JT's Blog

Things that interest me, things that happened to me, things that I like, even some things that I don't like...

Who Is Elaine Sprecher (and why did she say nice things about me)?

Here’s another example that my memory for my high school days is not necessarily all that great.

Elaine Sprecher

I have a picture of Elaine Sprecher, and on the back of it she has written:

Jimmy, To a nice guy in the 9th grade who is a nut. Remember all the fun we had in homeroom. Good luck in the future. Elaine

Frankly, I have no idea who she is. Or was. I checked the relevant yearbooks; she appears in the section 9-4 class photo and again in the section 10-5 photo the following year. After that she drops out of sight.

But here’s the thing. I don’t even recall whose homeroom I was in in 9th grade. In 8th grade it was Graybill, 10th grade was Souders, 11th was Good, and my senior year I was on the yearbook staff so I was in Donley’s homeroom (though I don’t really recall doing much on the yearbook).

The back of Elaine’s photo

So why don’t I recall Elaine if she and I had so much fun in 9th grade homeroom? The most likely explanation is that after 9th grade we were never around each other again, so the memory of our good times was never reinforced, and it eventually faded away. Of course, it’s also possible that we never really had that much fun in homeroom; we may have just exchanged photos because we sat near each other (alphabetical order), and pressed for something to write, she jotted down whatever came to her mind. Very few people (I can only think of one, Randy Klopp) called me “Jimmy” in high school.

While I’m curious about Elaine and what may have become of her (presumably her family moved out of the area after 10th grade), I’m even more curious if anyone recalls what homeroom I was in in 9th grade.

Anyone?



The Sled

There’s another story involving my uncle Reed in the wintertime, but I’m not quite sure just when it occurred. We were living on the farm, of that I’m sure, because it takes place on the farm.

I pulled up a satellite image of the farm as it looks today, and I barely recognize the place. I tried to annotate the house where we lived and a few other places, but everything looks so different. No outhouses, for example. And there is no longer a creek running through the twin meadows, which apparently aren’t meadows anymore. In fact, it looks like it’s no longer even a dairy farm. The times they are a-changing.

The sled I had looked a lot like this one

Anyway, one Christmas in either 1955 or 1956 I received a sled as a present. And I was eager to try it out, so when we had a sufficient snowfall, probably in January, Reed came to visit, and the two of us took the sled to the nearest slope.

There were two suitable places, one being an open field and the other being a meadow where the cows would graze in warmer weather. Since the open field overlooked a dirt lane, we had probably been warned to avoid that, even though there was next to no traffic on it.

So we took the sled to the top of the slope, and both of us climbed aboard. Reed, being three years older, naturally took the lead and got in front to steer, and I got on behind him.

With this arrangement we managed two or three thrilling rides down the slope and prepared for another.

But this time something went wrong. Halfway down the slope we hit a bump of some sort and—

Well, this is where the stories diverge. I say Reed jumped off; Reed says he fell off. Whatever.

The point is I was left alone to finish the ride down the slope by myself, and I really didn’t know how to steer the blasted thing. I was too busy just hanging on as the sled continued speeding down to the bottom of the slope.

The farm has changed a lot since the days when we lived there

Did I mention that we were in a meadow? Oh, I did?

Well, for those of you unfamiliar with dairy farms, one of the unavoidable by-products of cows is their excrement, which is typically gathered on what are generally known as manure piles.

And there was a manure pile at the bottom of the slope which Reed had managed to avoid when he was steering the sled. I was not so adept.

This led to much shouting and accusations on my part, and much laughter and jollity on Reed’s. Which continued when we got back to the house and he told everyone what had happened.

“Maybe we’ll start calling you Stinky from now on,” said my mother.

Now I can hear you say, it was wintertime. There was snow on the ground. Surely the manure pile was frozen and covered in snow.

To which I can only reply, “Yes, that’s all well and good, but I Crashed Into A Forking Manure Pile!!!!

Bartók

This afternoon I attended a performance of the Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen. I don’t have a subscription this year, so this was the first concert I went to this season. It was a mixed bag.

The last few years that I had a subscription I had box seats that were in the Second Tier behind the orchestra. While this distorted the sound very slightly, it did give me a view of the conductor’s face and I could see most of the players fairly close up. And as I was reminded today as I took my seat in the Orchestra section, there was nobody behind me to cough all the way through the performance.

