Pop Tunes of the 40’S and 50’S by Geri DiMasi

We all loved those melodies …

In those days, popular songs were a big part of our lives. They had melodies you could hum and lyrics you would remember. We were blessed to grow up in a time with such great music. There was no television — the radio made it possible for us to hear these tunes. The Make-Believe Ballroom with Martin Block was a radio program we listened to regularly. When we had a little cash, we bought 78rpm records with one main tune and a secondary tune on the opposite side. Sometimes the secondary tune became more popular than the main one. For example, I Left My Heart in San Francisco was the secondary tune on Tony Bennett’s record — no one remembers what the main tune was.

Charlie Barnett and The Make Believe Ballroom

Tony Bennett grew up in my home town of Astoria, Queens. Queens is one of the four outer boroughs surrounding Manhattan; all of which comprise New York City. He is a proud son of Astoria and he enjoys telling the public about his humble Italian-American blue-collar beginnings. One of my best friends was engaged to his friend. The first song I remember hearing him sing was The Boulevard of Broken Dreams. Later on, it was Because of You.

My sister’s favorite crooner was Vic Damone. I remember him singing You’re Breaking My Heart (he sang the second chorus in Italian). Frank Sinatra had many hits. One of the first I remember was I’ll Never Smile Again. I associate Eddie Fisher with Anytime. Then there was Nat “King” Cole singing Unforgettable. Less famous was Don Cornell singing It Isn’t Fair; popular during my Junior High and High School Years. Another song vivid in my memory was Dance Ballerina Dance, sung by Vaughn Monroe. Billy Eckstein’s I Apologize was popular.

The female vocalists had hits also. Margaret Whiting sang Moonlight in Vermont and Guilty, Jo Stafford You Belong to Me, Patti Page sang The Tennessee Waltz and Helen O’Connell, Tangerine.

I could go on and on. These melodies have a special place in my memory of growing up in the 40’s and 50’s. Most of them didn’t make it into The Great American Songbook, but they remain dear to me nonetheless.

© 2018

By | 2018-10-19T17:45:22+00:00 October 25th, 2018|Stories of the 1940's and 1950's|21 Comments


  1. Peter Voccio JR. October 25, 2018 at 1:24 pm - Reply


    How beautiful! Sinatra was and is my favorite. All or Nothing at All was one on the other side and became a favorite of many. Ann and I had a chance to meet Tony Bennett 1967 at the Diplomat Hotel, Hollywood Florida. We were invited into his dressing room and he was very gracious. Still have the Diplomat card with his autograph.

    • Ed October 25, 2018 at 1:53 pm - Reply

      We saw Bennett a few months ago here in Providence. 90+ and still ‘nailing it’

  2. Peter Voccio JR. October 25, 2018 at 6:44 pm - Reply


    A great one with a humble super personality.

  3. Marlaine October 29, 2018 at 1:50 pm - Reply

    My two female cousins were teenagers during the early fifties and played songs of that era constantly. Through them, as an 8 to 10 year old, I was introduced d to the songs of that era. Today, I still amaze my husband (and myself) with my ability to recall the words to many of those songs! Wonderful memories.

    • Ed October 29, 2018 at 5:09 pm - Reply

      Same for me, Marlaine. I watched my older cousins jitterbug to the music and so envied them. Did yours have an old RCA Victrola, the Master’s Voice?

  4. Tina Rizkallah October 29, 2018 at 2:05 pm - Reply

    What? Not one mention of the great Dean Martin? The GOAT?? Kidding aside, though none of this music was from my generation, I grew up listening to it and still listen to it today. As I tell my friends, good music is timeless! My favorite song? Wheel of Fortune by Kay Starr~

    • Ed October 29, 2018 at 5:10 pm - Reply

      Yes, Tina; timeless and sing-able.

  5. Barbara Beauchemin October 29, 2018 at 2:31 pm - Reply

    Perry Como was one of the best, too!

