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The Kidzter Kids
Frank Sinatra &
The Rat Pack
Eva Emily Ellis,
Apprentice Musicologist, 1st Class
As told to
Bob Heyman & Mady Reinhardt
Jason Whitley & Ali Firat Biberci
© Kidzter, 2017
THE KIDZTER KIDS
The historical events you will read about are true. You are there with Eva, Carlos & Jimi, the Kidzter Kids, as they witness music history that really happened.
The Kidzter kids were sitting in class as they watched the rain fall from outside. Jimi was pretending to play the drums with his pencil while Carlos scribbled in his notebook.
Eva on the other hand was watching the rain at the window fall to the beat of Jimi’s pencil drum. She was watching how every little drop seemed to meet up with another drop, and then another creating a little stream on the window.
That was when Professor Mort Moose cleared his throat.
“Mmph. Am I boring you?” Mort said as he saw the three kids not paying attention.
The kids sat up straight and looked at Mort Moose to hear his lesson. Mort Moose sent them a smile and a nod and continued.
“As I was saying, that is why you do not see any truly famous African American artists until after 1940, because racism and discrimination was still too strong to allow it. Though as soon as society began to diffuse the racial tension an explosion of amazing musicians appeared all over the world, and were headlining shows and owning their own stages.” Mort Moose explained.
Carlos was the first to raise his hand.
“What do you mean? I don’t understand how people weren’t allowed to perform.” Carlos asked.
“Ya I don’t get it. So like, they would just tell them no? Even if they were really good?” Eva asked.
Mort Moose put down his chalk and walked to the center of the classroom. He intertwined his hands and began to explain.
“Yes. Even if they were really good. Like Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker, Sammy David Junior. They all had to fight through hard work and discrimination in order to be recognized by their talent. Many of them had to go through much more than others just due to the color of their skin. They are not the only artists that faced discrimination in history due to their culture and color.” Mort Moose said.
He watched the faces of the Kidzter kids and saw that their expression never changed. They still seemed as confused as before.
“So like, it just took them longer to succeed? But there are so many artists now that have all sorts of culture.” Eva still sounded confused.
“Yes. You are right. We have made amazing progress, but it was a completely different process back then.” Mort said.
As he saw they still did not understand the difficulty of the artists in the past. There was only one thing left to do. He thought about what he could do to make sure the children knew exactly what life was like in history for an artist who faced discrimination.
He only had to think for a few seconds before he knew exactly where to go.
“Well kids, there is only one thing left to do. To the observatory. Quickly.” Mort Moose said.
That lit their eyes widely and they turned into balls of excitement practically falling out the door towards the time machine. Eva, Carlos, and Jimi knew where to go now. They ran up to the big door of the observatory and waited.
Eva turned around as she saw Moose’s slow walk towards them.
“Hurry! Where are we going?” Eva was so excited.
“Why don’t you just go in?” Mort asked with a smile.
“Gizmo.” The three said at the same time.
Mort responded with what they thought was a laugh.
“Ah yes, that is probably for the best.” Mort said with what they thought was a laugh.
As he arrived at the door he swung it open. The sounds and lights of the time machine made the inside bright. They all went to their favorite spots and prepared to go.
“Mort. Where are we going?” Carlos asked.
“To the wild city. The city of Las Vegas.” He said.
The kids all looked at one another, they had never been to Las Vegas before. That is where some of the best musicians found their fame! It was going to be one of their most favorite adventures yet.
Eva sat down on one of the chairs.
“Is it. More empty in here?” She asked and looked around the time machine. She was right, there were less contraptions and wires around them.
“Yup. Just doing some remodeling.” Gizmo came out from behind a big speaker looking thing.
“Well is she ready to run?” Mort asked looking a little stressed.
“Oh she’ll go anywhere you want to go.” Gizmo gave what looked like a half smile.
“Good.” Mort said and then he began to get them ready.
She watched Mort walk around the room with his hands out. This was always the part she forgot, she could not imagine what life was like without phones. How did their parents call them? What happened if there was a change of plans? How did they remember birthdays?
She had so many thoughts about surviving without electronics, but she was especially happy that she was born when Time Machines existed. Even if it was run by an odd blue character named Gizmo who rarely smiled at her jokes.
She turned off her phone and handed it to him.
“So, once we get to Las Vegas, what are we going to do?” Eva asked him. She wanted to know how their trip was going to relate to their lesson.
Mort looked around them and then at Gizmo.
“We are going to meet The Rat Pack.” Mort smiled.
They all looked at each other. They knew so little about the Rat Pack but they remember listening to some records of them in class.
“That’s with Frank Sinatra? He had trouble with discrimination?” Carlos asked Professor Mort.
“Well sort of, see the Rat pack had Frank Sinatra, and Sammy Davis Junior. Sammy had to experience all kinds of discrimination before he finally found Mr. Sinatra and the world was able to see their music.” Mort said as he sat down by the controls.
