One of the stories about my dad is about how he and his radio partner Jud Asmore “beat the hell” out of the Iranian students in front of City Hall.
But – did it ever happen? The short answer is yes – – and no.
Let me explain.
It was 1979 and the one of the most popular radio shows in America was Ricci and Jud on KBUC in San Antonio. Their blend of 3 or 4 REAL country tunes (think George Jones) per hour, fast-paced Texas humor, and country boy conservative politics brought them nationwide fame. Ricci and Jud laid the foundation for today’s conservative radio/television. Rush Limbaugh wouldn’t come along for another 20 years after Ricci and Jud.
Mohammad Rezâ Šâhe Pahlavi was the Shah of Iran until the Iranian Revolution in 1979. That’s when the Ayatollah Khomeini came to power in Iran and the Shah would eventually come to the United States.
The Shah suffered from gallstones which needed surgical treatment. President Carter allowed him into the country to Cornell in New York for treatment. Eventually the Shah would be brought to Wilford Hall Medical Center in San Antonio for further treatment.
His stay in the U.S. sparked protests in Iran. The Iranians demanded he be returned to face “justice” there.
One morning during the Shah’s stay in San Antonio my dad got wind there was going to be a protest by Iranian students at City Hall. Rumor had it the students were going to occupy City Hall and place pictures of the Ayatollah on the walls.
The morning of the planned protest my dad invited Mayor Lila Cockrell to be on the radio with he and Jud.
“I hear there are some Iranian students who plan to occupy City Hall today, Mayor. Is that true?” Ricci asked.
“We’ve heard that rumor too, Ricci, but I have decided there will not be protests from either side today,” the Mayor responded.
“What about this business of hanging pictures of the Ayatollah on the walls on City Hall?” dad continued.
“Not going to happen, Ricci. We will stop it,” said Cockrell.
After ending the call with the Mayor my dad turned to Jud and said, “Jugger,” (that was his nickname for Jud) “Jugger, I’m going to City Hall after the show to make sure there will be no protest. Want to come along?”
The two arrived at City Hall around 9:30am to find Iranian students sitting on City Hall steps, pictures of the Ayatollah hanging on the walls, and a couple thousand Ricci and Jud fans.
“Ricci don’t hit anybody,” said someone from SAPD.
“Only if one of them takes a swing at me first.”
“Fair enough,” said the man in baby blue.
Ricci and Jud climbed the steps of City Hall right past the protesters, grabbed the pictures of the Ayatolla, busted them over their knees, and placed them in trash cans.
The crowd gave out a deafening cheer similar something you would hear at a Spurs championship game.
Ricci and Jud never laid laid a hand on anyone.
Later that day, Mayor Cockrell summoned my dad to her office.
“Ricci, I told you I was not allowing protests from either side,” she said.
“With all due respect, Mayor, all I did was what you failed to do. You said no protests, and no pictures on City Hall. You didn’t have them removed, so I took them down,” he said respectfully.
“This is America – not Iran,” he finished. “No unwelcome picture of any foreign leader will hang on City Hall as long as I’m around.”
So there’s the story. Dad never laid a finger on anyone that day.
The story has morphed into legend of Ricci and Jud “Whoppin’ up on the Iranians.”
He didn’t do that, but he did stand up for America at a time when she needed it.
That’s why thousands of San Antonio citizens came up to shake his hand and say, “Thank you, Ricci!”
Ricci Ware – – One of a kind.