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“The mystic chords of memory . . .
all over this broad land, will yet swell . . .
by the better angels of our nature.”
—Abraham Lincoln, First Inaugural Address,
March 4, 1861

“But while we may leave Arkansas, Arkansas never leaves us.”
—John McClendon, “The Fountains of Youth,”
Arkansas Life, Digital Version, April 2015

In my last post titled “The Soundtrack of Our Lives, Part III: The Delta Blues Roots of 1950’s Rock and Roll” I noted that due to my declining health (especially my failing eyesight) I would not be able to produce a new blog post until the end of the summer.

I also noted that the new planned post would be Part IV in the series on the subject of 1950’s Rock and Roll music of my teenage years.

However, in the meantime despite my continuing health issues and diminished eyesight I decided to try to make up a mid-summer post of collected updates and tidbits on previous posts, several of which were sent to me by friends and relatives.

Following are seven of these items which I had thought would not require as much detail or illustration as normal full-post entries, though that assumption proved to be false.

They relate to: (1) the WWII Japanese internment camp museum in my hometown of McGehee, Arkansas; (2) Gayle Harper’s book about her voyage of discovery down the Mississippi River; (3) a presentation about absentee Delta plantation owners; (4) the story of a black man who returned to the Delta to restore the “big house” of the Arkansas plantation on which he was born and toiled; (5) a song by black Country-Western singer Charlie Pride about growing up near a “Mississippi Cotton-Pickin’ Delta Town”; 6) two memorable quotes about Home in the South and Southern Hospitality; and (7) the eternal natural beauty of Elizabeth Taylor who played Southern Belles in at least two of her many films.

(Note: To magnify the photos, click on each one individually.)

Update on WWII Japanese Internment Camps

“As stewards of our nation’s history, the National Park Service recognizes the importance of preserving these confinement sites. They are poignant reminders—today and for future generations—that we must be always vigilant in upholding civil liberties for all.”
—National Park Director Jonathan B. Jarvis

In several of my previous posts I wrote about the WWII Japanese-American internment camps, especially the two in Southeast Arkansas (the only ones in the South), and particularly about the new museum dedicated to them in my hometown of McGehee, Arkansas.

Japanese-American museum in McGehee, Arkansas

Japanese-American museum in McGehee, Arkansas

Recently the McGehee Times reported the observance of the two-year anniversary of the dedication of that museum and provided records of its attendance during that time period. According to officials, the museum has had more than 5,100 visitors from forty-nine states and twenty-four foreign countries.

On June 17, 2015, the Times published an article titled “National Park Service announces grants to support Japanese American internment projects.” In that article it was noted that twenty grants totaling more than $2.8 million were being set aside “to help preserve and interpret World War II confinement sites of Japanese Americans, two-thirds of whom were American citizens.”

Among the projects funded by the grants will be “the creation of an online archive that will include more than 1,300 digitally scanned documents and photographs related to the former Rohwer incarceration site in [Rohwer] Arkansas [near McGehee].”

Update on Book about Voyage
down the Mississippi River

 “‘Roadtrip with a Raindrop: 90 Days Along the Mississippi River’” by Gayle Harper is a Winner in Foreword Review’s ‘Book of the Year’ INDIEFAB Competition! Winners were announced last night onstage at the American Library Association’s Annual Conference in San Francisco and across social media—and ‘Roadtrip . . .’ took the Bronze Medal for the Travel category!”
—Gayle Harper writing about her book in June 27 email

Recently I received two email updates from Gayle Harper concerning her book about her voyage down the Mississippi River titled Roadtrip with a Raindrop. Following are some excerpts from one of those updates.

The 2015 Book Tour

I’ve just returned from another leg of the 2015 Book Tour for “Roadtrip with a Raindrop: 90 Days Along the Mississippi River.” This one was to the Delta, the land of heavy air, light hearts, sweet tea and hot tamales. This part of the adventure, sharing the Multimedia Presentation and the books is every bit as much fun as was the journey. Everywhere it is received with such exuberance that I am continually amazed. It makes people happy—and that is more than enough reason for me to do this!

Print

Reunion

I stopped by the Highway 61 Blues Museum in Leland, Mississippi, and who walks in but my buddy Pat Thomas! I met him on Day 72 of the road trip and you can read his story on page 184 of “Roadtrip with a Raindrop.” He’s a Blues man and the son of a Blues legend, “Son” Thomas. I can’t say which one of us was happier to reconnect.

Gayle Harper and Delta Blues man

Gayle Harper and Delta Blues man

American Queen Adventure Coming Soon

I’ll be presenting on board the stunningly gorgeous American Queen Steamboat July 23–29 at http://www.americanqueensteamboatcompany.com/.

I was lucky enough to have a tour in Memphis and again in Natchez and I can hardly wait for this adventure! It is the world’s largest steamboat, with the capacity for 436 overnight passengers and every inch of it is elegantly beautiful. I’ll be on the trip from Dubuque to St. Paul and the return trip. Join me if you can!

American Queen river boat

American Queen riverboat

(c) Gayle Harper

For additional information on the book and how to order it, to see the photos and the BOOK TRAILER, and to learn more about the cruise on the American Queen, go to www.gayleharper.com.

Lakeport History Talk on
Absentee Plantation Owners
 

“Kenneth Rayner, a resident of North Carolina, purchased a 538 acre Chicot County plantation in 1845. Writing to a friend, he objected to the land being ‘in the state of Arkansas’ and complained ‘I will never leave my wife so long again.’ Two years later, visiting the plantation during the December harvest, he praised his overseer, ‘I think my overseer a first rate manager . . . he has picked, and packed about 220 bales of cotton’ despite bad weather.”
—Caption under photo of Kenneth Rayner, a Chicot County, Arkansas, plantation owner, in Lakeport Plantation announcement on June 16, 2015

The above quote was taken from an online announcement of a history talk by Dr. Kelly Houston Jones, of Austin Peay State University, which was held on June 25 at Lakeport Plantation near Lake Village, Arkansas.

