Vaughn at Boston Garden

On May 19, 1951 the Jordan Marsh Department Store held a dance for its employees in honor of its 100th anniversary. They really had a big celebration. Not only did they lease Boston Garden (probably the only place big enough!) but they hired Vaughn to supply the music.

In the early afternoon I met fan club co-president Colleen Canwell and we went directly to the Garden. We were walking through the lobby, wondering two things - were we on time for the Camel Caravan rehearsal, and how in the world we would get inside the Garden itself? Four or five men walked by us and one of them turned and looked at us. We both gasped, because it was handsome Nace Bernert, the Moonman with the oh so deep bass voice. He must have heard us because he turned around and smiled. Apparently he remembered seeing me the night before in Worcester. We just followed them right into the Garden, which I hardly recognized because it looked so nice. A sports arena, it had been turned into a fairyland with silver spangles and blue and white bunting. A stage had been built at the far end. We sat beside it and watched the boys in the band come in, with many of them waving and smiling at us.

Finally, at 2:45 pm Vaughn came in, with a big wave and a wink on his way to the stage. Colleen had a letter from Marvin (who had sent it airmail and special delivery) saying that the broadcast and dance was a party meant only for Jordan Marsh employees, but if we could see Stan, Vaughn's road manager, he might be able to get us in. We asked Wally Olsen, another handsome Moonman (beautiful tenor voice), who Stan was, and a few minutes later he came over. Colleen showed him the letter and he said he'd try to get us in. After discussing it with Vaughn he came back and told us to meet the boys outside the door and go in with them. We talked with Ziggy and a few others during rehearsal. I'm sure wonderful Eddie Julian was one of them. No wonder I still love drummers! We also went up on the stairs leading to the stage and took some pictures, which Vaughn posed for. Every time he saw us focus the camera on him he'd smile for us. Just before we took the first picture we had a problem, as I had borrowed the camera and neither of us knew how to work it. Finally we called Vaughn over. We were scared to death to do it, but knew he was an expert on cameras. He came over and looked at it and of course he did know what was wrong. Dope that I am, I had neglected to pull out the front. He pulled it out, clicked it to test it, and it worked. I ended up with a picture of Vaughn from the nose up as it flashed right in his face.
That night we met the boys at the door and Ziggy let us in. We went up to the stage and talked to Bill Mustard for a while, and then Maree Lee came over to say hello. When she found out we were co-prexies she introduced us to all the other Moonmaids. We asked them to be honorary members and they all accepted. They're all nice, but isn't Maree Lee just wonderful? We got through talking with them, looked up, and there was Vaughn in a tuxedo. What a great sight that was! We gave him a boutonniere and talked to him for a few minutes. I had to take an early train to New Hampshire and wanted him to sing "Ballerina" early, but didn't want to ask him, so Colleen did. She actually asked if he would sing it right away and he thought she meant before the Camel Caravan. He replied "I can't, I have the broadcast." I got up my courage and asked him if he could possibly sing it before 8:30 pm because I had to leave then. In all honesty I don't remember what he said, but I really didn't think he would because he always left his big hits until the end of the evening. Anyway, we watched the show and then Gene Hammett came over and gave each of us a copy of the script. At 8:00 pm they had cleared away the radio equipment and the band began to play for dancing. Ruth Winston sang one song and we were just looking at Bill Mustard to ask the time when I saw the trombones get ready and Vaughn gave the downbeat for that impressive introduction to "Ballerina." Vaughn looked over and smiled at me and I took a picture. About ten minutes later he came down from the stage to have his picture taken with some people and I had time to thank him for his autograph and for singing "my" song so soon before I ran at top speed for the train home. It was over so quickly, but it left me with some very happy memories. Bill said they'd be at Canobie Lake in Salem, NH the next summer and you can be sure I made plans to be there.

Submitted by: Polly Attridge