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Sunday, September 22, 2013

Setting the legend of Molly Zelko to song

By Ted Slowik

Several weeks ago, I got the idea to write a song about Molly Zelko. She was a Joliet journalist who went missing on Sept. 25, 1957. She's a bit of a legend here, and I was fortunate to be a colleague of Herald News columnist John Whiteside, who did much to keep alive the story of the missing reporter.

John and Lonny Cain wrote a series of articles about Molly in 1978 that pretty much cemented her place in local lore. By the time I arrived in town in 1991, the names of Zelko and Whiteside were permanently linked. John died in 2005, so Lonny carries the mantle of the Molly story now.

Anyway, I thought the Molly story would make a great song. There was still the matter of writing it. I read up on the story, carried it around in my head for several weeks, but no ideas sprouted. Finally, the other day I made a list of key words associated with Molly's story, and that did the trick. A short time later a melody arrived, and I was able to write seven verses fairly quickly.

There's not much more to say. Here are the lyrics, and a link to the first video demo of the song. When I write, I tend to imagine melodies in a fairly low register, so I've yet to teach myself to sing this song in a more palatable range. Hoping to get that done by Wednesday so I could perform this at Tribes Alehouse Mokena on what would be the anniversary of Molly's disappearance.

Molly Zelko   by Ted Slowik

In Joliet there's a famous mystery
Handed down through time and history
A story whose ending nobody knows
Whatever happened to Molly Zelko?

She was a bulldog worked for The Spectator
Big Bill McCabe owned that weekly newspaper
Exposing corruption until one night
Molly disappeared out of sight

Screams at midnight on Buell Avenue
All they found were her black pump shoes
A missing person where did she go?
Whatever happened to Molly Zelko?

The mob ran the pinball and jukebox machines
A gambling crime syndicate industry
The boss's name was Frank Curry
He caught the attention of Bobby Kennedy

The FBI they poked around
J. Edgar Hoover dug holes in the ground
Some snitch in Stateville said he knew
But they never found any solid clues

Did she cash in and run away?
Or was she done in some other way?
She wore on her finger a diamond ring
17 carats a beautiful thing

Whiteside and Cain brought back the tale
In '78 to no avail
It's a story whose ending nobody knows
Whatever happened to Molly Zelko?

P.S.--I've now uploaded the first audio demo of the song, with a harmony vocal and a fake violin track:

P.S.S.--Here's a video of how I intend to perform the song: