[Dixielandjazz] Dr Jazz

Robert S. Ringwald ringwald@calweb.com
Wed, 25 Sep 2002 09:44:27 -0700

Regarding the recent discussion of the song "Dr Jazz."  I also never thought
of it as a drug song.  Of course, until I was about 30, I never thought
about "Darktown Strutter's Ball," "Down In Honky-tonk Town" & "Shine" as
having any racial connotation.  I guess I was just oblivious to the racial

My dad was a regular Archie Bunker type, prejudice against Mexicans, Jews,
Blacks, or anyone else different than us.  In the 4th grade I became close
friends with a black kid.  I couldn't figure what the heck my dad was
talking about as he was just a regular guy like the rest of us.  I guess
that is why I did not follow in my father's footsteps when it came to being

Back to "Dr Jazz."  I always thought it was a cute song written with a
commercial flair in mind tying in the new fangled telephones that were being
introduced into people's homes i.e. "Hello Central, give me Dr. Jazz," with
"central" of course being the central switch board.

For you younger members of DJML, to use the telephone, you used to have to
talk to an operator to connect to to another telephone number.  There were
no such things as dial tones, push buttons or even rotary dials.

When I was a kid in Citrus heights, 14 miles north of Sacramento, in the
'40's, we had a party line.  Eight people shared one line.  To get an
operator, you turned a crank.  Besides ringing the operator, turning the
crank also rang the telephone bell in the houses of the other 7 people on
your party line.  Thus, your phone would ring day & night.  You had to
listen for your special assigned ring so you could answer when someone was
calling you.  In our case, our ring was one long & four shorts.

Of course, anytime your phone rang, you knew someone was using the line.
Often people would pick up the receiver & listen in on your conversation.
As you were talking, you could tell if your conversation was interesting.
If is was, the signal of the person would get weaker & weaker as more & more
of your neighbors listened in.  If your conversation was boring, the signal
would get stronger as people lost interest & hung up.

Placerville, CA, USA, Earth, Sol's System, Milky Way
Amateur (ham) Radio Station K6YBV
Fulton Street Jazz Band
See: http://www.ringwald.com
Boondockers Jazz & Comedy Band
See: http://www.theboondockers.com