This article is dedicated to a special gentleman from Harrison. This gentleman is a lifelong resident of Harrison, and I do mean “Lifelong”, resident, his tenure in town has reached 100 years, in March of this year.
Harrison’s own Hammond Roudebush was born on March 4, 1914, when Woodrow Wilson was our president. I will give you some of the highlights of this man’s 100 year journey.
Hammond took an interest in music as a young teenager growing up on a farm outside of Harrison. His instrument of choice was the base.
Hammond played in local bands around Harrison giving performances at the skating rate, E- town, and even some debutante parties in Cincinnati.
As a senior in high school Hammond took on another activity athletically, playing on a Cincinnati area, German soccer team. Hammond could not speak German but they communicated with him via hand signals, he caught on fast what they wanted him to do.
After a few weeks playing in the band until 1:00 AM on a Saturday night and then getting up at 6:00 AM to play for the German soccer team on Sunday, Hammond’s father said sternly, “Pick one soccer or music,” and Hammond chose music.
Hammond studied under a highly skilled bass player from the Cincinnati Symphony to hone his musical skills even more.
His talents were so good he was hired by one of the most famous “Big-Bands” of the time, Stan Kenton. Hammond had the opportunity to play for such famous singers as Doris Day and Rosemary Clooney, (George’s aunt).
Hammond remembers Rosemary as somewhat “snooty” to work with but he loved working with Doris Day.
According to Hammond, Bob Hope was a gentleman to work with also, a true professional.
Hammond decided that being on the road full time was not a life style for him, he chose his family over the glamorous world of show business.
When World War II broke out in 1941, Hammond got a job at the Wright Aeronautical Engine Plant, now the current location of GE in Evendale, building aircraft engines for our boys to power their fighters and bombers in the war.
Following the war Hammond worked the rest of his career for GM Fisher Body, and of course still playing in local bands at every gig he could get.
I personally remember Hammond driving his beautiful white ’66 Olds Toronado, the first GM front wheel drive, around Harrison. He looked quite sharp in that baby tooling around town.
Hammond played in local bands for years with such people as Franklin Jackman at the Venice Pavilion, or with some other local musicians like John Viel,”Roon” Barrow, and Jim Yeager at Stone’s Beach on Lawrenceburg Rd.
They had quite a local following, their music was surly as good as Kay Kyser, Les Brown, or Cab Calloway.
Hammond is now the handsome, reining Mayor of Shawnee Springs Retirement Community, just outside Harrison on Simonson Road. Hammond still performs with other local musicians giving concerts at Shawnee Springs whenever they can get the group together.
Hammond, congratulations on your life and we wish you many more. I do not know what your secret to longevity is, but growing up and living in Harrison did not hurt a thing. You are a fine centenarian and gentleman.