A bum leg that seemed to get worse when sitting at the computer has kept me from posting for awhile. However, I am better so here goes, a look back at my brief career as a band singer.
My stepfather was a Marine, but was also a professional musician. During the early part of WW2 he was stationed in the Pacific, but in 1943 my mother was diagnosed with cancer so he was sent home and put in charge of the Marine Band at the Training Center in San Diego. There was a military band, of course, but within that unit there was also a dance band that played for all kinds of events. Some of the members of the band augmented their military pay by playing with touring bands that came into town. Dances were a major form of entertainment. Every city of any size had a large commercial dance hall in town. Big bands like Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman etc would tour around the country playing for dances on the weekends. Touring was expensive so they seldom took all the musicians. They would pick up some to fill in at each location. I saw all the major bands of the era for nothing. It is amazing where you can go when you are with someone carrying an instrument case.
While in high school I began to date a member of a band. The band was made up of high school seniors and recent graduates and was well established, playing a gig somewhere almost every weekend. One night I went to a rehearsal. They began to play a favorite of mine, and I started softly singing along. Someone in the band heard me, and before I knew it I was the girl singer with a band. I know you have seen it in old movies, that woman sitting on the bandstand waiting for her number, trying to look caught up in the music. That was me.
The war was still on, and tires and gas were hard to get so sometimes several band members whose cars were out of commission were crammed into other vehicles making the trip to and from the dance very uncomfortable. When we got there I would head for the ladies room trying to make myself look presentable while the guys set up. Once the dance started my place was in a folding chair on one side of the bandstand. There I sat, wearing a dress, of course, acutely aware that if I didn't keep my knees together everyone could see up my skirt. Air condtioning was so new it was generally only in theatres who adverised with a banner with icicles on it that said, "Refrigerated Air." Unfortunately, none of the halls we played had it. With all those bodies and activity it soon got quite warm leaving you damp and sticky. I was introduced and walked to the mike, enduring an itch in a place you can not scratch in public. I did my first number. Applause! A gracious smile, a wave of the hand and back to my chair. It was not glamorous or romantic. It was fun and exciting.
My career as a girl singer was short. The band went into the Army as a unit and did some good will tours, and then the war was over, and I went on to sing lullabys to my children.