Welcome to the Nostalgic Ramber





The Nostalgic Rambler can be heard in Central Florida on Daystar on the Boulevard 89.5 FM in Ocala every Saturday from 2-4pm EST. Worldwide you can listen on the internet at www.TheGeneMartinshow.com. Please tune in and let me know you are listening!

Hans Jeff Borger also on WRGE 97.9 FM in Ocala, FL featuring Christian programming.




Why a blog? I wrote a book "The Little Grownup: a nostalgic Michigan boyhood" which should appeal to most baby boomers. A mass market book? Well, not yet...but the potential is there! (Be sure to buy it at "finer on line bookstores" everywhere!)

The comments presented in "The Nostalgic Rambler" probably won't be of interest to the masses...anymore. If grandma and grandpa and their friends were still alive, then it would be a different story.

I live in the past. My time warp is a comfortable cocoon even if it sometimes drives my wife crazy. The music of the 1940s and 50s, the stars of those days were big stuff in their day, but are now almost forgotten. Oddly enough, I was born in '64 so those iconic years were for the most part over by that time.

Through "The Nostalgic Rambler" I maybe can help share my love and knowledge for those times and things...all at one time important pieces of Americana but now a bit faded in memory.

The woman who did the blog about cooking all of Julia Childs' French Cuisine Cookbook in a year got a sweet movie deal out of her blog experience. I wouldn't mind that but would be happy to know that you are reading this....and maybe enjoying my time warp, too.



Hans Jeff Borger

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Sunshine Magazine from the House of Sunshine, Litchfield, IL


While visiting an antique shop in North Carolina I discovered an old copy of Sunshine Magazine. This has turned into the latest Nostalgic Rambler obsession and it was mighty time to do another blog so here's the low down on Sunshine Magazine.

It was started by a man named Henry F. Henrichs who at first used it to promote his business which was bringing buyers and sellers of newspapers together. 
                                                  Henry Henrichs

The magazine featured light reading with lots of positive upbeat stories, riddles, and points to ponder. By the 1950s thousands of subscribers were on the mailing list.



 The magazine covers and line drawings often pictured "The House of Sunshine" on them as well as Ganymede the shepherd boy. The House of Sunshine was the actual place Henrichs was headquartered in, located in Litchfield, Illinois. Highly stylized for the magazine covers and often pictured in different surroundings depending on the issue, the House of Sunshine became a tourist attraction in Litchfield and the magazines often featured praises from visitors. The building housed a library, interesting murals and art work, and a state of the art (for the time) music system. Organ concerts were often hosted for the visitors and a fountain outside lit up the place at night.

The House of Sunshine was extolled by its employees as a wonderful place to work. Mr. Henrichs published many magazines in a similar vein for various businesses to use. He also published books. 




 I found a biography written in the late 1950s about this publishing empire and it is a great read.




























These monthly magazines brought a lot of pleasure to people. At the end of the year they were bound into 12 issue beautiful books and that is what I found at the antique store...and I have found a few more since then. The positive stories are fun to read and nothing is copyrighted in them....so I can use them on the Christian radio station I run.


I


Sunshine Magazine (or "magazet" as Henrichs called it) put Litchfield on the map...but it has long been defunct. What happened? The internet doesn't say much of anything about this one time very successful magazine and its amazing publisher. Henrichs later purchased a plot of land in Litchfield and called it Sunshine Park.  I found it on the map and it looks like a Christian organization owns it and has a House of Sunshine Coffee Shop there now. I have contacted them to see if they have any info on the original House of Sunshine .........

Litchfield has a historical museum on old Route 66 but no info on their website about Sunshine Magazine or the House of Sunshine either.  

For fun I am going to try to resurrect some of the Sunshine Magazine/House of Sunshine material on Facebook. Look for www.facebook.com/Sunshinemagazet for the postings. I couldn't use Sunshinemagazine or Houseofsunshine as they were taken, but apparently nobody except Mr. Henrichs took to the name of magazet for his very interesting life's work!

After doing some more research, I obtained the 1965 volume of magazines...and was saddened to hear that the original House of Sunshine building burned down! Here's a magazine quote:

"When the construction of the original House of Sunshine in 1940 had assumed recognizable proportions, it seemed a bit of Heaven had dropped down in the midst of the little city of Litchfield, Illinois. The populace was aflutter, not knowing, however, that the symbol of the new creation had already far outreached the local aspirations.   Hordes of people came from the countryside and neighboring towns and villages daily and nightly to see the uncommon appointments of the new creation, and view its picturesque fountains and lightings. Then came visitors from far and near, and tourists detoured hundreds of miles to see the marvelous House of Sunshine....
Howbeit, the vision of grandeur was quickly quenched for the House of Sunshine in the great fire of October 30, 1964. A massive 
catastrophe!"

I don't have any info after 1965 yet but that is why it looks like the current coffeehouse site might be the "new" site, as the House of Sunshine obviously continued.




