Among the highlights of New Year's Day in Philadelphia is the Mummers Parade. And among the highlights of the Mummers Parade are the string bands. One of the most famous string bands is the Ferko String Band. In 1955, their recording of "Alabama Jubilee" made it to 14 on the pop music charts.
Joe Ferko, the founder of the band, was a friend of my family's. He was a friend of all the families in the North Philadelphia neighborhood we lived in. I can still remember Mr. Ferko — as I always knew him — standing behind the counter at his drugstore making me an ice cream soda one night. He took me to my first baseball game — the A's vs. the Tigers in Shibe Park. Connie Mack was still managing the A's, a thin old man in a black suit. The A's won, on a home run in the ninth by Pete Suder. I can still remember how green the grass was, greener it seems than any I have ever seen since.