A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from September 29, 2007
“Thermostrocka Mortimer” or “Thermostrocker Mortimer” (Cactus Pryor)

"Thermostrocka Mortimer” (or “Thermostrocker Mortimer") is the broadcasting signoff of longtime Austinite Richard “Cactus” Pryor. Pryor’s words are believed to be nonsense. (He is a Texas political satirist.)


Wikipedia: Cactus Pryor
Richard “Cactus” Pryor is considered a legend in Texas broadcasting. A native Austinite, Pryor has been a fixture in Texas broadcasting and entertainment since 1944. He received his nickname after the old Cactus Theater on Congress Avenue in Austin, Texas, which was run by his father, Skinny Pryor.

Pryor has also appeared in two movies, Hellfighters and The Green Berets with John Wayne. He is the author of a 1995 collection of some 40 essays entitled “Playback”.

He currently regales audiences on Austin radio with a daily 2-minute trip down memory lane, reminiscing about places and people from his past. Many of those of whom he speaks are long-gone. He is a confessed liberal, and has acknowledged that his (adult) children are conservative. Pryor also claims to be one of the first people to have heard of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, having been at the ranch of then-vice president Lyndon Baines Johnson at the time.

Pryor has for several years been a radio spokesman for the Austin-based Tex-Mex restaurant chain Serrano’s. In these ads, he is often called “Nopalito”, which loosely means little cactus, after the Spanish word nopal. Nopal is Spanish for prickly pear cactus. Nopales, used in many Mexican dishes, are commonly available throughout the American Southwest at most grocery stores and markets.

His broadcasting sign-off consists of a series of nonsense words, “thermostrocka mortimer”. The spelling and meaning of such are up to speculation. Cactus has stated, “The phrase is in the Bible; if you don’t find it, keep reading.”

590 KLBJ NEWS RADIO
Cactus Pryor
Cactus Comments
Monday-Friday
6:56am and 8:56am

Cactus Pryor is a legend in Texas radio!  A native Austinite, he is a member of Hall of Honor Austin High School and was named as Austin’s Most Worthy Citizen, 1981.  He is the former Program Manager of KLBJ AM Radio and KTBC Television. 

Cactus began his radio career in Austin on the 6th of June, 1944.  Richard “Cactus” Pryor broadcast local news, played records, entertained, and took his fair share of tidying up the studios. It would be quite some time before he would wear the appendage of his father’s movie theater, and take the name “Cactus,” thus becoming a Texas legend!  Over 60 years later Cactus can still be heard on KLBJ AM.

Cactus has also had an illustrious career in print.  His columns have been carried by leading newspapers in Dallas, Ft. Worth, San Antonio, El Paso, Waco, Galveston, Abilene, Lubbock, Wichita Falls.  His column was syndicated in the 70’s by Dallas Times Herald.  He is the author of two books chronicling his life:  Inside Texas (Shoal Creek Publishers) and Playback (University of Texas Publishers). He is also the author of a stage play “J. Frank Dobie.” He has also been published in Texas Monthly Magazine.

Cactus even made his mark in television and film.  Cactus has appeared in movies with John Wayne, and Peter Fonda.  He also co-hosted television shows with Darrell Royal and John Mackovic.  He has entertained such corporate giants as Kodak, Chase Manhattan, 3M, IBM, NFL, White House Press Photographers Banquet, General Mills, Texaco, Exxon, and American Airlines.

He has won numerous awards including: Texas Association of Broadcasters Pioneer Broadcaster of the Year.

His “Cactus Comments,” commentaries in which Cactus takes time to reflect on the many complexities of his rich life in Austin, can be heard each weekday at 6:56am and again at 8:56am on KLBJ AM’s Morning Show – Austin’s Morning News. 

Inside the Third House:
A Veteran Lobbyist Takes a 50-Year Frolic Through Texas Politics
by H. C. Pittman
Austin, TX: Eakin Press
Pg. 135 (last page of Cactus Pryor profile):
Thermostrocker Mortimer!

Austin Gas Prices
Topic: What does Cactus mean when he says “Thermis Rocky Mortimer”? 
Message Posted: 3/9/2006 10:39:21 AM Ignore TBW Report Abuse

A little background for non-natives here (include me since I have only been here 30 years):

Cactus Pryor is our local funny man. A whacko democrat octegenarian and Austin icon along the lines of Lowell Lieberman and Charlie Goodnight. Knows everything and everybody. Cactus entertains presidents and appeared in John Wayne movies. I should call Sammy Allred and ask the question because Cactus discovered the Geezinslaws and got them on TV a few decades ago and Sammy would know.

Most mornings on KLBJ 590 AM you can hear Cactus’ comments at 6:56 and 8:56 and he always signs off with the famous words.

What does it mean? Does anyone know?

Austin American-Statesman blogs
If this is not a wake up call to our electorate then I will fall back to one of Cactus Pryor’s favorite saw’s, “If this don’t light your fire, then your wood’s wet!”.
(...)
Posted 9.21.2006 10:31:59 AM

KVUE News (Austin, TX)
Austin legend talks about Alzheimer’s
06:39 PM CDT on Tuesday, September 25, 2007
By ERIN OCHOA
KVUE News

Many people consider him a legend.

Richard “Cactus” Pryor has spent more than 60 years in broadcasting, both in television and radio.

It wasn’t until recently that he opened up about his personal struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. Pryor was diagnosed nearly two years ago.

Despite the difficulties often associated with Alzheimer’s, he decided to go public with his disease, in hopes of helping others.

The Austin native now delivers daily commentaries on KLBJ radio.

“If you’re still alive after 84 years, you got a lot to talk about and pictures on the wall,” he said.

Pryor’s vivid stories are rich with history—but some of the details, are now a bit hazy.

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (4) Comments • Saturday, September 29, 2007 • Permalink


A small correction: Skinny Pryor’s theatre on Congress Avenue was the Grand Central.  When they couldn’t meet the rent during the depression they relocated to East 6th Street and renamed the theatre the “Cactus” since it showed almost exclusively cowboy movies.  That theatre burned down days before it was to open and was rebuilt with the help of Skinny’s competitors who pitched in to help him with new screens and equipment.

Posted by CL Andrews  on  02/02  at  02:04 PM

I’d listen to Cactus Pryor a lot more if he wouldn’t sign off with that stupid “thermer...” thing.  I literally change the station to avoid hearing this dumb non-word.  It’s just too obviously an attempt to come up with a memorable catch phrase.  Fail.

Burdjingerfuckelgrooberbrafshants.

Posted by Billy Solestis  on  12/31  at  10:08 AM

His “Cactus Comments,” commentaries in which Cactus takes time to reflect on the many complexities of his rich life in Austin, can be heard each weekday at 6:56am and again at 8:56am on KLBJ AM’s Morning Show – Austin’s Morning News.

Posted by Funny Pictures  on  04/14  at  10:04 PM

Those of us who know Cactus do not believe the sign-off Thermostrockamortimer to be nonsense but believe that it will be revealed to be a salute to the beginnings of radio and motion pictures. Gen 1:1 In the beginning....

Nevertheless, the fun is in the guessing.

Posted by Candace Andrews  on  08/23  at  12:17 PM

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