A few minutes before the performance as the Philadelphia Orchestra is warming up

The first work was one of my favorites by one of my favorite composers, Richard Strauss’s Also Sprach Zarathustra. When I came to Philadelphia in 1980, one of my very first concerts featured Eugene Ormandy conducting that work (a treasured memory), and I’ve heard it played at least a couple times since, most recently in 2014 under the baton of Vladimir Jurowski. Today Salonen gave it another terrific performance; I just wish the coughers could have held off just a little bit longer to let the final pianissimo notes (marked ppp in the score) sound without competition. The perils of the live performance.

After intermission came two works by Béla Bartók. I have to confess, as far as I’m concerned, Bartók’s works can be divided into the Concerto for Orchestra and everything else.

I have always thought that Bartók wrote the Concerto for Orchestra in a deliberately easily accessible style, and I think he’s pandering to the audience, so I’ve never really been able to love it like so many others do. Yes, a performance can be enjoyable. But it’s a piece I tire of very easily.

Then there’s everything else.

For example, today’s pieces, the Viola Concerto, performed by Choon-Jin Chang, and the Suite from The Miraculous Mandarin.

They just don’t sound like music to me.

Let me explain.

Of course, they are music. I’m using a very loose definition when I say they don’t sound like music. What I mean is as far as I’m concerned, if the orchestra had played a bunch of musical notes that had been randomly generated by a computer instead of the notes that Bartók presumably painstakingly notated on his score, I feel I would not have been able to tell the difference. There just didn’t seem to be any coherence or logic to the series of notes. And I’ve listened to these pieces in advance, in the case of the concerto, many times.

And it’s not just these pieces. I’ve tried listening to his opera, Bluebeard’s Castle, several times in several different recordings, and I attended the concert performance a couple years ago that Yannick conducted with the Philadelphians. That opera leaves me cold.

I’ve listened to Bartók’s string quartets, his second Violin Concerto, his Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta, and a number of other pieces. Many times.

The only works of his that sound like music are the third movement of the Viola Concerto and the opening of the second Violin Concerto. Everything else sounds like random gibberish to me.

I guess I have to conclude that Bartók’s music is just not for me.

The One Where I Saw Moby Dick

I’ll never forget the time I saw the movie Moby Dick.

There was a guy with tattoos all over his face, and Gregory Peck had a wooden leg, and they were out at sea for the longest time. And Robert Shaw got eaten by this great white shark. No, wait…I think that was Jaws…yes, that was definitely Jaws. But a big white whale did jump over their ship and destroy everything, and Gregory Peck either went down with his ship or was eaten by the whale, I forget which. And Ishmael got away on a raft, but Leonardo DiCaprio froze. No, that was Titanic.

Anyway, that’s not why it was so memorable.

A scene from the movie Moby Dick

I can’t pinpoint the date, but it must have been sometime in February of 1957. Remember that, because that’s important. So we were still living on the farm. Thus, we would have driven to Richland to visit my grandparents, my mother’s folks, Tillie and Harry Zellers on South Race Street.

Then while my folks and my two and half year old sister stayed at my grandparents house, Reed, my uncle who was three years older than I was, making him about 11 at this time, and I, a couple months shy of my 8th birthday, went to the Neptune Theatre to see Moby Dick.

It was only three or four blocks, so we walked, and it should have been an uneventful walk except as we neared the corner of Race and Main Streets, Reed decided to take a “short cut” through the yard of the large house on the corner. I think Mrs. Tyson lived there.

And even that might have been fine except he started running, and I followed suit. When we emerged on the other side of the yard there was a driveway at the apartment building next door. At this time that building also housed the Richland Post Office.

Well, Reed was in the lead, and he successfully made it across the driveway, and he turned around as I reached it. Later he claimed that he was going to warn me about the big sheet of black ice that covered the driveway, but apparently I reached it before he could do so. And without any warning or Reed’s superior athletic skills, I skidded on the ice and fell flat on my back.

Hard.

I couldn’t find an ad for the Neptune Theatre’s showing of Moby Dick, but this ad of February 16, 1957 for the Palmyra movie house would have been around the same time

So hard that for what seemed like an eternity but was probably just a few seconds, I couldn’t breathe. Even after I got to my feet, I was gasping for breath.

Meanwhile, Reed was laughing and saying that I had just had the wind knocked out of me.

Happily, I regained the ability to breathe after a little bit, and apparently no serious harm was done.

But I’ll never forget the night I went to see Moby Dick.

Irv

Irvin Wolfskill’s death in January, 1964, was a major turning point in my life.

