Chappell: You talked about Patti earlier. How did you meet up with ‘Precious?’


Garvin: Ronnie and Terry used to go up to North Bay (Canada) and wrestle for Larry Kasaboski. Larry had a territory up there. In fact, a lot of people went up there. The Funks went up there. When Terry Funk was a kid, he went up there. He worked in the Ice House…where they made ice. It’s way up there…north of Toronto.


Chappell: I guess it didn’t draw a lot of people in the winters!


Garvin: But it was a great summer territory. See, back in the 60s, fishing was really great up there. That’s what the guys did…they went up there for the summer. They were able to fish and have a good time, and they made some pretty good money.


Frankie Cain was up there, who was later known as the Great Mephisto. A lot of talented guys went up there and worked for the summer.


Chappell: And you headed up there as well?


Garvin: We headed up there in ’67…that was the first year. Then we went up there in ’68 for the summer. And in ’69 when we went up there, that’s when I met Patti.


June 6th, 1969. We just celebrated our 35th anniversary together.


Chappell: Belated congratulations!


Garvin: Thank you…yeah, 35 years!


I had moved out of my house in ’67 or something like that. But I met Patti up there in the summer of ’69.


Around that time, I think Ronnie was wrestling here in the Carolinas…him and Terry.


Chappell: I think they were in with Crockett around that time.


Garvin: So, I came back and stayed a couple of weeks with them. And then, I left and went back up to Canada and got a room at an old Hotel downtown called the Empire Hotel. And I actually stayed at that Hotel and went to high school up there. But I only stayed there a few months…by November 1st I was in Phoenix.


Chappell: Which is when and where you had your pro debut.


Garvin: Yeah…but I had to go up to Canada a couple of months to see Patti! I couldn’t stand being without her or being away from her. I felt like that about her right off the bat.


But, like you said, I left and did the Phoenix, Arizona thing. Didn’t know sh*t! I was making $200.00 a week…I remember that. That was good, and we stayed there for a few months before we went to Mobile, Alabama.


Chappell: Describe how you did in the Alabama territory.


Garvin: Well, I met Bobby Shane there. I was still managing in there…


Chappell: You still hadn’t begun to wrestle at this point?


Garvin: No, no. But in Mobile, that’s where they first started to work me into a few angles. So, I did get into the ring. I was in the ring long enough to know that I still needed work…


Chappell: You still had a ways to go?


Garvin: I needed to study, and figure out how all of it worked. I still didn’t have anywhere near what it took. But, at least I got my feet wet.


And being around people like Bobby Shane was great. He was a genius. He was just a genius…that’s all there was to it. He was kind of like the Pat Patterson of wrestling to me.


Chappell: It’s such a shame Bobby Shane’s career was cut short.


Garvin: Yeah, that was a real shame. That’s for sure.


So…I did the Mobile, Alabama thing, and I was making $20.00 a night. That kind of sucked! (laughs)


Chappell: (laughing) Bet that was a short stint!


Garvin: It was, but it was beneficial…it was a learning experience. It was priceless.


And, David , that territory is where I got to experience what heat was! And how you need to control it!


Chappell: Describe that to us.


Garvin: That’s where I experienced my first riot. Back then, you know, you could have a riot pretty easily in Meridian, Mississippi or Laurel, Mississippi or some of those towns.


Chappell: Or Richmond, Virginia…we had some infamous ones during those same years!


Garvin: Yeah, back in those days you could really piss somebody off…and then you were gonna have some trouble. And, of course, I got to experience that!


My first riot was in Meridian, Mississippi…because I couldn’t judge the heat. It was a learning experience. As a manager, you know, I was watching and paying attention…talking to Bobby (Shane) and trying to learn as much as I could.


Chappell: Were you in there with Cowboy Bob Ellis? Everybody seems to say he was a super nice guy.


Garvin: Yes, and there was a Cowboy Bob Kelly, too. But Cowboy Bob Ellis…he was just a great, great guy.


Chappell: Where did you head after Mobile, Alabama?


Garvin: I went into Oklahoma…


Chappell: And Bill Watts was there?


