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 25, 2011

Nostalgic Glamorous Air Travel!

Air travel today is so hectic, stressful and unglamorous that we decided to look back at a time when it was an exciting adventure. Apparently the public recalls those good old skies as the latest television drama is the show Pan Am, recalling the 1960s glory days of that long defunct airline.

We found these pics of my grandma Martha Margetich in our archives taken in the late 1950s/early 60s. As you can see her trip back to her native Germany was a grand affair. From her first step out of her front porch, suitcase in hand, dressed to the nines, she is ready!

Can you believe travellers had their families snap pictures of them on the tarmac! Look how nicely everyone dressed up...and they even had an accordion player bidding them farewell.... Wow.

Somewhere I have some old airline menus showing how elegant flying was back then....the menu rivaled a gourmet restaurant....and does anyone recall those great little carry-on bags they used to provide you? The ones with the airline logo on them? Very cool. Of course these would never do today as people carry on bags bigger than what Grandma took to Germany as her check through luggage back in the day.....

Monday, September 12, 2011

Will the real Crazy Otto please stand up?!

I don't know if there are any really famous instrumentalists anymore, but can you imagine having two of them playing the same song and using the same name in public?

In 1955 a honkytonk/ragtime piano record became a national sensation. It was the "Crazy Otto Medley" by Johnny Maddox. The song eventually sold two million copies, but whose copy were folks really listening to? At the time people thought it was something new but in reality the idea was practically stolen from another pianist in Germany.

Fritz Schulz-Reichel was a concert pianist who used the moniker "The Schraege" (the tilted one) when he played his "tipsy wire box" sounding piano for some happy sounding songs in Berlin. Apparently back in the 1950s it wasn't easy to import recordings, so Johnny Maddox recorded the sound that Schulz-Reichel invented in Germany and released it here in the US and voila....a hit was born.

Oddly enough Johnny Maddox's albums call him "The original Crazy Otto" but when Schulz-Reichel eventually released albums in the US, he also used the name "Crazy Otto" leading to the confusion of who really is Crazy Otto! Here's the story taken from the back of one of Johnny Maddox's albums:

"A Cleveland disc jockey, Walt Henrich, was given a German recording by a returning serviceman. The artist on this record was "Der Schraege..." Walt had many phone calls asking where the record could be bought, and since it was not available in the United States, he mentioned it to his station colleague Bill Randall. Randall suggested to Randy Wood, president of Dot Records, that it might be a good piece of material for Maddox. Randy agreed, and Johnny Maddox was re-christened "Crazy Otto" temporarily.

News of this instantaneous smash evidently got back to Germany, because soon Der Schraege himself arrived in this country and recording again, this time calling himself "Happy Otto." On his next release he succumbed to the mounting confusion and became "Crazy Otto," making two of them. After the Crazy Otto craze had abated, the instigator of all this record selling became once more good old Johnny Maddox...."

Johnny Maddox is apparently still around as you can read up on at www.crazyotto.com. He has sold 11 million records and has recorded 50 albums according to that website!

Listen for yourself to Johnny Maddox doing the Crazy Otto by clicking here and then listen to Fritz Schulz-Reichel doing the Crazy Otto by clicking here and see which one you prefer! Same medley by two different Crazy Ottos! Crazy man, crazy!

pics above from Dot record of Johnny Maddox as Crazy Otto and others from the Decca releases of Fritz Schulz Reichel as Crazy Otto!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Mrs. Argus' Glenn Miller Big Band Legacy

A few years ago, the mom of a friend of mine found out of my love of the big band era. She said she didn't want any of her records anymore. Luckily for me her son was more interested in the rock group KISS than Ella Fitzgerald. I got her entire collection.

Mrs. Argus has since passed on but her legacy of music she gave me lingers. One of the gems she owned is a five LP set of Glenn Miller big band music. I would say that most people even today recognize some of Miller's signature tunes like "In the Mood" or "Moonlight Serenade." This set however is something special. Songs that aren't really remembered anymore today are on here, too. Catchy lyrics like "A Little Bit South of North Carolina" or "Love with a Capital You" were new to me and a lot of fun to hear for the first time.

This collection must have come out in the 1950s when LPs were a relatively new idea. The records are inside of a special white leather like looking book with extensive liner notes about Glenn Miller. Putting these records on takes me back to the big band era....and I wasn't even there! The notes say the songs were chosen "first to capture the unique sound of Glenn Miller's music; and second to present certain songs that were part of nearly everybody's youth,and understandably, just sort of wonderful."

From what I have seen on ebay, there is a second collection of these albums with a gold cover on them, so apparently the Glenn Miller fans of the day wanted more. After listening to these records over and over, I can see why....

To the young whippersnappers who don't know much about Glenn Miller, he died on a flight from England to Paris December 24, 1944. His music was the soundtrack of a generation. Thanks Mrs. Argus for sharing your soundtrack with me.