Patti Page, RIP
Born Clara Ann Fowler in Claremore, Oklahoma, a graduate of Tulsa's Daniel Webster High School, she took her stage name from the Page Dairy in Tulsa, the sponsor of the radio show on which she was featured. In a 2010 interview with the Claremore Daily Progress, Patti Page explained how she came by the singing job and the name:
"We were living in west Tulsa," she recalled, "and about the time I completed the ninth grade, Mother called us girls together and told us we each needed to find jobs. The family needed the money. I decided I would go to Page Milk Company to get an application for what any job was available. They had a daily 15-minute program on Radio Station KTUL, but I wasn't even thinking about that.
"While I was waiting in the office the radio show's program director saw me. He had heard me sing at a school program and thought I was there for a tryout. After explaining I was only getting an application, he said to go ahead and fill out the application and wait until he returned. He was going to round up a couple of musicians and arrange a quick taping.
"The song I sang was 'Frankie and Johnnie'. A few days later the director called my mother and asked her if I could come to work as the singer on the radio show.
"You realize I wasn't the first 'Patti Page'. In fact, there were two before I arrived. The Page Company used the name for their program. The girl on the show at the time was getting ready to leave. That allowed me to step in. I did it the next three years while I attended high school at Daniel Webster and then one more year.
"When I left my sister Peggy replaced me and the name was changed to Peggy Page. The company officials said it was all right with them if I continued as Patti Page. Later in New York I went to court and made it my legal name."
Page's active singing career spanned seven decades. In April 2010, she performed a concert at the Robson Performing Arts Center in Claremore. A September 2012 message to fans mentioned the medical challenges that forced her to take a break from performing.
Throughout my life I never really gave much thought to my senior years. I was always able to hop on a plane, go out on stage and make music with the band. At this point I am no longer able to do that. My travels now are quite limited to North San Diego County, CA where I have called home for the past four decades. Although I feel I still have the voice God gave me, physical impairments are preventing me from using that voice as I had for so many years. It is only He who knows what the future holds.
Page died New Year's Day at the age of 85.
Here she is in 1950, singing one of her biggest hits, "The Tennessee Waltz."
Here's my favorite Patti Page tune, "Old Cape Cod." It brings back memories of a vacation in Yarmouth and leisurely drives along the gentle turns and hills of Old Highway 6. It was one of her favorites too:
"I believe 'Old Cape Cod' may be my most favorite," she replied, "The words are so beautiful and they describe the location perfectly. Of course 'Tennessee Waltz' is also at the top of the list. My father loved it and cried each time he heard me sing the song. Because of him it is my sentimental favorite. Then, I also like all the old standards."
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