Thursday, September 15, 2016

2016 Glidden Tour


What a fun day I had yesterday!  Barbara Fox, Tour Director of the 71st Revival Glidden Tour invited me to attend their luncheon at the Mount Washington Omni Hotel in Bretton Woods, NH. I had a grand time meeting new friends (several of whom own cars of my father’s) and reconnecting with old friends. I shared a lunch table with Pat Swigart, whose late husband started the Swigart Antique Auto Museum in Huntingdon, PA.

As you may recall, in 1946 my father my father instigated and personally arranged a post-war revival of the Glidden Tour, a prestigious endurance test for autos in the early part of the century. Members of the Veteran Motor Car Club of America turned back the pages of history when they gathered on the morning of August 17, 1946, at 9 a.m. at Fifth Avenue and 59th Street, in front of the Plaza Hotel, to begin the revived tour’s first leg, the 151-mile journey to Albany. Cars had to be older than 1919 vintage. The original tours, funded by financier Charles Jasper Glidden, an ardent early advocate of automobiles as viable transportation, were primarily “reliability tours” to show that cars could complete arduous journeys with relatively little strife. They were held annually from 1905 to 1915 and were the most grueling tests for automobiles until the Indianapolis 500 Race was introduced in 1911. “We brought the Glidden Tour back again,” said my father, “not to test the performance of our cars, but more or less as an excuse to polish ’em up and take them out of the garage.”


Nineteen forty-six happened to be the Golden Jubilee of the automobile industry and the tour was partly to celebrate this milestone. So as not to be embarrassed by cries of “Get a horse!” tour officials arranged for two service vehicles to accompany the group on its 1,200-mile run. One of the major events that made the tour possible was a post-war agreement by Firestone Tire & Rubber Company to resurrect their old tire molds; that agreement, instigated by my father, literally put antique autos back on the road. He also negotiated with Firestone, Texaco, Ford, General Motors, Thompson Motor Products, and International Harvester for assistance to tour participants in return for suitable publicity opportunities. He’d done radio shows for several of those companies—Texaco Star Theater, The Voice of Firestone, and Harvest of Stars—and some years later would host Ford Motor Company’s Ford Festival on TV. His singing career and his car-collecting hobby were never far apart.

Friday, April 15, 2016

New James Melton CD

 I am delighted to announce that Frank Bristow (with the able assistance of Andy Pope, Bill Park and James Drake) has produced a fine new CD.

One of the highlights for me was the inclusion of selections from the "soon to open" Irving Berlin musical Annie Get Your Gun, along with brief remarks by Berlin himself. This took place on a "Texaco Star Theater" radio broadcast in the spring of 1946 (seventy years ago!)

 The CD can be purchased by contacting Frank in Australia at franbris@optusnet.com.au. Be sure to check out his website too:  www.musicfromthepast.com.  So much interesting stiff there!

(There's a second new CD, which I will detail in a later post.)











Thursday, January 28, 2016

"September in the Rain"






Recently I heard through a mutual friend that Michael Feinstein (yes, the Michael Feinstein) was looking for James Melton's arrangement of "September in the Rain." (The song is by Warren and Dubin, from the 1937 movie "Melody for Two," in which my father starred.)  I was able to direct him to the University of Wyoming archives, where the bulk of my father's orchestrations reside.  How they got to Wyoming is another story which I will post at a later date.  At any rate, I am so delighted (and flattered) that Michael thinks enough of that music to want to include it in his Great American Songbook Project.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Happy Birthday



Today is my father's 112th birthday.  Here's a nice photo of him and his mother, taken probably in the late 1930s or early 1940s.

Although I haven't posted anything here for a while, I continue to hear from folks who have some connection to my father, and I continue to keep in touch with my "network" of friends, fans and family as new material emerges.

Most recently, I heard from Gary Melton, who is my father's great (or is it grand?) nephew!  I was able to send him a few family photos, including one of all the Melton siblings (including his grandfather, Guyton).

I also had a lovely email from a gentleman in Baltimore who called my father his "boyhood hero," and described in detail a concert in Philadelphia in 1945, during which my father forgot the lyrics to "Soliloquy" from Carousel.  A rare occurrence!

It really warms my heart when people rake the time to track me down with these recollections!

Happy New Year to all!


Saturday, September 19, 2015

1911 Speedwell



 postcard of the Speedwell from the Autorama

I often hear from folks who own one of my father's cars. But recently I heard from someone whose family sold him a car. They wondered if I had any information about the car (sadly I did not) or any photos of the car (which I did).

The car in question was a 1911 Speedwell, which my father bought in 1941 for $350.  Richard Cook, nephew of the seller (and a teenager at the time), wrote a story about the transaction in the September/October 1995 issue of Horseless Carriage Gazette.

The Speedwell was displayed in both the Melton Museum in Norwalk, and later at the James Melton Autorama in Florida. Subsequently, it went to Dr. Samuel Scher's collection (in Mamaroneck, NY) and then to Bill Harrah's collection.  I wonder where it is now.

 The Speedwell on parade in Framingham, Massachusetts, Autumn  1941

 


Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Revelers

Lately I have been in touch with a fellow who is a doctoral candidate in music performance at University of North Carolina at Greensboro. The focus of his doctoral dissertation is on male quartets of the 1920s and the transition from the acoustic recording process to the electrical process.

We have been having a wonderful time exchanging information, photos and recordings of The Revelers.

Here is the latest photograph he sent (from the University of Texas-Austin historic photo archives). It is one I have not seen. 

The Revelers were born in 1925 from an older group called the Shannon Quartet, so named because Irish songs were very popular 1918 when they first came together to make recordings for the Victor Company. Until 1925, they were only heard in recordings and on the radio, but in the summer of that year they started making concert tours, including one to Great Britain where they sang for the Prince of Wales and Princess Mary. The original group consisted of Lewis James and Charles Hart (tenors), Elliott Shaw (baritone) and Wilfred Glenn (bass). In 1925, Charles Hart left the group, and was replaced by Franklyn Bauer. In due time he too left to pursue a solo career, and the quartet went in search of another tenor. In 1927, Dr. Frank Black became their accompanist and arranger. And they hired James Melton as first tenor.

Monday, July 6, 2015

A Motorsport Mystery


Last week I had an email from a fellow in the UK. He recently bought, at an auction in Wales, a group of motorsports memorabilia, amongst which is a trophy awarded to the winner of the "James Melton Museum Sprint Race 1949." He is trying to track down information on the trophy and contacted me.

Where was the sprint race? And why was the trophy named after the museum and not simply James Melton?  Was it to publicize the museum? Could the race possibly have been at the museum property (unlikely)? Evidently sprint races were held at the Thompson Speedway in Thompson, Connecticut, which is not too far from the museum's location in Norwalk, Connecticut. I am not aware that my father had any particular association with that racetrack, but who knows?

At any rate, I’m hoping that someone out there can shed some light on this mystery.