"FOR ME, 25 WAS A TIME OF LEARNING."


Rita Felthaus Landin


Turned 25 in 1950.  

At the time, she was living in Rochester, New York, with her husband and first child.

 

Rita never wanted to be in upstate New York.  It just kind of happened to her. 

She grew up in Richmond, Virginia, with her three sisters.  They did everything together.  Summers were spent on the boardwalks of Virginia beach, pinning their curls, flirting with boys, and sipping cool beers.  She remembers her first job after high school, and how proud she was to spend her pay checks on dresses, shoes, and bags.  

She had only known her husband for 30 days before she agreed to marry him, and go on to the next adventure.  They traveled by train to wed in Arizona, then moved back to the east coast, when he was stationed at an Air Force base in Rochester.  She was 21 when they first moved there.  The year was 1946. 

Over the next four years, she missed the companionship of her sisters, and the warm summer days on her family's front porch.  No one had told her that being a wife, a mother, and a northerner was hard, and sometimes lonely, work.  These were the years when she burnt suppers, and taught herself how to raise a child.  

She'd still make time to shop the latest trends, or go out dancing, or catch a movie with her friend, but for the most part, she was here, waiting on the curb for her son to come home from school.  

She lasted 7 years in Rochester before the conversation happened, and they all packed their bags for Richmond.  When they arrived back on her parents' front porch, she never turned back.  It was home. 

 

 

 

 


"I WATCHED THE HARMONICATS PLAY THAT YEAR."

Turns out, they were the hippest show in town. 
 

In 1947, Jerry Murad's Harmonicats were a jolly little trio that played in New York clubs.  One day, they recorded some songs they had played in nightclubs, including "Peg O' My Heart", a cover of an old Irish folk song.  A local DJ owed them a favor, and played "Peg O' My Heart" on the radio.  They were an overnight sensation.  The song skyrocketed to #1 on the Billboard charts in 1950, and they were thrust into the national spotlight.  Over the next few years, they played to sold out crowds from coast-to-coast.  


"MY FRIEND AND I SAW SCARAMOUCHE IN THE THEATER.  I LOVED GRANGER." 

Scaramouche actually came out 2 years later, in 1952.

Decked out in Technicolor, with contemporary idioms and stars, topped off by Stewart Granger in the Number One hero role, this modern-day, dress-up re-creation of that fable of eighteenth-century France is pouring a lusty lot of make-believe on the Music Hall’s well-conditioned screen.
— New York Times, 1952

No wonder Rita had a crush on Stewart Granger.  The suntanned, flippant Brit was far from anything she'd find in Rochester, New York.  Here's a scene from the film, where he woos Eleanor Parker.  Then keeps wooing her.  Passionately.  


RITA & ROCHESTER FROM 1945-1955