Archive for January, 2012

Retro Symbiosis

January 10, 2012

My symbiotic connection to the 1950’s continues to amaze even me.  I don’t honestly know how this bit of trivia escaped my notice until now, but here goes:

I’ve been a die-hard fan of the Ozzie and Harriet TV show since I was a teenager.  The early shows are undoubtedly the better shows for a variety of reasons, which include the appearance of Don DeFore as the Nelsons’ friendly neighbor, Thorny.  He has truly always been my favorite character on the show.

Don DeFore is a little-known name among most people today, but he appeared in many movies and TV shows and served as the President of the National Academy of Television Arts from 1954-1955.  He was instrumental in bringing the Emmy awards to be broadcast on television.  He has a star on Hollywood’s walk of fame, and Judy Garland was maid of honor at his wedding.

In addition to his career in Hollywood, Don DeFore holds the distinction of being the only sole proprietor to ever run a business inside Disneyland.  From 1957 to 1962, Don and his brother ran Don DeFore’s Silver Banjo Barbecue in Disneyland in a space formerly occupied by a mexican restaurant called Casa De Fritos.  After 1962, the building became Aunt Jemima’s pancake restaurant, which eventually became what it is today – The Riverbelle Terrace.

Where do I fall into this story?  Well, in 1988, and 18-year-old kid (an unlikely fan of Mr. Don DeFore) got a job at Disneyland bussing tables.  Guess where my most regular assignment was.  The Riverbelle Terrace.

I sent an email to Ron DeFore, the son of Don DeFore to inquire about any existing reproductions of Silver Banjo memorabilia.  Apparently there are none…only the original sign, menu,  etc, which are in his basement.  He suggested if I was a millionaire collector, I might offer him an exorbitant sum.  Alas, I am not and cannot.

It’s cool to think that in some dimension of fate, my life is linked to the 1950’s era I love so much.  The Lost Transmission-Ozzie and Harriet connection is just the latest in my own “six degrees of separation” story to mid-century American culture.



January 1, 2012

Lately I’ve had some real groovy luck in my quest for cool records.  One day alone was like striking black gold (of the vinyl variety).  Let me share…

Maybe you thought $2 for Les Paul was cheap, but lay your peepers on this gem I picked up in a record shop in Alabama for $1.00!  The Rockats Live at the Ritz.  I felt like I righted a great wrong that day.  This baby was the Rockats debut album in 1981, and it’s in near mint condition…for a dollar!!   My father-in-law (who was with me) incredulously exclaimed, “How in the world do you hear about these bands?”  I just lead a charmed life, I guess.  What a great album!

But wait, there’s more!  Next I found a 1957 original in the same $1.00 bin as the Rockats.  Louis Prima’s classic album “The Wildest!”  This is 1950’s adult cool at its best.  The cover’s not in the best shape, but I think it gives it character.  Whoever bought this item in ’57 played it, and it still sounds great today!  Also check out the cool ’50’s Las Vegas graphics from the flipside cover.


But this ain’t over by a long shot.  Next up is a rockabilly band even I had never heard of, but just spotting the cover of this platter was all I needed to know I was hot on the trail of another tasty rock and roll morsel.  Kevin Fayte and Rocket 8.  What?!  On Nervous Records from 1985.  Wasn’t sure this looked too promising.  This album had 20 songs on it!  I figured, how good could this be?  Know what?  It’s not bad!  I was pleasantly surprised.  For $5.95, I picked up an ’80’s rockabilly band I’d never heard of on a near-mint original LP, and enjoyed some good rockabilly to boot!


Well, that’s all for now.  I have a few more little items to share from this adventure.  All in good time.

Keep rockin’!