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, July 31, 2011

Lucy Love Affair on her 100th birth anniversary

August 6, 2012 is the 100th anniversary of the birth of Lucille Ball.

Lucy, you kept me laughing at your antics when I was a child. Back then, you were on TV in your 1950s incarnation every evening when I loyally watched "I Love Lucy." Your 1960s "Lucy Show" was re-run at lunchtime and in the evenings we could see your 1970s brand new "Here's Lucy".

As time has gone by, you've been a "wondaful" break from the current lack of creativity in the media. I don't want to watch today's attempt at comedy. Despite the fact that I can recite your television dialog practically verbatim, you still fascinate me.

Through college, through early adulthood, through my marriage and now through my 45 plus years, there you have been. Unchanging. Forever comfortable and lovely.

You were such a beauty and captivated so many people with your talents. I wasn't around during your 1950s heyday. It must have been something to witness firsthand.

As you aged, you apparently knew that people had forever etched you into your younger days. This week you would have turned 100. The Lucille Ball we remember is still as vital, vivacious, and beautiful as ever. I wish you were here to read this.

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Day I Met Maria & Margot Hellwig

Allow me a little time travel out of the 40s/50s/60s and let me reminisce a bit more current about some old fashioned lovely music and values....

It's so hot, we have no vacation in sight, and so my thoughts go back to the days of a better economy and a nice vacation to Germany about five years ago.

Anyone who remembers "The Sound of Music" recalls Julie Andrews coming over the meadow singing "the hills are alive........" Of course that was a Hollywood version of Europe. The German version of that might have been Maria Hellwig.

Since my parents came to the US from Germany, I grew up with lots of German music in the house. Maria Hellwig was a singer who along with her daughter Margot charmed millions with their homespun folk songs and yodeling style and a popular tv show in Germany beginning in the 1970s.

Recalling that Maria owned a hotel in the little Bavarian village of Reit im Winkl, I thought it would be an interesting place to stay. By this time she was in her late 80s and more or less retired from tv appearances. Maria and her daughter Margot were scheduled to make a rare concert appearance at a restaurant she used to own in the town, so we decided to take our trip to coincide with that.
My wife and I made some wishful thinking comments about how nice it would be to meet Maria and Margot in person. As we checked into the hotel, we went out on our balcony and looked up and around. Much to our surprise, there stood Maria and Margot, dressed in their German dirndl outfits, in full makeup, waving to us! It was like we had stepped into a tv show.

A few minutes later they both came down to talk with us and were very down to earth and friendly. They explained they were getting ready to go into town to tape a tv show and invited us to come and watch. The pics posted here with them in the horse and buggy are the ones I took as the show was taped. Can you believe it? I found the actual tv clip on Youtube today! It's here! You can see how lovely their town is and why Bavaria is so well known for its beauty.

Later that night we went to the concert and they graciously posed for a pic with us. At almost 90 Maria had a remarkable stage presence and voice.

Unfortunately, Maria Hellwig died last December. Her daughter Margot is still singing. The friendly portrayal these two presented in their music certainly wasn't just an act. After meeting these ladies it was obvious they loved what they were doing and had a passion for the people that appreciated their craft.

PS: A few months after our visit, at Christmas, we received a Christmas card from Maria and Margot. Talk about a class act!

Watch some other Hellwig appearances here (with the wonderful Heino), here or here.

pic of Maria, me, my wife Heike and Margot; Heike in front of the Gasthaus Hellwig; a few shots of Maria and Margot in their prime; Maria and Margot in a horse drawn buggy during a tv appearance that day.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Groucho Marx: The One The Only

Back in the 1970s I remember staying up late when visiting Grandpa and watching "The Best of Groucho" on TV with him. These old films from the 1950s were re-packaged reruns of Groucho Marx's series called "You Bet Your Life."

This TV quiz show actually was a showcase for comedian Groucho Marx to ad lib with the contestants. The quiz was secondary. Announcer George Fenneman was the straight man to Groucho's lunacy. It was a one of a kind show that from time to time someone thinks they can re-cast and find success with again. Alas, there is only one "one and only Groucho" as the audience hollers in unison at the start of every show.

I think I read somewhere that "The Best of Groucho" was almost lost forever. The films were thought to be worthless and found in someone's garage. They were quite successful in late night reruns. Unfortunately today's young whippersnapper tv programmers probably have never heard of Groucho or "You Bet Your Life." Too bad, as it would be great to see it on the air again.

Well, rather than ramble on about this show, why don't you watch it? Lots of Youtube videos on Groucho's show. Click here or here for an example....and tell em Groucho sent you.....

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Ethel Merman: No Business Like Show Business

The Dollar Tree isn't usually the place where I find my summertime reading...but after combing through their books I found a biography of Broadway legend Ethel Merman entitled simply "Ethel Merman, a life" by Brian Kellow. It was well worth the dollar!

Ethel Merman was a superstar in the heyday of the musical theater. Her loud brassy voice was one of a kind -- no cookie cutter voice there.... Like many stars, her personal life was pretty sad. Through several marriages she never truly found love and her rude behavior at times alienated people. Of course that always makes for a great read.

After reading this book, I remembered that I had a classic recording of Ethel Merman and another show biz icon Mary Martin. It is the soundtrack to a 1953 tv special "The Ford 50th Anniversary Show." Amazing to think about, but when the Ford Motor Company was 50, they had a special seen simultaneously on both CBS and NBC. Ethel and Mary sing for about 12 minutes together and it apparently became the "stuff legends are made of." Sixty million people saw it. Amazingly I found it on Youtube so click here and enjoy it for yourself..... An interview with both ladies taped in the 1970s is also available here.

And don't forget to check the Dollar Tree for some interesting reading this week.