Good Old Days Updates
|In the Good Old Days||Antiques Corner||This Week in History|
Which 1946 film won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1947?
Those Old, Sweet Songs
|Photo by Mary Beth Weisenburger|
When my son was moving into a college campus apartment a few years ago and needed furniture, a kind neighbor offered all the furniture from his deceased parents' house. They were clearing it out, getting it ready to sell, and all of the sentimental pieces had already been distributed to family. "He is welcome to whatever is left," the neighbor said with a sly smile. "But there's only one catch."
The catch was that, along with the sofa, chairs and bed frames, my son was required to take the rickety old console piano that had belonged to our neighbor's mom. It was in a state of out-of-tune disrepair, but my son was surprisingly pleased to get it. Off it went to live in a home with eight young men.
Three years later when he moved back home, the piano came with him, still in disrepair. We found a willing recipient to take the piano, but I kept the piano bench in hopes of refinishing and repurposing it someday. Last week, I moved it from its position in storage upstairs and lifted the lid. No one had ever cleaned it out! Dozens of old music sheets were strewn about, gray with age and musty smelling. There were also three small hymnals among the collection. I took a look at their publication dates -- all were from the 1920s and '30s.
In addition, I discovered a National 4-H Club Song Book, dated 1938. A flip through the pages revealed familiar old favorites: a string of patriotic songs, the 4-H Pep Song, Auld Lang Syne, Good Night Ladies, My Old Kentucky Home, Oh! Susanna and hymns such as Abide With Me, Church in the Wildwood and Come Thou Almighty King. Also sprinkled throughout the 64 pages were tunes I had never heard, but whose titles intrigued me, like: Green Grow the Rushes-Ho, Follow the Gleam and The Keeper.
My favorite part of the book, however, was the inside front cover, which was dedicated to teaching the "art and adventure" of song leading. It included diagrams on conducting in 3/4 and 4/4 time. "Know your songs and your motions for leading so well that you do not have to think about them," was one suggestion. Others included, "Stop before anyone is tired," "Expect the group to like good music," and "Choose songs that are worth singing." Song leading was to be viewed as a "joyous task and happy is he who serves through it." It made me smile to picture the song leader who used this book decades ago, energetically leading his 4-H peers in a rendition of Home, Sweet Home or Billy Boy.
'Til next time,
Mary Beth Weisenburger,
Good Old Days® magazine
PS. What is your favorite "old" song? Do you have a collection of old sheet music or a timeworn hymnal that you still use? We want to hear about it! Send a brief response to me at Editor@GoodOldDaysMagazine.com and it could appear in a future update or in Good Old Days magazine! Here are several email responses from the Jan. 25, 2017, update question: What item from your past has intrigued your children? Have you ever had to explain to them the purpose of an old object or how something worked in the Good Old Days?
Yvonne Kristoff shared, "I was preparing a group of students to perform at the Century Club Tea. Everyone in attendance was 90 or older. I thought it would be nice to sing some songs from when they were young. To get my students up to speed, I had to begin with a show-and-tell of a piece of sheet music from my mother's era and a history lesson to explain its significance in that time and also what a family sing-along was."
Denice Wars replied, "My grandparents had an old wall-mounted rotary phone, and due to my grandfather's poor hearing, it had an external ringer that I would swear could be heard in the next county when it rang! Even after my grandfather's passing, and even though my grandmother purchased a cordless, push-button phone, the old, black, loud, wall-mounted phone remained a fixture on her kitchen wall.
"Our family would gather at my grandparents' house for holidays and special occasions. There was never a specified time for these functions -- it was just an unwritten schedule that we all instinctively knew: Mother's Day, Easter and Thanksgiving would be lunch-ish; Christmas Eve was dark-thirty and so on. After the majority of the family arrived, the stragglers would begin getting phone calls that they were late and the 'everybody's waiting on you' lecture.
"On one of these occasions, I was tasked with calling so-and-so to see if they were coming and how much longer they would be. My daughter was in her early teens at the time and loved being on the phone, so I delegated that job to her. Excited to be given a job usually handled by the grown-ups, she eagerly picked up the receiver to dial. As she asked for the number, pointer finger extended in midair, she froze. She looked to me, then back at the clear plastic disk with 10 small round holes cut out of it and asked, 'How do you use this phone?' I had taken for granted that she knew how to operate this familiar fixture of my grandmother's kitchen. We adults who were nearby got a giggle out of it and then explained how the dial worked. I don't know that she ever tried using that old dinosaur again!
"My grandmother is gone now, as is that old rotary phone, and my daughter is a corporal in the Marine Corps, with a daughter of her own. But when the family gathers for a holiday, and someone begins the ritual of calling the stragglers, I think back to her trying to use my grandparents' old phone and can't help but smile (and fight back a few nostalgia-laced tears).
"PS. Before I was able to submit this email, my daughter called and I shared with her that I was sending the story of the old rotary phone to your publication. She informed me that after her encounter with that old phone, she felt so smart/empowered/important. She felt as if she knew how to do something her peers didn't! Given the opportunity, she would tell her friends about the old rotary phone her great-grandmother had on the wall in her kitchen, then proceed to explain how it worked. And apparently they were in awe! I never knew that part of the story until today!"
Mary Beth Weisenburger has been with Annie's since April 2011. She has 25 years of experience in the marketing, advertising and publishing fields. In addition to her job as editor of Good Old Days, she has been writing a family humor column for over a decade. She and her husband, two college-age kids, two dogs and various other critters live on five acres in the country, where she enjoys reading on the back porch, refinishing furniture, feeding the birds and digging in the dirt of her perennial gardens.
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The Best Years of Our Lives. The film portrays the struggles of returning veterans. The film was directed by William Wyler and starred Myrna Loy, Fredric March, Dana Andrews, Teresa Wright and Virginia Mayo. The film won seven Oscars overall, including Best Actor in a Supporting Role for double-amputee Harold Russell for his first time on film.
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