Dave Williams, that funny little guy over there in the corner....

by Joe Dundon

Left to Right: Joe Dundon, Chris Fergus, and Dave Williams, circa 1968.
I first met Dave when I was working part-time at WNDU as a mailboy during my last year at Notre Dame.  His dry sense of humor and likeable nature sparked a friendship almost immediately. We shared an office a year later when I was hired  by WNDU-TV in 1966 as Advertising Copywriter.

Dave had been Promotion Manager for 3 or 4 years, and I was amazed that he was only 25 or so. What also amazed me, seeing as he was a Department Head, was what they were paying him for the return they were getting in talent.  I think I was complaining one payday when he showed me his check stub -- he was 'management', and working for a pittance.

So we happily (most of the time) toiled away in that office, and had some great times.  Dave was also volunteering as a Junior Achievment advisor to the company sponsored by WNDU-TV, called WJA-TV.  The high school students and advisors produced thirteen half-hour programs, that year entitled "Wipe Out", I think.  It was like "College Bowl", and new questions were needed each week. Many afternoons I helped Dave with the categories, questions and answers for that week-end.  

It was then I noticed that the little fella (great taunt -- he hated it) was about the fastest typist I had ever seen.  And on a manual, yet.  This was '66-'67, the year before BOC.
Taking part in the operations of WJA-TV are, from left, Paula Dosmann, sales manager, Adams; Mary Lee Hamilton, continuity director, St. Joseph's; David Manuszak, assistant sales manager, St. Joseph's; Robert Buck, company president, Adams, and Paul Walton, adviser from WNDU.

Perhaps the change of format to "The TV Show About TV" was a result of Dave and I running out of questions.  "Beyond Our Control" started the next year, with Dave, Bill Siminski and John Weiler as Advisors.  I replaced John Weiler the second year as Sales Advisor.

But back to Dave stories.  The arrival of the weekly TV Guide shipment was the signal for one of our many competitions  . . . The TV Guide Crossword Puzzle Race!!! Winner got a Tootsie Roll. Time-outs were allowed only for phone calls ("Hey, I saw you looking!!"), and official business (in the form of the boss walking in).  Dave won more often, and had the elapsed time record, but I held my own.

About those Tootsie Rolls. They had been a sponsor of the "Sheriff Culpepper Show", which I vaguely remember from my ND student days, not from my WNDU time.  Tootsie Roll Industries, Inc. sent these large cardboard containers, which looked like giant Tootsie Rolls, full of regular and mini-size Tootsie Rolls, and all flavors of Tootsie Roll Pops.  They were to be given out to the children who appeared in the audience of "Sheriff Culpepper".  

Chris Fergus looks for the Tootsie Roll.

Of course when the show went off the air in about 1963 or so, no one, especially Dave, told Tootsie.  I think he filled out a card once a year, sent it back to them with a wink, and the shipments rolled (?) in year after year.  Eventually, the card said that he gave them away on "Beyond Our Control". Sorta truthful in a sense.  Tootsie Rolls became an integral part of the BOC Bonus Box prizes. Shame on us.

In the office, we had a small radio, and it was tuned exclusively in the middle '60s to either WLS-AM or WFLD-AM, the Chicago rock stations.  

This pleased the WNDU radio folks immeasureably, especially when the radio station sales manager would walk in for his free TV Guide, change the station to our own WNDU-AM's Patti Page/Jerry Vale format, and walk out muttering something about "#$@%$^$% damn kids!"  We then immediately changed back to Larry Lujack, or "The Adventures of Chickenman".

Another amusing tidbit was the occasional Dave vs. Joe rubber suction-tip dart-gun fight that would erupt at the drop of a perceived insult, taunt or bad pun.

Here's a good story: My wife Viki and I were married on August 16, 1969.  Little did we know that the ceremony would be promoted in print. Dave traded weekly ad space with many publications in return for ad time on WNDU-TV.  In the Tri-County News that week appeared a quarter-page ad for WNDU-TV's Saturday Night at the Movies.  It was called "The Kiss of Keithley" (my middle name, known to but a few).  As I recall, it listed many stars, but headlined "Introducing Victoria Jean", in a film of "steaming emotions" with a "startling climax".  I don't know how many calls we got when the real movie came on (probably "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers"), or whether WNDU management noticed.  I thought it was hilarious; Viki didn't (at least at that time - she may have forgiven him by now).

Along the way, Dave was winning many local and national awards for his promotion work, and, in the early 70s, had gotten BOC off to a great start. Dave's salary had increased in those years, but not by much (we were still bemoaning our fortunes).  It was still nowhere near what he should have been paid.  In 1970 or so, John Thurin, a talented person from the Development Office at Notre Dame, I believe, was forming his own new ad agency in town, Markmakers.  He had already attracted many talented people from area media, and he wanted Dave to join him as Creative Director. I think maybe even as a partner.  The salary offer was 2 to 3 times what Dave was making and the risk seemed minimal, re: the talent who had already joined up.  (Markmakers became probably the most successful local ad agency for the next 15 years or so before down-sizing in the 90s.)  

Dave was quite torn.  He loved creative, was tired of typing Romper Room promos, and was excited about the salary.  Yet he had been told that he couldn't continue doing BOC if he left, and that 'someone else' (?) would take it over.  Obviously, it would end of BOC as we knew it, and as Dave produced it.  After 2 or 3 weeks of being emotionally wrung out ( I think John T. sweetened the offer), Dave declined the job.  To be honest, I told him he should take it. As much as I would miss him, I was sure he wouldn't have been at Markmakers long. His talent, exposed on a regional and national scale, would have soon carried him to Chicago or New York, and he would have loved that.  A part of his reasoning, I believe, involved loyalty to Tom Hamilton, the President and General Manager of the WNDU Stations, who had plucked him out of a studio production job and made him Promotion Manager at a young age.  But mostly it involved his love for BOC. He walked away from what appeared to be his golden opportunity to 'make it'.

What he made instead were futures for hundreds of kids fortunuate enough to have been "Beyond Our Control."