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|I first heard Marty in 1950 when I was in the Phoenix Crippled
children's Home. We didn't use 'challenged' at that time. I had polio
and was recovering in this home, I was 18 at the time. Marty was on
Channel 5 doing a 15 minute program called 'CHUCKWAGON TIME'.
The set was a rear end of a chuck wagon with a canvas top. He did mostly cowboy type songs at the time, but at times, he would do what we called western music at the time (country western was a term that came into the vocabulary much later). At that time, the music that was played at dances was called western music and the bands that played it were called western bands. A good example of this type of band was Hank Thompson.
Marty played with several bands at different times during that period of time, mostly with 'Buster Fite' and his 'Western Playboys'. This band played at a very rough dance hall at 27th Avenue and Christy Road (now named McDowell Rd). He also played at Riverside Ballroom on South Central Ave. at the Salt River (hence the name). He also had a small band of his own and they played during the week at a small bar on E. Van Buren across from the meat packing plant and stockyards. The bar was called FRED KARE'S (this is phonetic and may not be the correct spelling of his name).
In 1951, I played with a small group of friends and we were trying to get started. I made a contact with a man named Bob Cawley who had a patio type talk show on channel 5 in the afternoon, every day. He let our group play on his program twice a week. Marty had his 15 minute program right after Bob Cawley's program was over. It was during this time that I became acquainted with Marty. Even then, it was plain to see that he had a special talent, not only as a singer, but as a person who had a great deal of interest in people. At that time, everything was live on TV and there was NO rehearsals, no 'cuts' and no 'retakes'. You walked out, did your thing , good or bad or whatever and it was great.
All of the commercials were live spots, the only 'tape' was Kinescope and it was too expensive to waste on commercials. Marty liked to play practical jokes on anyone he could. There was this woman who did a lot of the commercials who Marty seemed to delight in playing tricks on. He would do his tricks in plain view of whomever might be on 'live' at the time. This quite often had an impact on the person on camera when his trick was consummated. One of the guys in the group I played with never smiled or had any expression when we played, and Marty really wanted to change this so he always pulled something when we were on camera to try and make my friend (Al) smile. Marty never made Al smile but he sure could make me laugh, right in the middle of a song we would be doing. The most devastating trick he pulled on the woman who did the commercials was when, just before an oyster commercial. Marty took all the cans of oysters off of the display table and put them inside his shirt, using a clamp from a light like a hook that a one armed man would have. When she came out to do the commercial she didn't notice all the cans were gone from the set. After extolling the virtues of these oysters, she turned to pick up one of the cans and, of course, they were gone. She did a classic double-take. Marty was laughing so hard that his shirt tail came out and cans crashed to the floor and ran all over, causing general pandemonium on the set. This was a normal day at Channel 5 when Marty was on the floor. I hope you enjoy this little story on my days at Channel 5, working with a great talent and super guy. He is one of the few that I admire and respect.