The following article appeared in the May 2000 issue of Yesterday's Memories. It has been placed on this website with the permision of Steve A. Maze, Senior Editor. A copy of this article was mailed to Eddy Arnold at his office in Brentwood, Tennessee.
I ONCE HELPED A VERY FAMOUS STAR CELEBRATE HIS BIRTHDAY
By T. Euclid Rains, Sr.
In the years immediately following World War II, I made lots of weekend social calls in
the Talladega, Alabama, area. In those days there was a number of daily bus schedules
from Albertville to and from Talladega. One of the boys, who had graduated from the
School for the Blind, was working as night clerk at the Purefoy Hotel on North Street in
Talladega at the time.
Since Ben Ellis slept days, he made his room and bed available to some of us
out-of-towners on nights. Back then none of us could afford a paid hotel room and bed so
we were glad to accept Ben’s generosity.
In the early part of the night the town was abuzz but, since I had just gotten into town, I
didn’t know what it was about. Actually, Eddy Arnold was making a personal appearance
at Talladega High School. Eddy Arnold was one of the brightest Grand Ole Opry stars at
the time. He was perhaps the biggest recording star of Country Music in the 1940s and
At 11 p.m. on May 15, 1952, I was sitting in the lobby of the Purefoy Hotel talking with
Ben Ellis. The lobby was spacious and was furnished with several easy chairs and
comfortable sofas to accommodate loitering guests. Ben and I had run out of things to
talk about so I was thinking of hitting the hay-as we put it back then.
Ben and I were the only people in the lobby. The streets and town had settled back to
their normal quiet routine.
The outer door to the hotel opened and a lone gentleman entered. From his walk I knew
this gentleman was an important person. He slowly marked the pace from the door to the
clerk’s desk with a pair of hard-heeled shoes.
When he reached the desk Ben said, “Well, Mr. Arnold, did you have a good show?”
When the gentleman answered Ben, I recognized the voice of the famous radio star-Eddy
Arnold. Leaving the sofa I walked to Eddy’s side and asked, “Are you the real Eddy
Arnold?” Eddy laughed as he answered, “Yes, I am the real Eddy Arnold.” I continued
“You are the real Eddy Arnold in person, who croons the Cattle Call and sings all those
songs on radio and juke boxes?’ He laughed again and shook my hand warmly.
Without a word of invitation or suggestion we walked over to the sofa where I was sitting
before he came in. We started swapping questions. Eddy wanted to know about my
blindness and how I made a living-and about my schooling and education. Since we both
grew up in the Great Depression I was interested to learn about his teenage life and how
he rose to popularity as an entertainer.
Eddy said he played the guitar and sang at parties as a teenager but he wasn’t a sensation
in those days. He had to work and build his career. Eddy said he didn’t get beyond the
tenth grade in school.
The thing that strikes me most about this meeting with Eddy was that it was on his 33rd
birthday. I wondered why such an important person would be out working on his
birthday. I have since learned that Eddy is a very down-to-earth sort of person. He never
let his fame go to his head. I asked Eddy, “Did you ever get a song from an ordinary
person that made it big?”
“Yes,” he responded, “a girl from Mississippi sent me the song, Bouquet of Roses.”
It was after midnight when Eddy stood up and said, “I hate to break this up, but I’ve got
another appearance tonight and I must get some sleep.” He shook my hand and said
I always remember Eddy Arnold’s birthday, and the night I helped him celebrate number
I sometimes wonder if Eddy remembers that night in 1952 in the Purefoy Hotel in