Garvin: Yeah, it was (Leroy) McGuirk’s territory. Bill Watts was booking…


Chappell: I bet that was interesting!


Garvin: Oh HELL yeah!


Chappell: (laughing)


Garvin: Oh God…that was always a lot of traveling---all the time. Travel was very bad…very bad. We’d wrestle in Shreveport on Friday, and have to be in New Orleans on Saturday…or vice versa. I mean, I’m talking 800 mile stuff. It was terrible.


Chappell: Was Watts as difficult to deal with as you hear about?


Garvin: (pauses) Yeah…but Watts was Watts.


Chappell: That is probably the perfect answer, Jimmy!


Garvin: He was a hard-ass, you know? He had his way, and that was his way…and he wasn’t going to change. He drove his boys into the ground; he worked us to death.


But, again, all of this was a learning experience for me.


Chappell: Were you wrestling at this point in time?


Garvin: No, I was still managing, but I was in those matches where if the other guy won, he got five minutes with the manager type of thing.


Chappell: Yeah…so you were continuing to graduate towards the ring!


Garvin: Yeah…I was graduating to OFFICIALLY gettin’ my ass kicked!


Chappell: (laughing hard)


Garvin: By the likes of  Danny Hodge, and sh*t like that. [Hodge] looked like a great white shark with his eyes rolled back in his head, when he’d see me coming, you know?


Chappell: (still laughing)


Garvin: Because he’d get such a pop from the crowd when he’d whip my ass, you know, holy crap!


Chappell: By now how old were you? Were you getting any larger physically?


Garvin: I was 19, but I still wasn’t getting that much bigger.


Chappell: Was that stint in Oklahoma more trouble than it was worth?


Garvin: No…when I look back on it now. It’s kind of like when I was flying freight…at the time I thought it was the most terrible thing. But now, I’m so glad I did it because I learned so much. But would I want to do it again…NO! But am I glad I did it…yes.


It was the Watts experience…it was just one of those things. Again, Frankie Cain was there. There was some great talent there. And I watched, and watched and watched.


Chappell: Sounds like you were a student of the business from the start?


Garvin: Yeah…and David , my interviewing skills were being honed.


Chappell: I would think so, because by that time you’d been a manager quite a while.


Garvin: Yes…but at first I wasn’t that great, you know?


Chappell: That’s hard for me to see Gorgeous Jimmy Garvin struggling on the mic!


Garvin: (laughs) Yeah, I know. But you didn’t think I just popped out of my Momma’s womb doing this stuff?


Chappell: (laughs) I don’t know…maybe! You always exuded that great personality in your interviews! You know, ‘It’s not my fault’ and all those other great lines!


Garvin: But with Watts is where I learned a lot of that…picked a lot of that up.


Chappell: I think a lot of people, particularly those that remember you primarily from the TBS days, may be surprised that you started so early and really paid your dues big-time through the old territories.


Garvin: Yeah, and on that thought, I was thinking the other day that I’ve wrestled Lou Thesz…I’ve wrestled Danny Hodge…and I’ve wrestled Buddy Rogers.


Chappell: Wow…that’s something! I thought Rogers was great when he briefly came into the Mid-Atlantic area in 1979.


Garvin: I wrestled Buddy in West Palm Beach; I still remember that match.


I don’t know if there’s anybody living today that’s wrestled those three guys I just mentioned!


Chappell: (pauses) Geez…there couldn’t be very many!


Garvin: I’m sure there might be a few, but you might find a few of the old-timers that wrestled Thesz and Hodge, but I don’t know if they’ve wrestled Thesz, Hodge AND Rogers.


Chappell: Very interesting…


Garvin: That is an interesting little tidbit! I would be curious, for the hell of it, to know who has wrestled those three guys and is still living.


Chappell: We have thrown a good trivia question out there, Jimmy! I hope we’ll hear back from some folks out there on it.


Garvin: Me too!


Well, I was in Oklahoma in like ’71 and ’72, and Tennessee was next.


Chappell: Was Tennessee as bad as seemingly everybody says?


Garvin: Tennessee was in a class of its own. Nick Gulas was the OLD-TIME promoter, man! He was like the vaudeville of promoters.