Lakeport Plantation with cotton fields

Lakeport Plantation with cotton fields

According to the Lakeport announcement:

Many masters along the Mississippi River did not reside on their plantations. Instead they relied on overseers to run the day-to-day operations. The absence of a white family in the ‘big house’ could make the plantation a much different place than one with an owner-resident. Dr. Kelly Jones will discuss her work on R.C. Ballard and other area plantation owners who resided away from their holdings, and what those arrangements would have meant for enslaved people living on those plantations.

In a related article in a recent issue of the McGehee Times, it was noted that “Ballard, a former slave trader, invested his profits in human trafficking into plantations in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas. By 1860 Ballard and his firm owned 500 slaves. His Wagram Plantation in Chicot County, Arkansas included 915 acres and 80 enslaved laborers.”

To learn more about this subject and others relating to antebellum plantations in Arkansas and surrounding states, visit the Lakeport Plantation Web site at http://lakeport.astate.edu/ or send an email to the following address lakeport.ar@gmail.com.

Also visit some of my previous blog posts on the Delta titled, “Arkansas Delta Plantations and Other Post-Mortem Tidbits, Part IArkansas Delta Plantations, Part II; and Arkansas Delta Plantations, Part III by clicking on their titles here or on their actual URLs in the Sources section at the end of this post.

Black Man Restores Delta Plantation House

“He [a black man] had returned home to the Arkansas Delta to purchase and restore a house that he was never allowed to enter as a child. . . . . He had traveled to every corner of the U.S., as well as 13 foreign countries, as a performer. But while we may leave Arkansas, Arkansas never leaves us.”
—John McClendon, “The Fountains of Youth,”
Arkansas Life, Digital Version, April 2015

In an online version of an article titled “The Fountain of Youth” which appeared in the April issue of Arkansas Life, John McClendon presented an extremely well-written account of a black man named Charles Graham who not only dreamed of returning to the Arkansas Delta plantation on which he was born and where he toiled in the cotton fields as a child, but of restoring its Southern-style “big house” to its former glory and for a new purpose.

"Big house" at the Baxter Plantation

Baxter Plantation “big house” located on Bayou Bartholomew, southeast of my birthplace of Selma, Arkansas, and west of my wife’s birthplace of Dermott, Arkansas (photo by Sara Blancett Reeves)

As McClendon noted:

In a baritone both calm and convincing, Graham delivers the script-worthy story of his life with diction so perfect and accent-free that it belies any hint of his rural Arkansas upbringing. But with his powerful gospel voice describing cotton stalks rising from sandy loam and days afield in 100-degree heat, it’s immediately clear that his is a setting purely Southern. As he reflects on his youth, a stream of continuous memories fills the room—verse after verse about life in the late ’50s and ’60s as a poor black child in the Arkansas Delta.

Then McClendon went on to describe the arduous task Graham set for himself in restoring the “big house” with the help of friends and others who shared his vision for that restoration and renewal of purpose:

The desire to see the old place brought back to life became a combined cause for those who remembered what it once was, as well as those who believed in Graham’s vision for the house’s future.

To read the entire story of Graham’s life and mission, both personal and religious, click on the title “The Fountains of Youth” or click on the actual URL in the Sources section of this post.

A Different Black Man’s View of the Delta

“Down in the Delta where I was born
All we raised was cotton, potatoes and corn
I’ve picked cotton till my fingers hurt
Draggin’ the sack through that Delta dirt. . . . .

“In a Mississippi cotton pickin’ Delta town
One dusty street to walk up and down
Nothin’ much to see but a starvin’ hound
In a Mississippi cotton pickin’ Delta town.”

—Lyrics to Charley Pride song titled
“Mississippi Cotton Pickin’ Delta Town”
written by Harold Dorman and George Gann

A few months ago my 1956 McGehee High School classmate and friend Pat Scavo, who has lived in and still loves both sides of the Mississippi River Delta, sent me a musical video of black Country-Western singer Charley Pride.

The link was to a You Tube video of Charley singing one of his classic hits about his birthplace where he spent his youth in “a Mississippi cotton-pickin’ Delta town.”

Charley Pride

Charley Pride

Since you are likely already familiar with this song, I am sure you will have no difficulty in detecting the obvious difference in perspectives of Charley Pride and Charles Graham, another black man who returned to his birthplace in the Delta as described in the preceding section.

To view and hear Charley Pride’s musical memory of the Delta from his childhood days, click here or click on the actual URL in the Sources section at the end of this post.

Quotes on Home and
Hospitality in the South

“When I am overcome with homesickness, I refer to it as being ‘all down in the South’ or suffering from ‘y’all withdrawal.’ The only answer is to ‘take a pilgrimage to the Holy Land’—or at least find some ‘sweet young Southern thang’ to ‘tawk Dixie to me.’”
—Jimmy Peacock

An Arkansas Delta Belle in front of an antebellum home in Helena, Arkansas

A Southern Belle in front of an antebellum home in Historic Helena, Arkansas

Sometime in the recent past, my longtime friend and 1956 Delta high school classmate Pat Scavo (who grew up in both McGehee, Arkansas, and Benoit, Mississippi, across the River) sent me the following quotes about Home in the South and the definition of Southern Hospitality. I thought I would insert them here since they both seem to fit right in with the other subjects in this post of updates and tidbits. Their original versions set as pieces of art can be accessed and purchased through their Web sites in the Sources section at the end of this post.