They were getting ready to go, but Eva still had so many questions. Though the questions would have to wait as soon they were feeling the walls and the ground shake around them.
Music began playing so loud Eva could feel her heart thumping with the rhythm. Carlos and Jimi held on tight to their seats as the spinning and whirling began.
“Year 1943 Gizmo, and make is snappy.” Mort said.
“Don’t you wanna go to 1954? They’re not even the Rat Pack in 1943.” Gizmo whispered quietly.
“That’s exactly why. They need to see them before their success.” Mort replied with a nod.
Gizmo still gave the kids such an odd feeling, maybe it was the way he always just stared with his eyes, maybe it was the way he never spoke, but they figured maybe he is just a quiet person.
Eva also knew that everyone has their story, so Gizmo must have his.
Eva wanted to ask who they would see. She knew whoever it was, was going to be important and successful, but how successful would they be when they first meet them? That was what made her curious. She remembered their previous trips to Motown, and to see Elvis, and how everyone eventually reached their fame but it was not easy.
The trip began getting bumpy.
“Hold on tight!” Mort shouted to the kids.
“But there is nothing for me to hold onto!” Jimi yelled as they began feeling themselves fall. They only had the chairs they tried to sit on but those two began lifting in the air. They had nothing to grab and began flying until suddenly.
The earth stood still again, and they felt dizzy but just for a moment. They were more focused on the noises they heard.
“What is that? Is that, talking? Eva asked. She was worried they were going to be seen! She forgot for a moment that they were always invisible to almost everyone they encountered when visiting the past.
“Oh it will be fine.” Mort said as he dusted himself off and stood straight. “It’s Las Vegas after all.”
The sounds of people laughing, talking and became louder. It was like a gust of sound to their ears and they knew a true adventure was about to begin.
“We have one hour. Let’s go.” Mort said, and the kids followed quickly behind.
Las Vegas, USA
They were surrounded by a crowd. All of the people walking around were in clothes Eva had only seen on old movies. There were sparkling necklaces and feather scarves, and the men all wore top hats and had thick mustaches.
They looked at their own clothes and thought they were quite under-dressed, but then Eva remembered that it was alright. They can’t be seen.
As they began walking down the street Eva began to notice something rather odd.
There were hundreds of people out and about shopping, eating, and laughing. She saw a bunch of signs all over the place that said “Blacks only” or “Whites only”.
What did that mean?
She tried to remember everything she knew about Sammy Davis Jr. All she knew was that he was as famous as Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley. She remembered Mort telling them that when Sammy Davis passed away that all the lights in Las Vegas went out for a minute in his honor. They only did that with the most special performers. So whatever they were about to learn was surely going to be important.
Just as Eva was about to ask Mort about the signs he began to speak.
“Ah here we are.” Said Mort pointing to a blinking sign.
Eva read the sign and saw that it said El Rancho Motel & Casino, they must be going to watch a famous performance. That got her quite excited. As they entered the performing lounge they saw only one or two people listening to the performers.
“That is Sammy Davis Jr. and the Will Matson Trio.” Mort said as he ushered them into a seat.
They watched how they all performed with style and class. They really knew how to put on a performance but no one was there to watch them. Sammy was tap dancing and at one point he even brought out a trumpet and was sliding across the stage.
As the show ended the kidzter kids all clapped real loudly but knew no one could hear. Some people clapped but others only glanced their way, as if they were not paying attention in the first place. Though Sammy never lost his smile, he performed on the stage as if a million people were watching.
Eva knew she would remember it forever.
Once Sammy Davis and the Matson Trio exited the stage, another group came on. They were black. All the members of the Will Mastin Trio had been black. And everyone in the audience was black. Now she knew what the signs mean’t: Blacks were only allowed to see black performers. It wasn’t fair!
“I don’t understand, why are blacks and whites separate?” Eva asked. It made her upset knowing just thinking about discrimination like that.
“This is what I am here to show you, how the world used to be, and how Sammy Davis and other great performers went through terrible times before reaching success.” Mort said.
Mort took the kids from the booth and walked with them backstage. They saw Sammy Davis sitting there smiling and laughing with his friends, and a big man came towards them in a suit. Eva assumed he must be the manager of the casino because he seemed to look very professional. As he gave them their money Sammy Davis looked rather upset.
“Wait a minute, I know the white acts get paid more than us.” Sammy Davis Jr. said to the man.
Eva was shocked.
Obviously the manager did not know how special Sammy was. Why were they treating him so poorly! Eva began to stand up and walk towards the manager. She may be small but it hurt her heart knowing that Sammy was not receiving what he deserved. She learned that hard work and perseverance helped in success, so why weren’t they being given the same treatment as everyone else? As she began to walk closer she was suddenly stopped Mort Moose.
