Monday, June 21, 2010

Mae West: Creamer and Sugar

In the room the women come and go, talking of Michaelangelo — — but the men are still speaking about MAE WEST. And occasionally a reporter is there to witness.
• • In beautiful Lancaster, Pennsylvania, for instance, there is a 10-year-old multiracial group of 15 — 20 golden agers who meet at the Lancaster Neighborhood Senior Center on Queen Street in the Community Action Program of Lancaster County headquarters. Their favorite topics are effective old-fashioned remedies and memorable classic motion pictures. When local journalist Susan Jurgelski was visiting on Queen Street, she overheard this:
• • • Frank Tarver holds up a black-and-white Hollywood glossy of a 1930s starlet known for her bawdy banter. "Anybody know who this is?" the 81-year-old retired plumber asks a group of fellow seniors sitting in a circle and perusing magazines like "Reminisce" and "Good Old Days."
• • • "Oh, you, know..." he prods, offering a version of the actress's memorable quote, "Come up and see me sometime .. ." but then answers his own question: "Yup, Mae West." . . . . "I tried to date her, but she refused me," he said.
• • • He's met with rolling eyes, smirks, giggles and an accusation of "being over the hill."
• • • His comeback is swift. "Not me, I can still climb that hill — — don't worry."
• • Thanks to these seniors, Staff Writer Susan Jurgelski came away with a pocketful of inexpensive home cures for the flu, sore throats, wart removal, a stuffy nose, bad breath, etc. Check these out in her interesting piece: 'United Nation' of seniors trade talk of good old days [Lancaster Online, Sunday, 20 June 2010].
• • • •
A Birthday on June 21st • • • •
• • As many Mae-mavens already know, Mae was a big fan of The Clef Club. As rehearsals began in early July 1922 for "The Ginger Box Revue," the producer had booked this exciting group — — New York's premiere African-American musicians — — to play between the acts. This organization had been established by James Reese Europe and Henry Creamer, two gentlemen whose musicianship found a lifelong fan in Mae West.
• • Born in Richmond, Virginia, Henry Creamer [21 June 1879 — 14 October 1930] was an American popular song lyricist. He co-wrote many popular songs in the years from 1900 —1929, often collaborating with Turner Layton, with whom he also appeared in vaudeville.
• • In 1918, Henry Creamer wrote the words for the hit "After You've Gone" — — and every major artist has covered it. Here's a snippet from the chorus:
• • • • After you've gone and left me crying
• • • • After you've gone there's no denying,
• • • • You'll feel blue, you'll feel sad,
• • • • You'll miss the bestest pal you've ever had . . . .
• • Mae West performed "After You've Gone" in "Sextette" [1978], a song she fondly remembered from her New York years when she frequented the hottest night spots in Harlem. That she had schemed and planned to bring recognition to The Clef Club in her 1922 show (and others) is also significant. This was at a time when many Caucasian entertainers were still refusing to appear in a mixed-race revue.
• • Henry Creamer, we're still applauding your achievements, after you've gone.

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