Big Band Legacy in Self Storage

Posted on Dec 31 2013 - 12:15pm by Winnie Hsiu

Got chips and salsa? Check? Soda pop? Party hats and noise makers? Friends invited over? Check and double check. Then, it sounds like you’re ready to bring in the New Year with a great party. But, are you including Mr. New Year’s Eve?

If you happen to be under the age of 25, you probably don’t even know who Mr. New Year’s Eve really is. If you don’t think about Justin Bieber, you might think that it’s Dick Clark. But it isn’t. It’s Guy Lombardo from the big band era.

What does Guy Lombardo have to do with the self storage industry? A treasure-trove of his memorabilia has been languishing in two storage units in South Fort Myers, Florida, for almost 40 years.

Lombardo formed a band with three of his brothers and other musicians from his hometown of London, Ontario, Canada. His band became extremely popular on the radio and later on television. His band’s first New Year’s Eve radio broadcast was in 1928. Their first television was in 1956. They continued playing until 1977 when Lombardo passed away.

After his death, the legacy and rights to the orchestra passed from brother to brother. After Lebert, the last brother, died in 1993, the memorabilia was left to Lebert’s children – some who lived in South Fort Myers, Florida.

Since, none of the decedents are in the music business, they put the band’s belongings into storage. There are at least 100 manila envelopes of original, handwritten band orchestrations, 40 boxes of reels of 35 millimeter films, and lots of large reels of 16 millimeter films of episodes of the band’s TV show that was aired in the 1950s.

A year ago, some of Lebert’s children tried to find a place to archive these items. They feel that they should be on display for the public. However, they wonder whether or not if they should go to a university. But should it be one in the United States or in Canada where Lombardo was from? (He became a United States citizen in 1938.) What are the legal arrangements that need to be made? Where will the money come from to pay for the legal costs and the archiving costs? The family has lots of questions but no answers.

So, in the meantime, all of those items are still sitting in the self storage units in South Fort Meyers – and waiting for someone to decide what should be done with them.

If your New Year’s Eve celebrations this evening include singing ‘should old acquaintance be forgot,’ take a moment to reflect on Guy Lombardo, Mr. New Year’s Eve, and his contribution to celebrating this holiday for over 50 years – and be grateful that his band’s memorabilia is still safe and secure in storage.

Sources Used:

“Guy Lombardo treasure trove in storage.” Naples News; 31 December 2013.

“Mr. New Year’s Eve: Guy Lombardo’s stuff still in limbo.” Fort Myers News; 31 December 2013.

Guy Lombardo. Wikipedia.