Thanks to Sarah Waggoner  

Tourism Coordinator -- City of Litchfield for responding to my information request

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Hymns Classics Re-discovered

As some of you know I haven't had much time to post on this blog lately due to my involvement in a new Christian radio station in Ocala, Florida. I invite you to visit our webpage at  www.wrge.org to find out about it.

Programming the music for this station has been fun and a challenge. We feature several "talk" segments but of course radio is 24/7 and it requires quite a music library. A friend of mine Don Ward has assisted immensely in reaching into his broadcast archives.

We like to play some of the tried and true hymns sung in churches for years. What's nice about that for me is some of America's most beloved singers recorded much of this music back in the heyday of the Nostalgic Rambler times.



 Jo Stafford recorded quite a few hymns and teamed up with Gordon McCrae for some beautiful selections.
 Perry Como and Tennessee Ernie Ford were adamant about their Christian beliefs...so much so that they often sang a hymn at the end of their TV show, much to the networks chagrin.
 Bing Crosby recorded many songs of faith.
 The nice thing about playing these songs on the radio today is that it doesn't matter that these people were beloved popular figures of yesterday. If the listeners recognize Bing or Perry from times gone by, they will find comfort in hearing them again.

 If the listeners to the radio station don't know who these voices are, then they are at least hearing some high quality wonderful arrangements and talent.
At Christmas time you will hear most of these artists on most all radio stations as well featuring their "holiday" recordings. There's more to their library than "White Christmas" and "Santa Claus is Coming To Town". I'm glad to put them back in the Christian spotlight, even it's just for a limited audience on the radio in my home town!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

No escaping the strange move of Sirus XM

Time for me to come out of my self imposed exile from posting on the Nostalgic Rambler (I've been very busy getting a new Christian radio station ready to go on the air but more on that in the coming weeks.......)

I am here today to express my dismay, bewilderment, disgust, and all around confusion at the decision of Sirius XM Radio to dump the Escape channel from their satellite line up.

This was one of the finest broadcast presentations of the classic and beloved "easy listening" instrumental or "beautiful music" format. It was actually programmed by one of the founders of this format.

Those of you who know me know that I started the WGER 102.5 FM Appreciation Society on Facebook.  WGER was at one time one of the highest rated radio stations in the entire country due to their use of the musical format formerly heard on Escape.

This instrumental music vanished in recent years from over the air radio but it had and still has a very loyal fan base.  There is a Facebook page trying to assist in getting the format back on the Sirius XM satellite.  I am not sure how Sirius can justify much of their niche programming without keeping Escape on, but it sounds like a personal vendetta from someone who just doesn't like this music.

Very dumbo miopic move but here's what you can learn from all of this.........
 Anything on the air, whether it is on TV or radio, can vanish into thin air quickly. I learned my lesson long ago. I have enough Escape type music on my ipod that would rival the XM/Sirius programming library. I cancelled long ago when they kept alienating me by preempting the programming for weeks on end with such oddities as Barbra Streisand radio and Hanukkah radio.

When I worked in radio and enjoyed the nostalgic "Music of your Life" library back in the 1980s, I recorded the entire library for my own use and have been enjoying it ever since...even though it has been long gone in that same genre style. One of my favorite TV shows "Homefront" hasn't been rerun in years, but yes I have them all preserved so I can watch it whenever I want.

So the lesson here is if you really like something, preserve it yourself as you can't rely on popular culture to keep it in front of you. Time marches on as society devolves into further noise and nonsense. The outsourced phone operators are telling the disgruntled Escape listeners that they can find the same music on other channels. As my grandpa used to say " Boloney!"  I'm glad I can "Escape" using my own carefully preserved media.

I think I'll go listen to Lex De Azevedo.........

September 19th UPDATE:  The pessimist in me never thought this would happen: In a major reversal and accomplishment for beautiful music fans, Sirius XM has restored Escape to their lineup. The fans apparently bombarded them with enough cancellations that they reversed their decision. Excellent news!




Friday, December 5, 2014

Christmas Sounds of Ray Conniff on the air again

The Nostalgic Rambler has been quite busy lately. I've been helping to set up a Christian radio station coming soon to my city. It is an exciting project as a music library is being assembled and programs are being recorded. You can be assured that since the project has my input, there will be plenty of songs from the artists featured here on this blog.

Anyhow due to this project there just isn't enough time for too many projects like this blog, so if posts are a little scarce you know why.... I imagine there is enough stuff on here to keep you entertained. 


                                            Gotta love this lady's Santa outfit.

Radio stations once again are playing Christmas music which as usual they are calling "holiday" music. This "holiday" music, which is really "Christmas" music (!) brings a lot of our favorite recording artists out of the woodwork.
This morning our clock radio woke us up to Ray Conniff's "12 Days of Christmas."  It is great to listen to Ray Conniff anytime of the year but especially at Christmas. Someone posted an entire Conniff Christmas album here so click  and enjoy........ Guaranteed to put you in a Christmas (holiday) mood!
 
