Sunday, December 19, 2010

Thanks for the memories.

One day in December of 1975, a trombone player banged on my barracks door, shouting,"Liberty is cancelled! Jump in your dungarees and get to rehearsal: we're doing Bob Hope's Christmas show tonight!"

It was news to me. In fact, it was news to all of Navy Band San Francisco. But when it came to entertaining American troops, Bob Hope got what he wanted, and what he wanted was to perform that night at the Oak Knoll Naval Hospital. Some travel snafu had given him an unscheduled day off, and, instead of resting, this show business legend had found a worthy audience. Not having his band with him, he called the nearest military band and said, like they did in those old movies:

"Let's put on a show."

And we did. Hope's manager delivered the charts to the band spaces, MUCS Skip Poole rehearsed us and, that night, led us in accompanying Bob Hope and his cast of supporting acts before an audience of wounded warriors in wheelchairs and rolling hospital beds.

Bob Hope's Christmas Tour of Asia and the Pacific, mid-'60s. Advance
to 48:00:00 to see Bob's shows on USS Ranger and USS Coral Sea.

Imagine what would have happened if the Hope organization, wanting to entertain troops on the spur of the moment, had been required to call a music contractor and say, "Can you give me an 18-piece band for a rehearsal in 45 minutes and two-hour performance tonight, no pay, no travel expenses, no cartage fees?"

Don't tell me Navy bands are fluff. They do thing civilian bands couldn't dream of.

1 comment:

John Derby said...

Amen to that, brother!