“They can’t see you remember.” Mort whispered to her and held her back.
“He looks just like me, Would I be treated different?” Jimi said feeling rather strange.
“No, you wouldn’t. Because you are Jimi!” Eva said.
They sat and listened to Sammy Davis talk to his musician pals, they talked of how hard work was. How many hours a day they would practice and search for a better place to play. That even though they were gaining in popularity, they were not being paid right. Sammy said something then that Eva knew she would remember forever.
“They can talk about the way we look, but they can’t change our hearts.” Sammy said and then began humming a little tune and snapping his fingers.
They all began playing a quiet jazzy song backstage. Mort tapped the kids on the shoulder and began ushering them out.
“Where are we going now?” Eva asked him.
“To 1954, where the real magic begins.” Mort said and opened the door.
“Thank goodness.” Eva said.
“It’s not like they’ll still be treated like this in the future.” She said as they began feeling that twisty feeling of the time machine.
Las Vegas, USA
Time-Left: Fifty-Two Minutes
With a spin and some dizziness they plopped down into their next location. It was night time, but the lights in the city were bright enough that it was not dark at all. Las Vegas had lights for everything, they had lights for restaurants, for clubs and casinos, for theaters, and even pet stores! Eva saw the people were all beginning to file into a bright building in fancy clothes and hats.
“What’s in there?” Eva asked as they dusted themselves off.
Just as Mort was about to answer a voice came from behind them and they yelped.
“Why Frank Sinatra! Don’t you know him!” The boy looked about their age. He was dressed in a nice shirt with a little bow-tie.
“Who are you?” Jimi asked with a smile.
“I’m George! My mom loves Frank Sinatra. I always go with her. She even has these!”
George opens his hand to show a VIP ticket with Frank Sinatra’s name on it.
Eva read the ticket. They were backstage passes! They were so lucky to run into someone with tickets like these!
“You can sit with me if you want?” The boy asked them.
Though as they began to walk in George began giving them an odd look. The place was packed and too many people were passing that they did not even notice the “whites only” sign. It was a strange sign anyway and Eva had not really understood. Until George stopped walking and turned around.
“We are going to get in trouble!” George says pointing at the sign.
“What does that mean?” Eva asked him with confusion on her face.
George began to try and explain, he told them that whites and blacks could not go to places at the same time, and then he pointed to Jimi. Jimi had darker skin, so George did not think he was able to come into the building.
The Kidzter kids smiled with relief.
“We are invisible to them. Only some people can see us. Watch!” Eva said and she went into the middle of the hallway.
“HELLO LAS VEGAS!” She yelled loudly. Everyone continued to walk on their own without hearing her yell. George was amazed. Once that was settled they began to feel rather odd, they could see Jimi was clearly upset.
“Why can’t they all come to the show together?” Jimi asked with a low voice.
George did not know the answer. He had always known this lifestyle, but he could see that it was really making Jimi upset. Eva was beginning to realize what Mort meant in class. Her friend Jimi had two eyes like her, two ears like her, two arms, two hands, two legs, and one heart like her. He was just the same as her but if he was to grow up during this time he would be treated differently.
Eva made a funny face at George, hoping he would see how sad Jimi was. George understood perfectly and ran and gave Jimi a hug.
“I don’t think it is fair. I am sorry. Oh oh! But come with me! This might make you happy!” George said grabbing Jimi’s hand and they ran towards the stage disappearing into the crowds of people.
Eva, Carlos, and Mort ran behind them but they lost sight of George and Jimi.
Arriving at the stage they saw hundreds and hundreds of chairs. There were drinks and fancy plates sitting at tables.
The stage was covered in microphone stands and chords were everywhere. Technology was not as advanced back then Eva remembered. Now they could have microphones in a headset or without the chords.
It gave her an excited feeling again being able to time travel.
They really got to see so much of the music world that no one else will get to see again.
“Where are they?” Eva asked as she looked at Mort.
George and Jimi had ran ahead of them and now they were mixed with the hundreds of people waiting to watch Frank Sinatra.
That was when Eva saw the sign.
The Sands, a place in the sun
Sammy Davis Jr.
“Look! Look Sammy Davis Jr. is on there too!” She pointed towards the sign.
Mort gave her a smile, as if he had already known that.
Eva wanted to sit and watch, the band looked like they were getting everything prepared, but they had to find Jimi and their new friend.
As they watched the drummer prepare his sticks and the man with trombone warm-up, they saw two little objects run into a doorway. They were about the size of kids and looked a lot like their friends Jimi and George.
They ran directly under a big “NO ENTRY” sign that said “BACKSTAGE” on it.
Eva was almost nervous until she remembered again with a smile. It was sure fun to be invisible.
The Kidzter Kids go back in time to meet Frank Sinatra and his friends and learn about how they ended discrimination in Las Vegas.