Irvin and Frances Wolfskill (they were known to everyone as Irv and Fannie) owned and operated the Sugar Bowl (a combination soda fountain/news stand) in Richland, Pennsylvania. The Sugar Bowl was such a fixture in Richland, that it seemed to me that it must have always been there, so I was surprised to find out that in 1935 Irv and Fannie, according to the 1940 census, were living in Reading, PA.

I’ve been spending a lot of time on a family tree site lately, so I’ve discovered a little bit about Irv and Fannie’s backstory. Jacob Wolfskill and Polly Field, Irv’s parents, lived in West Cocalico Township in Lancaster County. On February 24, 1894, they were married in Lebanon, PA, and on April 3 of that year Irv was born. From what I’ve discovered about that era, this was a relatively common occurrence in the days before The Pill. By 1910 the family had moved to Richland.

Fannie, also from West Cocalico according to the 1900 census, was born to John Pierce and Mary Dreibelbis in 1896, they having been married since 1875 in Lancaster. We hear no more of Fannie until 1935, when she and Irv are married and living in Reading.

Happily, by 1940 they were back in Richland where they belonged, and presumably they had either built or bought the Sugar Bowl in the intervening years. Happily for me, that is, because as I learned a few years ago when I sat my parents in front of a video camera to reminisce, the Sugar Bowl, along with the Neptune Theatre movie house, was where my father first wooed my mother.

This is not exactly the kind of sign that was hanging in front of Irv’s Sugar Bowl

Although we always called it the Sugar Bowl, the sign out front was a Pensupreme Ice Cream sign with a Wolfskill’s banner dangling below it. I recall my mother telling me the story of why Irv named it the Sugar Bowl, but I no longer remember that story. So much for Eric Blouch chiding me for my excellent memory. See, Eric. I don’t remember everything!

I used to go to the Sugar Bowl every week on a Wednesday to pick up the new TV Guide, the Sporting News, and the Sunday News (this was the New York Daily News Sunday insert consisting of the comics and the magazine sections). I couldn’t go on Thursday, because Thursday the Sugar Bowl was closed.

I don’t recall Irv having any employees other than himself and Fannie, so Thursday was their only day of rest. Actually Fannie really didn’t help out that often, but I recall a bunch of us boys used to try to get her to wait on us if she was around.

You see, the Sugar Bowl was a genuine soda fountain where they mixed the Cokes right behind the counter from Coke syrup and carbonated water, and Fannie had a tendency to put too much Coke syrup in the glass, making them especially sweet. This was in the days when a Coke cost six cents.

Anyway when I went on my Wednesday trip to pick up the TV Guide, et al., I almost always browsed the racks of comic books to find the latest Superman or Batman comics. Eventually I learned that Tuesdays and Thursdays were the days that new issues of magazines and comics were delivered, so I modified my routine to get there on Tuesday instead of Wednesday. And I started making extra trips on Fridays to see what new wonders might have been delivered on the previous Thursday when he was closed.

Somewhere around the time I turned 13, I moved from comic books to science fiction magazines, and Irv stocked those as well. Or at least he stocked some of them, such as Amazing Stories and Fantastic Stories.

But he didn’t carry Galaxy, a title I really wanted to read. So I asked Irv if he could get it for me. And Irv was happy to oblige. He asked his supplier, and eventually he obtained the August, 1963, issue of Galaxy Magazine for me. Irv pronounced it Gal-AX-y.

For some reason he couldn’t get his supplier to deliver Galaxy on a regular basis. Each issue had to be individually ordered. But Irv seemed quite amenable to do it. And for the next few months he kept getting the new issues of Gal-AX-y for me, albeit on a time delayed basis.

But that all changed one day in January, 1964, when Irv died suddenly from a heart attack.

For now I did something I probably never would have done had Irv remained alive. I subscribed to all the science fiction magazines. Now I knew I’d never miss an issue. To have done so while Irv was still alive would have somehow seemed disloyal. Irv was almost like family in a way.

But that’s not what I mean when I say his death was a major turning point in my life.

The building that used to be the Sugar Bowl has long since been converted to a private residence.

The Sugar Bowl was quickly sold to a fellow by the name of Bicksler. (Sorry, Eric, I no longer recall his first name. I do recall that he had a wife and high school age kids, but I can’t recall their names either.)

(Oh, I just checked the 65 and 66 yearbooks. The sons were named Dale and David. See, Eric, sometimes I use reference books!)

