By Wes Hall
Bill Landry is most known for his southeastern Tennessee drawl as host, narrator and co-producer of “The Heartland Series,” a television production that begun and ran on WBIR for 25 years.
The series brought Landry two Emmy Awards for directing the series and honorary Doctorate of Humanities degree from Lincoln Memorial University. The show also earned the prestigious Iris Award. He also wrote and performs a one-man play “Einstein the Man.”
Landry now has a new title, that of author. In the book, “Appalachian Tales & Heartland Adventures,” Landry recalls stories, tales, and adventures he collected over the years.
He dedicates the book to his wife Becky, who passed away recently.
Landry appeared at the Sunsphere, May 16, to share some of his experiences with a crowd of about 200.
The event was organized by retired teachers, Phyllis Garrison and Martha Woodward.
STEM Academy Singers entertained with The National Anthem, America The Beautiful, and other patriotic standards.
Afterwards, Landry and Publisher Jim Johnston held a meet-and-greet where many of the attendees purchased the “Appalachian Tales & Heartland Adventures,” book which Landry and Johnston autographed.
“What is humor?” Landry asked, followed by a number of examples that only he can deliver so well.
He told the story of Delmar Cagle of Townsend. “I was in little Becky’s awhile back and saw Delmar. He’s 72 and still works everyday. Delmar told me, ‘I am going to be a new father. I will be the father of a baby boy. If everything goes well it will be nine months from last Saturday night.’”
The book, Landry says, is something he has been thinking about for 25 years. “It has a hundred stories,” then Landry goes back into storytelling mode, almost as if -well, it IS his nature.
“I want to tell you how I broke my finger. I was doing a story about Buford Strunk. Buford had a dog, a blue-tick hound, that ran through a fence and I ran through it chasing him.”
Landry said he had a hard time explaining when he filed an insurance claim when he dislocated another finger on the job. “I was chasing goats.”
Out comes another story, “A woman called me in a panic. It was cold and all her animals swam to an island in the Clinch River, and she wanted me to get them off because the dogs were attacking her goats. ‘We can’t do much with a camera crew, I told her. ‘But if you can get some people to help we’ll come and film it.’
“She called me back. ‘We got 35 people to help,’ she said. We had 35 people stretched out trying to catch the goats. “We didn’t catch any animals, but Igot a dislocated finger.”
Landry said he learned during “The Heartland Series,” “I found out what it’s like to stick your hand in hole where a catfish lived.”
Landry continues on the circuit peddling stories, but now in written form, in the book, “Appalachian Tales & Heartland Adventures.”