My dad Wins Radio Contest for my sister!

I met Judd Jr. mother when I was playing at the Paradise Room of the Henry Grady Hotel in Atlanta. We had a band, which was three saxophones, one trumpet, piano, bass, drums and a girl singer. We played a floorshow every night and an extra show on Saturday afternoons.  It was one of the best spots in the city and was a good three-month location gig. We had just finished a tune during our dance music set and were sitting quietly, waiting for the next tune to be called. During this lull my wife came into the room and you could have heard a pin drop as all conversation abruptly ceased. She looked absolutely stunning and the whole room came to a halt as she walked through the room to her table. Helen had raven black hair and a complexion most women would kill for. She was stacked like a goddess and dressed to the nines. Every eye in the room was on her as she made the greatest entrance I had ever seen. She was on that the night the most beautiful women I have ever seen and now, fifty years later, she is still the most beautiful woman I have ever seen.


In the late 1940s, I started playing bass fiddle with a few local groups in my hometown of Washington, D.C.  The work wasn't steady and neither was the money, so a change was needed.  My father thought that since I was twenty-one I should settle down and get a nice steady job as a printer.  There were no openings in the union apprentice program however, so in 1952, I joined a road band until a vacancy occurred.  When it did, I agreed to return home and learn the printing business.  The band of Bruce "Bubbles" Becker worked in the southeastern states.  The nine-man band plus singer, Bruce's wife, Toni Young, traveled in two cars and a 3/4-ton panel truck.  After I played for 3 months with Bubbles, my father passed away, so I no longer had to become a printer.  I spent about 12 years on the road over the next 16 years and worked my way up through some of the better hotels and ballrooms across the United States.  I played from the Roseland Ballroom in New York City to the Pasadena Civic Auditorium and from the Hotel Duluth to the Town Club in Corpus Christi, Texas.  We played a lot of service clubs, Moose and Elks clubs, ballrooms, beach resorts and in the Norfolk, Virginia area, ship's parties.  The tune list was standards and top tunes like Moon River and the music played by the Lawrence Welk band in the old days.  Bubbles hired good acts, and the shows were well received.  Comic Don Rickles did a tour with the band.  Another performer who toured with us once was a pantomime magician named "Ting-a-Ling," who was quite a character but a good act.  I recall when we had to pick him up at the railroad station; it took a little convincing to get the stationmaster to page Ting-a-Ling over the PA system.  It was interesting to see how the dancing changed as we traveled.  In the East, people danced in their own isolated squares.  In the Midwest, couples danced in big circles, moving counter clockwise, passing the band every so often.  In the upper Midwest, it seemed every little town had a ballroom.  We'd travel miles on dirt roads until reaching a big ballroom out in the middle of nowhere.  By 9 PM the room would be full.  We never saw much evidence of that many people living in the area.  One town in western Minnesota consisted of a combination general store/gas station and a ballroom.  That was the entire town, those two buildings.  And, the week after we played, Duke Ellington and his orchestra performed there!  Luckily, most of my time spent in the upper Midwest was from early spring to late fall, so I missed the blizzards that hit there in the winter.  I heard about a storm one of the bands was caught in where the trumpet player had to crawl on his hands and knees to get back to the bus. The wind was so strong, he couldn't stand up!  We stayed in hotels and usually paid $2.50 to $3.50 a night.  In one band, we rode in a "sit-up" bus; another band rode in a school bus that had army cots welded in so they could sleep and live on the bus.  As for meals, anything over $1.50 was considered gourmet fare and not for us.  I ate a lot of breaded veal cutlets, chicken-fried steaks, Salisbury steaks and meat loaf dinner.  When money as tight, there was the vegetable plate; five vegetable servings on a plate for less than $1.  Whatever money I made a week was all mine.  I didn't owe anyone and felt free as a bird.  Everything I owned I could pick up and walk with, including my bass fiddle.  Life was simple in 1952.  Eventually, one-niters got old, and a nice, steady hotel band job sounded pretty good.  I went from carrying everything I owned to having my own car, a trunk full of golf clubs, dishes and cooking utensils.  One year, I only moved three times and was able to rent an apartment in each town were we worked.  Along the way, I traveled in 43 of our beautiful states and got to play a lot of golf.  Those were the good old days! Sincerely, Judd Sr. 


               My dad (on the right) swinging through life!       

Listen to my dad (Big Judd) on dem drums!