Mom on the USO Circuit
Foliate Oak 2017
October 7, 2017
Mother tells the story about meeting Elvis in Germany. She almost didn’t recognize him because he had a military crew cut and no pompadour but as soon as he began their duet, Bi Mir Bist du Schein, she was so taken aback he had to start over so she could jump in.
My mother’s never been to Germany and she won’t eat sauerkraut or drive in a VW Beetle because of the Camps. Yet, she insists he gave her a box of chocolates, a Whitman Sampler two pounder, after the show. She says that hip gyrating playboy asked her out to a Schnitzel buffet but she turned him down—she heard the Priscilla rumors—everyone did, she wasn’t about to play second fiddle for Elvis anymore than she would have for Bing when he came calling.
Because of her sexy voice and body she was the object of her fellow USO members desires but she saved herself for that slick bucket salesman from New York who, with the aid of a fake quarter carat diamond ring, swept her off her feet and away from the stage to the thrill of a cold water flat on the lower east side. When they returned from their honeymoon at Busters in the Catskills he carried her over the threshold. Her first instinct was to run back to show biz; but he had a way about him. Plus, she was in a family way.
Life went downhill from there. Dad lost his bucket territory and opened a pickle stand on Delancy but mother turned allergic to the spices in pickles and thus to my father so, now, expecting her second child, they divorced and she got in vaudeville right at the tail end and was an understudy for Gracie Allen who, thankfully was a hypochondriac, so Mom had a fairly steady income until she got pregnant again and she swears that the boy came out looking like George Burns, cigar and all.
Her show biz career over we moved in with her parents in their two bedroom third floor flat where her sister Dee was living with husband and baby. Mom became a torch singer in the Flamingo Club. Aunt Dee raised us when Mom left to go on the circuit. Elvis tracked her down to be one of his back ground singers.
There are no pictures of her show biz career and no one in the family will talk about it, so while Mom, whose brain is addled from reefer and gin, mumbles out her stories, we kids think of her as our crazy aunt and Aunt Dee as our mother.
That seems to work for everyone so let it lie. Strangely enough, Mom can’t carry a tune in a big red bucket.