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God Bless Our Boys in Korea

During the Korean War, a patriotic song called, "God Bless Our Boys in Korea", was written by Louis Perosi. The rousing music and lyrics of this song were recorded by Vanity Records of Patterson, New Jersey, on a 78 rpm record. The lyrics expressed support and hope for the troops, and called for prayers and support. The music content included an introductory snare drum cadence, followed by several choruses sang by vocalist Jo Ann Lear and reprised by a male group. The Justin Leonard orchestra provided the background music. On the reverse of the album, Cal Cala crooned "Angel." Both songs were written circa 1951. "God Bless Our Boys in Korea" is one of only two songs known by the Korean War Educator to have been written specifically on the subject of the Korean War during the time that the war was actually in progress. The other song can be found on the "Home Front In The Songs page" of the Korean War Educator under the title, "Say a Prayer for the Boys in Korea."

Two of the "God Bless Our Boys in Korea" albums were posted for auction on Ebay in October of 2002, where they were discovered by Lynnita Brown of the Korean War Educator. The albums were the last of their kind from a stock of records sold in the Trudy Whyte Record Shop which operated in Racine, Wisconsin, from 1946 through 1969. One of the Ebay albums is now owned by Lynnita Brown, and the other is owned by Lou Perosi, son of the song’s author. The Perosi family was unaware of the album’s existence until one of his two sons was contacted by Mrs. Brown. In response to her query about Louis Valentine Perosi Sr., Mr. Perosi’s son, Lou (Stroudsburg, PA) Jr., provided the following information about his father.

Louis Valentine Perosi, Sr.

Louis was born on March 10, 1920. He was the oldest of five children: Frank, Anthony, Mary and William. He was raised in New York City by his parents Mario and Rafella, who met in New York City, but came from Italy. At the age of eight, his parents divorced and the children were placed into the custody of the New York State Children’s Services, where they were cared for in a Children’s Home until Louis was twelve. During his time at the Children’s Home, Louis suffered a broken ear drum as a result of being severely punished on numerous occasions. At the age of twelve, his father got custody of the children again after remarrying, and had another child, Americo. His father worked as a construction worker and played the violin on city sidewalks in New York City to make extra money. Mario had become a master of most musical instruments before coming to America. Louis graduated high school through the New York City school system.

The family moved from New York City in 1938, and settled in Suffern, New York, where Mario became the music director for the Suffern school system. Louis worked in construction and began learning the accordion, piano, and other instruments. At the age of eighteen, Louis was an accomplished musician working full time in construction as a mason and, playing music part time. In 1942, the family moved to New Jersey where Mario set up a music studio in Paterson, New Jersey. Louis helped his father and taught music.

In 1943, one of his students, Frances Randazzo, taking mandolin lessons, caught the eye of Louis. On June 4, 1944, Louis and Frances were married and settled in West Paterson, New Jersey. They had two sons, Louis Jr. And Vincent. Louis Senior continued to play and compose music. He was a prolific composer, writing songs about everything from love to important news stories of the day.

In 1951, he composed the song, "God Bless Our Boys in Korea." He never served in the military because of his broken ear drum. In 1952, he recorded the song in New Jersey. The song was never nationally distributed. Only a limited number of copies were made.

In 1955, Louis began working full time for Bendix Corporation, Teterboro, New Jersey, where he was a foundry worker. He also learned the printing trade and worked part time in a printing shop in Paterson, New Jersey. He also published his own local paper called "The Star Bulletin."

Louis wrote more than 25 compositions, and he copyrighted ten, including "God Bless Our Boys in Korea." His greatest opportunity to become a nationally-known songwriter was in 1958, when he was a contestant on Steve Allen’s "Songs for Sale" game show. Louis entered his song, "Daffy Down Dilly", which was sung by a popular singer of that era on national TV with a background of dancers in costumes of toy soldiers and dolls. The panel of judges thought the song was a hit, but one of the panelists, Morey Amsterdam, a comic from that period, voted the song down. Ironically, Amsterdam later published a song called Huckle Buck, which was never a hit but nonetheless received Amsterdam’s backing.

After that, Louis continued to seek recognition for his work, but times were changing, and so was music. Rock and Roll was the new thing, and shortly after that, Elvis, the Beatles, and other groups of the 60’s changed music as Louis knew it, forever. He could not adjust to the music of the early baby boomers.

However, one song still remains unpublished, and will undoubtedly place Louis Valentine Perosi Senior on the national hit list in the near future. That song is, "Let’s Decorate the Merry Christmas Tree," and competes with classics like "Jingle Bell Rock" and "Rockin around the Christmas Tree." The song is a treasure of holiday joy and happiness and his son, Louis Jr., along with his brother, Frank, who is in the record business, plan to publish the song for Christmas 2003, along with a number of other new Christmas songs.

Louis died unexpectedly at the age of 64 on December 10, 1984, at a Christmas party for Bendix retirees. In front of everyone, Louis Perosi Sr. sang the song, "You Light Up My Life" to his wife Frances. After completing the song, he slumped into his wife’s arms and passed away. He died of congestive heart failure and was buried in Holy Sepulcher Cemetery in Totowa, New Jersey. His survivors included his wife, brothers William and Frank, sons Louis Jr. and Vincent, and grandchildren Maria, Matt, Vincent Jr., and Christopher.  His widow, Frances Randazzo Perosi of West Paterson, later died on July 29, 2003.

Post Note by Louis Perosi, Jr:

Why my father wrote the song, "God Bless Our Boys in Korea" will probably remain a mystery. I believe, however, based on other songs he wrote, my father wrote the song as a patriot and because he was moved by the conflict of that time. No doubt he felt this was his own contribution to the war effort and he hoped to motivate other Americans to support our men in uniform. My father was a staunch conservative Republican and believed in America. I think the basis for his idea to compose this song finds its roots in the ideals of the man.

 

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