At Home in the South

“Sometimes we need to go where we can hear a screen door slam,
echoes of our parents calling our name,
wish on a falling star & catch fireflies in a jar.”
—Connie Sue, Heavenly Place

As a tenth-generation Southerner and a professional copywriter, the only change I would have suggested to this Southern saying would be to reword the last phrase to “catch lightnin’ bugs in a fruit jar (or Mason jar).”

Southern Hospitality

“Not a tangible thing, but an attitude which has been ingrained in Southerners forever.
It’s a feeling of being sincerely welcomed as a guest or a long-lost friend; a way of life that lets people be as warm as the climate.
It’s an easiness in speaking with total strangers or anyone, a unique friendliness encompassing the whole way of life in the Deep South.
It’s not something one does, it’s the way one is
.”
—Dee Johnson, Southern Hospitality

Of course, since I was born and raised in Southeast Arkansas and have lived for a short time in South Carolina and spent the second half of my life (thirty-eight years) in Northeast Oklahoma, I wholeheartedly agree with both of these observations about Home in the South and Southern Hospitality.

Update Quotes on Elizabeth Taylor

“All women need makeup. Don’t let anybody tell you different.
The only woman who was pretty enough to go without makeup
was Elizabeth Taylor,
and she wore a ton of it.”
—Violet, matriarch of the Weston family, to Ivy,
her plain middle-aged daughter,
in play “August: Osage County” set in northeast Oklahoma

Elizabeth Taylor as icon of feminine beauty

Elizabeth Taylor as icon of feminine beauty with or without makeup

The above quote by Benjamin Hardy appeared in “Bleak House in ‘Osage County,’” a theatrical review published in the Arkansas Times on June 11, 2015.

The play, written by native Oklahoman Tracey Letts, won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and was later made into a feature movie. The 2013 film version starred Meryl Streep as Violet Weston, who delivered this line about Elizabeth Taylor and her eternal beauty. (To read a Wikipedia article about this play, click here. To read a Wikipedia article about the film version, click here. Or click on the actual URLs in the Sources section at the end of this post.)

The reason I inserted this observation about feminine beauty from that play is twofold: (1)  because the opening quote above relates to one of my favorite all-time screen stars, the late icon of beauty Elizabeth Taylor, and because it is voiced by one of my favorite current screen stars, the incomparable and seemingly imperishable Meryl Streep, and (2) because Elizabeth Taylor starred as a Southern Belle in at least two of my favorite Hollywood films: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Raintree County.

Elizabeth Taylor in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Elizabeth Taylor as a Southern Belle in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Elizabeth Taylor as a Southern Belle in Raintree County

Elizabeth Taylor as a Southern Belle in the movie Raintree County

To illustrate and confirm the truth of this statement about Elizabeth Taylor not needing to wear makeup to enhance her inherent beauty, here are two photos of her (with and without makeup) sent to me recently by Pat Scavo. The two are only examples of several such photos of my “American Idol” that Patsy Mc has forwarded to me in the past and continues to do so. As such, they add to the eight I have taped around my computer in my office and the seven I have taped in and around my shaving mirror in my half-bath.

Elizabeth Taylor in makeup as Cleopatra

Elizabeth Taylor with makeup for her role as Cleopatra in the Hollywood movie by that name

Elizabeth Taylor without makeup

Elizabeth Taylor without makeup

Thank you, Patsy Mc, for continuing to support me in my adoration and worship of the Lovely Liz whose fabulous beauty will never fade as long as Jimmy Peacock draws breath!

(For more on the subject of my enduring love for Elizabeth Taylor, “the most beautiful creature God ever made”—except for Mari, of course—visit the sections on her in my earlier blog posts, especially “My Lifelong Attraction to Black Beauty” and “Who’s to Blame?: Humorous Self-Quotes” here and in the Sources section at the end of this post.)

Sources

The quote of Abraham Lincoln on memory was taken from:
http://www.ushistory.org/documents/lincoln1.htm 

The quotes about the Japanese American internment sites were taken from an article titled “National Park Service announces grants to support Japanese American internment projects” which appeared in the McGehee Times on June 17, 2015.

The photo of the WWII Japanese-American Museum in McGehee, Arkansas, was taken from:
http://rohwer.astate.edu/plan-your-visit/museum/

The information and photos about Gayle Harper and her book about her voyage down the Mississippi River were taken from her Web site at:
www.gayleharper.com

The quotes about absentee plantation owners and slaveholders were taken from an email announcement of a talk on the history of the subject by Dr. Kelly Houston Jones, of Austin Peay State University, held on June 25 at Lakeport Plantation near Lake Village, Arkansas. The quotes and the photo of Lakeport Plantation were used by permission. The final quote on the subject was taken from an article titled “Dr. Kelly Houston Jones to speak at Lakeport Plantation” which appeared in a recent issue of the McGehee Times.

Some of my previous posts about Arkansas Delta Plantations scattered throughout this blog can be accessed at:

https://myokexilelit.wordpress.com/2014/08/12/arkansas-delta-plantations-and-other-post-mortem-tidbits-part-i/

https://myokexilelit.wordpress.com/2014/09/05/arkansas-delta-plantations-and-other-post-mortem-tidbits-part-ii/

https://myokexilelit.wordpress.com/2014/09/22/arkansas-delta-plantations-and-other-post-mortem-tidbits-part-iii/

The quotes and the photo of the Baxter Plantation house near Dermott, Arkansas, were taken from an article titled “The Fountains of Youth,” written by John McClendon with photos by Sara Blancett Reeves, which appeared in the Arkansas Life, Digital Version, April 2015 issue, accessed at:
http://arkansaslife.com/the-fountains-of-youth/