As I said, Irv had been almost like family, like an uncle or grandfather, and more than that, he knew my whole family, meaning he was on a first name basis with my parents. But this new guy, this Bicksler guy, he was a stranger, and since my parents rarely if ever went there anymore, he didn’t know them and he didn’t connect them with me.

So that’s why I did something that I never ever would have done if Irv had remained behind the counter.

I started buying Playboy magazine.

The One With Two Wishes

When I was in fifth grade we read a story about a kid (it was probably a boy but I no longer recall the details) who was granted two wishes. Why two wishes? Don’t wishes normally come in sets of three?

I don’t know, but probably for the purposes of keeping the story short enough to make a convenient one day reading assignment for a fifth grader.

Anyway what I do recall is our teacher, Miss Klopp—that would be Miss Irene Klopp, who taught part of fifth and all of sixth grades, not to be confused with her sister, Miss Margaret Klopp, who taught part of third and part of fourth grades, the other parts of fourth and fifth grades being handled by relatively newly hired Mrs. Loos, a preacher’s wife—but that’s neither here nor there.

So as we were discussing the two wishes story, Miss Klopp asked us each to describe what we would wish for if given the same deal. I think she had alerted us the day before, so we had a day to come up with our wishes.

When my turn came, I didn’t hesitate: “I’d wish for every poor man to have enough money to feed his family, and I want to know everything there is to know.”

The Richland School house in 1914, which is the only picture of it that I could find

I can still hear Miss Klopp clucking approvingly over my first wish, while dismissing the second.

Although many years have passed, I think if in some magical fantasy I were to be granted two wishes, I might very well opt for two similar sentiments, although I would certainly remove the sexist phrasing and update the language in other ways. For example, instead of “knowing everything there is to know” I might ask for “the unlimited ability to absorb knowledge from a wide variety of sources, synthesize it, and with the concomitant talent for spreading it widely and accurately.”

But there is something that I’ve always wondered about that first wish. Where did that altruistic streak come from?

I mean, in the small town of Richland where I grew up, we really didn’t have any poor people as such, at least none that I knew. I don’t recall having anything drilled into me about being kind to poor people either at home or at school. I did go to Sunday School (under duress, I might add), but the lessons there were rarely about being kind to the poor, although I’d guess the topic would come up from time to time.

My point is, I just never could understand where the idea was born in me to use up 50% of my precious wishes on an altruistic cause.

Until now.

Because science, as it so often does, has provided an answer.

Superman comic

It was the comic books. The comic books that my mother complained I spent way too much time reading. The comic books that my parents even tried to toss into the trash (although thankfully recovered by the Diefenbach boys, and, during the cover of night, by me, after hearing where they had hidden them, at which point I kept them hidden from my parents until I eventually handed them over to Leonard Yingst for preservation, but I’m digressing again).

You see, I was a big fan of superhero comic books. The DC variety. Superman was my favorite, with Batman a close second. But I also enjoyed the Flash, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Aquaman, well, if DC published them, and Irvin Wolfskill’s Sugar Bowl, a combination soda fountain/news stand, stocked them, I devoured them.

And now science has demonstrated that being exposed to superheroes can increase altruistic behavior.

So take that, anyone who has ever criticized their kid for reading comic books. That kid might be the next Albert Schweitzer.

The One With the Asimov Post Card

About five years after I spoke to Isaac Asimov on the phone, I sent him a fan letter.

I was now living in State College, PA, and the previous year, in April 1970, Dr. Asimov had made an appearance on the Penn State campus to speak at Schwab Auditorium about a week before the first Earth Day. I, of course, attended.

Dr. Asimov’s lecture was sponsored by Penn State’s Science Fiction Society, whose faculty advisor, Philip Klass, provided the introduction. This was fitting and proper since Klass and Asimov were old friends, and Klass actually wrote excellent science fiction stories himself under the pseudonym William Tenn.

Schwab Auditorium at the Penn State campus

There was only one problem. Professor Klass proceeded to give Dr. Asimov possibly the worst introduction anyone has ever received.

By that I mean he went on and on for at least fifteen minutes, and he was absolutely hilarious!

He first listed some of Dr. Asimov’s many achievements, and the many and varied fields in which Asimov had expertise, and then he said: “But I don’t want you to get the idea that Isaac Asimov is a renaissance man. Let me list some of the things he hasn’t done!”

And as he brilliantly listed the many accomplishments Asimov had not yet achieved, he had the audience in stitches. For example, he said, “Isaac Asimov has never performed Rigoletto at the Metropolitan Opera.”

