"Still Racing with the Moon II" --

A Gathering of the Vaughn Monroe Appreciation Society

May 17-20 2007


by Marian Gower

Boston was great! Cold and soggy, but very warm and enriching. I arrived a day early, in a monsoon! Good prep for the entire rest of the trip. Planned to go to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts on my free day. So tired and drenched...just stayed at the hotel instead. (Went the next day, before everyone else arrived.  Love those French and American impressionists!)

So, day 1...Thursday evening. We met in the library, our little band of nine, plus two locals who attended for just that night. They were father and son, and the dad was a writer. Gave us all copies of things he'd done for his paper, The Post Gazette, June 3, 2005. It was a nicely done set of three articles. For our entertainment that evening, Claire had located and copied (for each of us) a DVD of three of Vaughn Monroe's guest appearances on quiz shows... WHAT'S MY LINE,  I'VE GOT A SECRET,  and MAKE THE CONNECTION. They were fun to see, not actually staged but really quite relaxed, informal and natural. Each time we met, Claire had various CDs playing... a nice touch.  We chatted a bit...a lot...and then went our separate ways.

Day 2...Friday. We met in the lobby for a walk to the bus stop, and again, there was rain.  The first event was a visit to the New England Conservatory, where VM studied voice He'd only attended for a year or so....$$$.. had to drop out to work full time. We had a full tour of the building, marvelous architecture and interiors.  They'd set up two tables with many photos from different times in his career. The director said that they would put the photos on a web site. Also, they hope to reproduce some of his early radio programs, since their 16" discs are flaking or something, and may not last much longer. She seemed to feel that his work should take priority...ok with  me! She gave each of us a very nice key chain, a classical CD, and a booklet about the school. We even had time for a quick stop at the bookstore/gift shop. Sweatshirts, t-shirts, key chains, posters, and tons of musical things. Back to the bus stop, and lunch at the hotel. During the afternoon session, Polly Attridge (and husband Paul) shared part of her collection with the group ~~ for Show and Tell.  I'd nothing to show, since everything I had...two huge scrap books were given to Vaughn Monroe decades earlier. NEC has them in their archives. (Claire has reproduced two booklets excerpted from them...for sale to the members.)  Polly had several personal letters from VM, and obviously had a very nice relationship with him. It was fun to compare our experiences. We began at about the same age...13, and had many of the same experiences.  Great fun to share with her like that. Evening...Our hardy band of pilgrims had dwindled down to just four, and we all fit into a nice dry taxi. (Still pouring out.)  Dinner at a nice local restaurant, UNO'S, just steps from the NE Conservatory. Back to the NEC for an evening alumni concert. The first part was lovely, with several female singers...pop songs, Gershwin, etc. THEN came their newer grads, with their avant guard (sp?) music.  One of them "played" the piano using only the strings under the lid. Far too strident for me. Intermission brought drinks, table snacks and our much agreed upon departure. (The second half was promising more of the "new" music.) Taxi home, tired but happy.

Day 3...Saturday. After breakfast we met in the lobby for a car tour to VM locales. But...his old production office building no longer had the descriptive plaque in front. Seiler's Ten Acres is now a private school, and the Meadows...his charming restaurant, retains only the name...and is now a tall red brick office building. The "honeymoon" cottage was in a really country~like remote area. Owner was doing additions, and the blue tarp was lovely. But, we could see the very scenic lake and dock, far below. There were steps--somewhat overgrown now--leading down to the water. Our drivers were very good...Polly and her husband are locals, and knew the area well. Claire and Gary followed us in this two-car caravan. The best part...really the best...was next. We drove to the family home  in West Newton. It was just as I'd remembered it. As we stood out front...(in the rain)..taking photos, a man came jogging down the street toward us. Chatted a bit, told him who we were. He was the current owner, and asked if we'd like to come inside. YES! He couldn't have been more gracious. Showed us the first floor rooms...including a rather small kitchen, dining room, living room, den/office, and porch room...being redone. Upstairs we saw the master bed room...large, pretty, and bright. Most of the rooms overlooked the lush golf course, adjacent to their property. Back downstairs, he took several photos (with Claire's camera) of the three ladies. His wife wasn't home, and he said that she'd be sorry she'd missed us. Some of the rooms...esp,. the three fireplace rooms...have been featured in magazines, and it was fun to recognize them. And, all of this was before lunch. So, back to the hotel for that. The afternoon featured a trek to the Boston Library...short walk. Herb had made arrangements to have a room set up with all sort of VM memorabilia...sheet music, many photos, some records...very nice. At this point, several of us opted for a return to the hotel. The rest went on to walk past the Jack Marshard offices and again the VM Production Office. That was the final day, and we had a banquet with music and much talking. Claire gave a CD made by Barry "Walt" Walters, and it was very much welcomed by all. As an extra special touch, he put our names on all of them. Email sites and sources were exchanged, and reluctantly we bid  goodbye to one another.

Check out time was the next morning, and all went their separate ways, trains, planes and cars homeward. It really was lovely, and Claire did so much work to make it special.