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Unfortunately, Harry hated living in New York, and in 1934 he decided he’d had enough of it and quit, returning to Richmond with his bride-to-be, Helene “Smiles” Davis. 

 

Helene had her own interesting entertainment history.  She had been performing for much of her life beginning at age six.  She married and divorced Ned Wayburn, noted dance instructor and Broadway director.  Soon after the United States declared war on Germany in 1917, General Pershing issued a call for performers to travel to Europe to entertain American troops, and Helene was among those selected to go.  She took with her several current tunes, including one that was so new it hadn’t yet been published; she took a lead sheet written in pencil with just single notes.  It was the Lee S. Roberts and J. Will Callahan tune titled “Smiles,” and Helene made such an impression singing it that the soldiers soon began to ask for “Smiles” when they wanted to hear her.  For the rest of her life she was known as “Smiles.”

On May 2, 1934 Harry and Smiles were married in Richmond and took up residence on a five-acre farm on the National Road (now U.S. 40) 11 miles west of town, dubbed “Just-a-Mere” Farm. 


Just-a-Mere Farm as it appears today.

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