Welcome to the Nostalgic Ramber

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

"The Nostalgic Rambler" radio show previously heard on Gene Martin & Friends has been suspended due to my commitments at WRGE.

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

Thursday, November 8, 2018

The Nostalgic Rambler reviews: Bing Crosby Swinging On A Star The War Years by Gary Giddins

I have always loved reading biographies. Some of my favorites include "A Book" by Desi Arnaz, "At Random" by Bennett Cerf and " Act One" by Moss Hart. Several years ago author Gary Giddins came out with a book about the early career of Bing Crosby entitled "A Pocketful of Dreams".  I've enjoyed that book immensely over the years and have waited impatiently for the next volume on Bing's life.

Well, years later it is finally here and Giddins has captivated my reading attention again. This time the book focuses on 1940 until 1946.

I soon turn 55 and lament the boring world of entertainment we live in, from the here today gone tomorrow celebrities to the rap music I have to listen to being blasted from cars next to me at the stop light. Little do the people around me know that in MY car I am probably listening to an old Kraft Music Hall broadcast with Bing or another one of my singing favorites.

These days people my age and younger MIGHT know Crosby for his Christmas music which seems to pop up annually, even if it's just White Christmas.

Hopefully there are still enough people out there who know who Bing Crosby was or are interested in knowing who he was. Gary Giddins deserves kudos (and money income) from this book!

This book is fascinating because it not only portrays Bing through the war years but weaves a portrait of some of the people who were part of his life and times.  It is captivating reading about how Bing interacted with some of his fans including a couple of sisters who followed him around innocently. Some of the songwriters and film folk who were in his circle include Jimmy Van Heusen and Leo McCarey. Those people probably aren't household names anymore but even so the way they wove their craft and their intricate personalities come through in the commentary. I loved it. Most all of the stars of the time are mentioned including Bob Hope and Ingrid Bergman. Name dropping always impresses me. The book isn't just about Bing but the people and events that made up the years from 1940-1946. Sometimes a history lesson, sometimes entertainment show biz lore, sometimes facts and figures.

Bing Crosby seemed to get a bad rap after he died. His son wrote a scathing book and I remember another bio called "The Hollow Man."

Bing was definitely complex. This book presents him in all of his various traits and I have to say it is quite positive. I didn't know Bing was so involved in entertaining the troops during WWII... just as much as Bob Hope who seemed to make a life career out of letting everyone know it. Bing also valued his fans and corresponded with many of them, often for years. His "icy" side could also come through, which makes the book all the more an interesting read. He definitely was not a one dimensional man.  His wife was an alcoholic long before anyone knew what to do with that. Bing coped by staying away and making movies.

The book also features some excerpts from letters Bing wrote during those years and they are often self effacing and fun. I have always loved the Crosby vocabulary. He certainly knew how to use the English language and even invented words of his own.

Thanks Gary Giddins for transporting me to a time where I fit in. I wasn't even alive then but the names and music are all very relevant to me. It was great fun to whirl through the book and captivate myself in the people and storyline.  Don't know if Giddins is planning another volume. I hope so but if it's like the time between the first and this one, I'll have lots of time to savor this new edition for years to come.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Music For Dining

Back in 1985 I was a television intern at Metrovision of Oakland County. This was a cable TV outfit in Farmington Hills, Michigan, the city my grandparents lived in.

The cable station had a "community access" TV channel where folks from the community could come in and produce whatever they wanted to for airing on the station.

Most of the shows were talking heads and could have been better suited for radio! I remember there were some really interesting shows on there...one was called "The Shores of Your Mind" and was hosted by a psychic! There was also a popular local cooking show with a lady named Judy Antishin.

I thought it would be fun to put together a music show, so we re-created the record album of the 1950's "Music for Dining" as our starting point.
Judy Grosse, a Metrovision employee, was my co-host. As you can see here, the set was quite elaborate and we hauled stuff from home to make it happen. Even my outfit was made to look like something worn by a man in the 1950s. We picked 1950s sounding Hollywood names. I was John Linden and Judy was Joan Hudson.

