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Larry Lehmer
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A little bit about a lot of things about Dick Clark and American Bandstand: As a youngster, Clark operated something of a restaurant out of his family's living room, trying to sell peanut butter sandwiches. Apparently an elderly upstairs neighbor was his main customer. Clark later went into the restaurant... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Bandstand Beat
Despite what viewers saw on their television screens, there was much more to American Bandstand. Just in the studio, there was a highly choreographed team of producers, directors, technicians, cameramen and other support crew. Add the management team, office workers and facility maintenance people and you have a lengthy cast... Continue reading
Posted Nov 2, 2018 at Bandstand Beat
Walter B. Lehmer was a Railroad Man. The capitalization is no mistake. Walter, better known as Jack to most, was my dad and a loyal employee of Union Pacific Railroad throughout his working career, which spanned the better part of... Continue reading
Posted Nov 1, 2018 at Passing It On
American Bandstand was a rock & roll hitmaker, bringing national fame and fortune to dozens of eventual music icons by allowing them to lip sync to their latest tunes for three minutes on a weekday afternoon from a small television studio in Philadelphia, Pa. What was less obvious to casual... Continue reading
Posted Oct 26, 2018 at Bandstand Beat
There was once this place where millions of American teenagers gathered every afternoon to enjoy music by their favorite artists and maybe dance away an hour or so with their closest friends. This was Bandstandland, accessible to anyone within eyesight of a functioning television set. Bandstandland was as much a... Continue reading
Posted Oct 19, 2018 at Bandstand Beat
It was hard to miss Eddie Kelly. Even on a small dance floor, in a sea of teens looking sharp in their sports coats and swing skirts, Kelly stood out. His good looks, smooth dance moves, attractive partners and height (he was taller than most of the other guys on... Continue reading
Posted Oct 12, 2018 at Bandstand Beat
As I prepare my Bandstandland manuscript for the publisher -- reading, re-reading, checking sources, sorting photos etc. -- I've spent quite a bit of time this week going over transcripts from the 1960 payola hearings. These were congressional hearings conducted by nine duly elected members of the House of Representatives... Continue reading
Posted Oct 5, 2018 at Bandstand Beat
That's a pretty nifty writing group we've got going. Thank you, Des Moines writers. To recap: We started the Nonfiction Writers of Des Moines a couple months ago when I couldn't find a local writing group that focused on nonfiction. There are several very good general writing groups in the... Continue reading
Posted Sep 20, 2018 at Life In the Slow Lane
Finally, some good news to report about Bandstandland: It looks like we have a publisher. Since we haven't reached a final agreement yet, I can't provide all the details, but here are the main points: The book will likely be released sometime in 2019, probably in the second half of... Continue reading
Posted Sep 15, 2018 at Bandstand Beat
Do you often think about life without your spouse? That was the theme of a movie Linda and I watched last weekend. The movie, The Leisure Seeker, was the story of an aging couple determined to check off one last item on their bucket list before one or the other... Continue reading
Posted Aug 29, 2018 at Life In the Slow Lane
In the news: Aug. 19, 1957 Continue reading
Posted Aug 18, 2018 at Life In the Slow Lane
Remember Earl Butz? He was the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture four decades ago, first appointed by President Richard Nixon and continuing under Gerald Ford. In 1976, John Dean, former White House Counsel under Nixon, was released from prison after a short stay for his role in the Watergate scandal. Rolling... Continue reading
Posted Jun 29, 2018 at Life In the Slow Lane
"You know, Walter, you have the best job, getting to interview the rich and powerful," a friend once said to CBS newsman Walter Cronkite. "You've met the most interesting people in the world." "Yes," Cronkite replied, adding some clarification. "And most of them are journalists." That's a story I've shared... Continue reading
Posted Jun 11, 2018 at Life In the Slow Lane
I have a confession: There is no Giuseppe Polomi. Except for the one that inadvertently escaped from keyboards under my control a half dozen or so times over the past 40-plus years. Truth be known, no more than a handful or two of people were ever aware of the mythical... Continue reading
Posted May 4, 2018 at Life In the Slow Lane
Here it is, another mid-April in Iowa, the weather toggling between snowy and slippery and drizzly and gloomy. And I'm missing an old friend, Jim Pollock, gone these six years now. For years Jim and I were co-workers at The... Continue reading
Posted Apr 18, 2018 at Passing It On
Man, I need a break. From technology, that is. I'm plumb tuckered out. Don't get me wrong; technology is a wondrous thing. When it progresses at a reasonable rate, that is. But what's happening now is just too much for me. I'm no technophobe, either. I studied computer programming in... Continue reading
Posted Jan 12, 2018 at Life In the Slow Lane
In the mid-1990s, my wife, Linda, took her mother on what was supposed to be the trip of a lifetime. Rose was in her mid-70s at the time and recently widowed. She had always wanted to visit Washington, D.C., and Linda decided to help her mother finally realize her dream.... Continue reading
Posted Dec 11, 2017 at Life In the Slow Lane
Today would be my dad's 97th birthday. Although he died nearly four years ago, dad, Walter B. Lehmer, lived to see 93 of those birthdays, 66 of them while married to my mother. Dad and I were not particularly close.... Continue reading
Posted Nov 22, 2017 at Passing It On
There are key decision points in every person's life where one's life may have been very different had the decision been made another way. I had to make one of those important choices nearly 50 years ago, in November 1968.... Continue reading
Posted Sep 28, 2017 at Passing It On
Man, floods are bad. So are hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, wildfires and mudslides. No matter where you live in the United States, you're at risk of one natural disaster or another. But, no matter where you live in the United States,... Continue reading
Posted Sep 8, 2017 at Passing It On
Much family history slips through the cracks. Through the generations, items are misplaced, destroyed, neglected, overlooked or simply tossed because somewhere along the line their significance faded. Calvin Riley has made it a personal mission over the last 40 years... Continue reading
Posted Aug 22, 2017 at Passing It On
John Vlahos, like many people of a certain age, would probably tell you that his life was nothing special. To those who loved him, of course, nothing could be further from the truth. The son of Greek immigrants, Vlahos was... Continue reading
Posted Aug 12, 2017 at Passing It On
At one point in my youthful past, I played softball on a team sponsored by my employer, The Council Bluffs Daily Nonpareil newspaper. The boss sprung for a bunch of snazzy jerseys, emblazoned with the newspaper's name across the front. Sadly, the jerseys arrived with "Nonpaeil" (the "r" missing) in... Continue reading
Posted Jul 2, 2017 at Life In the Slow Lane
“Where are you going now?” Elvis asked. Judy Tyler, his co-star in Jailhouse Rock until just a few days earlier before filming was wrapped up, had an easy answer. After a whirlwind three months in Hollywood where she filmed two movies and one television show, Tyler was eager to return... Continue reading
Posted Jun 19, 2017 at Before Their Time
Oral history is hot. People everywhere are getting the message about recording their family stories. Whether on audiotape, videotape or digital media, there's nothing that compares with hearing a family story told by a family member. Although my primary business... Continue reading
Posted Jun 2, 2017 at Passing It On