They were known as "...sweet singers of sweet songs". In real life,
they were Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln Bush. Country music fans knew
them as Don and Helen.
For a time in 1938 or 1939, they were working with the Crosley radio station,
WLW in Cincinnati, Ohio and had a show on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday
at 7:30am called the "Lamplighters".
They started off as a 'business
proposition' working together back in 1928, then romance entered the picture and
they got married. They first met while both were attending Austin High School
in Chicago, Illinois. But after they graduated from high school, they took
separate paths and didn't see each other for three years.
One evening, Helen was attending a celebration - an engagement party of
one her friends. During that party, the phone rang and the person on the
other end of the line had to be informed that the party was for females only.
But that gentleman told the female person that he would be right over with
some gentleman friends of his. One was Don and he got to renew his friendship
with Helen. Then Helen sat down on the piano and began to do some tunes,
Don joined in with the harmony and they decided it sounded so good, they
thought of working together.
Their instincts proved to be good. In less than two weeks, they had a spot
on radio station WJJD in Chicago. They also had shows on WENR and WGN in Chicago.
Now when they first started off at WJJD, Helen would not let Don pay her carfare
or for her lunches as in her mind, it was only a 'business arrangement'. But
one day, the story goes, Helen addressed Don as "Honey". Don looked at her stern
as he could be without smiling and told her, "Don't call me honey unless
you mean it!" After an awkward pause, they both started laughed for it was a moment
they knew how much they meant to each other. It was about two and a half years later
in July of 1930 that the 'business partnership' became a 'life partnership'.
Their careers took them to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where they worked on
WWSW, KQV and KDKA. A 1937 WLS Standby magazine feature mentions that the reason
they went to Pittsburgh to visit relatives, who in turn urged them to audition
at the local radio stations. That led to work at the stations mentioned.
The duo also worked with Dan and Sylvia's Revue on the east coast as well.
They were also engaged to appear at the Greater Exposition in Cleveland in September
1936 as part of an over the air broadcast on their Pittsburgh radio station.
But it wasn't too long before the couple started missing their hometown of Chicago.
They made the move back to the midwest and on April 26, 1937, Don and Helen
were heard on the Prairie Farmer station for the first time as part of the staff
But their stay in Chicago wasn't that long this time. Another radio station with
a penchant for raiding the talent stables of other stations was able to convince
Don and Helen to move to Cincinnati. The year of 1939 saw them as a member of the
cast of the WLW Boone County Jamboree. They also had a show at 5:55am called "Thought
For the Day" over WLW five days a week. The Boone County show aired 'live' over WLW
on Friday evenings from 10:00pm to 10:30pm.
The year of 1943 saw them at the famed WOWO Hoosier Hop that aired over radio station
WOWO in Fort Wayne, Indiana. We don't know exactly when they joined the cast, but we
did find them mentioned in an old Mountain Broadcast and Prairie Recorder magazine
article about the Hoosier Hop. The article described the tunes they did as "...old love
songs, songs of the home and fireside and the occasional pop ballad." One thinks this
might be similar to a duet team on the old Lawrence Welk television show.
The theme song for Don and Helen was "Two by Four For Two" because it
expressed the happy life they had together.
Back in 1937, Don was just a shade over six feet tall and weighed about 170 pounds.
Helen told the magazine she was five feet five in her shoes, or about five feet three inches
and we guess it was okay to mention one's weight back then as they told readers she was
125 pounds with her light brown, wavy hair.
Credits & Sources
- WLS Stand By; May 22, 1937; Prairie Farmer Publishing Co.; Chicago, Illionis
- Song Exchange News; Winter Edition; 1938-1939; Arlie Kinkade,
Publisher & Editor; Graysville, Ohio
- Rural Radio; Vol. 2 No. 4; May 1939; Rural Radio, Inc.;
- Mountain Broadcast and Prairie Recorder; September 1944;
Mountain Broadcast Pub. Co., Inc.; New York, NY