Friday, March 4, 2011

A Little Stop On Route 66

It was in the late 70s or early 80s. My wife and I had gone out on a Saturday evening for a bit of dancing at a local hotel which had a dance floor and live entertainment. We walked in and the band was playing "Route 66." We found a table and ordered something to drink. As we sat there waiting, I couldn't help but notice the drummer. He looked so familiar. I was racking my brain when it suddenly hit me - the man playing some terrific percussion was Bobby Troup.
At the time, many people would only recognize Bobby as Dr. Joe Early from the TV series, Emergency. But I knew that he was also the composer of the song "Route 66." I was floored that he was in Harrisburg and at that particular venue.

After the band finished the song, Bobby came down from the stage and there was a great round of applause. He walked from table to table shaking people's hands, signing autographs. When he reached our table, he looked at the huge drink glasses we had on the table and asked us, "What the heck are those?" (Okay, maybe he didn't use the word "heck" but this is a family-safe blog!) Eventually, he sat down at our table. Unlike so many others, we never asked for his autograph, we didn't fuss over him, we just treated him like an old friend we hadn't seen for many years.

As it turned out, he was in town because his family had a music store in downtown Harrisburg - J. H. Troup Music. Since I used to play the piano and pipe organ, I had been in the store zillions of times, mostly to purchase sheet music. We talked a bit about the store and his family members who still ran it. (I love that I can now download sheet music online!)

Eventually, our conversation turned to Bobby's wife - Julie London. Again, although many knew her only as Nurse Dixie McCall on Emergency, we loved her as a sultry and wonderful singer. Bobby was totally in love with her. You could hear it in his voice and see it in his eyes. His face lit up like the Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center whenever he spoke of her. He took a gold cigarette lighter from his pocket. "It was a gift from Julie." he shared. As we were telling him how impressive we thought it was, he chuckled as he pulled the gold cover off to reveal a plastic Bic® lighter inside. "Julie had given me a solid gold lighter as a gift but, when I lost it, she gave me this as its replacement."

Bobby wound up spending the next three hours at our table. He watched us dance and asked us a lot of questions about our dancing. It was odd. He was actually at the hotel with a local restaurant owner who was paying for everything (eventually, including our food and drinks). There were several model-like women with the Bobby Troup party that night but Bobby ignored them. He told us that people often thought he'd want beautiful women around when he was "out on the town" but he looked us squarely in the eye and said, "I'm not interested in anyone except Julie."

I had always liked Bobby's music and his role on Emergency. But on this particular night, I liked him much more because he loved his wife and wasn't afraid to let anyone know it.

1 comment:

  1. What a great story! Thanks so much for sharing it. I remember emergency and Bobby Troup!!! People are people, no matter what we might be led to believe. Those who act pretentious are playing a role and likely not comfortable in rheir own skin.

    If you ever plan to motor west.... ;)