An Update

Fred H. Rohn


I am posting this on behalf of my father, Fred Rohn, who passed away on June 2. He was very excited about the May release of his most recent book, Encounters: Relationships in Conflict, a collection of short fiction. Prior to that, I worked with him to publish his memoir, A Fortunate Life, a chronology of personal reflections in the context of growing up during the Depression and World War II.

Music was a very important part of my father’s life. He loved the big band sound and especially enjoyed how many instruments came together to make music.

Below are some excerpts from his chapter on music in A Fortunate Life

I grew up in an era of fifteen member ‘swing’ bands, in the years between World War I and World War II.”

Gas rationing during World War II forced the closing of the supper club venues and the bands played in smaller, downtown locations, close to bus and trolley mass transit. It was both illegal and unpatriotic to drive a car just to hear a band, even if you had some gasoline coupons unused. So, my friends and I, often in my high school years, would take a bus on Saturday mornings to Newark where the Adams Theater on Branford Place housed a succession of big bands in concert.

I’m still comforted by this music, at times in awe of its ability to get the best out of both the instruments themselves and the musicians playing together as a team. It is my kind of music, an integral part of growing up during the mid-twentieth century.

…and for those who want the full experience of the music he enjoyed so much, take a look at this playlist, a collection of songs and artists that formed the backdrop of his life.

On the Sunny Side of the Street, Keely Smith
In the Mood, Glenn Miller and His Orchestra
I’m Getting Sentimental Over You, Tommy Dorsey
Misty, Erroll Garner
(I Left My Heart) In San Francisco, Tony Bennett
Embraceable You / I Got It Bad, Louis Prima & Keely Smith
At the Woodchoppers Ball, Woody Herman
Stompin’ at the Savoy, Erroll Garner
Mack the Knife, Bobby Darin
Ciribiribin, Harry James
Hey, Boy! Hey, Girl!, Louis Prima
I’m In the Mood for Love, Erroll Garner
Moonlight Serenade, Glenn Miller and His Orchestra
Beyond the Sea, Bobby Darin
When You’re Smiling / The Sheik of Araby, Louis Prima
Swingin’ On the Moon, Mel Tormé
Don’t Get Around Much Anymore, Mel Tormé
Just a Gigolo / I Ain’t Got Nobody, Louis Prima

Click here for more information about A Fortunate Life.

Encounters was published on May 4. You can learn more about his short stories here.

I will continue to keep his blog and website active. Visit for updates about his books.

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

52 thoughts on “An Update

  1. Your father sounds like he was a true romantic, with his music and his words. I am sorry your shared times have passed. He will live on in your heart and the memories you cherish and pass onto your children. Thank you for all the time you spend reviewing books. I appreciate your insights.

  2. I’m so sorry to learn of your father’s passing, Barbara. He was clearly a very sweet, intelligent, and thoughtful man. I hope his books and music help keep him close to you. My dad (1928-2001) also loved music, especially the big band sound. I miss him terribly, but always feel like he’s nearby when I hear one of his favorite songs.

    Wishing you peace during this difficult time,

    1. Thank you, Mary. Our fathers were of the same time period. My dad was born in 1926 and grew up outside of New York. You are right, listening to this music brings us closer to them. Thanks for reading.

  3. Nice way for you to keep your father’s memories—and his writing—alive, Barbara. I’m sure you and your family miss him a great deal.

  4. I think that a lot of creative people, writers, artists and poems, take great pleasure in music as a source of inspiration. A lovely post.

    1. I think you’re right. Big band music has its own style and if you really listen to it, you can hear that every instrument contributes in an important way. Thanks for reading, Robbie!

    1. Thank you, Jill. I have been listening to this playlist and thinking about how much it reflects that period of time. If you ever get to listen to any of it, the first singer, Keely Smith, has an amazing voice.

