Thursday, October 22, 2009


Yesterday was a go back to my past day. I paid a visit to an old friend. Of course, unbeknown to me "the old friend" had re-located itself a bit. The old friend was the Alhambra Public Library. And now it had moved to First Street in Alhambra right next door to City Hall. I can not tell you how many happy hours that I spent in that library. My dear father loved it so. He would take us kids (my sister Annette and I especially) there on Tuesday nights when I was small. They would stamp the books with the date due as many times as you had actual books borrowed. In that way, our dear father (and other parents, I presume) would know just how many library books had to to be returned on that particular due date. My dad would get so mad at us kids if he found a book was missing. The library's collection was precious. The library had several locations over the years and one temporary location was actually in an old super market while they were finding the funds to build a permanent building! Those were tough days! I remember when i was about ten years old going to the old library and discovering my first Disneyland recorded soundtrack there. It was "Sleeping Beauty" . The record had been well used. It was my birthday and we were so poor at that point that my "birthday present" was a brand new library card. But that library held so much for me otherwise. I got to know a research librarian there by the name of Ann Mcowsky. Ann was a be speckled older woman who was the most devoted librarian you could ever hope to meet. Perhaps I'm the only one to remember her because I don't think she ever married or had a child and she died of brain cancer. While I was in college and beyond, I started raising money for the 16mm film collection of the library. My friends and I started a series of film festivals at the Holy Trinity Episcopal Church Parish Hall. Dear Father Hultgren was an amazing minister who was kind and good of heart who allowed us to use the hall for our film showings. With my old 16mm Graflex projector, I would run Laurel & Hardy, Charlie Chaplin and Our Gang comedies in that old parish hall auditorium and we bought a number of 16mm films for the libraries permanent collection including "The Little Drummer Boy" and the Saul Bass masterpiece "Why Man Creates" plus we long leased a few Disney cartoons from the Walt Disney Company. Well, today I returned there and obtained a library card. Imagine that! I haven't been at this library (at any of its three or four locations in over thirty years. Since my new job will be close by at Alhambra Nissan I thought about getting my first new library card in almost that same period. I also donated some of my recordings of my songs for their collection. That felt good. And then as John Nugent and I were driving home, we passed by Holy Trinity Church. Nothing had changed about that grand facade! What a flood of great memories. Dear Father Hultgren was so amazingly kind. So I thought of him fondly this afternoon. I could still see his face in my mind. I hadn't seen that church in over thirty years. Wow! I took out some library books and found a very interesting detail about the life of Jerome Kern, the composer. I'm going to have to verify the story, but if it is true, it could make an incredible musical story that would incorporate bot the actual fact and a bit of fiction. According to the book, I was reading, Jerome Kern was on his way to an audition in New York City for a revival of "Showboat" in 1946. He had a stroke as he was on the streets walking to the theatre where the auditions were scheduled. The book that I was reading said that he had no identification and was sent eventually to a hospital on Governor's island -- the assumption was that without any kind of ID, he was simply an immigrant without insurance. Good grief! This was Jerome Kern. As I looked on Wikepedia, that article said that he indeed had a stroke but that his only Id was his ASCAP membership card. Kern was in search of a drug store looking for the medication that he needed so badly. I'm not sure how he would have gotten the medicine without wallet or money but I need to find this out. At any rate, I thought of an idea-- if he really was shipped off as an immigrant without ID and maybe without memory that he was indeed the great Jerome Kern what would happen if he met a young composer from a foreign country who passionately wanted to be a composer, himself. Could the great man actually inspire or teach the foreign kid a few things? Crazy? Well, no more crazy than the MGM musical film of his life that came out in 1951 that starred Robert Walker and Van Heflen. That was the purest form of fictionalized biography ever produced. But at any rate, it was a great day of memory that i truly enjoyed. Monday I had applied for a job at Disneyland-- without success. I am convinced that the folks who run Walt Disney's Magic Kingdom today want no part of a guy with a real Walt Disney, the man, not the icon knowledge. What was I thinking? Oh well!

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