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Welcome to Our Story Page

We've been meeting once a week for the past few months for one purpose: to commune and listen to music. It has been an enriching and fulfilling journey, filled with music from the greats: Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Louis Armstrong, Dick Haymes and so many others. Each week, we unwind together and share memories about the songs and artists we hold dear. Occasionally, a song comes on that sparks a memory for nearly everyone in the group. New York, New York is such a song for this group of individuals, some of whom have lived in New York their whole life, others who moved here more recently. Thank you to everyone who has participated in this special series. May you all continue to expereince joy, wonder, and magical memories through music. With Love, Ezra

An Unexpected Performance

George P.

This is a story in two parts. The first part is just to give you a little bit about me, my aunt and my uncle, Aunt Julia and Uncle F. And they lived out in Bayside. My uncle F was really a very good athlete. He tried to teach me a whole bunch of different things, one of which was ice skating. So out in Bayside, they had the Crocheron park. Crocheron park had like a little lake, and in the wintertime would freeze over. So he would take me out and got me started with ice skating. And I guess I was kind of halfway decent at it. And each year as I was growing, my aunt and uncle would always buy me a pair of hockey skates for Christmas time. So time went on.

My uncle, finally, he didn’t want to do ice skating anymore, so he gave me his pair of racing skates and I used them for a while until my feet got too big. And then I never got any new ice skates and I never went back to ice skating. I don’t know, I guess I stopped skating in Bayside probably around the time I turned 15 or 16. So years later, this woman I knew was selling these relatively inexpensive ice skates. So she sold a pair to my friend Kurt and she sold a pair to me and went to some ice skating rink. And I thought that I would be able to just go on the ice and skate like I used to, which wasn’t really the case.

The skates and all my ankles, or both didn’t support me on the ice skate. So I had a hell of a time skating. And there was this one woman there and everybody looked at her. She was kind of dumpy and middle aged and she said she was going to go out and she’s going to dance on the ice with her ice skates. And everybody was laughing. She got out on the ice and it was just an amazing thing to watch her.

The way she moved was like music. And she was just dancing around like Tanya Harding.

I went over to her and I said, “Wow.” I was really amazed. I was entertained. I was impressed. And I said to her, “How did you learn how to skate so good?” She says to me many years ago, when she was young, maybe in her 20s or early 20s or in her late teens, she made the Olympics. But she didn’t make the A-team. She made the B-team in the Olympics. So the B-team is kind of like replacements if somebody gets injured in the A-team. 

But it was just an amazing performance. Fire. I had never seen anything in my life as good as this, up close and personal.

She was such a nice lady. Still happy that I was talking to her about skating. I was telling her about at one time, I had knew something about skating, and today I can’t even do it after so many years. So she was just laughing. We just kind of enjoyed talking to each other. I don’t think anybody came over to talk to the lady. It was just such an amazing experience, one that I’ll never forget.

This is a story in two parts. The first part is just to give you a little bit about me, my aunt and my uncle, Aunt Julia and Uncle F. And they lived out in Bayside. My uncle F was really a very go...

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Three Stories

Arthur S.

ONE
My first story begins with the “Make-Believe Ballroom” radio show. That must make it 1935, give or take a few years. I was in the mid-thirties. It was at the height of the Depression that would make me 7 years old. And I got hooked on music, actually, because of that program. It went on at 5:00 whenever, when people who were working came home from work and they got a little leisure for the day by switching on Martin Block’s Make Believe Ballroom with all the popular songs of the day and stuff like that. This was an outstanding memory of life. On the subject of music, you know, I’m talking about that. I’m going back. It seems like a thousand years, but it is that far. And it’s quite a memory. And it’ll always be with me. So that’s a story.


TWO
I met my wife Rita when she was 15 years old and I was 16 years old. We met on a blind date. And in a very short time, I would brag about my very good voice. I did have a good voice. And we picked out our so-called favorite song, which many young couples do. It becomes their song. And it lasted in our lives 78 years. The more I see you, Dick Haymes, recorded possibly in 1947 or 1948 and recorded by Nat King Cole. Giant hit for Nat King Cole.


THREE
Now here’s the story I really wanted to share. I want to dwell on this one more than the other two items. I was in Hebrew school as a kid, 7th grade, 8th grade. And there was a holiday coming up, and the Waldorf Astoria Hotel was featuring this particular Jewish holiday. And they invited the choir or chorus from this Hebrew school on the lower east side of Manhattan to perform on a Wednesday around noontime for a group of women.

I remember this like it was yesterday. Practices took place on the third floor of the ballroom at the Walt or Fishoria Hotel on 50th Street and Third Avenue. The school needed a very high male soprano. As high, as high as can be. And the whole school was invited to try out. Every kid in the school was invited to try out if they chose to. I put my hand up immediately. I’m not shy. I know I had a good voice and I knew I was a soprano. I think everybody is a soprano at seven or eight

Do you remember Bobbie Breen? He was on the Eddie Cantor show for a year or two. He was a big name at the time. And he had this really high, beautiful high soprano voice. And I felt that I was as good as him. I honestly felt I was as good as him. And people in the Hebrew school felt I was as good as him. As high as him and as good. So I applied for that role and to be in the show and everything else. And I was chosen.


And so I went into rehearsal. After our Hebrew lessons, every day we spent 1 hour rehearsing for the show. That was for about a month. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Four hours a week spent rehearsing. And we, young as were–8, 9, 10 years old–we became really good.


It was cohesive and it became a really good group. We were confident that we’d put on a really good show. And the confidence was growing as were practicing. And big day came. Our Hebrew school was on Stanton and Essex street in Manhattan. I remember a bus pulled up and we got on the bus and went up the 50th and Third and into the third floor ballroom. And there’s this giant ballroom with about maybe 500 women who are there to see the show. And the outstanding memory right now is that all the women were wearing black, black round hats with a veil attached. Every hat had a veil attached to the hat. I had a solo in this show, and I was perfect pitch. I was 100% ready. All that was missing was a Hollywood scout. That’s how good I was.

Then, the big moment came. I got my little pat on the back, and was told, “You’re on.” So I went out there all alone on a shining stage. No problem. No problem. I thought, “I’m gonna really show these people, you know, a voice.” But that’s in my head, my eight-year-old head. And I started to sing the solo. And it was beautiful. Just as it was practice, it was pitch-perfect. It could not have been better. And then I had one of the tragedies of my life. My voice cracked in the middle of the song. You know when your voice changes? That was a shining right in the middle. Right in the middle.


I can’t tell you what was in my mind, because there was some bad language there, and I had to be lightning quick on how to react. What do you do? What do you do? Do you shit in your pants for your laugh? I don’t know. This is a crisis of great proportions. And then I decided that the wisest thing is just finish a song to get the hell off the stage. And that’s what happened. And I call it one of the major tragedies of my life. It’s like it happened five minutes ago, that crack.

My first story begins with the "Make-Believe Ballroom" radio show. That must make it 1935, give or take a few years. I was in the mid-thirties. It was at the height of the Depression that would make me 7 years old. And I got hooked on music, actually, because of that program...

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