Growing up in a small town in Southern New Jersey

Monday, July 21, 2008

Percy Crawford

I remember waking each morning and getting ready for school, and at 7:30 a.m., Percy Crawford and his family would come into our kitchen via radio. I listened to him every morning during the week (M-F) until he died when I was a sophomore in high school.

I remember calling a friend of mine, Kathy Kenders, and telling her Percy Crawford had died.

Dr. Crawford had three things going for him: His Pinebrook Bookstore in downtown Philadelphia -- a favorite shopping place of both my mom and my dad. And I "suffered" through many trips to that bookstore when I was a child.

Second, he inaugurated "Youtharama" which was a festival of sorts, held every first and third Saturday of the month in Town Hall, on North Board Street, in Downtown Philadelphia. Youtharama had a lot going for it. It had lively, Christian music, which was played in the "style" of the day, they had the funniest skits, and always ending with a great 15-minute message telling young people how to invite Jesus into their lives.

I remember after one of the Youtharama meetings I went onto the stage and talked to Mrs. Crawford, because I really wanted to know how she played the piano so well without any music. How did she improvise as she did. Her answer? Practice, practice, practice, and listen, listen, listen. After you listen practice what you heard. Back and forth, back and forth, and one day, you'll have it. She was correct of course, but Mr. Prichard (our church musician) was the best teacher for me in improvisation.

The third Percy Crawford had going for him was -- well -- he had four of the most handsome sons you'd ever want to see. Don, Dick, Dan, and Dean. He had a daughter, too, Donna Lee, but she was just a little tike during the time when I was listening to his programs.

The boys all attended Youtharama and, in fact, the older sons were in the musical ensemble. Dan and Dean were too young, I suppose, so they just wandered around the theater (Town Hall) and talked to people who attended. The highlight of one of those evenings was when Dan sat right in front of me. Oh, my. Talk about American Idol!

Percy Crawford and his wife also had a camp near Scranton, PA. I never went there, but I wanted to. Couldn't afford it!

Well, if you want to know more about The Crawfords, there is a website which has pictures and almost all of the music Mrs. Crawford (Ruth) composed. It is:

1 comment:

Gayle said...

My name is Gayle Conroy and I am a Writer/Producer for Crawford Broadcasting in Detroit. Our WMUZ is celebrating 50 years on air, and I am producing a radio biography of Percy and Ruth Crawford and of WMUZ. Your blog is wonderful! Will you contact me as soon as you can at 313-272-3434 ext. 118, please? I would love to record you, and include your Crawford story in the biography.
Thank you for your consideration.
Gayle Conroy
12300 Radio Place
Detroit, MI 48122
313-272-3434 ext. 118