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Meeting Cousin Brucie again, after 50 years

Gloria Schramm of North Bellmore interviewed radio DJ

Gloria Schramm of North Bellmore interviewed radio DJ Cousin Brucie as a high school student, and recently met him again at an event at the Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz on May 1, 2015. Credit: Fred Schramm

I was 15 the first time I met rock and roll radio icon Bruce Morrow, the popular DJ better known as Cousin Brucie. He had an energetic, gravely voice that imbued listeners with excitement during Beatlemania in the mid 1960s and beyond. Cousin Brucie brought a special energy to WABC (AM 770) one of the biggest radio stations of the day in the tri-state area.

I wanted to interview him for Sewanhaka High School's newspaper, The Chieftain. I contacted WABC Radio and was directed to a place in Greenwich Village on the weekend where I was to meet him during his broadcast.

I remember bringing a friend, and we sat with him in a small room. Cousin Brucie was delighted that we came. Sitting next to him left me breathless. He was full of life and very upbeat. He declared our Floral Park high school "School of the Night" because The Chieftain won the Empire State Scholastic Press Association Top Press Award. In fact, I still have the article I wrote, "Cousin Brucie Airs Chieftan Success," about his announcing our award.

I saved the article along with his autograph. Recently, I reminisced about my experience with my husband, because we heard Cousin Brucie on Sirius XM satellite radio.

At first I thought his broadcast was a tape from years ago and doubted he would still be working after all these years. But when I found out he was broadcasting live, I was astounded! He sounded as good as he always did.

My husband, Fred, found out around the same time that Cousin Brucie was going to host a '50s and '60s reunion weekend earlier this month at Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, and suggested we book a room that weekend to see him. He thought it would be wonderful for me to have this chance to see him again and show him the article. I never expected to see Cousin Brucie again -- it's been 50 years -- but I agreed to embrace this serendipitous chance to come full circle and recapture a slice of my growing-up years, my personal history, with a disc jockey legend who is the consummate showman.

I marveled at the irony of meeting him this time at a stately elegant mountain resort steeped in its own history, where celebrities, prominent citizens and presidents stayed and in a place that merits the distinction of being a Historic Hotel of America by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

As luck would have it, Cousin Brucie was standing on line behind me waiting to check in and I recognized him immediately. I introduced my husband and myself and kissed him. He was genuinely happy to greet us. Our hands were full with luggage, but we told him we would see him later than evening for the festivities.

Later on that first night, he was sitting in the back of the room and we arrived early before the crowds. I had brought the story I wrote for the school newspaper with me, sat down next to him and said, "Here's the article I told you about earlier."

On my story, he wrote, "Dear Cousin Gloria, Really wonderful article. Thank you, thank you. Love, Cousin Brucie"

My husband took several photos of me as Cousin Brucie put his arm around my shoulder. So, from one weekend night 50 years ago while sitting next to Cousin Brucie -- flash forward to another weekend night 50 years later -- the thrill was the same. He hadn't changed. He still looked and sounded great. And, actually, I was feeling pretty good myself -- just like the first time.

Sometimes life comes full circle and you get a chance to recapture a special memory. We have to be ready for times like these and seize the moment. They are very rare.

Gloria Schramm,
North Bellmore

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