Radio personality always good for a laugh
by Marguerite Cline
Columnist
October 26, 2012 12:00 AM | 1226 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
For months now, people have told me about Bill Kelly. Byron Dobbs, at WCHK radio for 40 years, said that Bill Kelly could easily be a stand-up comedian.

A few weeks ago Bill, his daughter and I met at a restaurant in Gainesville. At times, his alter ego, Norton J. Crippletree Jr. the Fifth, aka Snortin’ Norton, joined into the conversation.

After meeting him, I agree with everything people have told me. I laughed the entire time we were together. As Byron had said, comedy just spews from Bill’s mouth.

We talked about some of Norton’s favorite subjects when he was at WCHK — Gober Beach Vacation Resort, fireworks, mud wrestling and his running for the president of the United States.

A sandy area beside the Etowah River near Ball Ground was called Gober Beach. Before Lake Allatoona was built, people would swim and fish there. That ended when Gold Kist Poultry built a rendering plant nearby on East Cherokee Drive.

Norton J. Crippletree, Jr. the Fifth, introduced Gober Beach Vacation Resort to his radio listeners. It was actually the cesspool at the rendering plant.

Everyday on the air he was promoting the resort. He even had T-shirts and caps made.

Then Norton advertised that he was selling lots at Gober Beach. Those farthest away from the downwind from the rendering plant were the most expensive. The beginning price was $7.50. At times Norton would tell on the air that he had building lots to give away.

There were daily fishing reports telling if the carp were or were not biting. The public was warned when a killer carp was spotted in the water. Occasionally, it was announced that the grass on the golf course had not been cut so golfers had to look for the holes.

The joke caught on. Norton was flooded with letters from his listeners. He made mock deeds for the people who wanted to “buy” a lot and mailed the deeds to them.

A few gullible people, usually listening to WCHK while they were driving through, called the station wanting directions to Gober Beach Vacation Resort.

Canton resident Chug Davis knew it was a farce before she called. She could hear whispering in the background as Norton and Byron Dobbs tried to decide what to tell her.

After that when others called for directions whoever answered the WCHK telephone had to “fess up.”

Another hoax Snortin’ Norton played on the community involved fireworks on the Fourth of July.

He announced that WCHK would broadcast fireworks. Some listeners fell for it. Tim Cavender remembers a few cars lined up near Highway 5 in front of WCHK at sundown.

Then Norton did exactly what he said he was going to do. He broadcast the sounds of fireworks. People caught on. There were no fireworks, just the sounds of them.

When the owner of the Canton Skating Rink called Bill Kelly and asked if Snortin’ Norton would mud wrestle two ladies, Bill agreed that Norton would do it. It would be Country WCHK night at the skating rink.

The ladies were from Chicago. Before the match, Norton and the tag team that was his opponent did some planning.

Norton would win round one. The ladies would win rounds two and three. In round three they would take Norton down by throwing him over their shoulders. Since Norton weighed almost 300 pounds at the time, that would be quite a feat.

The ring was made of a big piece of foam covered with wet potting soil. Snortin’ Norton came out wearing a green shirt and gaudy purple pants with a bandana around his head.

Rounds one and two went as planned. The score was tied one-to-one.

Norton decided he would not follow the plan for round three. When the women saw what he was doing, they got serious. They went to different corners, then first one and then the other took turns jumping on him. He gave up in a hurry.

After mud wrestling they went behind the building and someone hosed them off. Norton was bruised all over and for a week he said he washed mud out of places he didn’t know he had.

In another farce, Snortin’ Norton announced he was running for president of the United States. His campaign platform was simply that he needed a job.

Listeners sent Norton campaign contributions of pennies, nickels and dimes. A class from Cherokee High School pooled their change and raised $6.

No one was more surprised than Bill Kelly when on election day Snortin’ Norton got over a dozen write-in votes.

Marguerite Cline is the former mayor of Waleska.
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