Sunday, January 22, 2017

Dear Skipper’s Brother

The last few weeks I’ve posted about my grandmother’s brother, Wilton Guzendorfer.  You can read about it HERE and HERE.

Wilt_Gordon 1949
Wilt Gunzendorfer and the Skipper, 1949

In writing these posts I’ve come across some interesting things about Uncle Wilt, one of which is this letter to Skipper’s Brother.  While I’ve never heard it before, it seems like Wilt called my dad Skipper.  Wonder where that came from?

Skippers Brother page 1

May 31, 1939

Mr. Robert Levy
1549 Echo Avenue
Fresno, California

Dear Skipper’s Brother:

Your swell  [this was a favorite word in that time period] letter on your fancy stationery landed right side up on my desk a morning or so ago.

I enjoy knowing that your first year at college worked out the way it did.  From what I can ascertain, your work on the Daily California was super, and the family should be proud of your appointment as Sophomore manager.  If your assignments next semester take you to San Francisco [not a great distance from UC Berkeley], rest assured I will give you some more names of the personalities I know in the advertising field there.

I get a kick out of Gordon’s idea of wanting to become a drummer.  [Not sure why that’s funny as my dad was quite a musician]. It seems to me your brother has the idea that in order to become a good musician, you must be able to play all the instruments in the orchestra.  [Is that such a bad thing?]  After all, this isn’t a bad idea.  [Phew, stop picking on my dad].  As far as “yours truly” having a set at his disposal, I am sorry to inform you that I believe I sold my drums in 1920 to the KA house.  You might look in and see if they still have the set of drums that I sold them.  If Gordon is interested in having the family buy him a new set, I believe that he should wait until the next time he comes up to San Francisco, and I can go with him to the drum shops and see that he gets the proper type of equipment at the right price. 

Now, maybe Fresno being somewhat of a large city, might accidentally [accidentally?] have a music shop that he could invest his money with.  It has been so long since I fooled around with a set of drums, that I don’t know what is the latest in drum equipment, but I do know a couple of good drum men in San Francisco who could give me this information.

Skippers Brother page 2

Tell your mother it was swell [see, there’s that word again] of her to send me a wire on last Thursday, and I enjoyed the rememberance very much.  [Probably for his birthday].

If you start signing off with QSO and W6RSL [what?] I will have to be posting your ticket out to the transmitter so that you can sign off with the best of “73’s”.  Cheerio.

Cordially yours, [not love?]

The Skipper
Wilt Gunzendorfer
Station KSRO

So just who is the Skipper?  Dad or Wilt?  And why did he have to tell Rob these things about the drum set when Dad lived in the same house and he could have just written him separately?

I’m not sure if Dad ever got a drum set.  I know he played the accordian and piano as a child, and not only did he continue with the piano as an adult but then ‘graduated’ to the organ.  I also remember him playing an instrument that was like a handheld piano that you blew into to make music – something like this Melodica. (this is not my dad)


Oh Wilt, so many questions I’d love to ask you!


  1. Was Robert in the same frat, KA? Then I think he was Wilt (Skipper)'s brother---frat brother. At least that's how I read it since he refers to your father as Gordon throughout the letter, not as Skipper.

    1. Oh Amy, great idea! I have asked my cousin (Rob's daughter) as to which fraternity he was in and she is checking with her mom. Stay tuned.

    2. Let me know! I assumed this when I saw the reference to KA in his letter and the fact that Robert was in college and Milt refers to selling his drums to KA as if Robert would know what that meant. Kappa Alpha?

  2. Confusing letter! I hope you find more answers. :)

    1. After Amy's question/suggestion above, I have asked my cousin. Maybe I'll get the answer.