Monday, July 30, 2012

Blueberries & Blueberry Hills

July is Blueberry Month. I don't really know what that is supposed to mean, except that it's the month when most blueberries are ripe and should be picked? But that depends on the climate, so is not actually correct. Maybe most berries are picked in July? Whatever the case, if you go to your neighborhood grocery tomorrow you will find plenty of the delicious fruits for sale.

What I did not know when researching this topic is that blueberries are native to North America. The crop was not introduced to Europe before the 1930s. So the odds are good that you won't find blueberry pies or tarts or flavored candy anywhere else in the world! (Who says "Friends of Justice" isn't educational, haha!)

Speaking of blueberries, there is a very famous song "Blueberry Hill" with a very interesting history. It was written in 1940 by Vincent Rose, with lyrics by Larry Stock & Al Lewis. Gene Autry recorded it and it appeared in his 1941 movie THE SINGING HILL. Glenn Miller, Gene Krupa, Sammy Kaye, and Kay Kaiser all recorded versions as well.

Of course, the most famous version today is by Fats Domino, from 1956. It was brought to life for another generation when Richie Cunningham would sing the first few lines, "I found my thrill...!" whenever he was heading out on a date when he thought he might get some action. I tried to find a video of him doing it, but no matter what I typed in to youtube I couldn't find one. Oh, well.

That brings me to the last blueberry I want to talk about today, the one nearest (literally) to my heart: the bar/restaurant BLUEBERRY HILL in my hometown of University City, a suburb of St. Louis.
File:Blueberry Hill with SaintLouis.pngIt is famous for being the regular venue for living legend Chuck Berry. Because of that, stars like Bruce Springsteen show up whenever they are in St. Louis on tour. Bob Kostas, who began his broadcasting career in St. Louis, has mentioned several times on the air during his shows. And a few years ago Archie and The Gang drove cross-country and visited the place in one of their comics. I did an internet search but couldn't find any proof because I don't know the issue number etc. I do know that a copy of the comic is framed on the wall at Blueberry Hill....where it hangs out with a huge amount of other comic books, Beatlemania goods, and various pop culture toys and items. Every time we go back home for a visit we try to stop by. Luckily for us, my parents only live five minutes away! If you are going to visit St. Louis, you should stop by. It's on the left on Delmar heading out of the city; as soon as you enter University City you will see it occupying two city blocks!

And now, Mr. Fats Domino celebrating blueberries for all of us....! I wanted to pick something that was actually maybe from 1956 but I couldn't find anything where he was actually singing OR playing, so I chose this newer concert footage.

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