Topic: "Lonely Avenue" (3)
Ahmet Ertegun produced recording sessions. Ben E. King was the lead singer for a group known as "The Drifters." Just as King stepped to the microphone to begin recording "Save the Last Dance for Me," Ertegun tells King the story behind the writer of the song, a man named Doc Pomus. King's eyes moistened, and he fought tears as he sang the song, and for the first time understood what the lyrics conveyed.
". . .Just remember who's takin' you home, and in whose arms you're gonna be. . ."
Polio is a word not heard much anymore, but it was well-known to a generation of young people afraid to even swim in a public pool, for fear that the rest of their lives would be spent in an "iron lung." Crippled by polio, Doc Pomus used crutches and, always overweight, ended his life in the wheelchair that served him the night that Ben E. King recorded his song. Pomus had written the song from the memory of his wedding day when he watched his brother Raoul whirl his new bride across the dance floor.
". . .While we're apart, don't give your heart to anyone. . ."
Like his contemporary, Sam Cooke, Pomus had a gift for making songs out of the things that his eyes had seen. As a teenager the young white man could lay out smooth, undulating blues that won him frequent gigs at black clubs in every borough of New York. Accompanied by pianist Mort Schuman, Pomus cranked out his first hit "Teenager in Love" for Dion and the Belmonts.
". . .And when we touch, I love you oh so much. . ."
Pomus, who was born Jerome Felder, died in 1991, after writing many of the songs to which Frodo danced while Pomus merely dreamed of dancing. The life is chronicled in the newly-published "Lonely Avenue: The Unlikely Life & Times of Doc Pomus" (by Alex Halberstadt, DaCapo Press).
In April of 1953, Bilbo was presented with an opportunity to protect the halfling Frodo against polio. At Franklin Sherman Elementary School, Dr. Richard Mulvaney was performing the first innoculations of the Salk Vaccine. Frodo protested, claiming that the vaccine was a "test" and that it might make him sick (it also might hurt). Bilbo would hear none of it, and Frodo was deigned to participate. Frodo, dear reader, was invited back to Franklin Sherman Elementary School by the March of Dimes for the 50th anniversary of the victory led by the "Polio Pioneers."
Bilbo was, and remains, as it relates to the care and feeding of halflings, very wise. The truth be known, the shot didn't really hurt much either.
Ben E. King gave a great performance when he learned the truth behind the lyrics. Maybe Frodo did some good, too.