Monday, June 27, 2005

The Four Freshmen, circa 1962

I wrote about meeting Paul Anka, and Maria at http://silverfox-whispers.com countered with her introduction to her idol Johnny Ray. Now I'll tell you about meeting The Four Freshmen, who when I met them were not nearly so "fresh" as they once were, but still popular. Side note: I just spent an hour looking for the autographed photo card that they gave me, and I cannot find it. Oh, well.

In 1962, when WV was preparing for its Centennial, they had to have a telethon to raise money for the celebrations that would take place all over the state. They hired Dave Garroway (first host of the Today Show) and The Four Freshmen, a singing group that had been popular for about 15 years. The story is that they actually did begin to sing together when they were freshmen in college, but by the time I met them, the bloom was definitely off the rose! Garroway was the emcee of the show and the Freshmen sang a number of songs off and on for about 12 hours, I think. They also had a lot of local talent performing for the telethon.

A good friend of mine was an assistant to the head of the Centennial Committee (or someone like that) and she was asked to provide some people to help with the show. I was to help draw backdrops for the show, as well as to sit on camera and answer telephones, taking pledges. It was not exactly a high-budget event, so we drew ladders, cameras and other studio paraphenalia on huge rolls of white paper provided for the project. The show was live, so I didn't get to see how it looked on camera (nor how I looked either!). I guess it was a success, because the following year the Centennial parties took place.

After the show was over, we were all invited to a big party in an old mansion beside the river. Drinks were flowing freely, and I was not a drinker by any stretch of the imagination. Dave Garroway offered to get one for me, and since I had no idea what to ask for, I just said "I'll have what you're having". I think it was Scotch, and the first sip I took nearly removed my nose from its moorings! I just held it for a time, and when he looked away, I tossed it into a potted plant. I swear. I did. Just like in the movies. He tired of me after a while (I was so young and tender then) and one of the Four Freshmen took over. His name was Bob Flanagan (he was their bass player), and he had a daughter who was about 14 at the time, and very tall. He spent the evening asking me how to make his daughter understand that it is a good thing to be tall. I think I said something wise and wonderful, like "It's great to be tall when you're watching a parade". Don't you know he was impressed with that scintillating dialog?! We did talk a lot throughout the remainder of the party though, as well as the other three Freshmen.

Sometime in the late 1980's, the Hub and I were in the airport in Savannah, awaiting a flight back home. There was some commotion in the terminal, and I checked it out and lo and behold, there stood the Four Freshmen - except it was not all of the original members. Two of them were new (to me at least). But Bob was there, looking not a whole lot different than he did in 1962. I debated going over to him and re-introducing myself, but I demurred. Since I figured he wouldn't remember me or that telethon, I didn't want to embarass myself. In retrospect, I should have said something.

Check them out here: http://www.vocalhalloffame.com/inductees/four_freshmen.htm

11 comments:

Angel of Music said...

How fun! And I'm surrre you threw the drink in the plant! Nah - tht's too funny. Shoulda woulda coulda... Michele sent me.

Maria said...

Judy,
This has been so much fun reminiscing about our more innocent days (Oops, that should be my more innocent days. Just assuming that they were yours, too.) I so appreciate hearing about the Four Freshman. I do remember them well. Thank you for your email about this post.

Angie said...

Scotch immediately invokes the gag reflex. You have a most interesting life to reflect on!!

Weary Hag said...

Thanks for the reminder (yet again) of the early music of my life. Excellent job on tossing the scotch into a plant ~ poor plant was probably never quite the same after that.
Though The Four Freshmen were a little ahead of my time, I remember them well through my older sister's records. (I think I still have one of their 45s)

Weary Hag said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
David Parsons WV said...

Did the plant die from the Scotch? I don't blame you for throwing it away. The Four Freshmen have probably retired to Florida to Sun City Center or one of those pre-grave housing developments. Their latest hit is "Sweet Viagra". Yes, I know I am mean.

FTS said...

I'm like you. Entertainers meet so many people I seriously doubt they can remember every single one.

But hey, we can dream, right? :)

OldHorsetailSnake said...

Yes, you should have gone over and said, "Hi, has your daughter been going to a lot of parades?"

Melissa said...

Cool! I always find myself with overly witty comments like that and then slapping myself later on.

Live, Love, Laugh said...

thanks for visiting my site.

I enjoyed your post, it made me chuckle. lol!!

celticpriestess said...

I found your blog while searching for info about the Freshmen. What a great story! And for the person who asked, the Four Freshmen are still around, although with much younger performers. However, Bob Flanigan has the rights to the Four Freshmen name, and continues to manage the group