Here’s to Life: John (Doc Zog) Hartzog, teacher, DJ, trivia mavin
Everyone has a secret wish. For some it’s owning a little deuce coupe; others long for a vacation in Paradise City.
John Hartzog, a.k.a. Doc Zog, has achieved his heart’s desire. He is the proud owner of a refurbished, mint condition jukebox.
His interest in trivia, especially music related trivia, has led to his purchase of an absolutely fabulous jukebox that originally played in Hollywood. To date, Hartzog has collected 1,500 45 rpm recordings. The jukebox holds 100 records so he always has 200 tunes at his fingertips. However, he claims the music will only play after the insertion of quarters minted between 1963-1967, the years Hartzog attended high school. If so, they must drop like pennies from heaven, because tunes float from his door from morning until early evening, when out of consideration for his neighbors he will turn, turn, turn off the music.
Tracing the long and winding road that resulted in this acquisition begins, not with music, but with obscure facts.
Hartzog was first bitten by the trivia bug during his freshman orientation at Bloomsburg College. Freshmen were compelled to wear “dinks” (beany caps) and to memorize the answers to trivia questions such as “Who sang the song Cat Ballou?” (Answer: Stubby Kaye and Nat King Cole) More than happy to comply, Hartzog memorized the answers and discovered his trivia passion.
After college, Hartzog found employment as a teacher in the East Penn School District. Protocol required every new junior high school teacher to sponsor a school club or activity. When Hartzog was asked what club he would sponsor, he devised a trivia club – an organization that allowed him to combine his love of music with his interest in trivia. More importantly, this club opened its doors to students who might not receive recognition for athletic or academic prowess. In a trivia club, chances are good that sooner or later everybody is a star. The club was an overnight success, and in 1974, Hartzog presided over the first Eyer Junior High School Trivia Super Bowl.
Student Jay Morgan won the first two years, but then requested Hartzog change the competition format. To alleviate the pressure faced by an individual competing alone, teams were organized. A perennially popular event, the Eyer Trivia Contest was held yearly until 2006.
At approximately the same time he was developing the Eyer Junior High School Trivia Super Bowl, Hartzog began a second, concurrent career as a DJ. Never one to just let it be, he was soon working for WAEB and running community trivia contests at places such as the Trexlertown Mall. Players revealed memory prowess in categories such as movies, TV, sports and old-time rock and roll and earned trophies, respect and merchant donated items.
Hartzog also used his trivia contest expertise to raise money for The March of Dimes. As a special prize for the winners of this contest, Hartzog arranged for team members to conduct a telephone interview of a celebrity. His favorite interviewee is a man whose fame is recognized by every baby boomer, Clayton Moore, the original Lone Ranger.
Moore willingly gave several interviews and Hartzog eventually met him in person at the Barnsville Beer Festival. Conscious of his responsibility as a role model, Moore closed each radio interview by admonishing children to “…carefully cross streets…thank crossing guards…[and] treasure parents…” Moore’s self-effacing, consistently decent persona mirrors Hartzog’s values; consequently, he has become a life-long fan.
Today, Hartzog has retired from teaching mathematics to Eyer Middle School students and from work as a professional DJ.
Not one to wile away the time quietly buffing his blue suede shoes, he still holds bimonthly trivia contests at the Trivet Restaurant on Tilghman Street in Allentown. And, when not attending Phoenixville’s summer Blob Fest or viewing Casablanca, which is according to Hartzog, “the most romantic movie of all time,” he may be found enjoying the soft tangerine glow, tiny bubbles and great sound of his personal jukebox. As he describes the experience, “I can see the Fonz hugging this [jukebox].”
Hartzog succeeded as a beloved teacher and popular DJ because he possesses the rare personality combination of enthusiasm, concern for others and joie de vivre. Purchasing a jukebox is just one more way in which his California dreamin’ has become a reality.
As he sits back, sips a root beer float and listens to Patsy Cline’s “Crazy,” since 1961 the number one choice of jukebox players everywhere, Hartzog can truly say, “It’s my dream come true.”
Editor’s Note: As an homage to Doc Zog, the titles of 21 songs are embedded in this article. Can you find them? Answers can be found on Page A8.