Tex Vertmann was born in Estonia in the mid-1970s. The very American-sounding first name “Tex” is unusual in Estonia — how did he come to have it?
Vertmann said his parents used to spend the best moments of their life together at the cinema, watching all kinds of foreign movies that had either been left behind by the Germans or bought by the Soviet Union from the U.S.
Estonia was part of the USSR from 1940 to 1991, and for several years during WWII it was occupied by Nazi Germany.
Among these were the Italian film “Return to Sorrento” and “Waterloo Bridge” […] But Vertmann’s parents just adored “Sun Valley Serenade,” in which the famous Glenn Miller conducted his orchestra.
These films were released in 1945, 1940, and 1941, respectively.
The name of one of Miller’s band players, the tenor-sax, was Tex Beneke. Vertmann remembered [his] parents also liked the Miller song “Chattanooga Choo-Choo,” which begins with the line “Hello Tex!” That’s how Vertmann got his very original name in the times of “deep socialism.”
The movie Sun Valley Serenade, which starred Sonja Henie, includes a sequence in which Texas-born Gordon Lee “Tex” Beneke both sings and whistles “Chattanooga Choo Choo.” The lyrics begin: Hi there Tex, whatchu say?
Americans of the early 1940s (but not the 1970s!) would have agreed with the Vertmanns about the song: a whopping 1.2 million copies of “Chattanooga Choo Choo” were sold by early 1942.
In recognition of this accomplishment, Miller’s record label presented him with a framed, gold-plated copy of the single — the very first gold record. This paved the way for RIAA-issued gold records in the late 1950s.
- Chattanooga Choo-Choo Historical Marker – HMdb.org
- Gunter, Aleksei. “Estonian names keep on puzzling through the centuries.” Baltic Times 7 Mar. 2002.
- Tex Beneke – Wikipedia