Saturday, December 26, 2009

One of My Favorite Work Stories (No, Really)

Couple years ago I'm walking through the stacks when this old guy asks me for the "DVD tapes."

"Aw, crap," I think. "Guess I've got my work cut out for me with this guy."

"Well, the DVDs are all in this area," I said. "Is there anything in particular you're looking for?"

"I've been looking for tapes of the Judy Garland Show for years, but I doubt you'd have any of them."

"Yeah, we've got the Christmas show right over here," I say, walking him over to the musicals.

The guy starts going into a spiel about how this DVD is actually a bootleg copy and and I tell him that it came from a reputable distributor, and blah, blah, blah. Then he starts telling me about his days in early television.

Now we get a lot of cranks, crazies and straight-up delusional people in the library. We used to have a regular phone customer who woman who claimed to be Axl Rose's daughter, so I wasn't sure how much to really believe this guy, but he went on to tell me this story.

The old guy was a producer for the Judy Garland show back in the '50s and '60s. Her show was shot live, which was risky, since Garland wasn't the most punctual or dependable performer due to her addictions. So the day after President Kennedy's assassination, the crew was wondering right up to the shoot if they were going to have to find a guest star at the last moment. Garland was friends with the Kennedys, and was very distraught. At least that's what they assumed; they hadn't heard anything from her since the day before.

Minutes before the show aired, a visibly shaken Judy Garland walks on stage. She makes a short speech to the studio audience and then sings a song dedicated to the late President. I can't remember what he said the song was, I think it might have been "Over the Rainbow." It was one of her big ones. After she finished, the whole place, crew, audience, everyone just starts bawling, and the show goes on.

So the crazy part? This is before the actual show and nobody thought to turn on a camera and point it at her. Nowadays, we'd have blurry phone camera footage within seconds after she stopped singing. Now, there's still a chance that the whole thing is made up, but I love the fact that this simple, heartfelt tribute was shared by a few people, then forgotten forever. Until the old guy told me. Hell, I didn't believe the Bob Hope Gator Growl story, but enough people have come out of the woodwork to make me believe that one.

The guy left, but not before almost crushing my hand with a handshake, I guess to show me that he worked on musicals, but he was all man. Again, I have no idea if the story is true or just the product of an old guy with too much time on his hands, but like the guy from the X Files, I want to believe.

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