Merry CHRISTmas everybody.........

Info on Ray Conniff can be found here.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Gene Martin Big Band Dance Party

As you might know, my radio show "The Nostalgic Rambler" is heard Saturdays from 2-4pm on WKSG 89.5 fm in Ocala as well as on line at www.TheGeneMartinShow.com.

Gene is "Mr. Music" of our area and has been a beloved radio man for years. November 2 he held a big band dinner dance at the Ocala Hilton and the fans came out of the woodwork to attend. It reminded me of what it must have been like in the big band heyday.


Singer Mark Raisch was the star singer, dazzling the audience

People still love to dance to good music!

It was great to see the folks come up and talk to Gene about how much they love the music on the radio station. 

Gene Martin was a bit under the weather due to a recent illness. He couldn't play his sax for the crowd,  but he still managed to get some of those desserts he always talks about on his program....

Here's a pic of me with Gene and Don Bruce who also has a show on the station. Thanks to all those who attended and who told me they are out there listening!


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

A Visit To Johnny Mercer's Savannah

We visited Savannah Georgia recently, the stomping grounds of one the all time great lyricists Johnny Mercer.  He was the man who wrote the words to such songs as "Moon River" and "The Days of Wine and Roses." He also started Capitol Records and was closely affiliated with my favorite singer Jo Stafford and her husband Paul Weston.
                                                 Paul Weston, Jo Stafford, and Johnny
 Johnny was the genius behind Capitol Records with such stars as Nat King Cole under his wings
                                   Bing Crosby and Johnny were admirers of each other

Savannah pays tribute to Johnny with this statue that Heike discovered as we were wondering around. She said "I found Johnny Mercer." I thought to myself "What is she talking about?!" And there he was....




We visited the Bonaventure Cemetery, a very interesting place. The movie "In The Garden Of Good and Evil" starts off there with a picture of Johnny's grave. Clint Eastwood produced that pic and used Johnny's music throughout.

The cemetery had such elaborate graves that they must have cost the families a small fortune. 

Here I am at the Johnny Mercer gravesite: 

This bench at the grave has several of Johnny's biggest hits engraved on it including Ac-cen-thu-ate the Positive, Autumn Leaves, Blues in the Night, Charade, Laura, My Shining Hour, and Atcheson Topeka and Santa Fe.  Click on the song titles to hear them by some of the greatest including Johnny himself who sang quite well and sold a lot records in his early years.

Sadly there was a group of tourists at the grave with the tour guide asking "Does anyone know who Johnny Mercer was?" Nobody did. He was about to continue the tour without much of an explanation, so I started singing "Moon River" and told them that Johnny wrote that. They all recognized it immediately.

There are several bios out there about Johnny. There is also an excellent dvd which Clint Eastwood had a hand in as well entitled 
"Johnny Mercer: The Dream's On Me."

 Mercer had an interesting life. He was a genius but also an alcoholic with a mean streak. His lyrics are often very haunting and sentimental. Quite a talented man.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

David Cassidy News Brings Out Partridge Family Records

Pardon my slip into the mod 1970s on this edition of the Nostalgic Rambler. I saw a recent news story that singer David Cassidy was spending time in rehab for alcoholism and it got me to thinking about the early 1970s when we were all enthralled by The Partridge Family. I wasn't even a teen then and was caught up in the fever. 

If you're a young whippersnapper and haven't seen The Partridge Family, it is easy to find on Youtube, DVD or reruns. 

I heard someone say "We all watched the Bradys but we all wanted to be the Partridges." How cool it would be to travel all around with your family in a bus and sing songs. Well we watched both quite religiously as I recall. And of course had to buy those records....

Who wouldn't want to be in a family where the mom is Shirley Jones of "Oklahoma!" and "Music Man" fame? Sister Susan Dey was quite a knock out and David of course was Mister Cool. Even now most of the 1970s clothes look like a fashion statement. Bell bottoms anyone!?

The whole premise of the show was totally unrealistic but it was great television escape. The country bought into the escape and often didn't even realize that the only voices on the records who were on actually the show were Jones and Cassidy, the rest were professional musicians. (I think one of the main guys is currently married to one of the Lennon Sisters of Lawrence Welk fame!)

Anyhow, I certainly wish 60 year old something David Cassidy well. I guess he did or maybe even still lives in Florida, the home of The Nostalgic Rambler! David's drinking and marital problems are sad to read about. Despite that, recent interviews show that he knows he was a positive influence on a lot of people during his career. I wish him the best and hope he can escape the demons of addiction.

So the old Partridge Family records came out of the cabinet and I'm converting them to cd. My wife had never seen The Partridge Family before. With my love of music she can probably see why I was so addicted to it in my early life. The closest I came to being a Partridge was singing in the school choir!