder.’

“Stout said she once tried to coax McCoy, her ‘momma,’ to retire. She’s now glad she didn’t succeed. … ‘She’d be lost if she came home and she wasn’t going to work every morning.’ ”

More at the Guardian, here.

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Photo: Colin Dutton/The Guardian.
Giancarlo Zigante, of Croatia, with a replica of the giant truffle he found in 1999.

Here’s something fun my husband told me the Guardian had started doing: soliciting interesting stories from readers. Truffle hunter Giancarlo Zigante’s story was told to Sophie Haydock.

“It was 2am when I left the house that night in November 1999. I was heading out into the Motovun forest in Istria, in the north-west of Croatia, to hunt for truffles. Serious truffle hunting is done at night – it’s better for the dogs, as the moisture carries the smell of the truffle better, and also it’s harder to be followed.

“It was a freezing night – the temperatures at that time of year dip below zero. Being a truffle hunter is not an easy job: it’s usually wet and muddy in the forest. You often get scratched and dirty, and can return empty-handed. Still, I had a gut feeling that the night would be a good one, so with Diana, my trusty German pointer, I set off.

“A truffle is an edible fungus that grows underground, often in the roots of oak trees. A good hunter might be able to see subtle signs of a truffle beneath the soil, but it’s down to luck – and, of course, a well-trained dog, who can indicate when you’re at the right spot.

“In Istria, it’s possible to find four types of truffle (one white and three black). But it’s Tuber Magnatum Pico, a white truffle with pale yellow skin and a pungent smell, that is the most precious and expensive. …

“I started truffle hunting in the early ’80s, when I was still in my 20s. I was the first person in my family to do anything with truffles. It started as a hobby, to supplement my income, and it grew from there. I really connected with it. I was a tool-maker for the medical industry before, but fell in love with the truffle-hunting lifestyle.

“My spot was the Motovun forest – I’ll never reveal the exact location. Because of the money that can be made from truffles, rivalries have sprung up, sometimes deadly: people in other countries have been shot. …

“When truffle hunting, you lose track of time – it behaves differently. So I don’t know how long it was, perhaps a few hours, before [Diana] indicated a new patch of earth. I got on my knees and started digging, down to about 20cm [~8 inches]. I could see it was a big one, so I was careful not to damage it. It took 15 minutes to dig it out.

“I weighed the truffle straight away and knew I had something special on my hands. It weighed 1,310g [2.8 pounds]. In the morning I spoke with Guinness World Records, who confirmed that it was the biggest truffle ever recorded. I could have sold it for €1m and made my fortune, but I knew instantly that I didn’t want to do that. It’s great to be rich, but I felt the truffle could have more impact if it was shared. The truffle was found in Istria and should be consumed here, not sold to a rich person abroad.

I invited 200 people from Istria to a feast, on me, and we ate it between us. The night was very special; an amazing atmosphere. Even the president of Croatia was there. Every white truffle tastes amazing – but this one was different. …

“I was like a hero in my community. It put Istrian white truffles on the gastronomic map. Three years after finding the truffle, I decided to start my own restaurant. Now there’s a bronze statue of the truffle at my restaurant in Livade, a village in Istria. It’s a great conversation starter – people think it’s a statue of a brain. They can’t imagine a truffle could be that big. …

“My truffle is no longer the largest ever found: the record was broken in the US in 2014. But that one, weighing 1,786g, was sold to the highest bidder.”

More at the Guardian, here.

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This YouTube video would have you believe that all you need in Minsk is love.

The video appears to be one of a couple Belarus entries into the “All You Need is Love” AIDS fund-raising effort that got Starbucks into Guinness World Records for the most nations in an online sing-along.

Personally, I think Starbucks would have done Minsk a bigger favor by setting up shop in town (with wi-fi and air conditioning).

That’s because, according to my son’s employees in that fair city, it is difficult to get office air conditioning. They did look into it as they were sweltering in the recent heat wave. But they soon discovered that another business in their building already had an air conditioner, and the local utility could not support more than one air conditioner at a time in that building.

So until the other business moves out, it would be nice if John’s employees could work in a cool web-connected Starbucks. But there is no Starbucks in Minsk.

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