Jukebox

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Elmer & Virginia
Memories From Their Time

The hundreds of letters Elmer and Virginia wrote vividly chronicle their separate Odysseys, their growing love for each other, and their love of music. Everywhere they went they were a sensation on the dance floor – “Crazy-Legs Odell” and “Ginny,” doing “The Lindy” to the sounds of Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, the Dorseys, Hazel Scott. Transport yourself to the swinging 1940’s. Click below and you, too, can get up and dance to these fabulous tunes. 

“Guess what! I got a couple of new records Saturday and are they killeroos. One is Glenn Miller’s “On a Little Street in Singapore” with “This Changing World” on the back and the other is Jimmy Dorsey’s “A Man and His Drums.” Believe me “A Man and His Drums” is strictly out of this world! About ¾ of it is just a hot drum solo and is it good!”

ElmerFebruary 5, 1940

“Have you heard Miller play “Tuxedo Junction”?!! Boy, that is good! He played it a week ago and tonight, too. Both times I almost folded up. Erskine Hawkins sounds sad after Miller’s arrangement. !!!!!!! ← Indicating enthusiasm. Crosby was good tonight as usual. He sang “Indian Summer” and I missed part of it! He also ran through “I Thought About You,” and he can certainly do that up neatly!”

Virginia – February 9, 1940 12:30 a.m.

“Anyway, after hearing T. Dorsey’s “Song of India” and “Marie,” Miller’s “Wham” & reverse side and “Tuxedo Junction,” I’m in the mood!”

Virginia – February 20, 1940 1:45 p.m.

“♫♪♯♫♪♯ department: I’ve heard all the records you bought except “No Name Jive” which no doubt is a killer. G. Miller’s “Penna. 6-5000” is !!!!!! It folded me up too the first time. Now I just melt! His “Polka Dots and Moonbeams” is beautiful. Did I mention before B. Goodman’s “Beyond the Moon”? That is one mellow disc!”

Virginia – May 2, 1940 11:30 a.m.

“Listened to an album of Jimmy Yancy doing wonderful Boogie Woogie numbers. It was swell! Have you heard Lionel Hampton’s “Central Avenue Breakdown”?”

Virginia – September 28, 1940 8:30 p.m.

“I thought of you last night; (Not that I’m not always thinking of you); Artie Shaw and his new band was on the Fitch Bandwagon and he played “Begin the Beguine.” Perhaps you heard him? If not, you really missed something swell. He played his new “Concerto For Clarinets”—kinda smooth—wow! I was disappointed;—he didn’t play “Frenesi.”

Elmer – October 7, 1940 2:30 p.m.

“Did you perchance, hear G. Miller larst Wednesday night. His program sounded like a request program—request coming from you or me. It included (to make you mad if you didn’t hear it “Beat Me, Daddy, . . .” (too slow but not bad), “Blueberry Hill,” the new “You Got Me This Way” (cute), and “Bugle Call Rag” (I think).Veddy nice!"

Virginia – October 12, 1940 midnight

“I sat spellbound as Eberle sang “A Nightingale sang on Barkley Square.” Man Alive! Did I wish I was with you then. To top things off he swung out with his arrangement of the “Anvil Chorus.” Would Wagner turn over in his grave if he could hear that.”

Elmer – December 8, 1940 9:15 p.m.

“I’m listening, or trying to listen, to Toscanini conduct. The reception is pretty poor, though. He is certainly marvelous. He can get more cooperation from those 50 or so men than anyone alive.”

Virginia – February 15, 1941 9:55 p.m.

“Sunday I was a good boy and stayed home studying and listening to the New Philharmonic. I missed Toscanini Saturday night. I don’t care too much for Wagner anyhow. He’s a mite deep for me.”

Elmer – February 24, 1941 10:30 p.m.

“Did you happen to hear Gene Krupa on the Hotel Bandwagon, Sunday eve? He rapped out a Boogie number called “Drum Boogie.” Plenty of hot boogie piano and solid drumming.

Elmer – March 4, 1941 12:30 a.m.​

“I still haven’t heard “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, Co. B.” that everyone’s raving about. I’m an icky!! Gad, I’ve got to hear that soon or bury myself completely!”

Virginia – March 18, 1941 5:15 p.m.

