Manhasset Memoirs


tromboneNext to St. Mary’s Church is a car lot. When I was 16 it was a “used car” lot with cars of all varieties. It played an important part in my life. It had to do with the trombone I played in the MHS (Manhasset High School) band. I was a fan of Tommy Dorsey, the great trombonist and his band. Big bands like Tommy Dorsey’s had high schoolers jitterbugging across the USA. He had a one-hour radio program which featured amateur musicians at the half-hour break and I wanted to be one of them. I had to go to the RCA building in the city, via the LIRR, into a room with a hundred others hoping to be chosen. The soulful tune, “Wabash Blues,” was the one I played to get on the Tommy Dorsey radio show. Only three of the amateurs would be chosen to be a contestant.
Everyone there had to be interviewed in the soundproof booth. Three of us survived and were on the show. Dorsey’s rhythm section, a piano, a drummer, a bass violinist and a clarinet, played with each contestant. First up was a trumpet player, next was my turn with the trombone and the third had his turn with a saxophone. All of this was before an audience whose applause indicated who the winner would be. I am certain John Mince, Dorsey’s clarinet player, put me up for the win. Johnny brought out the best in me when we increased the tempo of “Wabash Blues” to a foot-stomping pace and the audience showed their approval. I went home with the $75 award. The very next day I went to the “used car” lot next to St. Mary’s with my dad. He put up another $75 and I drove home in a 1934 Ford Phaeton with isinglass windows, having passed my driver’s license test a week before. Shortly after, I got a call from a band leader who wondered if I would join his 10-piece band that played at the White Horse Tavern in Old Westbury five nights a week, Monday through Friday. But that’s another story.
—Bob Lubbers

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Elizabeth Johnson is former editor of Manhasset Press and Manhasset Press Magazine. Growing up in nearby Garden City and attending New York University, she is well-versed in the locale and knowledgeable about the beat she covers. Her community involvement is extensive and includes the Manhasset SCA, Kiwanis International, Manhasset Chamber of Commerce, St. Mary’s Church, and various civic and local charitable organizations. Curious by nature, her travels, community service, love of the arts as well as local sports give her the inside view to unique content. During her time at Anton, she has received several awards from the New York Press Association and the Press Club of LI, including the coveted "Best Community Newspaper" several years in a row.



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