Hosts and Hostesses

One of the very best things about being a singer in the fabled Columbus Boychoir was that, about half the nights as we traveled on tour, we stayed, not in hotels or motels, but in the houses of ordinary people like you and me. Here, there, and all throughout this great nation, people opened their hearts and their bedrooms to us, and took us in where we couldn’t help but feel obligated to treat and regale them, and they weren’t hard to please, and they served very good food, and their homes were beautiful, and so were their children. So we choir boys of the Columbus Boychoir know that this is really, truly a great country we have here.

It pains me to tell you I can’t be specific. I remember the music we sang, and that which was peaking in popularity in 1957 to 1961, when I sang like an angel, or so it was said.

There were always a father, and always a mother, and sometimes we were reticent to sing them a song, for, you see, we were choir boys, who sang in a choir: some alti, soprani, and “second” or “first”.

But not all choir boys are reticent! There are always a few, and I was among them, who feared not to sing, and we sang them whatever they liked. We sang all the songs we had practiced so well, for three hours a day, in the Boychoir’s school. We sang them the songs of the concerts, at home in Princeton, NJ.

And in New York (once, under the great Leonard Bernstein!), and in Radio City Music Hall, where I was invited to come, entering at the stage door, and see the show, for free, any time in my life, by Mr Page, the stage manager, in the presence of Dad (Georgie Price), who, by coincidence, was the president of the union to which we all, and they, belonged, AGVA: the American Guild of Variety Artists, which I had only learned minutes before, standing with them, and the boys, in the antechamber right inside the 50th Street stage door!

(Dad wasn’t living across town at the Lambs Club, where he was the Shepherd, yet, but at our home, “Caprice Landing”, in Bay Shore, Long Island. He came to see me.)

And on the Bell Telephone Hour, under Donald Voorhees, where I forget what we sang now. I ran into John Raitt there, whom I knew (and should have recognized, but mistakenly identified as a similar, but different performer in Oklahoma!, which I’d recently seen, and when I shook his hand, saying how much I was delighted with that show, and him in it, it was quite embarrassing to me. It was all right with Mr Raitt), and Maureen O’Hara , whom I didn’t, but she knew me!

And in Philadelphia, under Eugene Ormandy, and in Cleveland, under George Szell, and in Boston, under Erich Leinsdorf, I think.

Pondering these things, it occurs to me now that we were proud to have been so good, and so lucky, to have done all these things and met all these people, and that there, in the homes of, frankly, quite astonished people, sometimes parents wondering “What will become of our children?”, and glancing at us and then at each other, yes, we were proud, but not boastful, though boasting, because we weren’t trying to aggrandize ourselves in the presence of our hosts, but simply to delight them with our fascinating stories and histories.

I am hurt when I’m told I’m too smart, an egotist or braggart, but I’ve never been told I sing too well! (We have to show off, in our family.) So I always sing as well as I can. I never had to think of bragging with our hosts, because it was taken for granted we were in private, just with them, we were good, and knew it, they were interested, and everything we told them was perfectly verifiable. It was quite comfortable, in a way, unlike talking to strangers, who suspect you must be lying as soon as they hear a thing incredible to them.

But these were only many of my hosts and hostesses. There were also more, though fewer. They were simply marvelous people, on sundry occasions, who opened their hearts, and homes, to invite me in, and treat me kindly.

Let’s raise a toast to them, the ladies of the land and their husbands who so generously helped this one human being, myself, to happy hours, and cheer, good fellowship and love. Whatever their names, wherever they lived, whatever their fortunes, I loved them as truly as Mother and Father. And I still do. Cheers to them, joy to them, hurray for their gifts, of our lives and their living in health, wealth, and love.

I cannot wait until the day, when I am no longer a guest, but a host, myself, and shall try to reciprocate, fully, their most admirable generosity.

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One Response

  1. You see! You are a secret people-person after all!

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