Wednesday, January 22, 2014

George A. Borgman's Birthday!

Since January 22nd is George's Birthday, I thought it would be appropriate for him to tell a little about his birth in 1928 and give some information about his family and early life.

At the Baptist Hospital, St. Louis, Missouri - that is where I was born on January 22, 1928, a Sunday - around 11:00 a.m., I have been told.

My father was Herman Francis Borgman, a postal clerk at the main Post Office, located across from Union Station in downtown St. Louis.  He was originally from Jonesboro, Arkansas.  Martha Vivien Borgman, nee Wecker, my mother, was born in McLeansboro, Illinois.

My parents resided at a small house, that sat on the top of a terrace, at 8246 Monroe Street, Vinita Park, Missouri, an unincorporated village then.  It was located in St. Louis County, west of the City of St. Louis.  St. Louis is not in a county - just like Baltimore and Los Angeles are not in counties. 

My mother had two miscarriages - both male babies - before she had me. Maybe that is way she was always so protective of me, especially when I was a child.

John Allen Borgman, my father's father was still alive then. He lived in Jonesboro, Arkansas, with Ida, his second wife. Ida's sister, my father's mother, had passed away from tuberculosis, and John married Ida. My father's sister, Lola, had also passed away from t.b., as we called it.

My mother's parents - George W. and Minnie Wecker lived in the West End of the City of St. Louis. Their address was 1373 Temple Place._ I recall going there almost every week-end to visit my grandparents and my great-grandmother, Minnie's mother, Annette Jacobs.

I recall my father playing leapfrog with me, as a child, in the livingroom and catch with me in the backyard. We used a tennis ball, and he throw it a little too hard to me, and it hit me in the eye, and I was a bit afraid of a ball ever since then. I remember my mother and Aunt Thelma and grandmother talking about me reciting the nursery rhyme, "Three Little Kittens." I used to lisp, and I supposedly said "Three little kithens, they lost their mithens," or whatever. Maybe, I think I remember this, because I kept hearing about my lisp on this rhyme all through my childhood and even into adulthood. Even as a child I grew weary of hearing the story.

At the age of four or five I was in a "play" - or was it a pageant? - regarding Tom Thumb's wedding. This was a big thing in those days, it seems. It was held at the Vinita Park Methodist Church. My school mates Dawn Roth and Walter Eschbach might have had played parts in it. Eschbach was probably Tom Thumb. It is also possible that Margaret Rose had a part in it as well.

I remember well my Grandaddy George, George W. Wecker, my mother's father. He was something of a character, but I really loved him. He smoked Camel cigarettes. When I was very young I frequently had ear aches, and he blew cigarette smoke in my ear to help ease the pain.  I thought it did, but it probably didn't. Since it was my grandfather sitting me on his knee and blowing smoke in my ear, I believed him when he told me it was good for my ear.
Grandaddy George was a drummer - a travelling salesman. During the Depression, he hardly ever worked. He did not have a gray hair in his head. He never did until the day he died. He used to lie about his age, trying to get a job, but I beleive he was caught in the lie at least once, and he did not get the job.

 Mimi, my mother's mother, and Grandaddy George lived at  1373 Temple Place in St. Louis.  Mimi's mother, whom I called Jakie, my great grandmother, also lived there. It was a big, two-story, brick house, with a big back yard. An interesting footnote is that the famous clarinetist Pee Wee Russell's mother's family had resided at a house at 1369 Temple Place.
My parents and I used to go to the house at 1373 Temple Place almost every weekend and sometimes during the weekday evenings. My Aunt Thelma, my mother's sister, Uncle Stanley, her husband, and Bettye Jane Tollman, their daughter, also frequently visited there. They came from South St. Louis, where they usually lived. For some reason, they moved around a lot. 
Uncle Stanley worked for Standard Oil of Indiana. I believe he was a truck driver part of the time. Later, he managed a Standard Oil distribution center, or something like that.
Jakie was an interesting character. She used to ask me to help her walk up or down the three or four steps of the front porch.  Sometimes on Saturday afternoons, Jakie would disappear. Mimi would ask everybody - my mother, my father, Grandaddy George, or me - where she was, and nobody knew. Aunt Ruth, who also lived there when I was a young child, wouldn't know where Jakie might be either. It was like a game. Someone would finally say, "It's Ladies' Day at the ballpark! She must be at the ballgame."
And we learned that on Ladies' Day, Jakie would sneak out of the house, go down the porch steps with no help whatsoever and get into a cab that she had called. She would go to the ballgame, pay 25 cents (for tax) and see the Cardinals or Browns. Sometimes she would talk the cab drivers into taking her to or from the ballpark for nothing. She really was quite a character! 
Jakie and Minnie in back.
Jakie used to tell my cousin Bettye and me that she remembered the "damn Yankees" riding through her father's farm in Kentucky during the Civil War!
I began Kindergarten when I was five-and-a-half years old. I went to Washington School, which was located in the adjacent unincorporated village, Vinita Terrace. In my class were Ralph Meek, my next door neighbor, Lina Mae Sparks, Martha Belle Zehringer, Walter Eschbach, Edward Bachstiegel, Alberta Freeman, Dawn Roth, and John Wesley.
 When I was five years old, I began playing the xylophone in the grammar school orchestra. My bandmate Ruth Aust was way ahead of me in school, and she didn't like me because I was so young. Not long after I began the xylophone, I began piano lessons with Mrs. Kennedy, who lived down my street, across North and South Road.  