How could anyone possibly follow such an introduction?

Finally, Professor Klass finished, and he turned the podium over to his introductee. As Asimov reached the podium, he turned to the audience and in his rich baritone sang: “Bella figlia dell'amore…” The opening line of the great quartet from Rigoletto.

And he brought down the house.

The rest of the evening Asimov had the audience in the palm of his hand as he spoke extemporaneously on a variety of subjects loosely framed by the topic of the slow historical adoption of lightning rods due to religious objections.

Anyway, it was the following January that I decided to send him a fan letter in which I referenced the lecture, and I expressed my pessimism about the future of humanity because of religious and other absurd belief systems. I also noted that in recent years he had become more outspoken in his writings, making clear his atheism and his support for certain liberal causes such as women’s rights, and I wondered if this might have alienated any of his audience. After adding a few additional compliments, I concluded with a firm wish that he continue writing in his current vein.

I knew from the phone call that he lived in Newton, Massachusetts, and I further recalled reading somewhere that he actually lived in West Newton, so that’s how I addressed it.

And then I pretty much forgot about it.

Until a few weeks later I received a post card from Dr. Asimov with a post mark from New York City. Clearly, he had moved on. And fortunately, the Post Office had forwarded his mail.

His reply was short and gracious:

2 March 1971

Dear Mr. Troutman,

Thank you for your kind words. As far as I know people aren’t mad at me.

But let’s hope for the best for the human race.

Isaac Asimov

Asimov Postcard front.png


Asimov Postcard back.png

The One With the Asimov Phone Call

Sometime in the spring of 1966 when I was 17, I was gathered with a group of my fellow high school classmates at Maryann Shelhamer’s house on a Sunday afternoon. Maryann had a tape recorder, and I had a telephone tap (a simple one that attached to the back of the receiver via a suction cup, if I recall correctly), and we were amusing ourselves by making crank phone calls.

When that turned out not to be as amusing as we expected, we decided to try to call a celebrity. I’m not sure just whom we considered, but at some point I suggested trying Isaac Asimov, who was my favorite science fiction writer.

Isaac Asimov

I don’t know why the others acquiesced, being I was the only science fiction fan present. (After all these years I no longer recall exactly who was there. Maryann, of course. Probably Mary Lou Bliss and Gary Wells and Randy Klopp. Maybe Dennis Keener. Possibly Debbie Miller and Carol Hill. Arlene Herr and/or Eric Blouch? Conceivably one or two others. Of those I named only Gary, Eric, and possibly Dennis had ever read any science fiction, but none of them were major fans, as far as I can recall.)

Since it was my idea, I placed the call, and I’ve preserved the recording for all these years even though it embarrasses the crap out of me. However, I’ve been assured by everyone that who has heard it in the intervening years that I need not be embarrassed by it. Doesn’t matter, I still am.

Anyway, I’ve converted it into a Youtube video so that I could add subtitles and a few other explanatory notes. I’ve also tried to enhance the audio at points where it needed enhancing. So here is the entire recording, including the interaction with the operators with nothing suppressed.

I’d just like to point out that my reasons for feeling embarrassed by it are as follows:

  • It’s painfully clear that I didn’t expect to get through to Dr. Asimov, so I didn’t have any idea what to say to him. Thankfully I did think of something to ask him.

  • I forgot that he had a PhD, so I addressed him as “Mr.” rather than “Dr.” This is especially painful for me because in science fiction circles he was affectionately referred to as the “Good Doctor”.

  • My Pennsylvania Dutch accent, which I have long since suppressed, is readily apparent.

  • Just my general fanboy demeanor. I’m such a dork on that call.

One last comment. If you listened to the whole thing you will have noticed that I said we were all great fans of his and had all read his novels. That was a lie, of course. But I figured he could hear the others laughing in the background so I felt I needed to address the fact that I was not alone. So I lied to Isaac Asimov.

One Day Or One Trial

I used to like jury duty, in fact I used to really want to be selected, but after four full trials, and especially after the experience with the dirty cops, I think I have it out of my system. Plus I’ve started working on the Asimov video, based on the taped phone call from 1966, and I hope to use the momentum to finally get to work on the Channing video that I’ve been promising for so long.

So I wasn’t very eager to report for jury duty this morning. 

But I figured I’d have a ready excuse to get out of actually serving.

