The Smokin' TV

Where exactly this story fits into the timeline is a little fuzzy to me but I think it occurred during my first summer in Nashville. That would be 1987. I only new my side of the story as I was the benefactor of Charlie Derrington’s humor again. In a recent phone conversation with Danny Roberts, he gave me some of the background of the details that I didn’t know..............

Charlie Derrington called Danny Roberts via the Gibson inter company phone system. It was just prior to the lunch hour and as many employees do, arrangements were made to “do lunch”.  “Hey Danny, this is Charlie.”

“Hey Charlie.”

“Whatta ya doin’ for lunch?” Charlie asked.

“Oh I don’t know?”

“Hee, hee.” Charlie laughed, “Let’s go mess with Jim.”

“Ok, sounds good to me.” Danny replied.

“He went home for lunch. Lets go see him then we’ll go grab something.” Charlie planned.

“Ok, I’ll meet you out front.” Danny left his bench at the customer service center and made his way through the Gibson plant. He ran into Charlie in the lobby.

“Lets leave now.” Charlie said. “Jimmy hasn’t left yet and we’ll be able to surprise him.”

The two got in Charlie’s truck and drove over to the my residence on Clovernook. The home was just over a mile away and only three minute drive from the Gibson factory.

While the two headed north of the plant, I was rapping up my work in The Custom Shop. Phil Jones had the bench next to me. “Hey Philly, I’m goin’ home for lunch. You wanna go?”

“Nah man, I gotta go to the Post Office.” Phil answered.

I made my way through the Gibson factory and then into the parking lot. I hopped into my Yellow Nissan pick up and headed home for lunch. Charlie and Danny had around five minutes head start on me.

The two pranksters drove onto Clovernook drive and Charlie mused, “Danny, lets park down the hill so he won’t see the truck and we’ll scare him when he drives up.”

“That sounds good to me.” Danny agreed.

After locating his vehicle out of sight, Charlie and Danny made their way around the back side of my house............

“Look Danny, there’s an old TV.”


An old TV was set next to the back side of the house waiting for trash day to be moved out near the street for pick up.

“Lets do something with it.” Charlie offered.

Danny laughed, then said, “What? What should we do with it?”

Charlie scanned the property. “Let’s put it in the garden! Jimmy loves his garden.”

“Let’s do it.” Danny answered.

The two picked up the TV and shuffled across the lawn heading in the direction of the weeds that I called my prized garden plot. The large TV almost became a casualty even before they made it to their planned destination. They were laughing so hard, they almost dropped it along the way.

“This is stupid Charlie.” Danny mused in between giggles.

“Hee hee, ya but Jimmy’s goin’ to love it.”

They some how got to the garden plot with TV in hand, (hands).

“Move your feet Danny. Let’s drop it here.”

Drop it they did. The TV dropped three feet to the earth and there was a crash. The picture tube broke and it started smoking from the inside.

“Shit Charlie, I think there’s a fire in there.”

“Hee hee, that’s perfect. Let’s go hide.”

The two looked for a good spot that still had a good view of the garden. They chose to hide behind the air conditioning unit along the east side of the house. The distance was only fifty feet away and they would have a good look when I showed up...........

I drove into the driveway and parked behind the house. Immediately something caught my eye. When I parked I was facing toward the east and could see a smoke plume rising from his garden.

“That’s funny,” I said to myself.

 I had no idea there were others on the property. I walked slowly toward the garden. At first I could only see the tall weeds that surrounded the salad crops that I had planted. My gardening skills were legendary and were much talked about by employees like Randy Russell and Edwin Wilson in the factory, but lately my busy schedule at Gibson kept me from my regular weeding schedule.

As I got closer I stared at the smoke rising upward and thought I saw it emanating from a TV. I wondered how the TV got there. I looked along the back side of the house where I had set a TV two days prior that was ready to be taken out to the garbage. It wasn’t there........... How did it get to the garden?

Now I was standing in the garden. The TV was smoking. I bent over and looked around it. It didn’t appear to be broken. I stood up and surveyed the property. I didn’t know what I was looking for but I knew something wasn’t right. I knew I hadn’t planted a TV in my prized garden plot. Everything else seemed the way it should be. I could hear birds chirping and rabbits munching his lawn. An American Airlines jet flew high overhead after just taking off from the Nashville airport. Then I heard something unusual........... something I may have recognized. I heard what sounded like little kids snickering and trying to suppress their laughter.

“Shut up Danny, he’ll hear us.” Charlie elbowed Danny. The two raised their heads ever so slightly to get a better view of their friend.

I continued my gaze and my eyes followed the information that my ears were delivering. Finally I put two and two together. I saw two heads that looked all too familiar.


Charlie stood up.

“Danny.” he said.

Danny stood up. The two were nearly falling over they were laughing so hard. They made there way back to the scene of the crime. The laughter was so intense tears had to be wiped from their eyes along the way.

“What are you two doing?” I asked.

“Just messin’ with you.” Charlie responded.

“Look, the TV’s on fire.” I mentioned.

“No it’s not. It’s just vapors from the picture tube. I think we broke it when it hit the ground.” 

Danny laughed at Charlie’s response. The laughter continued on for minutes by the three of us.

Days later I reminisced about the TV in the garden as I hauled it to the street for trash pick up. The story soon made it around the Gibson plant in short order and is still talked about today among close friends. Many of Charlie’s antics will never be forgotten. Especially by the people most touched by his life.

                                                                       Jim Triggs