The tobacco market was the central business. The tobacco people were funny. Hell, everybody in Eastern North Carolina is funny. In the Piedmont the people were “nut gatherers”, or accomplishment oriented. People east of Raleigh got out of bed thinking of something funny to say. Buddy Bedgood told me that the fact that Yankees thought we were so dumb is what made them so easy to fool.
Next to two term Governor James B. Hunt I guess Buddy was the best known Wilsonian. He, wife Peggy and Jimmy and Tassie Dempsy were dyed in the wool Carolina fans. They befriended Dean Smith early, and he never forgot them. Before NCAA rules stopped them, the foursome hosted great tailgate parties, at Carolina football games. The basketball recruits all loved the Dempsys and the Bedgoods. I did too.
Buddy had flaws, but he got things done. The football stadium at Fike High School bears his name. He was loud, chubby, smoked constantly, and got right up next to you to talk. With each point of emphasis he’d bump you with her considerable girth.
The UNC Education Foundation booked a trip to Hawaii in 1972, for the “Rainbow” basketball tournament. Carolina fans by the plane full. Imagine. Anyway Margaret and I were asked along with Pete and the Boykins, Faye and “Country.” We were “fillers” to make the required number.
We stayed in the “Royal Hawaiian” or the old pink landmark hotel. It was lovely. Upon checking out Buddy was presented with a bill for 50 cents for each call made within the hotel. This was a policy many hotels instituted later, but it was new to Buddy, who owned “The Heart of Wilson,” Wilson’s top motel.
And it was no small bill. Buddy knew everyone on the plane, orchestrated the whole weeks activities, and talked over the phone constantly anyway.
Buddy confronted the desk clerk. They exchanged arguments. Finally Buddy said, “Well, I own a motel and we certainly don’t charge any such ridiculous fee!”
The clerk puffed up and said, “Sir, is your motel this large?” Buddy countered, “The telephones are the same size.”