April 4, 2003
On a recent afternoon, left to own devices at the keyboard of my trusty personal computer, my mind wandered more than usual. CDs embedded with the music of Mr. Glenn Miller and his orchestra played in the background and I found myself pausing for long periods to hear again those marvelous doo-wahs and the lilting harmony of the reed sections. It was becoming more difficult to concentrate on the work at hand so I just pushed back and daydreamed of those halcyon days when the Moonlighters tilled. Life was peaceful then, although we stood on the brink, of a terrible struggle that came to be known as World War II. We knew who we were in this blessed land and we were prepared to defend that role even if it meant the loss of countless young lives to convince the dictators of the world.
Ray Eberle crooned the soothing ballads on my CD player and I remembered thinking at the time these were originally recorded that he was not a Dick Haymes or Frank Sinatra, but somehow his style just seemed right for the Miller orchestra. And of course when Marion Hutton and the Modernaires belted a tune, there was no mistaking the style or the sound. They were supreme. Thanks to the advanced recording technology we now enjoy, those ballads and jump tunes from several decades ago sound as fresh and soothing as they did 'way back when.
I thought about the time when three or four of us from Perry traveled to Oklahoma City and the great dance hall in the Skirvin Tower when the Glenn Miller orchestra played one weekend. The place was full, and the dance floor was packed with couples trying to get as close as possible to the bandstand for a close-up look at the musicians. They were the idols of the day, as much as today's rock stars or the big-time performers in any field. Many of them were known to us in that pre-TV period only through vinyl records and remote, late-night radio shows. These could be heard almost nightly from Frank Dailey's Meadowbrook, the Glen Island Casino in New Rochelle or any of many Venues around the country where young people listened and danced to the music of that age. Recordings of that day, now transferred by newer technology to small disks, remain as fresh and soulful as when they were first released.
Getting to Oklahoma City for the Glenn Miller appearance would be difficult for young teens, today, but we were resourceful back then. None of us had a car and only one or two were old enough to have a driver's license. So we chose our usual mode - hitchhiking on U.S. 77. It was not dangerous then and passersby were not, reluctant to pick up young people who used their thumb to ask for a ride. I cannot imagine allowing that to be done today.
Ali, but the reverie had to end as the last of the Miller recording, arrived. Nothing special to say here, but thank goodness for happy memories of the music and the mood of those innocent years not so long ago.