Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Jo Stafford

Jo Stafford, one of the best known singers of the big band era, passed away on July 16, in California. She was 90.

The obituary from The New York Times can be found here:

Stafford was a wonderful singer. One of my favorite songs is 1941’s “Let’s Get Away From It All,” by the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra. The song featured Frank Sinatra, Connie Haines, and the vocal group The Pied Pipers; Jo Stafford was, at the time, a member of The Pied Pipers.

Here is a brief excerpt of the record, featuring Stafford and The Pied Pipers. In the excerpt, Stafford sings both alone, and with the group; she is the first voice heard on the recording.

The excerpt comes from the album "The Dorsey/Sinatra Sessions, Volume 2," RCA Records, 1982.,_segment.wav

Thursday, July 10, 2008

S.S. United States, and the Pompton Lakes Library

A new documentary, which has been airing on PBS stations throughout the country, concerns the S.S. United States, the ocean liner which plays a part in The Lucky Strike Papers. The film is called S.S. United States: Lady In Waiting. DVDs of the film can be purchased via the film’s web site:


I mentioned the S.S. United States, when I spoke about The Lucky Strike Papers on June 30th, at the Pompton Lakes (New Jersey) Public Library. I’ve lived in Pompton Lakes since the fall of 2002.

June 30th was a day of great significance at the Library—the last day at work for the Library’s longtime director, Dr. Margaret Freathy. She had overseen the Library for 18 years.

I enjoyed speaking with a small group of Library patrons and staff members (including Dr. Freathy).

When I referred to the S.S. United States, a gentleman in attendance told me the following: he said he was unsure, but he believed that the S.S. United States was the ship featured in the 1957 film An Affair to Remember, starring Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr.

I had not heard this, and so, last week, I rented the film. There were, in the film, many exterior shots of the ship; the ship plays a prominent part in the film. As one who has seen many photos of the S.S. United States (and took two tours of it, in the year 2000, on the Philadelphia waterfront), I was sure the gentleman at the library was right: it looked, I thought, just like the United States.

However: in an image of the bow of the ship, in the film, one sees the name “Constitution.” I thought, though, that perhaps the liner was still the United States, but that it had been renamed for the purposes of the film.

Yet so often today, of course, DVDs include additional footage and features, and one newsreel-type feature, on the DVD, concerned a 1957 event related to the film’s debut, an event which took place on the S.S. Constitution— the ship, the narrator noted, that had been featured in the film.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Radio shows

From 1995 until 1997, as mentioned in the previous post, I was the host of a talk show on radio station WINA-AM in Charlottesville, Virginia. Last week, I appeared on WINA again, by phone; I was interviewed by Coy Barefoot, the host of the station’s talk show “Charlottesville—Right Now!”

I have wonderful memories of working at WINA, think of Charlottesville with great affection, and it was a delight appearing on Coy’s program.

Coy, by the way, has written a number of books. Here’s a link to one of them, which is about Thomas Jefferson:

As my thoughts turn regularly to Charlottesville, they also turn very often to New England, where I am from.

And so I was of course so pleased to be able to appear last weekend (Saturday night/Sunday morning) on Jordan Rich’s overnight show on Boston station WBZ-AM. Jordan has a warm and engaging style as an interviewer. I also enjoyed talking with the several callers who phoned in.

Coming up, on July 15th: an interview on “The Sam Greenfield Show,” on northern New Jersey station WVNJ (1160 AM). The interview will begin at 8:30 a.m.