  5. Oh, Barbara, you evoked so many memories for me here. My dad would be 93 now, but he died a decade ago (started smoking as he listened to all that Big Band music as a teen…, then as a paratrooper during WWII, and never stopped). I grew up listening to “his” music – jazz and big band, and I must admit, as a young girl, I didn’t appreciate the music. But in his last years as I visited him and he played his records, I’d sit and listen with him, and understand his love of that sound. My brother and I were with him as he died at home (with hospice), and we played his records for him until his last breath. Music is life. Your dad was inspired by the music, and his words will inspire you for the rest of your life. xo

    1. I know exactly what you’re saying about hearing big band and jazz music as a girl. I don’t think I appreciated it much because every generation has its own music. When I listen to it now, I hear what he was always talking about: the hidden melodies and the collaborative effort. My dad was a big collaborator so I now understand how the music from his era contributed to that thinking. So glad you also have that connection with your father and are able to remember him in that way. It’s a bittersweet time of life. I think the music helps get us through. Thank you for commenting.

  6. Barbara, a touching post about your father and the music in his life. He writes with such love for the big bands. It is wonderful when musicians find the perfect combinations for both themselves and the audience. It’s touching to read your father’s words that ‘I’m still comforted by this music, at times in awe of its ability to get the best out of both the instruments themselves and the musicians playing together as a team.’

    I hope this music can give you equal comfort and inpsiration in your sadness.
    hugs xx

    1. Thank you, Annika. On Sundays, my dad used to stack a pile of lps on the stereo and we would hear the music he loved all day. One of his favorites was the jazz piano player, Erroll Garner. Much of the music he liked was instrumental and he was always trying to get me to name the melody. Re-reading his memoir has been a good way to stay close to the memories. Thanks for reading and commenting, Annika!

  7. I’m so sorry to hear about your father’s passing. I so enjoyed reading your posts about his writing and the process of publishing his books. He sounds like quite a lovely man who led a rich life.

    1. Thank you, Lisa. I get a lot of comfort from re-reading his books. We had a great time working on them. Thanks for stopping by. Happy reading!

  8. I’m so sorry for your loss. You father sounds like a wonderful person! I’m so glad he wrote about his experiences, as that is something you will treasure always.

  9. It’s amazing how much music can touch us and influence us, isn’t it? I’m sure you hear some of those songs and have fond memories of him, just as he had his own memories stemming for those tunes. Lovely post…oh, and what a great collection of songs that are still enjoyed today (well, I enjoy them, anyway).

    1. Hi Tammie – thank you for these thoughtful comments. I have enjoyed listening to this playlist in the last few weeks. I think you learn a lot about a person when you listen to music they loved. Glad you also enjoy the same music!

  10. What a lovely way to remember your father, Barbara. His words and the music he loved is a vibrant legacy for you and his family.

  11. That explains your brilliance as a writer. I am sorry for your loss, but glad he passed on a love of literature and music to you.

  12. Barbara, this is a lovely tribute to your father, and I’m so sorry to hear that he has passed away. His playlist, though, reminds me of my parents’ taste in music. So many wonderful memories. My mom was 90 when she passed in 2012, and my dad was 97 when he passed just last August.
    The Glenn Miller Band, Tommy Dorsey, Tony Bennett, and Mel Torme were some of their favorites, also. And they loved The Lawrence Welk show, too. It was a different time, and although each generation has its own struggles, sometimes I think their generation was the best. I look forward to checking out his books. Throughout the years, my dad shared a lot of history with us, so I have that jotted down, as well. Wishing you peace and comfort, Lauren 💗

    1. Hi Lauren, thanks for reading and for your lovely comments. I have been listening to this playlist a lot. As a kid, I don’t think I appreciated this kind of music, even though I played the piano and flute and understood the full sound only a group of musicians can create.

      It’s so nice to connect with people whose parents are from the same generation. Our parents had many challenges that we or our kids do not, but each generation has its own experience. You should put a book together about your father’s experiences!

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