Chappell: I’ve heard he was cheap to the extreme?


Garvin: Oh yeah…yeah! And I got married that year, too! Right before that, I got married in ’72. I left Watts long enough to go up to North Bay and get married.


I actually brought Patti back into the Oklahoma territory when she first married me…


Chappell: Some honeymoon there, Jimmy! (laughs)


Garvin: God bless her!


What I would do, and I’m just picking some towns, but I would go like from Tulsa to Little Rock…and I couldn’t bring her to the matches. I mean, hell, she had just turned 17 years old!


She was from northern Ontario. I mean, David, I couldn’t take her to Little Rock or Pine Bluff, or wherever we were at!


Chappell: (laughing) I lived out there for a while, Jimmy! Good move on your part!


Garvin: I’d rent a room, like at the Holiday Inn and I’d put her there and she’d stay in the room and I’d go to the matches and work. Then I’d come back and get her, and then we’d leave and drive like a million miles to the next town, and I’d have to get another room…


Chappell: Wow…


Garvin: And I did that…night after night after night. But there’s no way I’d want to subject her to the arenas. So, she got that right off the bat.


But the atmosphere in the arenas was way too strong, particularly way back then. It wasn’t safe anywhere.


Chappell: Not at all. That’s really some way to get a marriage started!


Garvin: Yeah…holy sh*t, huh?


Chappell: But sticking through that, it’s no wonder you all have stayed together for 35 years!


Garvin: (laughs) Oh, I know! And it probably even got a little worse than that later on down the road!


Chappell: (laughing)


Garvin: But we were in Tennessee in ’73 for Nick Gulas, and that was interesting. Sam Bass, God bless him, was there then. Frank Hester…some real good guys.


Like my stories of the road on my website, that’s where I wrestled the bear in Bowling Green, Kentucky for Nick Gulas…


Chappell: I gotta read that one!


Garvin: But, again, it was a learning experience. There, I was still managing…Duke Meyers came in the picture. I was managing Terry and Duke Meyers. And you know, Jim my ‘Boogie Woogie Man’ Valiant came in the picture then over there for a little bit, and he and Terry teamed up. So, I worked with them a little bit.


But even there, I was really still just managing.


Chappell: When are we going to get you into the ring and wrestle? (laughs)


Garvin: Pretty soon!


In 1974 I went to Atlanta. That’s when Ronnie and Terry teamed up…and I think I was managing them both. We were all living out there in Old Virginia Condominiums…it was me, Ronnie and Terry together for the first time.


Chappell: By this time, you had been managing a good while…


Garvin: About six years.


Chappell: So I guess your interviewing skills and knowing the psychology about the business had grown considerably by this time?


Garvin: My psychology was really, really good by this time. My interviews were picking up. But my psychology was pretty much right on the money.


Chappell: Didn’t you go overseas about this time?


Garvin: After I left Atlanta, I went to Australia…but just for a few months. Bobby Shane was over there. He left Australia, and then came back and got killed.


Chappell: Yes…


Garvin: He was over there, Frankie Cain was over there and Bill Dundee was over there. Bill hadn’t come to the States yet.


But I didn’t stay in Australia long. And when I came back, I took a year off.


Chappell: What did you do during this time away from wrestling?


Garvin: I went up to North Bay, and bought a friggin’ meat market!


Chappell: (laughs) What?!


Garvin: Believe it or not, that’s what I did. I sure did…


Chappell: That sure came out of the blue, didn’t it?


Garvin: Yeah. Patti being from up there and her family being from up there…I bought some land up there. I was working with a real estate guy up there and he said, ‘I’ve got a meat market and it’s been around for like 50 years. It’s right on Main Street.’ I told him okay, and I bought the thing.


I didn’t know sh*t, David. I knew the difference between a pork chop and a steak…and that was about it!


Chappell: (laughs)


Garvin: I was young, real young…in my early 20s.


Chappell: Real young to be jumping into something like that. Certainly, there weren’t any similarities to that and wrestling!


Garvin: No…none at all. Absolutely none at all. We ended up importing seafood up in there, and becoming one of the largest bonded seafood importers north of Toronto. The business was great.