Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Reminders Keep Coming of a Soldier's Sweet Song

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Reminders Keep Coming of a Soldier's Sweet Song

Article excerpt

What did your daddy do in The War?

That's a question we baby boom boys often asked in grade school but which rarely comes up anymore, with all the wars since and most World War II vets gone. But at the ballgame the other night, a friend slipped me something he suggested I read sometime.

The next day, I reached in my coat pocket and pulled out a soldier's story you could dance to: a laminated newspaper clipping from 1942 about a South Side corporal writing a hit a song for The Glenn Miller Band. With it was a June 2015 statement about $21.36 in recently accrued song royalties.

"Soldier, Let Me Read Your Letter" was that sweet song. You can hear it on YouTube. I did and now I don't know what's more incredible: that Cpl. George "Pat" Fallon wrote this song on active duty or that his son, the loquacious Patrick Fallon of Regent Square, waited decades to tell me.

The elder Fallon joined the Army in May 1941, seven months before the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor and six months shy of his 32nd birthday. He'd been a Jones & Laughlin steelworker on the South Side and sang in Hill District nightclubs, too, but he felt he needed to get away from Pittsburgh.

The next winter at Fort Meade, Md., he got a letter from the woman he left behind, Rose Pavlik. The way he'd tell the story later, another fellow sat beside him and said, "Soldier, let me read your letter. Let me pretend it's mine. I haven't got a sweetheart. I've left no one behind."

That became the song's first verse as a melody entered Cpl. Fallon's head. He added a few more lines and another soldier, Tim Pasma, played guitar and helped him flesh it out.

He mailed the song to a Pittsburgh friend, Billy May, who played trumpet for Glenn Miller (and who'd himself write TV theme songs after the war). In February 1942, Mr. May wrote back to the corporal, "I looked the tune over, and I think it's the nuts." (That means "It's great," kids.)

On March 31, Mr. Fallon and Mr. Pasma signed a contract granting each of them 12 percent of the royalties. …

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