By Steve Hathcock
Special to the PARADE
Christina wrote to me about a book she bought titled, “The Padre Island Story” by Loraine Daly. “I know that books about Texas history can be quite rare and I wonder if you can tell me a little about the author and the value of the book?”
Let me tell you a little bit about the author first I replied.
Born Hidalgarde Weicklein and raised in Texas Hill Country, Loraine Daly got her first taste of the fame that would follow when she was selected as Miss Jefferson at San Antonio’s Jefferson High School in 1938.
Her singing career began when she took lessons from Mary Stuart Edwards and Sister Mary Lawrence at Incarnate College. After graduation, she took the stage name of Loraine Daly.
The blonde, vivacious 21-year-old was already singing on a Dallas radio station when the famed Herbie Kay, whose band was playing all over the country at the time, asked her to audition for the position recently held by Dorothy Lamour, who was now a star on the silver screen. By the time she was 30, Loraine was an accomplished model and top female vocalist in one of the country’s hottest swing bands.
Her marriage to Jerry Joliff in 1948 was broadcast live on the Bride and Groom Radio Show where the newlyweds won a new refrigerator for their appearance. At the same time she was under contract as a model for the Aluminum Company of America and wore an aluminum swimming suit of golden lurex threads.
The song “Come with me to Padre Island” was written by Loraine Daly and Carl Johnson in 1953 and was first introduced by Ken Harris and his combo at the Driscoll Hotel in Corpus Christi with Loraine Daly as vocalist. The song was released as a 78 and a 45 on the Erin label by Circle Records of San Francisco, while the sheet music was released by Hammitt Music Company of Sacramento. Later, a novelty postcard featuring a 33 rpm recording of the song on a specially designed vinyl insert was released that could be played on any phonograph of the time. It sold for $1.95.
“Come with me to Padre Island” was an instant hit and quickly spread across the airwaves. During an interview held in the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C. in 1954, Daly told a reporter that “the song has been played and sung in cities from the East Coast to California and was also played over the radio network up and down the Pacific Coast.” The Ken Harris band continued to play the song in its radio, TV and newspaper contracts.
During a trip to the Texas shore in 1959, Loraine was voted Miss Padre Island. She was so inspired by the honor that she spent the next few years learning as much as she could about the Island’s history. “The Padre Island Story,” co-authored by Pat Reumert, a Houston school teacher and childhood friend, was released in 1962 by the Naylor Company of San Antonio. The book, which followed the history of Padre Island from the 1550s to the present, sold for $1 and was an instant success.
Over the next decade or so, “The Padre Island Story” was revised and reprinted eight times. Today, a good used copy in paperback form sells for around $18 while one of the more elusive hardbacks sells for around $30.
There is one variation though which commands a higher price and that is the 1971 revised edition with a white cover, which was may have been the result of a marketing experiment or more likely, the printer loaded the wrong stock in the press and it was not discovered until after shipment. In all my years as a rare book dealer, I have only seen 2 copies. One of which is shelved in my permanent library and the other I traded for 4 silver dollars.