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Chuck Hinman: Christmas memories from my show biz days

Chuck Hinman: Christmas Memories From My Show Biz Days.
Mom's egg money provided for piano lessons. After retirement Chuck is accompanist for The Philtones. The next earlier Chuck Hinman Story: - Merry Christmas, Mom, from your son, Chuck

By Chuck Hinman

Christmas Memories from my show biz days

After I retired from Phillips Petroleum Company and we had returned home from Houston, I was invited to audition for the accompanist position for The Philtones, veteran musical performing group sponsored by Phillips Petroleum Company.

I got the job.

The Philtones

At Christmas time, the Philtones, all twenty-one of us, were kept busy for several weeks putting on our current year's Christmas Program for whoever wanted to hear us. Some years, we did as many as a dozen performances. One of our favorite performing venues was at Methodist Manor in Tulsa, Oklahoma. They had marvelous facilities to accommodate a large performing group like ours (21 people) not to mention appreciative audiences.

Even if I say it myself, we were a class act and you certainly couldn't complain about the price. We were free, gratis Phillips Petroleum Company. We even "duded up," the men wearing white tuxedo dinner jackets with red satin cummerbunds and bow ties. The women were appropriately dressed in matching holiday finery. We not only looked good but we smelled good, :-) the men with a recent shower and shave. WOWZEE! Nothing like a fresh shower to catch you up in the spirit of the season!

I don't do garbage

The only time Connie threatened to leave me was when I was waiting for my ride to an out-of-town performance and she asked me to take the garbage out on my way to my ride. I mistakenly blurted out in a whiny voice -- "You have to be kidding! Woman! I don't do garbage. I'm in show biz!" I thought she was going to force feed the garbage to me until I wisely repented and took the garbage to the trash can!"

"Ysssssh, there ain't no respect any more," I muttered to myself as I crammed the garbage in an already crowded trash barrel and dusted off my hands.

It's Christmas 1993 and here we are in Holiday attire at Methodist Manor in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Besides the 30-35 minute singing program, I was scheduled to do a piano solo.

Egg Money Provided Piano Lessons

Several months before the Christmas programs started I was invited to present a solo for the prestigious Musical Research Society downtown on Shawnee at 6th. Since I am a relatively old codger to still be showing off, tickling the ivories, I decided to pay honor to my dear Mom. Long since deceased, she was the one responsible for making it possible for me to have a weekly piano lesson. She carefully managed the egg money (the Hinman family's only cash flow) so that besides having food for the table, she had exactly 50 cents left for each of the Hinman kids for weekly piano lessons.

To publicly honor Mom and her faithful brood of egg-laying hens, I placed a simple silver candlestick holder from home on the impressive looking Steinway piano with an egg on the candlestick rather than a candle and told the story. I don't remember what I played. It really didn't make any difference, the act brought the house down at the Musical Research Society. I was an instant hit before Bartlesville's musically elite.

Word spread like wildfire back to the Philtones and when it came time for me to do my rendition of a Fats Waller arrangement of Jingle Bells for the folks at Methodist Manor, there was a pre-planned delay by the whole Philtone cast. Somewhere they had come up with a huge candelabra (a Liberace look-alike) and each of the Philtone cast ceremoniously and with much aplomb, deposited eggs all over that candelabra. As the director, Amy Kopp, bowed off the stage, she announced I would tell the assembled audience the significance of the egg embellished "eggalabra."

I was "got" big time, but managed with tear drenched eyes to give credit to my Mom and all the Hinman laying hens over the years, for making it possible for me to be present in show-biz finery to "show-off" a little one more time. I don't know when I have played better and Mom at last got the credit due her!

Philtones reborn as Ad Lib

Last night, December 11, 2006, "Ad Lib," the name of the current group who were formerly the Philtones, put on a delightful program for us at Tallgrass Estates. They were dressed in the familiar holiday finery; some of the cast members (not all) were former Philtone singers. They even sang one of the Christmas songs which was a staple with the Philtones, "Come and See The Tiny Little Baby."

No one present at that program last night but me can fathom the emotional turmoil an 85 year old "show-biz-has-been" experienced last night listening to his young peers, the "Ad Lib" singers do their Christmas concert for us at Tallgrass Estates. It was masterfully done!

My eyes dried out over night.

Written by Chuck Hinman, 12 December 2006. It's Just Me Again : 092 : (slightly edited by RHS)

This story was posted on 2012-12-16 05:47:42
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