The Mills Brothers, in concert, 1946

WORTHINGTON -- "I'm gonna buy a paper doll that I can call my own, a doll that other fellows can not steal; and then those flirty flirty guys with their flirty flirty eyes will have to flirt with dollies that are real. When I come home at night s...

WORTHINGTON -- "I'm gonna buy a paper doll that I can call my own, a doll that other fellows can not steal; and then those flirty flirty guys with their flirty flirty eyes will have to flirt with dollies that are real. When I come home at night she will be waiting, she'll be the truest doll in all this world. I'd rather have a paper doll to call my own, than have a fickle-minded real live girl."

That's right, you have got it. The 1943 hit song of the Mills Brothers ran the longest (12 weeks) of any hit song, and guess what? Our gang of girls from high school is so excited to go see and hear them live and on stage in Minneapolis.

Back in 1946, we never gave it a second thought to buy tickets ahead of schedule or reserve a room at a hotel. People just went and it was always just OK. Life was just much easier . So here we go!

About $7.20 bought us a ticket on the Milwaukee road bound for the big city. "Board, all aboard," the conductor said with a loud cry. Trying not to giggle too much, we scampered aboard to find a seat. The big grey mohair-covered seats were great, but each of us wanted a window view, just like we were back in first grade. The engine was noisy as we headed down the track from Ortonville to Monte and other points toward the metro area. It was fun to ride on the train and quite daring to walk from car to car. To hear the roar of wheels created a simulated atomic reaction in us.

The excitement grew as the big train pulled into the majestic Milwaukee station (now a preserved Minneapolis landmark). The area seemed enormous, yet the fearless nature of youth guides us through and we only need to step out side to hail a taxi.


"The Dyckman Hotel" we all six shouted at once, completely giving us away as greenhorns. We did not care; we were having fun!

There were two hotels that we normally would chose from -- the Andrews Hotel on Fourth Street, or the Dyckman on Sixth Street South. Both of these hotels were more reasonable in price and were in the downtown area, so we could easily walk to wherever. Today both of these hotels are gone, as well as the famous Curtis, the Leamington and the Sherington Ritz.

We choose two rooms at the Dyckman, as we were planning to eat at John's place, which I remember as being across the street above Murray's. The long stairway upstairs was mystifying as we would enter the grand interior, which was exquisitely decorated with huge square teak wood tables and Oriental decor. We shall dine on fabulous Chinese food tonight.

After being checked in, we were hurrying to go shopping and went as fast as the Mills Brothers could sing "The Tiger Rag." The performance was on Saturday, so we had the rest of Friday to hit Dayton's, Donaldson's and Powers.

There could be a whole two pages of the silly things we did, the places we went or the food we ate etc. etc., but this column should not be too long. I will mention that in those days we did not have credit cards nor did most high school kids have checkbooks, and so we really had to watch the pocketbook. If we lost it, there was not any follow-up. We always managed and we laughed a lot about not having things we wanted, like lots of Fanny Farmer Candy!

Today is the day we go to the afternoon performance of the MIlls Brothers. The Orpheum Theatre was easy to find on Hennepin Avenue. At this point, too, I could go on about how fun it was for us to enter this grand theater and see all the chandeliers and curtains, etc. Everything glittered to match their opening song of "Glow Worm."

Lady Luck gave us good seats front and center at the theater. We squealed with excitement as they came on stage. You know -- like the kids of the '60s at a Beatles concert.

The amicable nature of these four men put everyone in a good mood. They had the longest run of oldies act in America. Their key to success was their close harmony. That made listening to hits like "Cab Driver" a joy -- and we shed tears over "You Always Hurt the One You Love."


As Harry, Donald, Herbert and John Sr. sang all the oldies, wowing the audience, we never wanted it to never end. However, an encore of "Sweet Georgia Brown" brought the show to an end and the curtain down.

After the show, we walked to the end of the block to a Snyder Drug store to have a cherry coke. While we were there, four well-dressed men came in and sat at the fountain counter. Well, what do you think? We weren't sure and we wondered? Carol, the brave and daring one of our group, left our table to inquire. You're right again. Yes, it was the Mills Brothers!

We all went over to meet them, and they were so congenial and sincere. We visited for quite a while and got all their autographs, which we tucked safely away in our billfolds.

When Sunday came, we packed our bags and left for the railroad station with melodies like "Up a Lazy River" filling our heads as our eyes were filled with stardust. Our billfolds were running low, but our purses were overflowing with Goldust -- that being our treasured autographs of the famous Mills Brothers.

Nancy Kaercher Zuehlke is a Worthington resident.

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