As mentioned in the previous blog entries, the Hampton Roads Port of Embarkation (HRPE) was an extremely busy nexus of activity during World War II. It wasn’t all hard work, though. Camp Patrick Henry was an Army base at HRPE where troops stayed before leaving for overseas or as a stop on their way home. They also hosted concerts and programs to entertain those troops.
One such event occurred on January 10, 1943. Gray Gordon and his Tic-Toc Rhythm Orchestra came to the Camp and hosted a show that included music, comedy, magic, and dance acts of all kinds. The US Signal Corps photographers took full advantage of this and we are lucky enough to have a wonderful collection of this wide variety of performances.
Miriam Seabold and Jay Seilors made up a comedy team and performed multiple numbers throughout the show, but this might be the most intriguing of them. Here we see them in their interpretation of the dance from The Chocolate Soldier. I’m not sure what those rounded skis are, but they sure look fun (and only slightly dangerous.) Other dance groups included the Three Hearts Dance Team made up of Gloria Preble, Beverly Becker, and Mary Jonas.
In addition to dance, there was a great deal of musical talent present. The Thee Oxford Boys was comprised of Don Moreland and Nelson Kroop. They had a touch of fame later in the year when the group appeared in the film “Du Barry Was a Lady” (1943) alongside Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, and Gene Kelly.
Members of Gray Gordon’s Orchestra-such as this saxophonist-also showcased their talents through outstanding solos.
Many others performed delightful acts to keep the large audience of United States Army officers, soldiers, and their guests entertained. There has been much written about the significance of providing entertainment for our troops and how vital it is to keeping up moral. This night of fun definitely did just that-documented through the many audience shots of nothing but smiling faces.