Lou Monte, the guy who sings about the little donkey climbing the hills of Italy, lived in Lyndhurst, New Jersey.

Lou Monte (born Louis Scaglione, April 2, 1917) was an Italian-American singer, known for his Italian-themed novelty records, recorded in the late 1950's, and early 1960's.

Monte gained a following playing the clubs here in New Jersey, just before WWII. After being discharged from the Army at the end of the war, Lou Monte had a show on a Newark radio station. That led to TV appearances at the dawn of the medium. Plus, a local recording deal. And, finally, a national recording contract.

Monte's first big break came in 1954, with the release of his Italian-English version of "Darktown Strutter's Ball".

In 1962, Monte would release his first million-seller, "Pepino the Italian Mouse."

It tells the story of a mischievous mouse who lives within the walls of a man's kitchen. The mouse comes out at night to eat cheese, drink wine, and frighten Lou's girlfriend when she comes to visit. Further, Pepino befriends the cat that is sent to catch him.

Then, there's Dominick The Italian Christmas Donkey (1960), one of Jersey's Favorite Hits at Christmastime.

While being a staple in Italian-American homes over the years, it started getting "mainstream" national exposure as it gained radio play throughout the 1990's. I first heard the song, and played it on the radio, in Philadelphia in the early 90's.

Flash-forward to the new millennium.

The new guy...on NJ101.5...Christmas Day, 2002. (Craig Allen photo archives)
The new guy...on NJ101.5...Christmas Day, 2002. (Craig Allen photo archives)

I was so new to New Jersey 101.5 (2002) that I wasn't doing a regular weekend music show just yet.  I think I was filling in for Big Joe on a Friday night, when the listener line rang.  Just before picking up the line, I turned down the studio speakers...so "Dominick The Donkey" faded into my background.

A very emotional gentleman says hello, and explains that he is related to Lou Monte, "who we lost a few years ago" (June 1989, buried in Upper Montclair).  He tells me that he and his family are thrilled to hear "Dominick The Italian Christmas Donkey."  That hearing it makes them feel like Lou is still with them.  And he says: "We're very proud to hear Uncle Lou's song on New Jersey's radio station."

The power of New Jersey 101.5 is ALWAYS amazing.

Merry Christmas, Monte Family and relatives..."proud to be FROM New Jersey."

Check out Lou Monte's official site by clicking here.

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