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1940s big band saxophonist tried to keep his date

He kept putting her off for a date because of more dance gigs until she was about ready to call the whole thing off.

1940s Big Band Saxophonist Tried to Keep His Date

Evelyn and Harold Cromer on their wedding day in 1942 (click on image to enlarge).

In the big band era, I was a saxophonist with a band that played at a weekly dance for patients at the South Carolina State Mental Hospital. Mr. Ben Gardner, my music teacher, was in charge of music at the hospital.

Every Christmas morning, some of the student nurses would sing carols at the hospital. Two Big Band musicians, chosen by Mr. Gardner, accompanied them.

In 1940, it was my turn. We met the nurses, about 20 of them, in front of their residence. Since it was snowing lightly, I asked the most attractive of the nurses if she’d put my saxophone under her cape between buildings. She was happy to oblige.

1940s Big Band Saxophonist Tried to Keep His Date

Harold and Evelyn Cromer in later years.

After we finished, she agreed to a date the next night, a Friday. But on Friday morning I got a phone call from a bandleader asking if I could play a dance job that night. I accepted and called Evelyn to tell her. She suggested we go out Saturday night instead.

After the dance, however, I was asked to play Saturday night, and again I accepted. When I called Evelyn to tell her, she was not as forgiving as the night before. I suggested we go out Sunday night, assuring her we didn’t play on Sundays. She said OK but added that if I broke this date, I was not to call her anymore.

Saturday’s dance was at Fort Jackson, and guess who was there? Evelyn! As soon as we had gotten off the phone, an employee at the hospital called and asked her to go to the dance.

We wed on July 20, 1942, and were happily married for 65 years.

By Harold Cromer • Columbia, South Carolina

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Katrina @ Edelweiss Patterns June 5, 2012 at 1:48 pm

What an adorable picture! I always love stories from the Swing Era.

Thanks for sharing!


Dave Booth June 13, 2012 at 2:34 pm

That is a great story. I can’t tell you how many possible girlfriends I lost because of taking sax gigs. I am 67 now, single, and still playing with two active big bands. My wife and I used to joke that she was my wife, but music was my mistress.


scott tortora June 13, 2012 at 8:04 pm

I received my first sax lesson from that great man. I am so glad he didn’t back out of that date with her years ago. Otherwise I wouldn’t be able to write this. A truly wonderful couple. Evelyn is surely missed.


Ellen June 21, 2012 at 3:43 pm

What great pictures. I always loved the story of your parents’ meeting and was glad Chris was here so I could show her. See you on July 10th. Love, e & a


E. Blumenfeld July 13, 2012 at 1:52 pm

Very inspiring. His tenacity paid off. A beautiful couple.


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