The handsome man above is my grandfather (PaPa). He will celebrate his 95th birthday on December 27th.
After the Army, he worked for the US Postal Service and then retired. Later in life, he found himself entertaining once again. He did so for free and when an organization insisted on paying him, he donated the funds to Children's Hospital in Richmond, VA.
As a little girl, I would attend a few functions with he and MeMa, and I remember watching him impersonate Foster Brooks. He would then settle down into playing the piano and start singing up a storm. A few of my favorites... Jamaica Farewll written by Irving Burgie. Take This Job and Shove It! first recorded by Johnny Paycheck and Abilene by Lester Brown. Every now and then, he'd ask me up on stage with him and I'd sing a few with him. I was so little and the crowd would get a huge chuckle at he and I singing Take This Job and Shove It.
Man, he could play anything if you hummed a few notes for him. Amazing. He taught himself how to play the piano... all by ear. He later tried to take piano lessons so he could read the notes but he found it too aggravating and resorted back to playing by ear.
He accompanied Chip and I to a few Marine Birthday Balls and once in Louisville, KY he, his girlfriend Lynette with Chip and I sat in the hallway where he found a grand piano and he started playing the Marine Corps Hymn. All of these young Marines came running over and surrounded us and joined in singing with him. It put the BIGGEST smile on his face. Always the entertainer.
On the back of the above photo, I found this typed note... a resume of sorts.
After retiring from a career in the US Postal Service and in the need of some activity to occupy my idle time, I began to use my "limited talent" trying to be somewhat of an entertainer!
I am strictly an amateur, but I am also a big ham! It gives me great pleasure in my endeavor to entertain others. I have performed, or I guess more aptly described "doing my thing", for many different groups such as Senior Citizen Clubs, Women's Clubs, Breakfast Clubs, Men's Smokers, Fraternal Organizations, private parties and several local night spots.
My first appearance on stage was in a talent show at the Byrd Theatre in Richmond in 1938. I sang one of the hits of the day.
I was a member of the Old Richmond Blues, a prestige unit of the National Guard. In 1940, I enlisted in the US Army and was sent to the Hawaiian Islands, which put me in Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the day of the Japanese attack and the start of World War II. After serving in the Central Pacific area, I was given the job as "The Entertainer Director" for the Harbor Defenses of Honolulu which turned out to be the softest job the Army could have given me. When USO shows came to the Islands, it was my job to escort them. I met some of the biggest names in show business.
I love the little inscription on the bottom right-hand corner, "God loves you and so do I". Love you PaPa!!! xo