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

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Elusive Flipper Stars

The 1960s television show "Flipper" portrayed the perfect childhood adventure. Most kids could relate to the fantasy idea of having a pet dolphin and growing up in the Florida sunshine with not much else to do but explore Coral Key park.

I've been a "Flipper" fan for years and it's amazing where "Flipper" will turn up. I've found dvds of the shows for sale last year in a German supermarket and at the local antique store have found such treasures as a "Flipper" novel for kids.

That's all dandy, but what ever happened to the "Flipper" cast? I have books on so many tv shows....everything from "I Love Lucy" to "The Waltons." Why nothing on "Flipper"? The show was (and I imagine still is) being seen world wide but not much info is around about it. There are a few oddball websites twisting the innocence of this 1960s family series, but not much substance or relevance to its history or popularity.

Since I'm always looking for things to write about, I thought this might be a great topic. I did some research a few years back and found out Brian Kelly (who played the dad) had quite a time after the show ended. He was in a motorcycle accident which ended his acting career. He has since died. Ivan Tors, who had a big tv presence in Florida is long gone. I don't know who would have his archival info.

I found an address for Ricou Browning, who was instrumental in the series. He never responded. I wrote to Tommy Norden (Bud). Never heard a thing. I wrote to Luke Halpin (Sandy). Heard back from a lady who said she was his agent. She said he was writing a book and Ricou Browning was writing one, too. Quite a while has passed and still no book, so I guess we'll never know the background on this interesting series.

Fast forward a few years later and recently a coworker told me she knew Jack Cowden, Flipper's creator. She was going to see if we could meet him, when he suddenly moved out of the state!

A few years ago the Miami Seaquarium reunited Halpin and Norden (Sandy and Bud) for a Flipper anniversary, but other than that they have faded from public life, which they seem to want.

Oh well, I still think the "Flipper" story and the stars that were in it would make a great book....

You can watch all of the seasons of "Flipper" on Hulu.com. Click on hulu.com and you'll be taken to Coral Key! It's free!

Season one has been released by MGM on dvd and you can find it most anywhere. The prints are clean and pristine. The colors beautiful.Oddly enough you can get the whole series on dvd officially in Germany but not here! Click here to hear the Flipper theme in German!

pictures: Heike & yours truly at Florida's wonderful "Marineland" (notice my Flipper t shirt and a dolphin in the background); The Flipper logo and cast; Luke Halpin autograph (pic from the Flipper MOVIE not tv series); a few more cast pics, and lastly Luke Halpin recently at the Miami Seaquarium.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Million Seller Violinist Florian ZaBach

Here's a piece of forgotten musical history...at least as far as most people are aware of.

Florian ZaBach was a violinist who parlayed his talent on the fiddle into a very successful recording career including a television program back in the glorious 50s.

Back when I was a kid I started my life long fascination with records. I was in "Federals" or one of the other Detroit area department stores with my grandpa. He bought me the album "Golden Strings" by ZaBach and told me to listen to it closely as that was a true musician. He was right.

If the internet had been around just a few years ago, perhaps I would have found a way to contact him, but he died before this was possible.

The "Gold Strings" album liner notes say this about this talented guy: "Florian ZaBach has more different talents than his bow has strings. The violin virtuoso is an extraordinary musician, an excellent composer and conductor, a clever comedian, and above all, a superb showman....He first played professionally when he was nine....his TV film series "The Florian ZaBach Show" is seen several times a week throughout the world, even in such far away places as Hong Kong, China."

I found a couple of his tv shows on video on ebay and they're quite good. His albums as far as know have never been re-released on cd, so get out those old record players. His albums pop up on ebay as well. His million seller song "The Hot Canary" was his breakthrough, but the lush pop sounds of his 1950s albums is what really made me a fan. Click here for "Plink Plank Plunk" which was used as a game show theme in the black and white era. Here's another example of his sound.

Back in the 50s, one of his albums said that a successful violinist is about as common as an elephant with a ballet troupe. That has to be even more true today so we'll probably never see the likes of a Florian ZaBach talent again.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Lunch Counter Remembered

Looking at the calendar it says that Autumn begins next week. Well, it's still 100 degrees outside here in Florida as I write this. Ice cream is still on the agenda! I wish I could go downtown to the drugstore, sit at the counter, and order a sandwich and a chololate malt. Or maybe splurge and get a banana split....

Unfortunately those great lunch counters at the drug stores of years gone by are gone now. Dairy Queen and Baskin Robbins are still going strong, but it's not the same. I remember growing up in the Detroit area where even the local mall had a Sanders ice cream counter where you could go in and order a sandwich or Sanders ice cream puff or whatever suited your sweet tooth. The pictures here recall this time when these places were common.

Also posted here is a picture of me earlier this summer at a classic ice cream counter/parlor near Ironwood, Michigan. The owner actually got the entire counter and setup from a store that went out of business. It is inside his bed and breakfast now. He told me that he is fighting to keep the old style servings alive. Even the ice cream company he buys from told him to use syrofoam or paper cups.....He won't. Just like in the heyday of the soda fountain, the banana split I ordered was served in a glass dish.

And you might notice the really green drink on the counter....that is a specialty pop of the region. Can't remember the name, but it was sweet.

Who knows, maybe someone will get a bit retro and open up a lunch counter again. Sounds delicious to me...The only problem is where to find the Bing Crosby Valley Farms' Ice Cream....

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Life is Worth Living with Fulton Sheen

No, I'm not a Catholic, but like many Americans who watched TV in the 1950s, I've discovered the re-runs of "Life is Worth Living" on cable. This series "starred" the Catholic bishop Fulton Sheen. Basically the camera just allowed Sheen to be Sheen as he spoke to the audience about everything from simple Christianity to how to raise children to standing up against Communism.

Sheen's program was so popular it stood up against rival network programming by Milton Berle and Frank Sinatra. In 1952 he won an Emmy for his show, giving thanks to his writers "Matthew, Mark, Luke and John." The show was quite simple. Sheen wrote on a blackboard throughout the broadcast. While he was off camera, his "angel" would erase it so he could use it again. He used corny jokes, told simple stories, but his message was definitely Christian in nature and got his point across.... Here's an example of his show. Sheen was such as star, he even appeared on the game show "What's My Line?" Watch it here.

Did you know that actor Martin Sheen picked this stage name since he was fan of Sheen's broadcasts?

I don't think we'll ever see a prime time network religious show again. Hollywood is too atheistic and materialistic. How interesting to watch this fascinating 1950s orator, Fulton J. Sheen. His message still echoes today. As I said before, I'm not Catholic and don't agree with everything he says, but Sheen is quite captivating.

As he used to say, "God Love You!"