Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Ephemeral Archeology - Who is Tommy Harris?

It's a mason's hall on a Sunday afternoon. Digging through boxes of yesterday's paper trail to find interesting tid-bits within my tiny budget.

Post cards. Boxes of them organized like library card catalogs. Some will cost $10 & up (some way up!) but some are grouped by a shared low price. I sit at the table & dig thru the 25¢ boxes. I find a few. Real Photo post cards are my favorites, especially ones with musical or entertainment content.

"This guy looks interesting..."

"I wonder who he is..."

"Oh. Sincerely signed by a fella named 'Tommy Harris' of NBC. Never heard of him"

It's easy to spend a quarter on speculative interest. Maybe he's someone I should know, maybe not. Dramatic Star or Church Organ Soloist? Time for the magic Google machine.

Tommy Harris, a 14-year-old vocalist who took the West by a storm, was one of KFRC's top attractions in the 1930s. He and Joaquin Garay were regulars on "Feminine Fancies." He opened the landmark San Francisco restaurant, "Tommy's Joynt" ("The Most Gorgeous Joynt in S.F." at Geary and Van Ness), in 1947, and was a longtime San Francisco Parks Commissioner.

So he's a radio singer & club owner from the 30's & 40's! How cool!

A little more and I find that he was a cast member on KFRC's "The Happy Go Lucky Hour"! This is exciting to me for several reasons. I have been collecting "Happy Go Lucky Hour" items because another cast member is one of my few specific pseudo-obsessions, Harry "Haywire Mac" McClintock!
Haywire Mac!
The 'Big Rock Candy Mountain' Man himself!

Harry is an idol to all musical hobos so naturally I took to him early. I've got 5 or 6 pieces of his original 1920's sheet music & now two 8x10 photos of him with "The Happy Go Lucky Gang". I say "now two" because on the same day I found the Tommy Harris picture card I found another "Happy Go Lucky Gang" 8x10 on the other side of the room from a different vendor!

So now I'm fresh on the hunt for more "Happy Go Lucky Gang" items. I'd love to find some transcription discs to be able to hear the show...I can dream cant I.

Google can give you the end of a lot of stories. Here's Tommy's obituary from 1990.

July 20, 1990
Harris, a San Francisco restaurateur, city parks commissioner and former radio personality once known as the ''Little King of Song,'' died after a brief bout with leukemia. He was 78. Harris, who died Wednesday, was the founder and longtime owner of Tommy's Joynt, a landmark saloon known for gaudy murals covering its facade. Harris first became known in San Francisco as a radio entertainer in the mid-1930s, when he was known as the ''Little King of Song'' on the NBC network.

1 comment:

  1. More info & photos to come as I digest it all!