Larry grew up in Tampa and was
glued to the television set in its early days. Prior to 1955, WSUN was the only local TV fare
and Elliston’s favorite program was “Captain Mac’s Adventure Trails,”
featuring the cartoon antics of Crusader Rabbit
and Rags the Tiger. His fondest TV
memory from those days was an appearance on Captain Mac’s program when it was
broadcast live from St. Petersburg’s Million Dollar Pier. His second boyhood TV appearance came a few years later on
Channel 13’s “Popeye Playhouse with Mary Ellen.” Little did he know then he would work in that same building
more than 20 years later.
As a young elementary school
pupil, Larry was an avid fan of CBS’s Sunday broadcast of “Twentieth
Century,” narrated by Walter Cronkite, because he loved seeing the show
credits at the end which featured the name “Wade Bingham.” Bingham was a Tampa
portrait photographer who had taken Larry’s baby pictures and later managed to turn his freelance motion picture work into a budding
career with CBS News. Bingham
concluded his long TV career in the early 80’s as senior cameraman for CBS’
Now 53, Elliston’s baby pictures are still displayed in his mother’s house. Bingham’s studio was just a couple of storefronts down from his grandparents’ drugstore, Elliston’s, at Parker Street and Grand Central Avenue (now Kennedy Blvd.), just west of the Hillsborough River.
Elliston's Drug Store in Tampa
Ironically, his grandparents'
drugstore eventually became “The House of Seven Sorrows,” a beatnik coffee
house frequented by the adventurous novelist Jack Kerouac when he lived in the
area. Part of the irony was that
one of Kerouac’s milestone novels of that period was “On the Road,”
considered the bible of the beat generation.
Larry remembers the day in 1969 when Walter Cronkite reported Kerouac’s death,
which occurred in St. Petersburg where Kerouac’s wife and mother lived. Little
did he know that Kerouac and his book would set into motion a theme that would
remain with Larry, if even unconsciously, throughout his broadcasting career.
He still keeps a copy of "On The Road" handy in his living room.
In another coincidence, Larry
would find himself in the Channel 13 newsroom in the late 70’s working with
reporter Bonnie Ginsberg, niece of Kerouac’s best friend, poet-activist Allen
One of Larry’s favorite television programs had been Rod Serling’s “The Twilight Zone.” Drawn by the show’s creativity, writing and story construction, Larry considered each episode a mini-morality play that was always brilliantly constructed. The coincidences and rare events that happened on the block where Elliston’s Drug Store had stood in the forties and early fifties could be likened to an episode of that show.
Elliston attended Robinson High and the University of South Florida, where he majored in speech. In his junior and senior years, Elliston worked regularly at the school paper, The Oracle, and at USF's radio station WUSF, where he read the news on the legendary program, "Underground Railroad."
Elliston's position at Channel 8 resulted from a unique school-work program where his first year at the station was as a 'cooperative education intern.' He worked six days a week and was considered a full time employee by news director Bill Henry, even though he was technically an intern. Once the program ended, Elliston was converted to a regular WFLA employee.
This photo was used on-air when Larry reported live and no film was available