As a guest we had Judy Antishin from the Metrovision cooking show "Cooking With Class" serve our food.

Lark Samouelian sang a couple of songs on a cool furniture hauled in from my grandparent's house! She was the director of an organization affiliated with local tv cable access promotion.

 And Tom Scurto (a local talent) sang a song to a picture of a beautiful lady (actually my mom's 1950s high school picture!)
Watching this now over 30 years later it is still as corny and fun as ever. The show won as best musical show of the year, which probably isn't much of a win as there weren't all that many musical shows on there to begin with.

Anyhow, if you want to turn the clock back and see me when I was 21years old, this classic gem is now on Youtube. Here's the link

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Stay Away from Loving The Classics DVDs as the lost shows are apparently still lost

I drive my wife crazy with my Jo Stafford music. I love her recordings and she is one of my favorites if not the most favorite. 

She filmed a series of television specials in England in the 1960s. Famous guest stars were on the show and although I have seen a couple of them with Ella, Peggy Lee and Rosemary Clooney as guests, the other shows are apparently lost in space.

Until......Wow.....I found an outfit called "Loving The Classics" which features all kind of lost TV show and movies and guess what? They have SEVEN EPISODES of Jo's hour long programs for purchase. Of course I jumped at the chance!

Oh-oh...first of all the dvd order took about a month to arrive. Enough time to process the credit card. Well, I got TWO sets of what was supposed to be the seven hour long specials. It didn't start out well when the dvd starting skipping. I tried it in another player...the same thing. The second set skipped at the same point so the masters must be screwed up. Well I got to see about 45 minutes of Jo and Peggy Lee and an old CBS show (not from the 60 minute specials). The rest of the material was taken from a VHS tape from several years back (see pic below)...definitely not the programs in their entirety or the promised shows.

Yikes! I did a search and found a whole bunch of disgruntled customers of "Loving the Classics." So far I have sent four emails with no response but that seems to be their modus apparandi.  So don't fall for their promises folks. Their webpage is very enticing but the results are dismal. Loving the Classics preys on nostalgia fans and their desire to see material that apparently just isn't around anymore...whether we want to admit it or not....

Jo Stafford Show specials.........where are you?

Update: I filed a complaint with my credit card company and that same day got an email from the company to send the faulty dvds back (at my own expense of course!) and they would refund my money. Thank you Chase Credit Cards for your great customer service...

Loving The Classics lets you review their product. I sent the review of their Jo Stafford offering which is not what they promise and of course THEY have to approve it, which they didn't. It still isn't on their site so anyone ordering these DVDs will also be duped.

I noticed if you search for  "Loving The Classics complaints", a whole bunch of videos come up on Youtube but all they show is a bunch of movie posters....is this to misdirect people from the truth?

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

La La Land questions and commentary

Are the good old days of movie making back? The days when beautiful songs and story lines let us escape?
Well, almost....The new movie La La Land is quite an accomplishment. It even got your Nostalgic Rambler out to see it twice at the movie theater.

I am humming the music and putting myself in Ryan Gosling's dance shoes:

 The movie features memorable music by Justin Hurwitz. Director Damien Chazelle did a great job of combining movie magic of the past with a current cast and story.
 And as corny as it gets sometimes, it is just what I like in entertainment.
 Starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling? Never heard of them before I saw La La Land but you probably already guessed they aren't on my nostalgic radar screen. Loved both of their performances.
 Spoiler alert: I really didn't like the ending and if Mr. Chazelle had asked me, it would have been a formula happy one. After seeing a movie and characters I like, why do I have to be tortured with the reality of that ending?
I'll get over it.....maybe....

Anyway, here are a few questions I have:

1. Why can't I find the CD soundtrack in all the stores? I had to order it!

2. "Seb's" has a great logo. Where is all the tie-in merchandise I want to buy? Seb's shirt, Seb's tie?

3. Seb likes records. So do I, of course....but $24 for the soundtrack on LP? Even Seb couldn't afford that!

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.


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 

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!