Sunday, July 17, 2011


           I would give my left thumb to have Ollie's saw and yo yo's.  Ollie met my dad in NY City. He was picked up as a halftime act traveling with his Texas CowGirls basketball team for many years.
Ollie had a place in my dad's heart . When Ollie died a reporter knocked on our door in Rockton in the early seventies to give him the news. Ollie had been hospitalized in NY City for an extended period of time, the reporter  gave my dad a letter Ollie had written to him on his death bed. Ollie was one of the people that affectionately called my dad "Mr. Dempsey."  He was small in stature shy and quiet. He was small enough to sit in the van on a little stool  in front of the covered  engine compartment facing backward that was in Dodge vans in the sixties. Ollie and a team full of women basketball players traveling day in and day out coast to coast. He was a smoker and occasionally snuck a cigarette to some of the athletes that were forbidden to smoke as part of their team rules and contract which also stated no unchaperoned dating, no drinking soda before games and tidy uniforms and no gaudy makeup lipstick is fine and neat hair .

Feb 9 1964  
I was six in 1963. My mom made every holiday magical. She won best decorated house during the holiday season for many years to come. Halloween was as big as Christmas, St Pats ,Valentines Day, 4th of July ,Thanksgiving were all mesmerizing because of my mom's celebrating  visions and artistry from the music to the food to the decorations and spirit. Each holiday was a perfectly staged event with no stress of any kind she created landscapes and memories with ease. 
In 1963 she decided rather than the tradtional fresh evergreen with strung popcorn, cranberries, pine cones and construction paper chains that we  would have the newest tree of the decade as the center and focul point in our home. A company  out of  Chicago created a silver  aluminum tree with an electric rotating color wheel . They sell on ebay without the color wheel today for 750.00

  The cost was 80.00 a hefty price in 1963. 
They originated in the late 1950's in Chicago varying in size from table top to eight feet. 
We had the six foot model. The color wheels sell for another 200.00 on vintage sights

Ollie  spent the Christmas season with our family  the year my mom had chose the aluminum  tree  decked out in  silver and blue with the loud color wheel spinning, spinning in the evenings.  We sat in our best suits  and dresses  and were entertained on Christmas Eve to Ollie's  renditions of Away In The Manger and Silent Night on the saw he played with a bow like a violin.
He gave us all yo-yo's as gifts and taught us tricks from his yo-yo extravaganza show.   He and my dad went back on the road right after Christmas and returned on Feb 9, 1964 . We all gathered in the living room . My dad made his popcorn , hot pink lemonade and pigs in a blanket , a clue to us kids that something entertaining was coming. When he was able to be  home on N.Y. Eve this was the fare as we traditionally  watched Guy Lombardo , danced in the living room then banged on pans and threw newspaper confetti we prepared at midnight. I thought maybe the evening was a late delayed  N.Y. Eve celebration since he had to go back on the road and missed it with us. No confetti , no pans laid out  but there was adult whispering and mystery in the air. We children were lined up on pillows on the floor with my mom, Ollie, my dad on the  sections of the angled sofa. My dad rubbing his hands in excitement, an occasional "I don't know should the kids watch this?" to my mom. Ollie was wide  eyed as the announcer welcomed us  to the Ed Sullivan Show . The Beatles performed five songs on their Ed Sullivan Show live debut. They sang All My Loving, Till There Was You and She Loves You, in the first half of the program, followed by an advertisement for Anadin. Ed Sullivan's other guests - Georgia Brown & Oliver Kidds, Frank Gorshin, Tessie O'Shea - followed, after which The Beatles performed  I Saw Her Standing There and I Want To Hold Your Hand.  Back and forth Ollie and my dad would ask "are those wigs?" My mom and my teenage brother shushing them.  The girls screaming and fainting it was awesome! My 7 year old sister immediately claimed Paul as hers I claimed John. Music was always playing in our home, the Beatles would be added to our album stack to twist and shout to. Our fireplace mantle held the writing tablets with the 8x 10 color photos  of John and Paul on the covers carefully selected by our mom as shrines at least until Easter. The  next Christmas and Christmas's to come  the tree was again an evergreen,  the Herman's Hermits and Rolling Stones writing tablets replaced our coveted  Beatles and entertainers of many varieties shared our living room . The people that were constants in our home were sought out for autographs by the towns folk and people around the world , in our house they were family. Barnstormers in sports barnstormers in entertainment was a small community. My dad was the King he developed a consortium  of who's who in the world of basketball, baseball, and entertainers. His booking agency 20th Century Attractions was recognized as the premiere agency of the era. Life growing up surrounded by his teams and clients he represented was like living the excitement of a circus, carnival,  holiday all in one everyday for me. 

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