Sunday, July 11, 2010

Finding my Bible at Harrah's

There are a lot of places open in New Orleans at all hours of the night.  An insomniac by nature, I went on a hike from my address and ended up at Harrah's.  The New Orleans location is one of the least profitable of the Harrah's properties.  The Crescent City is home to so many diversions that it makes gambling for mere money humdrum.   I have yet to find a twenty-four hour church... or have I?

I wandered to a half full blackjack table and I remembered Wink Martindale of all people.  I let him be my guide.   I didn't bet a penny, but watching the cards brought me down to earth, or to a version of Heaven, if you will.  If you hep cats don't want to click the Wink Martindale link in the previous sentence, I'll give you a second chance here.  No matter what you believe, you had better be able to sell it like Wink.

A tip of the fedora to Dr. Hermes for uncovering this nugget from before my time.  I only recall Wink as a game show host, but of what... I can't recall for the life of me.  As far as I'm concerned, he's the patron saint of Harrah's.


Anita said...

Wink Martindale reminds me of the fifties when he was a disc jockey at WHBQ in Memphis. Everybody listened to him. In 1953 he was more popular than Elvis. He went on after college to a broader stage and became a game show host and has had a long career in media.

In 1954 I went out a few times with a friend of Wink's who managed the movie theater that Elvis had worked at and we stopped by Elvis's house so I could meet him. I didn't, though, because he was taking a nap. Just missed by that much my chance to say I knew him when!

Dewey Phillips was the star afternoon disc jockey at WHBQ and everybody listened to him after school. He played Elvis's song, "That's all right," which instantly became a hit with local kids, though not at all with their parents. Needless to say, soon thereafter, Elvis's star eclipsed Wink's.

We were 19 and 20, Wink, Elvis and me, traveling in different circles, when the youth culture began to change the country and the boundaries of those circles began to crumble. When Dewey Phillips played Elvis's "That's all right, mama" on WHBQ, Elvis was headed to stardom.

Kids had been sneaking off and listening to Fats Domino and all kinds of R & B that Dewey Phillips played for years but it wasn't considered mainstream and you didn't want your mother catching you listening to it. Even music was segregated in those days, both by race and by class. More important than anything else he might have done, in my opinion, Elvis integrated music in both senses.

Whalehead King said...

That's a wonderful story. Thanks for sharing Anita.


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