Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Mirror, Mirror On The Wall...Who Is The Most Famous Of All...?

I met Luther Nallie back in the early 1950s. He played saxophone in the South Park High School Greenie Band. I played trombone. After his graduation I did not see him until one night he showed up playing guitar with a small group on Channel 4 out of Port Arthur. Later I discovered that he had become a member of the Sons of the Pioneers, the band backing up Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. He has been with that group for more than forty years. Currently Luther, along with the Pioneers, has a show at Branson Missouri. We still communicate on occasion via Face Book.

I met Roy Rogers at the Houston Livestock Show back in the early 1950s. He shook my hand and said, “How ya’ doing partner?” I replied, “Fine.” Then he introduced me to Trigger and I got to pet the Palomino’s nose…it was wet.

Later in the 1950s I played trombone in the Abilene Christian University Wildcat Band. One day my director, Douglas Fry, asked me if I wanted to go over to Rose Field House at Hardin-Simmons University and sit in with a concert that was scheduled for that night.

A singer and his backup group were the featured event. One of the trombonists with their travelling group had fallen ill. I went over to the dress rehearsal. A young man came out for rehearsal. He was great. I leaned over to the professional trombonist beside me and asked, “Who is this guy. He sounds like Bing Crosby?” The man replied, “His name is Pat Boone. You definitely will be hearing more about him in the coming years.”

Then there was Peter Duchin, son of famous bandleader Eddy Duchin. Peter and I played in several bands during the late 1950s/early 1960s. We were together with the 79th U.S. Army Band. He played percussion and I played Baritone horn. Also he was our “piano man” in the Pan American Jazz Band. I played bone (jazz jargon for trombone) . We played gigs all over Central and South America. Peter went on to lead his own high-society band mainly for White House functions. His girl friend was Kim Novak. And me? Upon discharge from the army, I returned to Beaumont.

I worked for First Security National Bank in Beaumont from 1963 to 1968. One day two men came in and wanted to cash a check. The check was sizeable. I asked for their identification. They gave me California drivers’ licenses. One read Alan Hale and the other, Bob Denver. I looked up and was staring into the faces of Skipper and Gilligan, the stars in Gilligan’s Island.

One day in 1976, President Gerald Ford shook my index finger at the Big Spring, TX Municipal airport. His plane landed briefly for him to give a press conference while standing on the airport’s tarmac. Then he came down the fence line to shake hands with everyone. There were so many people crowding the area that I could get only my hand up to the fence. He never saw me in the throng but he shook my right index finger. Sometimes I talk to my index finger and say, “President Gerald Ford actually held you for nearly one second.” My finger still is proud and so am I.

You as well can meet those special well-known people. Just be sure to always be somewhere and it will happen. I know because I have been there and done that.

Winston Hamby


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