The lyrics to the Charley Pride song “Mississippi Cotton-Pickin’ Delta Town” were taken from:
http://www.metrolyrics.com/mississippi-cotton-pickin-delta-town-lyrics-charley-pride.html

The video of Charley Pride singing this song was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b1BuWUYAGFE

The photo of Charley Pride was taken from:
www.movieandmusicgreats.com/category/charley-pride

The photo of the Southern Belle standing in front of an ante-bellum home in the historic Mississippi River port of Helena, Arkansas, was taken from a postcard published by the Helena Advertising and Tourist Promotion Commission, 622 Pecan, P.O. Box 495, Helena, Arkansas 72342, 501-338-6583

The two quotes about the South titled “At Home in the South” and “Southern Hospitality” were sent to me by Pat Scavo. The first was taken from Connie Sue’s Safe Haven Web site at:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Connie-Sues-Safe-Haven/171955452946155?sk=photos_stream

The second quote about Southern Hospitality by Dee Jackson was taken from her Web site at:
https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/c4/2d/84/c42d84efaaecfc83642d16aa5f75ff3a.jpg

The quote about Elizabeth Taylor from the play “August: Osage County” was taken from a theatrical review by Benjamin Hardy titled “Bleak house in ‘Osage County’” which appeared in the Arkansas Times on June 11, 2015. It was sent to me by Pat Scavo.

The Wikipedia article about the Broadway play “August: Osage County” was taken from:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/August:_Osage_County

The Wikipedia article about the film version of “August: Osage County” was taken from:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/August:_Osage_County_(film)#Cast

The Wikipedia articles and photos of the two Elizabeth Taylor films in which she starred as a Southern Belle, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Raintree County, were taken from:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cat_on_a_Hot_Tin_Roof_(1958_film)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raintree_County_(film)

The two photos of Elizabeth Taylor with and without makeup were sent to me by Pat Scavo and taken from:
http://www.bruceonshaving.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/Elizabeth-Taylor-face-3.jpg

The earlier blog posts with sections about my love for Elizabeth Taylor titled “My Lifelong Attraction to Black Beauty” and “Who’s to Blame?: Humorous Self-Quotes” can be accessed at:

https://myokexilelit.wordpress.com/2011/07/20/my-lifelong-attraction-to-black-beauty/

https://myokexilelit.wordpress.com/2012/11/07/whos-to-blame-humorous-self-quotes/

 

 

Introduction

“Rock and Roll may have turned gray, but its roots will always be black.”
—Jimmy Peacock

“Well Nashville had country music
but Memphis had the soul
Lord, the white boy had the rhythm
and that started rock and roll
And I was here when it happened
don’t y’all think I ought to know . . .

I watched Memphis give birth
to Rock and Roll.”

—Carl Perkins, “Birth of Rock ‘n’ Roll”
(To view a photo of the original
Sun Studio Million Dollar Quartet
with a video of this song by Carl Perkins, click here.)
(To learn more about the Million Dollar Quartet,
see the Addenda section at the end of this post.)

Original Sun Studio Million Dollar Quartet in December 1956

Original 1956 Sun Studio Million Dollar Quartet: (l-r) Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash (to magnify, click on the photo)

In my preceding post titled “The Soundtrack of Our Lives, Part II: Pop Music of the 1950s” I discussed some of the popular music that I heard and listened to during that decade of my youth.

In this post I had intended to discuss the 1950’s Rock and Roll music that dominated the second half of that decade. However, since it became so complex I realized that I had to limit this post to the Delta roots of Rock and Roll during the fifties.

Although the 1950s are often portrayed as an ideal, wholesome, stable, peaceful, and uneventful period, that rather romantic perspective is not entirely accurate. Besides my own personal life-changing experiences mentioned in my preceding post on Pop music of the 1950s, there were other life-changing social and historical events taking place during that decade.

Some of these include: the integration of blacks and whites in the U.S. Armed Services ordered by President Harry Truman in 1948; the Korean Conflict from 1950 to 1953 (humorously but not always realistically portrayed in the popular 1970’s TV series M*A*S*H); the 1954 Supreme Court decision outlawing racial segregation in American public schools; the ensuing Civil Rights Movement, especially the 1957 Central High School Integration Crisis in our capital city of Little Rock, Arkansas, which captured headlines around the world for two years or more; the beginning of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union, including the space race, with the Soviets launching the first satellite in orbit around the earth called Sputnik, and the United States detonating the first airborne hydrogen bomb; and many other such events of national and international significance and concern.

As indicated by the opening quote above from Carl Perkins, that decade is usually considered the beginning of the style of music which came to be known as “Rock and Roll.” Although some music critics will disagree with Perkins’ assertion that Memphis was the birthplace of Rock and Roll, it must be admitted that both Memphis music recorder and promoter Sam Phillips and his Sun Studio did have a powerful influence on the birth and early development of R&R. (To learn more about Sam Phillips and Sun Studio, see the links in the Sources section at the end of this post.)

This was especially true for the youngsters, like me, throughout the Mid-South who began to listen to that group of musicians and their style of music which was early called “Rockabilly,” in reference to its roots in black Blues, Rhythm and Blues, and Spirituals, and white Country-Western (“Hillbilly”), Gospel, and Pop music.

As indicated, it is those early Delta roots of Rock and Roll that I intend to address in this post. But the post is not really meant to be a factual history of the birth and development of Rock and Roll. That subject can be easily accessed online through Wikipedia articles such as “Rock and Roll” and “1950s in Music.” Rather, this post is supposed to be a general presentation of some of the early 1950’s Rock and Roll performers and songs that served as part of the “soundtrack” of my teenage years during my formative high school and college days.

