This week’s 78 comes from a brief detour from the Archive. I was recently visiting with my wife’s family in southern California, and her parents were kind enough to let me dig through a big, heavy (shellac weighs a lot more than vinyl) box of 78’s. Some of the treasures found within were by Dorothy Shay.
Born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida, Dorothy Shay started singing in 1925, at the age of four. She used to entertain prisoners at the county jail—how she ended up there at such a tender age is anyone’s guess. As she got older, her style changed from blues to comedic songs, and this was reflected by who chose to sing with—first with the Morton Gould Orchestra and then with Spike Jones and the City Slickers. Dorothy developed a curious persona, that of “The Park Avenue Hillbillie” (Yes, it is spelled “Hillbilly” on the record label, but in promotional materials it was spelled “Hillbillie” because Dorothy was a lady. Those marketing people at Columbia thought of everything.) As glamorous and beautiful as any of her contemporaries, Shay skipped the sentimental tunes for songs that poked fun at all kinds of things, like the often messy pursuit of love in 1947’s “Say that We’re Sweethearts Again.”