Larry Dean taught me my ABCs

Baltimore, radio nights of 1959.

I’ve always enjoyed listening to radios: AM broadcast, shortwave broadcast, communications radios of all shapes and sizes. In 1959, I was a boy of 13 in Towson, Maryland, a Baltimore suburb. I loved to listen to an AM radio disk jockey named Larry Dean. He called himself “Long, tall, lean, lanky Larry Dean”. He’d close each show at midnight by playing the Moonglows’ “Ten Commandments of Love”. His last words each night were “Remember your A-B-C’s: Always Be Cool”.

Larry’s smooth voice would waft across my darkened bedroom, punctuated by not the white bread Bobby-this or Tommy-that pablum. No, Larry played tunes that most “white” stations didn’t play: groups like the Moonglows, the Penguins, the Flamingos, the Robins, the Coasters, as well as Little Richard, Fats Domino, Bo Diddley, and Chuck Berry. I loved them all, and looked forward to falling asleep each night while serenaded by my 5-tube plastic AM radio. John Waters’ movie Hairspray captured that 1959 Baltimore magic. We really did use the word “drape” to describe what our parents called a JD (juvenile delinquent).

FaulknerLongTallLeanLarryDean
Larry Dean

When my family moved away from Baltimore, I couldn’t listen to Larry’s “ABC” instruction so my coolness drained away. Over the years I’ve wondered who Larry was and what he looked like. Thanks to the worldwide web and its search engines, I now know that when I listened to him, Larry was in his 30’s and on his way up the deejay ladder. He always impressed me as a really decent man. According to Larry Dean’s on-line gravesite, he was.

Refrain: Oh how happy we will be, if we keep The Ten Commandments Of Luh-uh-uh-uh-uv.

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695
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5 thoughts on “Larry Dean taught me my ABCs”

  1. Hello Russ,
    I’m Larry Dean’s daughter, Naima. My father went on to be the voice of the Black Mutual Network based in Washington, DC and ended his career as the News Director of WEAA at Morgan State College. His family name is Faulkner. He passed away in 1985. I also miss his melodic voice. I thought he was forgotten until I came across your article. You made my day. Thanks.

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    1. Hello Naima,

      Thanks for your comment. When I heard your father, I think that his show aired from 9:00 PM to midnight on Baltimore’s AM radio station WITH. He conveyed a rare combination of undoubted hipness and a compassion for people, especially teenagers. I still try to follow his Always Be Cool motto.

      I’ll bet that plenty of other people remember your father. For example, both John Waters and Barry Levinson made movies that were placed in Baltimore circa 1959. I’ll bet that they both remember your father’s show.

      Did you venture into broadcasting?

      Please visit again soon. This blog mostly deals with technical topics, but I bore myself without occasional forays into pop culture. Remembering your father’s radio show brought back good memories.

      Best wishes,
      Russ Bellew

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  2. Russ- I know that the film Hairspray was a compilation of the DJ’s of that time. Dad used to take me to the amusement park featured in that film.
    Dad was a very conservative southern gentleman and did not want his 4 girls to enter the business. Much to his surprise, I got a degree in radio communications but went into telecommunications out of respect for him.
    I miss his voice and was searching the web for any recordings of his show. I will check with Waters and Levinson to see if they kept any recordings when they researched the film. The DJ in the film sounded a lot like Wolfman Jack though.
    If I find a recording, I will try to forward it to you since you were one of his “Little Tigers”

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    1. Based on his interviews, John Waters seems very approachable, so I’ll bet that he’ll respond — especially when he learns that you’re Larry Dean’s daughter
      I love listening to John’s descriptions of Baltimore circa 1958-1959. We are the same age and I may have attended his elementary school for a few months.

      I watched parts of Diner last night. Baltimore WAS Colts-mad then. It’s conceivable that a prospective Baltimore groom could require that his fiance’ pass an exam on Baltimore Colts facts!

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  3. Dear Naima, my name is Elmo Elmore real name is Robert Elmore. Yes I too think of your Dad on daily basis. you see I lived in White Marsh and went to school at Parkville senior high. Well I was in the Band and played in the Rock & Roll Band called the Stereo’s. Well Mr. Bowser my Band leader suggested that intake an audition for the Air Force Band well low and behold I passed and now I am retired in Salt Lake City, after a20 year service in the NAvy and Air force Bands. While in the Navy Band I took leave and went to Auctioneering school and thanks to your father and all the inspiration that he had on me as a kid every day I deal with kids and believe it or not when I leave I always tell the kids to mind your ABC’s always be cool so rest assured that your fathers saying will always go on forever. I’m over 70 now and every says how do I do it because they say that ‘m not Adam over 55 always makes my day. I’ve been retired from the Navy Band for 30 yrs but I still do auctions in fact I used to do the Aleyeska auction in Alaska. You must realized when l was born the (Dead Sea was sick) haha. Sorry for my spelling and grammar never had much schooling even though I west to school when I got home from school I had to do farm work but I could play agood clarinet and sax. I am so glad I was able to communicate with a relative ofa legend of Baltimore. say if by chance if your ever near SLC Utah please email me at Elmoangelina@gmail.com I would love to see yor and our family. Thank you so much for taking thr time to read this I feel honored!!

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