Sunday, January 15, 2012

Another word about the mural...

from the Autorama brochure extolling the mural and its artist

Just a bit more about the Autorama and the America the Beautiful mural:

While on concert tour, my father had discovered the artist, Bernard Thomas, in Montana and commissioned him to paint a cycloramic three dimensional mural, to be housed in its own circular room, depicting the history of the United States. Recorded narration was provided by Daddy’s good friend, radio commentator and explorer Lowell Thomas, and musical accompaniment was supplied, of course, by James Melton. As the brochure enthused, “Picture yourself in the soft-lighted Mural Room...America the Beautiful being sung by the nation’s favorite tenor...America’s most renowned commentator is telling the story of America the Beautiful, unfolding scene after scene, until song and story have completely swept you through 300 years of our nation’s history.”

My father invested not just his money but his heart in the Autorama. He welcomed people to it as if it were his home. While researching the book about my father, I received a letter from George Roberts of Middletown, New York, which tells such a story: “As my family and I were walking around the museum, we came upon Mr. Melton's office. The door was open. We waited until he got off the phone. He was very cordial. I said how enjoyed his singing. He was surprised that someone so young knew of his music. I started to sing one of the songs from a record I had, and he sang along with me. Then he arranged for us to be taken for a ride around the grounds in an old Dodge touring car. After our ride, he recommended a friend’s restaurant to us for dinner. We went there and were given a warm welcome and great service at the mention of James Melton’s name. We were so impressed with the warmth your father showed us that day that after forty years I can still remember him with fond memories.”

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