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

What Are My First Memories? by George A. Borgman

"What are my first memories? Well, I believe my first recollection is sitting in the middle of the living room floor listening to my father's big Sears & Roebuck Silvertone radio, on which was playing the ballad "Did You Ever See a Dream Walking?"

I do not recall who was singing it. I believe it was a male singer, and I like to believe it might have been Russ Columbo. But there must have been memories of events before 1933, the year that the song came out.

There is one memory for certain, and it must be around the same time I heard the aforementioned song. I recall standing in front of the old Silvertone, while an orchestra was playing on it, and I took a Tinkertoy stick and conducted the music. everyone thought I was so cute, and they all said I must have musical talent.

I believe that by this time my parents had taken me to the Forrest Park Highlands, an amusement park located just south of Forrest Park, and there was an outdoor band shell there. An eight-to-ten-piece orchestra played there. I forget the name of the director, who had a wry neck. We used to go there once every two-to-four weeks during the summer to hear the orchestra play sweet tunes and some swing tunes. That is probably where I got the idea of conducting an orchestra, even though the sound of it was only coming from a loudspeaker."
Russ Columbo
It seems rather fitting that one of George's first memories would be listening to music. "Did You Ever See a Dream Walking?" was a tune written by Harry Revel with lyrics by Mack Gordon. Art Jarrett introduced it in the 1933 film Sitting Pretty and published the same year. Bing Crosby recorded the song actually the same year with the Lenny Heyton Orchestra.
Russ Columbo was a composer, violinist, singer and actor. He was born in 1908 in Camden, New Jersey. His compositions  "Prisoner of Love" and "Too Beautiful For Words" were well known as he was for his signature tune  "You Call It Madness, But I Call It Love."

He tragically died on September 2, 1934, when a friend accidentally shot a pistol and the bullet ricocheted off a table and hit Columbo in the forehead lodging in his brain. He died six hours later after doctors made a futile attempt to save him.

Bing Crosby's 1933 recording of  Did You Ever See A Dream Walking?

Modern Jazz, Funk, Groove and Rock & Roll Are Merged in (718)'s Debut album SPUTNIK

(718), a New York City based electric trio that plays a blending of modern jazz, funk and rock, have their first CD Sputnik ready for release on March 8, 2014.

(718) is comprised of Phil Palombi who plays the electric bass, Matthew Fries on the Fender Rhodes with Eric Halvorson rounding out the trio on drums. They describe themselves as playing "original alternate groove music."  The members of this unique trio have played with various musicians and bands including the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Michael and Randy Brecker, Pinetop Perkins James Moody, Maynard Ferguson and others.

Their debut album Sputnik features nine tunes seven of which were written by band members Phil Palombi and Matthew Fries. George Harrison's classic Something and Christian Howes' Song for my Daughter fill out the rest.

They will be celebrating the release of Sputnik at the Blue Note in New York City as part of the Late Night Groove Series on March 8, 2014.

(718) play their tune Sputnik!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Truckin' - The Paris Washboard - Oldie But Goodie!

About a year ago I purchased the CD Truckin' by the Paris Washboard which was released in 1995. There are two things one can be certain of in Traditional Jazz recordings. If it is the Paris Washboard or if it is a Stomp Off CD it's going to be good! I basically only recently "discovered" the Paris Washboard after listening to my father George A. Borgman's half dozen albums of theirs he had. Then I decided to fill in the collection with ones that he didn't have!

What was so amazing was that all their CDs held up in the level of quality even though their sound sometimes changes from CD to CD. On this record Peter Eklund is put to good use with his added trumpet. In fact, I can't imagine not using him after listening to this CD! I've mentioned before that I'm not really a big fan of the tuba in the jazz setting but Gerard Gervois does an excellent job playing and fits in nicely. Listen to Winin' Boy Blues and you'll understand what I'm talking about.

Definitely one of the top stride players of the ivories is Louis Mazetier who is always put to good use and is sometimes given a solo piece as on F Minor Stride, which is just fantastic.

Truckin' isn't quite as hectic as California Here We Come but it is still done to perfection. How anyone couldn't like this record, I don't know.

They have another CD which came out in May of last year 2013 entitled, Swinging Castle - Paris Washboard in Concert.

Here is the Paris Washboard playing Blues My Naughty Sweetie Gives To Me. - Dixieland Jazz Festival in San Diego, November 25, 2006.