Monday, April 10, 2006

Happy retirement, Randy "Woody" Randall

After many years as a fixture in the front lobby, Randy “Woody” Randall, a plastic dummy in a night watchman’s uniform, has been “retired” from Randall-Reilly Publishing in Tuscaloosa.

According to CEO Mike Reilly, the dummy was brought to Tuscaloosa by his predecessor, the late Pettus Randall III, who encountered it at an American Rental Association trade show. An exhibitor had rigged the dummy with a microphone, so that as people walked past, the dummy seemed to greet them by name: “Hi, Pettus!”

Enthralled, Randall bought the dummy for $2,200, hoping to take it on the trade-show circuit as a Randall Publishing attraction. When that didn’t work out, Randall decided to dress the dummy in a night watchman’s uniform and set it in the window as a deterrent to burglars. “Hello, Woody,” Randall would tell the dummy each morning as he walked in.

In a celebrated incident one Halloween, Tim Cooper, then art director of Overdrive magazine, disguised himself as the dummy and sat frozen in the dummy’s position in the lobby until an unsuspecting Mike Reilly walked past, whereupon the “dummy” reached out and goosed him. Excitement ensued.

Randall Publishing honored the dummy’s retirement from the public eye with cake and coffee at its companywide meeting April 10. The first job applicant to sit in Woody’s chair in the lobby is in for a lot of strange looks.


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