02 October 2009

No Surprise

From the Afro-American newspaper on this day in 1948:

(excerpt from "Big Town" by James Hicks)

...Keeping the record straight: New York newsmen say it's suicide to anger Moe Gale*, the theatrical man, but that "canned" story which you read last week on Ella Fitzgerald's great going away party aboard the Queen Mary was just so much eye wash.

Gale's office sent out a press release saying thousands of people had been at the pier to wish Ella bon voyage and that a big surprise party had been thrown for her by her friends.

Actually fewer than a hundred persons were there to see Ella off, and the most surprising thing about the "surprise party" occurred when Ella's well-wishers arrived to find her sailing "tourist class" instead of "first class"** as did the Rev. Smallwood Williams, AFRO prize winner. We were there, Sharlie. It's your floor, Mr. Gale.

*Known as the "Great White Father of Harlem," Moe Gale was a partner in the most popular dance venue in Harlem, the Savoy Ballroom. He discovered and mentored a number of musicians and groups.

**After World War II, class designations changed from Cabin, Tourist, and Third to First, Cabin, and Tourist.

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