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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Graham & Graham Patriarch in San Francisco Chronicle

Jerry Graham, the father/grandfather of the Graham & Graham duo, was written up this week in the San Francisco Chronicle. He's pictured here with his wife Catherine, the co-owner of their Flipper Fanny's Cookies, home to Santa Cruz cookies, gifts and wedding cakes. Read the interview here.

Jerry Graham was between jobs in 1985 when he was approached by KRON production manager Bob Klein to host a short travel segment for the station. That turned into "Bay Area Backroads," and after the show's first eight successful years, he was one of the most recognizable faces in local television.

Now retired and living in Santa Cruz, Graham, 75, is still busy, helping his wife, Catherine, with her baking business ( and spending time with his 17-year-old daughter, Lily, before she heads off to Reed College in Oregon. He also works out every day, plays basketball and reads whenever he can.

We talked to Jerry by phone last week.

Q: Did you keep track of "Bay Area Backroads" after you left?

A: Actually, I didn't, for no other reason that I moved to Santa Cruz when we left, and our Direct TV does not carry Channel 4. Every once in a while, and this is way back, someone would say, "Hey, I saw you on TV!" And I would say, "You did?" They were running some repeats. ... When I retired, I retired. My main interests right now are my wife's baking business and basketball. I'm preparing for the Senior Olympics.

Q: Describe Jerry Graham's basketball game. Are you an outside shooter? A hard-fouling power forward? A scrappy low-post man?

A: I have an all-around game. I'm a little over 6 feet. The captain on our team told me I'm the fastest guy on the team, so they rely on me to guard whoever is the fastest on the other team. I'm a pretty good outside shot. When I was a kid, I was a center. Now I'm an outside shooter, trying to avoid as much physical contact as I can.

Q: How do your basketball skills rate against your baking skills?

A: Catherine is the skill person. I'm a lifter. (When) we have to unload the car, I'm very good at that. If I'm told exactly what to do, I can bake and I can mix and I can do everything. But when it comes to a wedding cake, Catherine is a great decorator and designer. I'm the lifter. I can't do any of that.

Q: How much time do you spend traveling the Bay Area backroads in retirement?

A: Very little. In fact when moved here, one of the reasons we picked Santa Cruz after looking at all kinds of places was that it was an hour and a half from the Bay Area. Now I'm amazed how infrequently I get to the Bay Area, even though we have friends all over. I'm not that into travel anymore.

Q: How many tickets did you get during your eight years on the show?

A: None. I was stopped once in Monterey because I made an illegal turn. A patrolman pulled me over, and recognized me, and we talked a little bit. He just told me what I did wrong and that was it. ... Part of the whole concept of the show was to slow down. I was rarely in a hurry.

- Peter Hartlaub


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