Pre-Thanksgiving Memories and Miscellany

Topeka Capital Journal
Nov. 23, 1988

Random thoughts while waiting for Thanksgiving and wondering if I’ll have what it takes to go easy on the gravy….

*** News stories this week say everyone old enough remembers what he or she was doing when President Kennedy was killed 25 years ago yesterday. I remember. I had just walked into Garfinckel’s, a department store in downtown Washington, DC, to buy an anniversary gift.

(And that reminds me.) Continue reading

Life and Times of the Light Crust Doughboys

June 11, 2001
Topeka Capital Journal

One day recently, Elaine White, without whom there would be no daily newspaper in Topeka, was reading, on her computer, the obituaries of notables from the day before. Knowing well my cultural tastes, she asked me if I ever had heard of the Light Crust Doughboys.

I said I had virtually grown up with them, and she went on to tell me Smokey Montgomery, their banjo player, had died in Dallas of leukemia at the age of 88. Then she asked me again if I really knew about them.

I said yes indeed, and to prove it I wore bold one verse of their theme song which they used to open and close their shows:

If you like us, think we’re fine.
Sit right down and drop a line
To the Light Crust Doughboys,
From the Burrus Mill.

There’s a lot of hillbilly music history, and politics featuring a one-time Kansan, in this story, so bear with me. Considering all the pleasure they gave me, the least I can do is offer a few words in their memory. Continue reading

Just One More Time Around

Topeka Daily Capital
October 1960

The death of a man like Clark Gable makes you remember some of the entertaining moments he gave you, and others gave you. It makes you wish you could see and hear them again, even though you know you can’t, or at least probably never will.

Just once more , for example, I’d like to see Clark Gable on the witness stand, telling off the lawyer questioning him in “Boomtown.” And I’d go again to see him get poured on the bus in “It Happened One Night.”

There are a lot of things I’d like to see again … How about taking me back to the theater in Washington, D. C., and let me see the houselights dim and the footlights go up as the curtain parts and Glenn Miller’s band plays “Moonlight Serenade.” … Let me stay in the same place long enough to hear Tommy Dorsey play and introduce his new vocalist, Frank Sinatra …

I’d settle for just a flash of Carl Hubbell looking in from the mound and delivering a screwball… And of Pepper Martin stealing third, sliding in on his stomach …

And, please, give me one more triple dip of Black Walnut ice cream from Doc SnIder’s Drug Store …

Let me see once more my first pup, a Fox Terrier named Sparky, slip and skid on the slick linoleum of the kitchen in the house in Britton, Okla., after my mother says “Go get the dog’s can.” … Give me another evening in the backyard there, and an onion and tomato sandwich – on homemade bread …

Put me, just for a few minutes, back in the theater in New York so I can hear Robert Preston, The Music Man, sing about the “Trouble – Right Here in River City” and about “The Sadder But Wiser Girl,” … And let me hear the medicine man on Britton’s Main Street sell one more bottle of Tay-Jo Tonic …

Give me Eddie Crowder, faking to the fullback hiding the ball on his hip as he fades, and then passing for another Oklahoma touchdown … Take me back to 1952 and let me see the Sooners whip Kansas and lose to Notre Dame in the two best college football games I ever saw …

Sit me in a hotel room again with J. V. Sikes and Ears Whitworth and let me listen to them tell how they recruited football players for Georgia …

Once more, let me stand in line to be introduced to J Edgar Hoover … Let me look at the 1953 Kansas basketball team putting on the Porcupine Press , and let me interview Phog Allen when it’s over … Continue reading