Thursday, February 2, 2017

MID-ATLANTIC WRESTLING'S 'FIRST LADY'

Today I salute the 'FIRST LADY' --- as far as I'm concerned, she is, hands down, the 'FIRST LADY' of JIM CROCKETT PROMOTIONS and MID-ATLANTIC WRESTLING.

PEGGY LATHAN

Peggy is my friend, in fact, a very good friend. But, I'll be honest, Peggy is EVERYBODY's friend. If you have attended any of Greg Price's NWA FANFESTS, you've seen her. Folks even buzz after the various FANFESTs, "Who's the woman all of the wrestlers hang around?" That's Peggy.

But, 'FIRST LADY' of MID-ATLANTIC WRESTLING? How did this happen?

Young Peggy began watching JCP wrestling on television around 1965 (I could say she was two years old at the time, but never mind about that part of the story. Let's just say that I am older than Peggy, and we'll let it go at that.)

She ventured out to her first arena JCP show in late 1968 and soon was attending three-to-four shows PER WEEK. (How I envy her for that! She saw some great wrestling.) A weekly itinerary for Peggy, her mother and her grandmother 'Nannie' Smith * included shows in Greenville, S.C.Spartanburg, S.C.Anderson, S.C. and Asheville, N.C. EVERY WEEKPeggy went even when she was sick. Very few weeks went by that found these ladies not in their front row ringside seats. This road schedule lasted from 1968 until 1983. Throughout the 1970s, they would often be joined by Lynn and Debbie Tate (Lynn would later marry wrestler Bill White). In the 1980s, other friends Jean HollandRita Cantrell and Clay Sweet became part of the entourage.

When I asked Peggy how she got to know the wrestlers, she answered that she would go up and talk to the guys, and they would see her on the front row every week, so they knew her face. Bobby Kay was the first wrestler Peggy remembers meeting. Then came the legendary Johnny Weaver, then Ronnie Garvin and Ole AndersonPeggy met Gene Anderson soon after meeting Ole, since The Minnesota Wrecking Crew was always together. It wasn't long before she would babysit Gene's son, Brad, when his dad would bring him to Spartanburg. "Brad was about five, I guess. He'd sit with me and watch the matches," Peggy told me.

The wrestler Peggy gives credit to for introducing her to most of the guys she now knows was a fellow named Flair.

PEGGY and RIC...Then

PEGGY and RIC...more recently

PEGGY and OLE ANDERSON
---
Many fans will remember the night in Greenville, S.C., when Ole was knife-attacked by an idiot fan and cut all the way diagonally down his chest. Lynn and Debbie Tate and Peggy were outside the dressing room. Peggy recalls, "We were in the hallway leading to the outside. The dressing rooms were downstairs. There were a couple of wrestlers there. The only one I remember is Bill Eadie (later The Masked Superstar, but at this time, he was one of The Mongols). Lynn was a nursing student at Clemson University, so she and Debbie held icy towels on Ole's chest, and I was elevating his left arm and putting pressure on his left hand as he had a bad cut across and below his thumb. Then after the paramedics arrived and took Ole, I rode to Greenville General Hospital with Gene, because he didn't know where it was, and I stayed with Gene in the ER until Ole was released about two in the morning."


PEGGY and 'The Dean' JOHNNY WEAVER
---
Peggy's love for JCP wrestling continued until the company was sold to TURNER ENTERTAINMENT in 1988, and there are very few of the wrestlers she didn't know. And they all loved her...and still do.

If you don't believe me, check out this year's NWA FANFEST in Charlotte.

Peggy's Grandmother 'NANNIE' SMITH


Photos courtesy of Peggy and / or THE MID-ATLANTIC GATEWAY

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