My Personal History
of the Roots of Rock and Roll Music

“One Mint Julep”— The Clovers. Late 1951. First of these [Black Rhythm and Blues songs] which I remember listening to on radio [in early 1950s]. Group produced hits in R&B field in early fifties (Bobby Vee and Bobby Vinton—white pop artists covered their material). One big hit left in 1959, ‘Love Potion Number 9’ which was still being performed by rock groups in 1970’s. Cross-over hit popular with whites also.”
—Entry in my late 1970’s personal history
of the origin and development of Rock and Roll music.
(To hear this early 1950’s song by the Clovers, click here.)
(To learn more about this song from Wikipedia, click here.)

The Clovers

The Clovers

Somewhere between 1977 and 1981, while I was working as a French translator and editorial assistant for an international Christian ministry in Tulsa, I was confronted with an interesting question about Roll and Roll music.

Since I was working with a group of men who were about fifteen years younger than I, one day they began to question and debate among themselves, “Who started Rock and Roll?”

As I listened, I could not believe the “answers” they were suggesting, such as Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Pete Seeger, etc. Finally, since like Carl Perkins, I was “there when Rock and Roll was born,” I could not help but interject my opinions into the conversation.

Surprisingly, either they did not understand me or they did not believe me. It seemed that I was talking about people and songs and music they had never heard of. So as a professional copyeditor, “The guardian of precision, the protector of the facts, a professional perfectionist dedicated to the idea that you can believe what you read (From Manuscript to Book),” after work I headed to the Tulsa library to research the subject and prove my point.

After hours and hours of research (which could have been done in a few minutes with today’s technology) I had gathered enough information to fill four or five single-spaced pages (typed on an old worn-out Underwood portable typewriter) and copied enough music to fill both sides of  four cassette tapes (one of which is now missing). From that material, I made up a rather exhaustive history of the birth and early development of Rock and Roll as I knew it, experienced it, and recalled it.

Beginning with its primitive roots in Mississippi River Delta work chants, through early Delta Blues tunes often played on nothing more than a single wire on a broom handle attached to the post of a shotgun house, through true Delta Blues music played on a guitar and/or “French harp” (harmonica), and Rhythm and Blues with a larger band and more sophisticated musicians I listed dozens of examples of the movement and development of the Blues from the Delta to Memphis and then upriver to places like Chicago, and downriver to New Orleans.

I particularly traced that movement to Memphis and to Sam Phillips and Sun Records and the small group of black musicians whose music Phillips recorded in an effort to promote it to larger audiences since at the time white recording studios would not record black music, and white radio stations would not play it. From there I showed how Phillips and others began to record some black Delta Blues musicians like B.B. King, “Muddy” Waters, and “Howlin’ Wolf.” As Phillips once said: “When I heard Howlin’ Wolf, I said, ‘This is for me. This is where the soul of man never dies.’” He was obviously not alone in that opinion, especially among young white Deltans like me.

Sam Phillips in 1950s

Sam Phillips in the 195os

Sun Studio in Memphis

Sun Studio in Memphis

But Phillips also began to seek out white performers (like Elvis Presley) who could “cover” black music for white audiences, a subject I will discuss in my next post. (One of those white performers for another recording label cited in my previous post on “Pop Music of the 1950s” was Pat Boone, a squeaky-clean, white-buck-shoe singer who “covered” several black musicians with hits like “I Almost Lost My Mind,” which I also offered in a video by Fats Domino.) Phillips also recorded white musicians like Carl Perkins who could write and perform their own versions of Rock and Roll songs such as “Blue Suede Shoes” (1955) and “Birth of Rock ‘n’ Roll” (1986) quoted above.

As an example of the original black music later “covered” or copied by white performers, in my personal history of the origin of Rock and Roll I inserted an entry on Louis Jordan and his R&B band from the Arkansas Delta titled “Choo Choo Ch’Boogie” recorded in 1946! This is what I wrote about that song:

“Choo Choo Ch’Boogie”—Louis Jordan, vocal and alto sax and band. Jan. 23, 1946 in New York. Louis Jordan was probably the most successful black recording artist of the forties. First big hit—million-seller (extremely rare for black acts in those years). Also recorded with Bing Crosby (1944), Ella Fitzgerald (1945), and Louis Armstrong (1950)—strong influence on Bill Haley, who later formed a white band playing black-copied music, one of innovators of R&R music to come.” (Italics mine.)

To hear this song, click here. To learn more about Louis Jordan, click here.

Louis Jordan in 1946

Louis Jordan in 1946

I also discussed two other early 1950’s songs that in hindsight can be considered part of the “roots of Rock and Roll.”

The first one was a Delta Blues song that was released in 1952 by Muddy Waters and titled “Hoochie Coochie Man” (later featured in the 1980 movie The Blues Brothers). Here is my description of it in my personal history of the roots of Rock and Roll compiled in the late 1970s:

“Hoochie Coochie Man”—Muddy Waters, vocal & guitar; Jimmie Rodgers. guitar; Little Walter, harmonica; others. Recorded 1952.”

To view this song performed by Muddy Waters, click here. To learn more about Muddy Waters, click here.

Muddy Waters

Muddy Waters

Next was one by Ruth Brown titled “Mama, He Treats Your Daughter Mean,” which I described as following:

“Mama, He Treats Your Daughter Mean”—Ruth Brown. Recorded 1953. Typical of black (Rhythm and Blues) [songs] which were listened to and popular with young whites (including me) who were ‘instigators’ of R&R by listening to and requesting such music on the radio, buying the records, dancing to the music and otherwise encouraging musicians and [music publishers] to promote R&R (though it was not yet so named—that came about 1954). Ruth Brown became about as popular in R&R as in R&B.”

To view a video of this rousing version of an “early Rock and Roll” song, click here. To learn more about Ruth Brown, click here.

