Subscribe for 17¢ / day

I should have been a musician rather than a broadcaster. That’s what I often consider whenever I look back to my growing up years in the ‘40’s, ‘50s and ‘60s. Those were the days when almost every city had a dance hall. The bands back then, whether for an anniversary or another special occasion, numbered some five or more live musicians.

Big band music was popular with some of the nationally known bands doing one-night stands — traveling by bus, cars or trains to keep their dates in cities that normally could not offer such entertainment on a regular basis. Rarely did a dance hall in my central Minnesota haunts ever go a weekend without a band on a Saturday night. There were plenty of local bands to fill weekends on short notice. I must admit that my toes became active whenever the music started.

Don’t get the idea that I was one of those guys that would glide around the dance floor a minimum of four or five times to each tune. No, I just loved to tap out the music as it was being played. A so-called “set” was three songs played. Occasionally I would be brave enough to take part in one of the numbers. Never all three. And when polka music took over the evening, I was more of a listener than a dancer. Never did master the polka. As to waltzes, I rarely showed my clumsiness. And when the schottisches were played, generally a buddy and I would grab one of our high school gals and work up a sweat. Locking arms between the three of us and then twirling the gal in the middle was a physical workout.

Let’s roll back the years and enjoy some of the hit music from that era. The Glenn Miller band had several No. 1 hits, including “Tuxedo Junction,” “Serenade in Blue” and “Chattanooga Choo Choo”. Miller‘s “A String of Pearls” and “In the Mood” were my favorites. And whenever the musical strains of “Moonlight Serenade” reached our ears, we knew it was time to wrap things up and look forward to a cherry coke at Dan Marsh Drug Store or, if that gal with the red hair was to be walked home, a chaperone I could be.

Can’t stop with just the Glenn Miller arrangements. There were a number of big bands like Tommy Dorsey, Harry James, Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw and another Dorsey by the first name of Jimmy. Their favorite songs such as “I’m Getting Sentimental Over You”, “Begin the Beguine”, “Ciribiribin”, “Tangerine” and “I’ll Never Smile Again” added to the magic of music.

Jukeboxes or so-called nickelodeons offered for the price of a dime or three for a dime big band recordings at supper clubs and other commercials places. These music machines actually kept us in touch with the top music mentality of our country. Some of most notable vocalists got their starts singing for the big bands such as Frank Sinatra, Helen Forest, Dick Haymes, Helen O’Connell, Bob Eberly and Kitty Kallen. And Glenn Miller’s “Chattanooga Choo Choo” was the first record ever certified as a million seller.

Wouldn’t this be the “buy” of 2018 if as the ad said back then: 69 new great records for only $19.98. “Roll back the years and thrill again as Ole Blue Eyes performs the golden hits that made him famous. You get 69 Frank Sinatra favorites on three giant compact discs.”

Some things are worth repeating, again and again. Such are the thoughts of Dr. Richard Johnson who said: “Retirement is not an ending; it’s a new beginning, the start of a new life journey of vastly expanded proportion.” You may get a chuckle from this listing of “things learned while aging.” I’m not sure of the author, but here goes:

At Age 7, “I’ve learned that you can’t hide a piece of broccoli in a glass of milk.”

Age 13, “I’ve learned that just when I get my room the way I want it, my mother makes me clean it up.”

Age 15, “I’ve learned that even though it is hard, I’m secretly glad my parents are strict with me.”

Age 25, “I’ve learned that brushing my child’s hair is one of life’s greatest pleasures.”

Age 29 “…the worst drivers follow me wherever I go.”

Age 47 “…that children and grandparents are natural allies.”

Age 53 “…that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you miss them terribly when they die.”

Age 72 “…everybody can use a prayer.”

Age 85 “…even if I have pains, I don’t have to be one.”

Age 92 “…I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn.”

A closing thought for the New Year: “If you’ve been together long enough to be on your second bottle of Tabasco sauce, you can bet your marriage will last.”

Subscribe to Breaking News

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Steve Henry is a former radio and TV news director, and outdoor writer and photographer. He can be reached at


(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.