Posts Tagged ‘Bartell Israel’

Because my older brother was shy and not socially adept, his talents were truly hidden. With a pencil he could make a lifelike sketch of the face of anyone he cared for and his singing voice was shockingly beautiful. Only our family knew because Bartell didn’t show his sketches, and would never think of singing in public, not even the church choir.

One day back in 1955 or so he began to sing a song and rave about this unknown singer. That one song was getting enough play on the Beeville, Texas radio station that he had learned every word. He told us endlessly that this new singer would be one of the greats. I had never heard my brother so excited. We finally listened when he called us to the radio the next time it came on. And then Bartell sat relaxed in his chair, stared into space and sang, “I Forgot to Remember to Forget,” by a new young artist we had never heard of named Elvis Pressley. He sounded exactly like the recording.

With such positive response, Bartell began to sing that tune often around the house. My husband-to-be heard him once, and we had confirmation outside our family that my brother was indeed talented. Jerry was determined others should hear him, so the night of the KIBL telethon for some charity he saw his chance. Callers pledged a donation to the station if they could pick up whomever the caller suggested and get them to perform an act, anything that would transmit on the airwaves. Jerry told them where they could find my brother and that he would pay to hear him sing “I Forgot to Remember to Forget” on air.

After my brother was picked up by the local police, we all waited by the radio until the announcer called him to the mike. “What is it you are going to sing, young man,” he asked.

“I Forgot . . .” my brother started in his slow Texas drawl.

“Well, when you remember let us know. Sit down and we’ll call you again.”

We were aghast, yelling, “Let him finish the sentence!” But it did no good.

The announcer could see he was nervous and periodically called my brother back to the mike throughout the evening to ask what he was going to sing.

“I Forgot” my slow talking brother would start and he’d be asked to sit down and let them know when he remembered what he was going to sing.

The telethon ran until midnight and my brother was returned home without the world, or our small Texas town, having heard his singing talent. And only a few of us would know Bartell’s innate ability to pluck from all the new rock-and-roll artists the one who would be most famous of all, Elvis.

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