1943 Screen Album
Submitted by Emily Linn
“Listen, you goop! When something bad happens, you’re not supposed to wear it on your face. You’re supposed to push it down inside.” She stood there on the platform repeating it to herself dutifully like a small girl repeating a spelling lesson, but only half hearing it. How could you sing when your throat was tight and your eyes brimmed? It was clear that the guys at this camp just weren’t interested. Rows and rows of empty seats. Millions of nobody. It made you feel, inside, like 30 miles of bad road. No wait! No bad road. Good road! In fact, very good. Because the guys were starting to pile in now, pouring down the aisles yelling, “Hi, ya … Lil,” stumbling over each other to get to their seats. And then, one of them explaining, “Lily Mars is playing in town, Judy. We got here soon as it was over. Didn’t think you’d mind.” Judy laughed to herself, “Garland, you dope. They like you. Listen to them yelling.” “What will you have?” she asked them. And another G.I. swing session was rolling. It had been like this at Ord, at Dix, and Schuyler. It was like this over the short wave programs and the recorded ones, to the guys in Sicily and the Solomons. She knew it by their letters, their thousands of bright, brave, homesick letters, telling her what Saturday nights were like now and what her singing meant. She was up to her neck in the stuff long before she and Dave Rose called it quits. She was singing at Camp Ord that Sunday night of Pearl Harbor. But now she could hand herself over completely. There was nothing that mattered as much. For months she’s been crazy to go abroad. “And don’t tell me it’s going to be tough and tiring and frazzling to your nerves. I know it. I know just exactly how it’s going to be, and I want to go.” That from the Judy who looks like a sophomore and talks like a hepcat. The Judy who stood in the shell of the Robin Hood Dell, no so long ago, feeling trapped. Looking down at the gray-haired, ‘spectacled musicians in the pit. And Kostelanetz ready to raise his baton. And 30,000 people sardined out front. Thinking of music, not Irving Berlin this time, but George Gershwin. Frightened blue, she stood there asking herself why she’d ever said she’d do it. Why? ‘Cause when the telegram came from Philadelphia, she was punchy with excitement. She wired them yes and then took a big red pencil and scrawled on their telegram, “Frances Gumm … Whee!” So here she was, just her and Kostelanetz and 30,000 others. And did those people love it. WHEE!