Richard S. from Texas, formerly from Duluth, wrote a comment on facebook regarding my recent Duluth Armory history piece (posted 1-18-10). He recalled attending home shows at the old Armory. That really brought back some memories for me, too. Just thought I'd have some fun with looking back and invite any of you old enough to share your memories as well...
I attended those Armory annual home shows many times over the years. And yes (as Richard noted), the Mills Brothers (one was the father) were a perennial act at the home show ("Glow little glow worm, glimmer, glimmer..."). I recall seeing virtuoso accordionist Dick Contino perform ("Lady of Spain I Adore you") and then running into him later that night at Sammy's Pizza on First Street. All alone, wolfing down Sammy's. Songstress Margaret Whiting was the featured attraction one year, and I happened to be there on the last night. Even as the performers did their last Duluth show, you could hear booths being disassembled in the dark behind you. Then, at the end of the show, Margaret Whiting, who had had a pretty good career in New York and Hollywood, walked up to the edge of the Armory stage and said to the few hundred stragglers, "...this has been the greatest night of my show business career." (Yeah, right.)
A few years later, the "star" of the Armory's home show was Dorothy Shay, "The Park Avenue Hillbilly." By then I was a reporter for the Duluth paper sent out to interview her. I'd never heard of her, but we met in the late afternoon in the Black Bear Lounge at Hotel Duluth to chat over coffee and a Danish. She was a very nice lady, very much in the twilight of her career as a New York nightclub singer. She asked me if I'd drive her to the Armory for rehearsal, which I happily did, but in the shuffle of leaving I forgot to pay the check at the Black Bear. Walked out on it. Really felt stupid, but I stopped back on my way back to the paper and paid the bill. --Jim
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