Ruth Brown

Ruth Brown

Other Popular Examples of 1950’s
Roots of Rock and Roll

“Oh, life could be a dream (sh-boom)
If I could take you up in paradise up above (sh-boom)
If you would tell me I’m the only one that you love
Live could be a dream, sweetheart”
—Lyrics to “Sh-boom” 

Two other early 1950’s Rhythm and Blues or Doo-wop selections that had an influence on the birth and development of Rock and Roll and sometimes called “the first Rock and Roll record” were the following:

Jackie Brentson’s “Rocket 88” released in 1951, as noted in a Wikipedia article:

Rocket 88” (originally written as Rocket “88”) is a rhythm and blues song that was first recorded in Memphis, Tennessee, on March 3 or 5, 1951 (accounts differ). The recording was credited to Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats, who were actually Ike Turner‘s Kings of Rhythm.

The record reached no.1 on the Billboard R&B chart. Many experts acknowledge its importance in the development of rock and roll music, as the first rock and roll record. (Italics mine)

To hear this song, click here.

To learn more about the recording, click here.

Jackie Brentson

Jackie Brenston

According to Wikipedia, the second recording sometimes inaccurately given credit as being “the first Rock and Roll record” was “Sh-boom” (“Life Could Be Dream”) which first appeared in 1954 and became known by every teenager of that period:

The song was first recorded on Atlantic Records‘ subsidiary label Cat Records by The Chords on March 15, 1954 and would be their only hit song. “Sh-Boom” reached #2 on the Billboard R&B charts and peaked at #9 on the pop charts. It is sometimes considered to be the first doo-wop or rock ‘n’ roll record to reach the top ten on the pop charts (as opposed to the R&B charts). This version was ranked #215 on Rolling Stones list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and is the group’s only song on the list. (Italics mine)

A more traditional version was made by The Crew-Cuts for Mercury Records and was #1 on the Billboard charts in for nine weeks during August and September 1954. The single first entered the charts on July 30, 1954 and stayed for 20 weeks. The Crew-Cuts performed the song on Ed Sullivan‘s Toast of the Town on December 12, 1954. On the Cash Box magazine best-selling record charts, where both versions were combined, the song reached #1.

To hear The Chords’ (i.e., original black version), click here. To hear the Crew Cuts’ (i.e. white “cover” version) click here.

The Chords

The Chords

The Crew Cuts in 1957

The Crew Cuts in 1957

The Continuation of My Report on
Early 1950’s Rock and Roll

“You Gotta Cut That Out”—Forrest City (Ark.) Joe, vocal and harmonica; unidentified guitar. ‘If we date the previous blues about 1900-1910, then fifty years and many thousand stanzas later, this is what the Delta blues had become.”
——Entry in my late 1970’s personal history
of the origin and development of Rock and Roll music.
(To hear this later 1950’s song by Forrest City Joe, click here.)
(To learn more about Forrest City Joe and his harmonica playing, click here.)

Although I am not able to list all the entries in my personal history of the birth and development of Mississippi River Delta Blues, here is another example from the Arkansas Delta side of that interesting history, the town of Forrest City being not far from Helena, Arkansas, which had a great Blues radio show on KFFA called the King Biscuit Blues Hour.

Originally named for its sponsor King Biscuit Flour, that show, which has recently had to change its name, has become the longest-running Blues show in the United States and has featured many famous Blues artists, particularly Sonny Boy Williamson II. (To learn more about Helena and its Blues show and its Delta Cultural Center, click on the titles. To learn more about Sonny Boy Williamson II, click here.)

The Delta Cultural Center in Helena, Arkansas

The Delta Cultural Center in Helena, Arkansas

Sonny Boy Williamson II

Sonny Boy Williamson II

It was from such radio shows and stations as the one in Helena; from others in Memphis; from some across the River from our hometown in Greenville, Mississippi; and from late-night mega-watt giants such as Randy’s Record Shop on radio station WLAC in Gallitin, Tennessee, that we white teenagers in the Delta began to listen to black music in the early 1950s. This is what Wikipedia had to say under the title “The nighttime R&B years”:

“By the 1950s, however, WLAC would achieve a distinctive notoriety of its own, the nighttime station for half the nation. The station became legendary from a quartet of nighttime rhythm and blues shows . . . . Thanks to the station’s clear channel designation, the signal reached most of the Eastern and MidwesternUnited States, although African-American listeners in the Deep South were the intended audience of the programs. WLAC was particularly popular with some young white teenagers; some believe that the nightly shows laid the foundational audience for the rock and roll phenomenon of the late 1950s.” (Italics mine)

The Actual “Birth” of 1950’s Rock and Roll

“Rock and roll (often written as rock & roll or rock ‘n’ roll) is a genre of popular music that originated and evolved in the United States during the late 1940s and early 1950s, primarily from a combination of predominately African-American genres such as blues, boogie woogie, jump blues, jazz, and gospel music, together with Western swing and country music. Though elements of rock and roll can be heard in blues records from the 1920s and in country records of the 1930s, the genre did not acquire its name until the 1950s.”
—Wikipedia article titled “Rock and Roll”

In my personal history of the roots of Rock and Roll, after discussing many other early 1950’s Blues, Rhythm and Blues, and Rock and Roll black musicians, I went on to discuss Bill Haley and the Comets who in the mid-fifties “covered” two black hits: “Rock Around the Clock” and “Shake, Rattle, and Roll.”

Both of these recordings became national sensations, especially when the first was played in the opening scenes of a popular 1955 movie titled Blackboard Jungle. (To view a video of “Rock around the Clock” with scenes from a 1950’s movie, click on the title. To view a video of “Shake, Rattle, and Roll,” click on the title.)

I also noted how a white Cleveland disk jockey named Alan Freed took the titles of those two massive hits to make up the name for this new type of music and called it “Rock and Roll.”

