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In the Good Old Days Antiques Corner This Week in History
In the Good Old Days

Trivia Question

What was the No. 1 hit song in 1956?

Playing Taps

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User: bikeriderlondon/

I love the month of May. It’s a breath of fresh air (literally) after a long winter and a wet spring. May brings the promised flowers from the April rain, high school graduations and Memorial Day. Every year in the May/June issue of Good Old Days, we make sure to include at least one story commemorating Memorial Day (referred to as Decoration Day years ago). The day was typically marked by visiting cemeteries and placing some of those May flowers on the graves of soldiers killed in war, veterans and other loved ones. The day could also include official speeches and parades, with American flags waving everywhere.

In my hometown, folks would gather around the flagpole at the town hall and listen to an elementary school student recite The Gettysburg Address and the high school marching band play patriotic music. And then, after a few remarks by the mayor and a local veteran, a trumpet player would play taps. Echoing the notes of the first player would be a second player, positioned behind the town hall for effect. My senior year, I was chosen to be that hidden-from-view trumpet player. I had performed solos before, sometimes in front of immense crowds in football stadiums, and had done just fine. But on this day, the combination of 80-degree weather, a sticky hot uniform and the weight of the solemn occasion made my knees weak and my jaw slack. I listened to the first player and tried to echo him perfectly, but instead of a strong response, the notes came out in a trembling trickle. By the end of taps, I could barely manage to hold the last note; it faded into nothingness. I was mortified. I thought seriously about staying behind the building for the remainder of the ceremony so no one knew who messed up taps on Memorial Day.

Much to my surprise, several people came up to me afterward and remarked how my shaky rendition of taps was the most “emotional” and “tear-jerking” version they had ever heard. I couldn’t believe it. My unsteady, nervous playing was interpreted as appropriately forlorn, even on purpose, and was not a public humiliation after all! They may have been saying all of those things to make me feel better, but I didn’t care.

It was a Memorial Day in my life in more ways than one.

'Til next time,

Mary Beth Weisenburger,
Good Old Days® magazine

PS. What do you recall about the Memorial Day or Fourth of July ceremonies in your hometown? Do you have a favorite, meaningful memory? We want to hear about it! Send a brief response to me at and it could appear in a future update or in Good Old Days magazine!

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.

Fill out the easy feedback form and let me know your thoughts, questions and ideas.

Trivia Answer

Don’t Be Cruel, sung by Elvis Presley. Presley’s first No. 1 hit single, Heartbreak Hotel, was released early in 1956, and later that same year, he released the song Don’t be Cruel. During that year, Presley also appeared on several television shows including The Ed Sullivan Show. By the end of the year, Presley had earned more than $3 million.

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