It seems that my entire life has had some type of musical connection over the years. While growing up, my siblings all took piano lessons, but I only stuck with it for a month or so. I switched over to percussion, which allowed me the opportunity to play for the York Youth Symphony. My grandfather, Chester Burns Jr., played the banjo and organ, and I can still remember him playing during our visits to his house. I’m blessed that my mother entrusted his banjo to me, although his talent didn’t follow.
In my collection of York County, Pennsylvania memorabilia are a number of postcards connected to country-western or bluegrass music from the 1930s and 1940s. Some were from my grandparents photograph collection while most pasted in the back of a book titled “Prairie-Pals Album, W-O-R-K, York, PA”.
Let’s see if we can learn more about these musical artists.
Musical acts from my grandparents collection…
Despite the great smiles that Smiling Dan and Linda Lou have in their photograph, I’m frowning since I was unable to find out anything about them. Can you help?
The gentleman below is another mystery and the only clue to his identity is his first name, which is signed “Yours, Frank”. Does anyone know who this is?
UPDATE: The photograph below has been identified by an observant reader. Please read my follow-up story to learn more.
Last but not least, we have Shelby Jean Davis and the Blue-Eyed Boy, who was actually her uncle Karl Davis. Note the stool she is standing on so she can reach the microphone, which features the clal letters of Chicago-based radio station WJJD. She appears to be a preteen in this photograph.
Shelby started singing as a young girl and was known on the radio as “The Little Mountain Sweetheart”. Her uncle, Karl Davis, was a member of Karl and Harty, a country-western duo that performed on radio shows in Chicago.
As she matured, she later sang under the name Shelby Davis but left left the music business in the 1960s. As it turns out, there were many girls from that time period named after Shelby Jean, which is the ultimate tribute to a great artist.
She first married William Russo, a jazz composer and arranger who organized the Chicago Jazz Ensamble. Following their divorce in the 1950s she married Maurice Lathouwers who workjed with such acts as the Beatles and Grand Funk Railroad.
After a long and successful life, Shelby died on March 30, 2010 of pneumonia. You can hear her beautiful voice in the video below. There is also a Facebook page dedicated to Shelby as well.
Let’s hope those questions can be answered as I prepare a story about the postcards found in a book connected to former radio station W-O-R-K.
- I’m curious what local venues were in the area in the mid-1900s for these types of performers could show their talent. Does anyone know?