Question 9 on the Juror Information Questionaire: Would you be less likely to believe the testimony of a police officer or other law enforcement officer just because of his/her job? I answered “Yes” of course.

Actually the truth is a bit more nuanced. I could probably truthfully answer either yes or no. If I were a juror on a drug case and all the testimony were presented by police officers, I don’t think I’d ever be able to vote to convict, but in another kind of case where there are many witnesses besides police officers, I think I could more evenly judge their testimony.

In any case, I was called up pretty quickly to a criminal case, and once I got there with the other potential jurors the juices started flowing and I began to think serving on another jury might not be so bad. I do so enjoy passing judgment on people.

But it didn’t take long before I was excused along with about a dozen others. I was never even asked a question.

The rest of the morning passed quite boringly in the assembly room, and we were given an hour and fifteen minutes for lunch.

When I returned, it didn’t take long before I was called up for a civil case. Uh-oh. Usually no cops involved in those.

This time it took a lot longer. The judge gave a statement about the importance of the jury system and she expected audience participation when she asked what was the other important civic duty. On the third try, the jurors yelled “Voting” loudly enough to satisfy her.

Then the attorneys introduced themselves and named their clients and the people involved in the case. And there was a problem. Because of my slight hearing problem, the echoing acoustics in that courtroom made it difficult for me to understand them when they named the people. Normally I can understand what folks are saying if I miss a word because I can figure it out from the context, but when they were just reading off a list of names, some very unusual names at that, and the sounds are echoing, I couldn’t hear clearly. Aha! There was my out.

So when they called me in to interview me individually, I mentioned that. But the court officer said that they have headphones I can wear to fix that. So that little ploy didn’t work. They asked me a few things about my employment, etc., and whether I had ever owned a house. Oh, I did? How long ago? 2013.

As we waited, they began excusing people. I was not one of the ones excused.

To help pass the time I asked the court clerk about getting a trial transcript from the murder trial in 1988 where I had been a juror. There had been so many sidebars, and the judge had suppressed so much testimony, that I had always been curious to see what was actually going on. He gave me the information on how to go about getting the notes, as he called them, but he suggested that I might just want to try to get a look at them if they already existed in some format. The trial had lasted about three weeks, and from what he told me I estimated that the transcript would cost upwards of $7,500. I’m not that curious.

Some more folks were dismissed and I began to resign myself to settling in for the week. They had said the trial would last through Friday, so I began to plan for lunches (the Reading Terminal Market, of course) and just generally getting myself into a juror frame of mind. Would I want to be a foreman again? Probably not. Been there, done that three times.

A three day trial wouldn’t be too bad, and the day wouldn’t start until 9:30, so I could work on the videos for an hour or so in the mornings. The more I thought about it, I realized that I could probably enjoy a three day trial.

Then they came out and called about half of us into a room.

Wait a minute! You mean they didn’t select me? Why not? What’s wrong with me? I can be fair! I can be impartial! Hey, why didn’t you pick me goddamit!!!

Carol Channing Sets the Scene

Carol Channing died today, something that I didn’t think could possibly happen in my lifetime. Of course, that’s hyperbole, but it seems justified because Channing was famous for playing those larger than life characters like Dolly Levi and Lorelei Lee.

I feel a special affinity to Ms. Channing because in 1966 during my Junior year in high school, I along with a gaggle of my classmates (we called ourselves the Irregulars), set about to call her for an interview. I still have those tapes that we made, and I hope to release them to the world Real Soon Now (I’ve been saying that for years), but in the meantime, here is a little tidbit, a soupçon if you will, to tide you over.

Carol Channing making her entrance as Dolly Levi in the Hello, Dolly! number

We wanted to interview her because she was touring the country (she was currently in Chicago) in her most famous role in Hello, Dolly!, and we were in the process of putting together a program to be presented to the entire student body (“hey gang, let’s put on a show!”). The climax of that show was going to involve the title song from Hello, Dolly! and we thought it would be terrific to have Ms. Channing herself introduce the number.

The local radio station came to our rescue (as I recall Maryann Shelhamer’s dad had a connection there), and we obtained a recording that Ms. Channing had made to distribute to radio stations across the land. It consisted of Ms. Channing answering questions which the local radio personalities could feed to her as if they were interviewing her directly.

I don’t have the entire recording of all the answers that she provided, only the one bit that we used, but here, for the first time in 53 years, is that recording.

“Tell us, Ms. Channing, how does the song ‘Hello, Dolly!’ fit into the show?”