Monday, February 28, 2005

Tommy Dorsey

My mother had her 15 minutes of fame back in August 1945. During the war, she worked as a private secretary for a captain at the old Kearney Army Air Base. The captain was in charge of ordinance and a couple other departments on the base. It was common for some of the big-name entertainers of the day to go on the road and entertain the servicemen at the various bases throughout the country.

According to the unofficial history of the Kearney Army Air Base, many big-name bands came to play at dances held at the N.C.O Club or in one of the hangars on base. Bands such as Duke Ellington, Tommy Dorsey, The King Cole Trio and Les Brown and his Band of Renown (including singer Doris Day) played there.

Twice a week, Mom would stay on the base and play her accordion at the Officer's Club. She was a music major at the University of Nebraska and played the piano in addition to the accordion.

In August, the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra was coming to play. It was customary to bring most of the musicians with the band, but also fill in with local musicians when necessary. The Dorsey Orchestra had made arrangements to use a local piano player, but on the day of the dance, the piano player was sick. The quartermaster knew that Mom could play the piano and asked her to sit in with the band. The night of the dance, Mom played with the orchestra, but just played chords instead of playing any solos. It was a fun evening, especially for a girl from a small town in Nebraska!

Mom still remembers most of the set list:

  • Jersey Bounce
  • Green Eyes
  • Can't Get Out Of This Mood
  • Blues In The Night
  • I'm Beginning To See The Light
  • All Or Nothing At All
  • Brazil
  • The Moon Got In My Eyes
  • Beer Barrel Polka
  • On The Atchison, Topeka And The Santa Fe
  • Tangerine
  • Mairzy Doats
  • It Might As Well Be Spring
  • Moonlight Cocktail
  • Sentimental Journey
  • Linda
  • Don't Sit Under The Apple Tree