    • Ed October 29, 2018 at 5:14 pm - Reply

      Just saw a special of his on PBS. The guy was, and is, timeless. My parents loved him.

  6. Connie Nicolosi October 29, 2018 at 3:59 pm - Reply

    My most favorite channel on Siriuj, “The 40’s”. Play it almost all the time. And have just about every CD of 40’s Big Bands. Does anyone remember the dance called the “Peabody”? it is the only dance possible for “Tiger Rag”. I remember Mom and Pop literally racing around the dance floor doing the Peabody. Now, that took talent…and courage!

    • Ed October 29, 2018 at 5:13 pm - Reply

      Yes, Connie, I too listen to that channel. No, you stumped me on the Peabody. I’ll check to see if there is a Youtube link.

  7. renee vogel October 29, 2018 at 4:29 pm - Reply

    good morning Ed – I love this post – I don’t know about Rhode Island teenagers, but we used to have special songs with a particular boyfriend or girlfriend – I fondly remember “You Belong to me”: by the Cadets, and of course “Blue Moon” by Mel Torme…BTW – had a nice chat with Gene Gasbarro Saturday night at Dartmouth Homecoming class dinner.

    • Ed October 29, 2018 at 5:12 pm - Reply

      Special singers and, Gene, special guy. So nice to hear from yo, Renee. By the way, I just heard Mr. Sandman. Do you remember who sang it?

  8. Marvin Wasser October 29, 2018 at 6:14 pm - Reply

    The Chordettes

  9. Diane Davies Parrinello October 30, 2018 at 12:52 am - Reply

    Just last week on my birthday, the phone rang and when I picked it up I could hear Vaughn Monroe singing “Dance, Ballerina, Dance”. Every year on my birthday, my brother, Jonathan, calls to wish me a Happy Birthday and plays the song with which my sister, Merlyn, and I would show off our ballet finesse for our 2 youngest brothers, Jon and Bill. I would make them sit in the tall fireside chairs which still grace my living room with the same upholstery. The toe shoes now hang from a nail in the basement! Shirley M. Waterhouse School of Ballet in Providence. We would call Saturdays “Boys Day” when the 3 boys stayed home and did chores while the 2 girls would travel from Coventry with Mother for our class and then have lunch at Shepherd’s Tea Room. I can still taste the chicken croquettes. Memories are the greatest!

    • Ed October 30, 2018 at 7:06 am - Reply

      Lovely, lovely story, beautifully described, Diane. Thanks. And I too loved Vaughn Monroe but did not have ballerina shoes. Just Keds.

  10. Tom Rockett October 30, 2018 at 2:31 am - Reply

    Geri’s Wonderful post brought memories flooding back from the 40s and 50s. The mention of Vaughan Monroe (Racing with the Moon) reminded me of the last time I saw him was at Totem Pole dance hall in Newton, Mass. For a very reasonable fee one could dance to great bands-Glen Miller, Jimmy Dorsey, Harry James, Tex Benicki and Benny Goodman all played there. No alcohol was served. An innocent time. A wonderful time.

    • Ed October 30, 2018 at 7:03 am - Reply

      The Totem Pole! I had forgotten that place. Innocent and fun. Thanks, Tom.

  11. Joanne Petito October 30, 2018 at 1:33 pm - Reply

    My sister Geri’s memory is amazing. Not only does she remember the old tunes and those who sang them, but also the background and history. I just enjoyed listening to and singing those wonderful songs. I haven’t any 78s left but I do still have 2- 45s – and I often listen to those memorable songs on LPs. Great thinking back and remembering! Thank you Ed, for the opportunity.

    • Ed October 30, 2018 at 3:58 pm - Reply

      Thanks, Joanne. So nice to hear from you. Pleased you follow the blog. 78’s are again the rage, found in many stores thee days. They rekindle such nice memories.

Leave A Comment