Bill Haley and His Comets

Bill Haley and His Comets

The rest . . . as they say . . . is history—and I recorded it in words and on tape for my sadly misinformed younger seekers of truth whom I later realized were not questioning the beginning of Rock and Roll music but of “Rock” music, which was and remains a different animal from a different era than mine, one with which I as a child of the 1950s had neither interest nor contact—and still don’t.

Conclusion to My Report on
the Roots of 1950’s Rock and Roll

“Shake, Rattle & Roll”—Joe Turner, vocal. Recorded Feb 15, 1954. This is it! R&R is born! ‘Covered’ by Bill Haley, himself a product of Louis Jordan and other black musicians, this piece, along with soon-to-follow ‘Rock around the Clock,’ produced not only a new craze in music (movies like “Blackboard Jungle” and the ‘Wild One” with Marlon Brando further popularized this type of music among the young—while making ‘heroes’ and ‘cool cats’ out of types such as Brando, James Dean, etc.) but also gave this new crazy music its title Rock (around the Clock) and Roll (Shake, Rattle and).”
—My entry for “Shake, Rattle and Roll” by Joe Turner
(To hear Joe Turner’s original version of this song, click here.)

Joe Turner

Joe Turner

My hard work back in the late 1970s in researching and compiling that history of the birth and development of early Rock and Roll music from the Mississippi River Delta Blues was not a total loss.

One of the authors whose books on the subject of the Delta Blues I consulted and quoted was Dr. William Ferris (see Sources section at the end of this post), whom I learned had recently helped to establish the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi.

When I wrote to Bill Ferris to query him about my research into Blues music as the foundation for Rock and Roll, we began a sixteen-year correspondence that lasted until he was chosen by then U.S. president Bill Clinton to come to Washington to head the National Endowment for the Humanities.

From that relationship between Bill Ferris and me I began to receive a free subscription to the Southern Register, the regular newsletter of the Center. I continue to receive that newsletter which I quickly devour, including the section on the Center’s Blues magazine titled Living Blues. (To learn more about Bill Ferris, the Center for the Study of Southern Culture, and the Living Blues magazine, click on the titles.)

That foundation for 1950’s Rock and Roll was certainly laid for most of us teens from the Delta beginning in the early fifties and carrying on through our high school years.

From that foundation and the popularity of the black music we were listening to, white recording studios began to publish white “covers” of black music, and white radio stations began to play white “covers” of many of the black songs. Eventually records of the black musicians themselves began to become commonplace, even nationwide.

Thus was born Rock and Roll.

And like Carl Perkins, I was there at its birth!

Addenda

The Passing of Delta Blues Legend B.B. King

This post is dedicated to the memory of Delta Blues legend B.B. King who died while I was composing it on May 14, 2015, the fifty-ninth anniversary of my graduation from high school in the Delta in 1956. King’s guitar was called Lucille after a women whom King claimed was the cause of a fight that resulted in a fire that burned down the juke joint in which he was playing in the tiny Delta community of Twist, Arkansas.

Our 1956 High School Graduation
and the Million Dollar Quartet
 

“Four legendary rockstars came together one night only, but audiences can experience it over and over again in Celebrity Attractions’ last show for the Broadway season. Million Dollar Quartet. The show chronicles a December of 1956 day when the ‘Father of Rock N Roll’ Sam Phillips brought together Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash for a jam session. The star-studded quartet became known as the Million Dollar Quartet. Tickets went on sale for the Tony Award Winning play May 1. The play will run May 26-31.”
—“Youthful Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins
and Jerry Lee Lewis are coming to Tulsa,”
Sapulpa Daily Herald, May 13, 2015

May 13, 2015 Sapulpa Daily Herald article on appearance of the Million Dollar Quartet tribute artists in Tulsa, Oklahoma

May 13, 1015, Sapulpa Daily Herald article on the appearance of the Million Dollar Quartet tribute artists in Tulsa, Oklahoma (to magnify and read the caption, click on the photo)

Recently, on May 14, 2015, I sent my former high school classmate Pat Scavo of Hot Springs (still known to us as Patsy Mc) an email reminding her that it was on that day that we graduated from McGehee High School in 1956—fifty-nine years ago!

In that email, I included a clipping from the Sapulpa Daily Herald announcing an upcoming play in Tulsa about the Million Dollar Quartet, a group of young tribute artists who portray four 1950’s “Rockabilly” stars in a historic jam session arranged by Sam Phillips at his Sun Studio in Memphis on December 4, 1956—the year we graduated from high school.

For months Patsy Mc has been sending me updates on the Million Dollar Quartet and reviews of the performances by the group that she and others from our class have attended in places like Memphis, Tennessee, and Maumelle, Arkansas, near Little Rock.

On April 28 Patsy Mc sent me a link to a video of the Million Dollar Quartet performing live on David Letterman’s Late Show. To view this performance, click on the link below.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EMR8B-Oc7wk

On April 29 she sent me a report on the MDG she had seen with a link to this review of another such performance as reviewed in the Pueblo Chieftain: http://www.chieftain.com/entertainment/music/3531841-120/played-production-carl-cast

To learn more about the Million Dollar Quartet from Wikipedia, go to:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Million_Dollar_Quartet

To visit the Million Dollar Quartet’s official Web site, go to:
http://milliondollarquartetlive.com/

I will discuss Sam Phillips and the Sun Studio musicians more fully in the following post on 1950’s Rock and Roll.

Video Series on the History of Rock and Roll

For a great video series titled “History of Rock and Roll,” in five parts averaging about ten-minutes each, go to this link and then click on each succeeding part:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R-j2rILarYA .

