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Where Are They Now?

This article appeared in the Dayton Daily News on April 13, 2002


Tracking the lives of `50-50 Club' members

By Roz Young


            YOU MUST HAVE TOUCHED many hearts when you mentioned the Ruth Lyons 50-50 Club!' wrote Mary Becks, 539 Adams St.

            `I was a young mother before 1950. Via TV, Ruth became my invited guest many and many a day. I had great respect for her moral fiber and almost unbelief at her amazing musical talent. Her book of very singable music remains in my piano bench. It is hauled out on many occasions. If I ever had a hero, it was Ruth Lyons. She seemed to be one of us, but she really wasn't. She was above us.'

            Bill Nance, program director of WCF FM, wrote he had read here about Bill Myers and the 50-50 Club. `You were wondering about Elsa Sule and Marian Spellman. They are both alive and well.

            `I had seen Elsa last year at Bob Braun's funeral. I have known her for years and I have known Marian for many years. I checked with Bob Reider, who was part of Bob's show, and he said both are doing pretty well, although Marian is confined to a wheelchair.

            `Thought you might like to know.'

            We heard again from Bill Myers, who was the weather announcer on her show and on the Bob Braun Show. `Some of us were together last week,' he wrote. `We did just lose drummer Jack Volk, a fine gentleman. Last night we heard Bill Walters play sax and Bill Nimmo sing . . . both very handsome. Steve Huffman, Enquirer radio-TV editor, is retired; his son writes sports on the paper. Mary Ellen Tanner, Rob Reider, Judy Jones, Bonnie and Colleen all sing and Elsa is in her church choir and Dottie Hope is in a choir, too. Remember the house band at Beverly Hills Country Club - Gardner Benedict. We see him and his wife when they aren't in Florida. Eddie Bennett (trombone) lives in Washington state and Ruby Wright (singer) sold her Barney Rapp Travel business to Provident Travel and she's retired.

            `The kids today don't know what a network we had (Indianapolis, Columbus, Atlanta, Dayton and Cincinnati) not to mention simulcasts on WLW radio for 26 years. And we haven't even mentioned Dixon and the Midwestern Hayride!'

            Last of all, we heard from Elsa Sule herself. (Elsa was Ruth's secretary.)

            `Not that it really matters, to anyone else but me,' she wrote. `But my conscience tells me to set the record straight. My father couldn't have cared less about opera, he liked basketball much more. It was my grandfather who was the opera/Richard Wagner buff. He named my mother Elizabeth in tribute to Tannhauser. I was born after his death and my mother and grandmother came up with Elsa for me.

            `Marian Spellman and I are still around. In fact, we did two shows on WMLX-Cincinnati station for retirees on Feb. 2, 2002. It's on a volunteer basis and it's fun. We get together as often as possible with friends and former co-workers.'

            Well, it is good to hear from some of the old gang.

            Which brings me to the one who for a moment or two was the true love of my life. His stage name was Peter Grant, and he had the most mellifluous voice I ever heard. The way he could do Moon River ! I had a crush on him. We had a few luncheon dates. Once I remember I wore a two-piece dress, and the top kept slipping down more than I thought seemly. So I would reach around behind my back and when Peter wasn't looking (I thought), I yanked it up. Finally he said, `Does that bother you? It doesn't bother me.' I was so embarrassed I could have crawled under the table.

            Anyhow, how Ruth ever found out about my crush I don't know, but one time I was invited to appear on the Ruth Lyons show, and Peter and I were backstage while the introductions were being made and the door opened and there we stood, in front of god and everybody, embraced in a passionate kiss!

            I walked on clouds for a whole day afterwards.