Good Old Days Newsletter
|In the Good Old Days||'Til Next Time|
Clearing the Spindle
Some stores today have "Christmas in July" sales. What about Christmas in August? What movie featuring a favorite Christmas song -- and the best-selling music single ever -- opened 70 years ago this Saturday, Aug. 4?
I'm studying to be an activity director, and I use some of your emails with the group to reminisce. I'm looking for words to Hallelujah, I'm a Bum! Any help you can give me is greatly appreciated. -- Marilyn S.
Every once in a while I need to "clear the spindle" of reader comments and questions that have come in about recent columns. I receive hundreds of emails, and I try to answer as many as I can, but some would be of interest to all readers.
First, many of you wrote to me about the inspiring story of Helen Keller and her teacher, Anne Sullivan.
Kathy said: "I enjoyed your article about Helen Keller very much. I hope you can help me with a quote she once said. I don't remember all of it, but some of it goes like this: 'You can't see love or even touch it; it must be felt by the heart.'"
You have the essence of Helen's thoughts, Kathy, but what she said was: "The best and most beautiful things in the world can't be seen or even touched, but must be felt with the heart."
I was also inspired by this note from Ann K.:
"I arrived at the Helen Keller National Center for Deaf Youths and Adults in June 1994, just a day after her birthday was celebrated there. The center is located in Sand Point, N.Y., on Long Island. Upon arrival at the center, my husband and I stepped back from the reception desk to see a life-size portrait of Helen dressed in a lovely, long red dress. The portrait was so lifelike it gave me goose bumps.
"The Center is a place where those of us who are deaf and blind go to get help in leading more resourceful lives. It seems like only a few years ago I was there, studying under so many wonderful people; people who have Helen's dream of helping the deaf and blind people in this country lead to live lives as normal as they can.
"God bless you for bringing Helen to the attention of your readers. I hope it helps to enlighten others about this wonderful woman and her legacy. Some find the Center difficult. I found it a wonderful, fulfilling place to be -- a second chance at a normal life I thought I had lost along with my failing vision.
"Today, with the help of others here at my home, I am fulfilling a lifelong dream of making quilts, despite the fact that my vision is only 20/300. What a wonderful life it is!"
My newsletter about my first drink of soda prompted Diane L. to ask: "Does anyone remember Kik Cola? I remember it from the early 1950s in the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. It was in a tall bottle when Coke and Orange Crush were in shorter bottles. When I had the rare chance to have a bottle of pop, I took Kik because I thought I was getting more. I think Kik was in a red bottle, but I don't know who made it. I remember it being sweeter than Coke."
Well, Diane, it seems that Kik Cola was bottled in Canada only. I wasn't able to find out a lot about it, but it seems that it was still being produced in the 1960s. You can find a few old bottles online to purchase, like the one pictured to the left.
Finally, I received a note from Donna concerning my June 20 newsletter about the Pledge of Allegiance and The Star-Spangled Banner:
"I don't think it would be the end of civilization as we know it," Donna wrote, "if the added words of 'under God' were removed, and the pledge was once again put in its original form. As a non-Christian I am not offended by the phrase, but nor do I find it necessary for me to express someone else's religious leanings in a pledge to my country.†
"I stand for the pledge and/or anthem to show respect, but I do not put voice to the pledge as I don't believe that we are one nation under God. I do usually sing (very quietly) along with the anthem -- I'm really bad at singing and would hate to scare the folks around me. I do find it disturbing that we use a song about war and killing as our anthem. But as I look around and see where we are and what our history reflects, I guess it is befitting.
"America the Beautiful is such a wonderful song about the amazing beauty we have from one shore to the other; would that be such a horrible thing to sing about and be proud of?"
While I don't think we need a new national anthem, America the Beautiful is a wonderful song. But it also carries with it the reminder that freedom is tied both to faith and sacrifice. Every verse carries an imperative: "God shed His grace on thee." "God mend thine every flaw." "May God thy gold refine." The third verse lauds those warriors who made -- and make -- life in this free republic possible: "O beautiful for heroes proved in liberating strife. Who more than self their country loved, and mercy more than life!"
As to the theme and setting of The Star-Spangled Banner, let's not forget that Francis Scott Key penned his poem while watching the British attack on Fort McHenry in Baltimore during the War of 1812. In my opinion, most of the conflicts America has found herself engaged in were brought to her. The refrain, "O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave, o'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?" is a patriotic rhetorical question that continually must be answered generation by generation, because there will always be those who would seek to take away the very freedom for which that banner waves.
Holiday Inn, starring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire opened in theaters on Aug. 4, 1942. Irving Berlin composed the music and wrote the lyrics for the film, including White Christmas, one of the most popular songs of all time. Berlin won an Oscar for the song and was nominated for Best Original Story, which he also penned. The story revolved around Bing's character who retired from show business and opened a nightclub that had one caveat: It would only open on holidays, hence the name Holiday Inn. The name of the fictitious business inspired the name for the chain of Holiday Inn motels that burgeoned in the 1950s.
The Internet Movie Database lists interesting trivia:
For other information on the movie, click here.
Click here for a brief history of and the words to Hallelujah, I'm a Bum. The words were sung to the melody of the old hymn Revive Us Again.