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Bob Lind, Published October 26 2009

Lind: Glenn Miller band trombone player stays in touch

If you’re in the mood for some of the marvelous big band music of the 1930s and 1940s, you’ll want to include recordings of the Glenn Miller orchestra playing such oldies as, say, “In the Mood.”

A group playing Miller’s hits appeared in Fargo this summer. Forum columnist John Lamb wrote about them. That led Lance Johnson, Dilworth, to write Neighbors, saying he enjoyed John’s story, adding that “I feel this music, which people still listen to, has real substance and really never goes out of style.”

Lance is president of the Johnson Organ Co., Fargo, and is one of the Wurlitzer organists at the Fargo Theatre.

But get this, big band fans: Lance is in mail contact with the last surviving member of the original Glenn Miller band.

His name is Paul Tanner, he lives in Carlsbad, Calif., he’s a retired college music professor and he is 92.

Paul knew a musician from Fargo: the late composer-conductor Jim Ployhar.

When Jim became ill, Lance wrote to Paul and received a letter in return saying, “A friend of Ployhar is, of course, a friend of mine.”

Lance’s letter to Paul naturally mentioned the old Miller band. Paul, who played trombone, replied, “It’s true, of the band that Miller kept over the years, there were four of us who played every one-nighter, record date, radio program, everything. Now, I am sad to say, I am the only one still with us.

“I’m sorry so many of my friends have left; nice fellows, good musicians.”

With that from the last survivor of the Glenn Miller band, let’s lean back and dream along with more wonderful Miller hits. “Moonlight Serenade” and “Tuxedo Junction,” anyone?

The Titanic

A recent Neighbors column concerned Herbert Chaffee, Amenia, N.D., one of those who died when the Titanic went down. The information for it came from Herbert’s grandson Mark Chaffee, Amenia.

That brought a response from Tim Trower, Springfield, Mo., the administrator of a Web site about the Titanic. He ran the Chaffee story on the site, and he wanted Forum readers to know how to access it: www.titanic


Tim says he became interested in the Titanic in 1976 when his junior high school librarian handed him the book “A Night to Remember,” a story about the ship by Walter Lord.

“I was instantly hooked on the story and have spent the rest of my life learning about the ship and her passengers,” Tim says.

“I may be related (tenuously) to a family in first class on the ship, but my real interest goes back to that book.”

Now, thanks to Mark Chaffee, the story of his grandfather is a permanent part of this site.

P.S. And you have to love those school librarians who get kids interested in certain topics.

If you have an item of interest for this column, mail it to Neighbors, The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107; fax it to 241-5487; or e-mail blind@forumcomm.com