The Saints of Jazz

21 10 2011

They began their careers in small clubs. And cat houses. In choirs. And minstrel shows. They were applauded. Made famous. At times they were loved. They made a lot of money and spent it. On booze. On drugs. On men. And became famous. Some died in small rooms without family. Some in the arms of their children. They were all different. They were the Saints of Jazz. And they loved to sing.

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Dinah Shore

16 11 2009

Dinah Shore (February 29, 1916 – February 24, 1994)


Blue skies from shore to shore. Crutches in the ballrooms. Blondes lining Arlington Cemetery. With tears that should have stopped wars. Big frilly dresses. Puffy sleeves. In the golden days of America. When men wore straight pants. Women in church. Were on their knees. Praying to the lance instead of to Christ. 1950s. And life was perfect.

Dinah kept a diary. Mommy’s advice. Don’t let your mouth turn the milk. Chin up. And smile. A million eyes watched Dinah every Sunday evening. You could hear her black and white laughter. Fill their hearts. America was in love. With being blonde.

Richie Ashburn fouled a ball.  Hit Alice Roth twice. In the same at bat. 1st one broke her nose. 2nd one hit her. While she was on the stretcher. Enraged a white mob. Little Rock Arkansas. Forced 9 black students. Who had started high school. To withdraw. It was the bottom of the third. And America had a new home movie. It was called the ‘The Battle of Los Angeles’. UFOs attacked the city of angels. Through the smog. And the alleys. And all their mighty ships were shot down. But no one could find. Where they had crashed. And Dinah kept smiling. That smile. In the back seat of a Chevrolet. Her leg draped over yours. Laughter that was contagious. The touch. Of her fingers on your lips. Sent shivers. Through your teeth.

Dinah loved Tarzan. And his jungle. A general named Moose. And his jingles. Singers. In alphabetical order. It might have been the Cantabile Choirs Of Kingston. A drummer. From the old school. Several actors named Jimmy. A senator. Who wanted to be President.

Dinah. Loved to start her weekends. In that wide eyed glee. I’ll sing to him, each spring to him. And worship the trousers that cling to him.

Halloween. Ed Gein butchered his last victim. The fight for cancer was lost. And Dinah passed. Throwing a kiss. Across America. To that drunk. At the end of the bar. In Tonawanda. To the professor. Sleeping with his assistant in Baltimore. That waitress in Tucson. Feet swollen. All Dinah’s lovers sighed. And all those little girls. Dyed blondes. In suburban homes. Felt like something inside. Was gone.