Sunday, February 17, 2013

Blue Moon Club, 3401 S. Oliver, Wichita

 Blue Moon
You saw me standing alone
Without a dream in my heart
Without a love of my own ...

The Blue Moon Club was located at 3401 S. Oliver. The club, which seated 1200, was built in 1937 and burned down in 1960.

Today, that location is a parking lot for Spirit Aero Systems. But, in its heyday, before World War II, the Blue Moon Club was the place to go to see big bands like Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, and Glenn Miller. Kansas was dry, but at the Blue Moon, you could get a drink even if you were under-age. The club was self described as the "Southwest’s Swankiest Nite Spot". In addition to white bands, it was also open to black entertainers.  

The Black Experience and the Blues in 1950s Wichitaby Patrick Joseph O'Connor.

Blue Moon Club, 1945, image Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum


This obscure trivia might have escaped my attention had I not been looking into the history of Madelyn Lee Payne, President Barack Obama's maternal grandmother.

Madelyn Payne lived in Augusta, Kansas with her strict Methodist parents. Obama describes them in his memoir as "stern Methodist parents who did not believe in drinking, playing cards or dancing."So, it was on weekends that Madelyn would make her way to Wichita to listen to music and dance.And the Blue Moon Club was the place to be.

During Madelyn's senior year at Augusta High School, she met Stanley Dunham with his dark hair slicked down. He was unconventional. He liked jazz music and wrote poetry. Madelyn graduated high school and the couple married on May 5, 1940, the night of Madelyn's senior prom. War came to America on December 7, 1941, and Stanley enlisted as a private in the U.S. Army a little more than a month later.

Madelyn worked the night shift at the Boeing Plant. They had one daughter, Stanley Ann, born 1942, who in time would become mother to Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States.

Barack Obama would refer to his grandmother as "Toot", a Hawaiian term for grandmother. It was Toot and Barack's grandfather Stanley who would raise Barack in Hawaii for most of his life.

Blue Moon, original version from the 1934 movie Manhattan Melodrama starring Clark Gable, William Powell, and Myrna Loy, music by Rogers and Hart. Shirley Ross sings the Rogers and Hart song, which was rewritten by Hart after the movie as the more familiar Blue Moon.




You can also listen to the Glenn Miller arrangement of Blue Moon with Lorenz Hart's revised lyrics.






The song Blue Moon would go on to be recorded by many artists including: Ella Fitzgerald, Elvis Presley, Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong, Dean Martin, Rod Stewart, and Frank Sinatra.
  
Lyrics

Lorenz Hart's revised lyrics are:

Blue Moon
 You saw me standing alone
Without a dream in my heart
Without a love of my own
          Blue Moon
You know just what I was there for
You heard me saying a prayer for
Someone I really could care for

And then there suddenly appeared before me
The only one my arms will hold
I heard somebody whisper please adore me
And when I looked to the Moon it turned to gold

Blue Moon
Now I'm no longer alone
Without a dream in my heart
Without a love of my own

And then there suddenly appeared before me
The only one my arms will ever hold
I heard somebody whisper please adore me
And when I looked the Moon had turned to gold

Refrain twice

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