The old man on the plane

Posted by Tonny Koops on August 30, 1998 at 14:40:57:

I must admit I am not a real Bing Crosby fan. I do know a few songs he made, like that little hit "White Christmas."

A few weeks ago something strange happened to me from which my question will come from. I was on an airplane from New York to Los Angeles. Next to me there was this old, shabby-looking man who coughs a lot and even reglued his false teeth right in front of me. I did not look forward to the rest of the flight with somebody like him sitting next to me. After about an hour of silence he suddenly started to talk. And, man, he could talk!

He was talking about his life and what he did. After a while I figured out that he was an 86-year-old musician who lived in Santa Barbara (CA) or on Long Island (NY). He was a piano player and had also played the trumpet. He was mainly involved in jazz nowadays. But he also told me that he wrote a few songs for Big names like Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby. In fact he told me that he wrote the 1944 song "A Hot Time in the Town of Berlin (The Andrews Sisters, Vic Schoen Orchestra). And he also told me that he was a good friend of Bing Crosby.

He also told me that he liked horse racing and that he once had several of them. You can also buy his house on Long Island. He told me that he will sell it because he did not think he would ever get the chance to go back because of his age. He also mentioned and showed me his grandchild. Seeing the kid made him realize that he was himself still a kid. That was his motto, he said, "Always stay young of heart."

I must admit that because he was traveling Economy class I hardly could believe all his stories about money and music. I thought he was maybe a little crazy. After the plane landed we had some more small talk and he then told me his name. I never remembered it! But I was rather puzzled when I came out of the baggage claim area and saw the old man stepping into a big white Limo while saying "Hi Johnny" to his driver. (He had told me that Johnny would pick him up at the airport!) Since then I kept on thinking of this old man. I want to find out who was sitting next to me in that airplane . I think I totally misjudged him due to his appearance.

Here you have my question. I forgot his name! I only remember that he wrote this song. I tried to find the lyrics to get the song writer on the internet but it seems this cannot be found. Since I saw that you had a lot of information about Bing Crosby you might know or can find out who wrote this song.

Posted by Keith Herbst on August 30, 1998 at 15:40:47:

In Reply to: The old man on the plane posted by Tonny Koops on August 30, 1998 at 14:40:57:

Can't tell you much although I have a lot of reference material. A man named John Devries wrote a" Hot Time in The Town of Berlin" as well as "Oh ! Look At Me Now !" and "How do you do Without Me ?" He is credited as the lyricist. They were written in the 40's. Sounds like you were talking with him. Bing recorded "Hot Time ... for Decca and it was distributed as a WW ll v - disc to the troops. All of them were composed by Joe Bushkin who backed Bing in his last concert tours in '76 and '77. Bushkin has an album called "The Road to Oslo and Sail Away to Norway" and that album includes Crosby singing two different songs. Good album. Regards, Keith H

Posted by Wayne Martin, Club Crosby on August 30, 1998 at 15:33:42:

In Reply to: The old man on the plane posted by Tonny Koops on August 30, 1998 at 14:40:57:

Hi, Tonny:

The guy you were talking to must have been Joe Bushkin. I believe he is still alive. He wrote the song "There'll Be a Hot Time in the Town of Berlin" along with John DeVries, about whom I know nothing. Joe Bushkin was indeed a friend of Bings and appeared in concerts with him.

Very interesting story!


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