Sunday, April 13, 2014

A One and A Two and...

Her name was Jennifer Goodspeed.  She played the accordion.  Musical family; big time.  For a few years we'd see her mom, Betsy, on TV. She was the harpist in the Lawrence Welk Orchestra.  Jennifer's step-dad, Bert, worked for CBS as a technician.  He helped pioneer color TV.  In fact, they had one of the first color TVs anywhere.  It required a special TV antenna that looked like some form of witching hoop on stilts.
One summer evening, the entire neighborhood was invited into their living room to see a"spectacular" presented in "Living Color." All I remember is a woman dancing around in a pastel filled background with a sheer pink skirt and lots of changing colored lights.  Baseball would come much later.

Jennifer Goodspeed could play the accordion fairly well.  She even had a rendition of "Lady of Spain." Of course Jennifer didn't shake her accordion for the big finale like the guys on the Ted Mack Amateur Hour did.  But she did play it all the way through.  Her first love, though, was Peter Pan.
As I recall some 50 years later, we all had roles to play and then Jennifer would direct the production which consisted of singing all the songs to the stage musical version starring Mary Martin.  I was Captain Hook, a role of considerable status.  I'm sure Jennifer Goodspeed liked me because she once asked me to practice kissing with her.  That's another story.

Meanwhile, back at the accordion...I haven't thought of the Goodspeed family in decades.  But, every so often I see a harp being played and I think of beautiful Betsy, looking much like the lovely "Champagne Lady" herself, and after reliving all those times I swept my fingers across the same harp played on the Lawrence Welk show for years, I ultimately come back to Jennifer and her accordion.
Postscript:  In 1970, I spent a below freezing month in Chicago.  While waiting for the downtown Airport bus at the Parker House Hotel, out walks Myron Floren the world class accordionist of the Welk orchestra.  Looking every bit the person I was forced to watch while navigating the ages 8-18, I couldn't help but think of the Goodspeeds.  6 degrees of separation?

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