“Only a little while ago I heard Saint-Saens’ Danse Macabre and Tchaikovsky’s Romeo & Juliet overture on the same little invention—the wireless. Certainly get a variety of programs!”

Virginia – June 22, 1941 1:00 a.m.

“I’m listening to a crazy rhumba by Xavier Cugat. He just played “Night Must Fall” (remember that?) which he wrote himself. I didn’t know until they announced it.”

Virginia – June 23, 1941 9:40 p.m.

“Did you hear Glenn Miller tonight? Played on the Coca-Cola program and ran through “Tuxedo Junction,” “Everything I Love” (a purty new one), and “Moonlight Sonata” (wonderful arrangement—even Beethoven wouldn’t mind, I’m sure!).

Virginia – December 6, 1941 11:30 p.m. [Postmarked December 7, 1941 8 p.m., Syracuse N.Y.]

“I hope like anything you’re listening to the symphony now. Toscanini is right now doing a wonderful job on Overture to a Midsummer Night’s Dream. I must get this. I love the violin part. They’re so dainty and fairy-like. Mendelssohn must have appreciated Shakespeare thoroughly. It’s a perfect musical reproduction of the atmosphere in the play.”

Virginia – January 24, 1942 9:05 p.m.

“Paul Robeson sang a spiritual and “It Ain’t Necessarily So” on Crosby’s program tonight. I wish you were here.”

Virginia – February 26, 1942 10:00 p.m.

“We went to the movies and the love scenes in “Casablanca” made me want you terribly. Missing you grows harder to take every day.”

Virginia – March 11, 1943 11:45 p.m.

“Did I tell you that I too like “That Old Black Magic”? In fact, I have Charlie Barnet’s record version of it. That’s the one that begins with a roll on drums—with the knuckles it’s done, I imagine. If James has made a record of it, I haven’t heard it. On the other side of this Barnet record is another good one, “ Don’t Want Anybody at All” (if I can’t have you). There’s some wonderfully dirty trumpet rides in it, in addition to Charlie’s usual good sax. The dirty trumpet is the main reason why I got the record, so you can see how good it is. I also bought Cugat’s “Brazil” recently. Wish you were here to dance with me to it.”

Virginia – April 11, 1943 5:25 p.m.

“A fellow in the next room has a radio and some band is playing [Dooley Wilson's] “As Time Goes By.” The words to that song come closer to what I am trying to convey to you than anything I could say, and I wish I could be with you, especially today.”

Elmer – May 9, 1943 9:20 a.m.

“I’m listening to Franck’s D Minor. I’m very fond of the additional number on the back of the first record—side 2. It’s Franck’s hymn, Panis Angelicus, Oh Lord Most Holy. Very beautiful thing.”

Virginia – July 1, 1943

Hazel Scott just finished batting out an amazingly fast boogie of her own. She’s great on the Basin St. program. Why don’t you be home sometimes, huh? There’s this wonderful music, an’ outside the moon’s shining like all blue blazes!”

Virginia – August 15, 1943 21:20

“Last evening Parker and I were sitting in the Forest Inn (a swanky officers club in town) when someone walked up to the juke box and played Artie Shaw’s “Dancing in the Dark.” Darling, I swear, I almost broke into heart-rending sobs. No kidding, dear, what wonderful memories that song brought back!”

Elmer – September 16, 1943 9:45 a.m.

“I’m sitting before a fire in our living room fireplace, and listening to Tchaikovsky’s Fifth on the radio, but what I want to do more than anything else is talk with you.”

Virginia – January 16, 1944 9:00 p.m.

“We took off for the Belmont Lake State Park very near where we sat that summer day—and you kissed me—and we sang “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered” all afternoon. I bet we have nicer memories than any other ten couples laid end to end, or something!”

Virginia – February 2, 1944 1:55 p.m.

“Just turned the radio on and what do I hear but T. Dorsey’s “Boogie Woogie”. Doggone does that bring back fond memories! Remember the night we were walking back from dinner at the Haven Hotel and the juke box at that sandwich shop on the corner was playing it. Just now as the music stopped, some joker started drooling in German! Imagine! A German station playing “Boogie Woogie”.

Elmer – May 9, 1944 8:00 p.m.

“The make-believe ballroom just finished—with Charlie Barnet’s “Pompton Turnpike” (oh, Syracuse weekends with you!)”

Virginia – June 10, 1944 11:35 a.m.