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It's Just Me Again No. 056 : Big Band Days

It's Just Me Again No. 056: Big Band Days For past Chuck Hinman columns, thumb back through Sundays with CM, reading ColumbiaMagazine.com as a Daily Newspaper.
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by Chuck Hinman

The days of most of us residents at Tallgrass Estates are filled with reminiscing of things that have come our way during a long and mostly happy life. I thank the Lord many times for preserving my mind so that I can enjoy calling up so many cherished times of years gone by.


One of those special times that come to mind quite often is the "Big Band Days." Remember them? Of course you do.

Let's go back to 1935. I was 13 years old. On Saturday nights in the fall and winter when it was too cold to go to town for a Saturday night bash, we stayed home and listened to the radio. One of the favorite programs was the "Your Hit Parade" [announced as "Lucky Strike presents Your Hit Parade"] with the Harry Salter orchestra. Radio programs were filled with popular songs of the day. The Lucky Strike Hit Parade on Saturday night radio sorted out which songs were played the most and presented the ten most popular songs of the week in reverse order, beginning at #10 and ending with the suspense filled announcement of the #1 song! Our entire family listened. We had fun guessing which song would be rated number one. We bet pennies if we had one!

We kids were taking piano lessons. Our dear Mom, bless her heart, occasionally made room in her tight chicken-egg cash flow for a surprise extra! The Constable Rexall drug store in Wymore, Nebraska, carried sheet music. Occasionally Mom would surprise all of us and buy the week's most popular song. Sheet music cost a whopping 35 cents! We kids had an added incentive to learn to play our old clunker piano by having a few of the day's choice song hits on the music rack of our piano. I still have all those old songs, now considered collectors items.

Imagine how cool it was to have just seen the hit movie "You Are My Lucky Star" starring Hollywood's glamour movie starlet Jean Harlow at the Lyric Theater in Wymore, Nebraska. Then in a few days to hear the title song of that show emanating from the Hinman farm home in remote Gage County in southeast Nebraska. How much better can it get! It didn't sound like a big band rendition, but it wasn't bad for a 13 year old "wanabee big band piano player." Don't laugh, it did happen a few years down the line.

Then "fast forward" four years to 1939. I had graduated from Liberty (Nebraska) High School and enrolled at Peru State Teacher's College nearby. There was a big band known as the Glenn Miller band that soon became a household word. It was a large band for the times and soon became everyone's favorite because of their unique sound.

Some of the favorites then and even now 65 years later were "Moonlight Serenade," "String of Pearls," "Chattanooga Choo Choo," "Star Dust," "In The Mood," "Elmer's Tune," and "Juke Box Saturday Night." And these were just the Miller favorites. Other well-known big bands had their own favorites for which they were known.

I hadn't been at college long before I auditioned and became the piano player for "The Bobcats," the college big band, dance band. I think I could still play the 32-bar piano solo in "The String of Pearls." I worked so hard on it! When I was in the U.S. Army Air Force, I played in the college big band when I was going to school at Montana State College, Bozeman, Montana.

Over the years, big bands have gone by the boards except for die-hards like ourselves for whom no other music will replace big band music. Thanks for the Lawrence Welk big band which remains true to the "Big Band" style and sound, it appears that Big Band music will always be available to us.

Dar-room-ta-du-ti -- dut- it -- may I have this dance ... I like the cologne you are wearing -- is it "Evening In Paris" ... what's your name ... where are you from ... we're wearing the same color saddle oxfords ... keen! ... do wah, do wa ... I love jitter-bugging with you ... may I walk you back to Liza Morgan Hall after the dance ... swell. Do you mind if I hold your hand? ... I'm sure having a good time with you ... you are such a good dancer! -Chuck Hinman


This story was posted on 2011-04-24 06:51:38
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