Sunday, July 20, 2008


Leo Underhill

Alright, I admit I'm on something of
a nostalgia trip right now,
during this official period of mourning.

WNOP was our family's favorite radio station in the 60's.

Along with 15 or 20 other people,
my father turned it on every morning at sunrise
(when it began its daily broadcast - with Leo Underhill)

And here's his voice from 1974, live at the Playboy Club. How cool was that!

Especially memorable for me, the reference to local shrink, Ms. Mimi Pendery
(Maria Pinho), who was my parents' long time family friend.

(oops -- the above link may be permanently disabled - but here's a television interview conducted eight years later)

Wherein Leo is asked "Do you have a philosophy?"

"Yes, I do", Leo says, "Get all you can, but don't hurt anybody"

As you can tell from the above portrait that my father made,
Leo and RJ became good friends,
and you can imagine how excited I was
to come downstairs and discover
a real live disc jockey in our living room.

Leo was something of a Falstaff.

If he wasn't in a bar or nightclub,
he was at the racetrack,
but he had a way with words,
teasing out each vowel
and "talking dirty"
even if he wasn't.

(and eventually, you could hear his speech patterns
every time my father opened his mouth)

This was the station where I learned to love Nancy Wilson,
Frank Sinatra, Count Basie, Jackie & Roy,
and where I first heard Paul Gonsalves'
extended solo at the 1956 Newport Jazz Festival.

How I longed to be a grown up,
go to all the fancy night clubs,
dress in Italian silk suits,
and be a swinger !

To me, it seemed to exemplify
successful adult life,
though now,
as I read its history,
the station never even broke even.

and best wishes, too
is happy for you"

(We Never Offend Porcupines)

Rest in Peace.


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