Sources

The video of Carl Perkins singing “Birth of Rock ‘n’ Roll” with a photo of the Million-Dollar Quartet of Perkins, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tWqPKLMFX48

The video of the Clovers performing “One Mint Julep” was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2rNoR8jnPRU

The Wikipedia article about the song “One Mint Julep” was taken from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One_Mint_Julep

The photo of the Clovers was taken from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Clovers

The photo of Sam Phillips was taken from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sam_Phillips

The photo of Sun Studio was taken from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sun_Studio

The Wikipedia articles titled “Rock and Roll” and “1950s in Music” can be accessed at:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rock_and_roll

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1950s_in_music

The video of Pat Boone singing “I Almost Lost My Mind” was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T1B9V4TFM3U

The video of Fats Domino playing and singing “I Almost Lost My Mind” was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7pgVWV_SuVI

The video of Louis Jordan playing “Choo Choo Ch’Boogie” was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c8uxrypkqv4

The photo of Louis Jordan was taken from:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_Jordan

The Wikipedia article about Louis Jordan can be accessed at:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_Jordan

The video of Muddy Waters playing “Hoochie Coochie Man” was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fQ4NFsw4bOU

The Wikipedia article about Muddy Waters from which his photo was taken can be accessed at:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muddy_Waters

The video of Ruth Brown singing, “Mama, He Treats Your Daughter Mean,” was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HnmbJruEkKw

The Wikipedia article about Ruth Brown was taken from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruth_Brown

The photo of Ruth Brown was taken from:
http://www.quotessays.com/bio/ruth-brown.html

The video of “Rocket 88” by Jackie Brentson was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZdnZ36F5n5c

The photo of Jackie Brentson was taken from:
rockhall.com/blog/post/jackie-brenston-rocket-88-first-rock-song/

The Wikipedia article on the song “Rocket 88” can be accessed at:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rocket_88

The Wikipedia article about Jackie Brentson can be accessed at:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jackie_Brenston

The lyrics to the Crew Cuts’ version of the song “Sh-boom” (“Life Could Be a Dream”) were taken from:
http://www.oldielyrics.com/lyrics/the_crew_cuts/sh-boom.html

The photo of the Crew Cuts was taken from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Crew-Cuts

The video of the Chords’ version of “Sh-boom” (“Life Could Be a Dream”) was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LTRfRK0ahYs

The photo of the Chords was taken from:
http://www.jukeintheback.org/?attachment_id=187

The video of the Crew Cuts’ version of “Sh-boom” (“Life Could Be a Dream”) was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9G0-4TWw

The videos of Bill Haley and the Comets playing “Rock around the Clock” and “Shake, Rattle and Roll” were taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZgdufzXvjqw

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8B7xr_EjbzE

The Wikipedia article on the song “Sh-boom” can be accessed at:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sh-Boom

The Wikipedia article about Bill Haley and the Comets with their photo was taken from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Haley_%26_His_Comets

The video of Forrest City Joe playing “You Gotta Cut That Out” was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xrwCyGLBiCE

The Wikipedia article about Forrest City Joe was taken from:
http://badassharmonica.com/forrest-city-joe/

The links to Helena, Arkansas, the King Biscuit Blues show, and the Delta Cultural Center can be accessed at:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helena-West_Helena,_Arkansas

http://www.kingbiscuitfestival.com/history

http://www.encyclopediaofarkansas.net/encyclopedia/entry-detail.aspx?entryID=3370

The photo of the Delta Cultural Center was taken from:
http://www.encyclopediaofarkansas.net/encyclopedia/entry-detail.aspx?entryID=3370

The photo of Sonny Boy Williamson II was taken from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sonny_Boy_Williamson_II

The video of Joe Turner’s original version of “Shake, Rattle and Roll” was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y9wTQsAgktg

The articles on William Ferris, the Center for the Study of Southern Culture, and the Living Blues magazine can be accessed at:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_R._Ferr

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Center_for_the_Study_of_Southern_Culture

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Living_Blues

A biography of William Ferris can be accessed at:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_R._Ferris

A book by William Ferris titled Blues from the Delta (1970, 1978, 1988) which I consulted in composing my personal history of the roots of Rock and Roll is referred to in:

http://www.folkstreams.net/filmmaker,65

The article and the submitted photo about the upcoming appearance of the Million Dollar Quartet in Tulsa were taken from the Sapulpa Daily Herald on May 13, 2015.

The Million Dollar Quartet’s official Web site can be accessed at:
http://milliondollarquartetlive.com/

The five-part video “History of Rock and Roll” can be accessed beginning with the first part at:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R-j2rILarYA

Introduction

“We’ll let the magic
Take us away
Back to the feelings
We shared when they played

In the still of the night
Hold me darlin’, hold me tight, oh
So real, so right
Lost in the fifties tonight”
—Ronnie Milsap

As I noted in the past two posts, over time the music we listened to in our youth and young adulthood often becomes the “soundtrack of our lives”—especially as we grow older and begin to look backward to the simpler, happier days of our existence.

Often, these memory “flashbacks” are triggered by music, particularly by a certain song—and sometimes it is the reverse, a certain memory of a past event will trigger the music being played at the time that event took place.

And, so often, as the old song above says, we become “Lost in the Fifties,” or whatever decade it was in which we spent our happiest, most carefree days. (To listen to this song sung by Ronnie Milsap with its emphasis on returning mentally and emotionally to happier times, click here.)

In my previous post I examined the music that I heard and listened to during my childhood days of the 1940s in my rural birthplace of Selma, Arkansas.

Me about age nine just before we moved from Selma to McGehee

Me about age nine just a year before we moved from Selma to McGehee

As noted, that simple, idyllic life came to an abrupt and totally unexpected end in 1948 when at age ten I was forced to move with my family to the nearest town of McGehee, Arkansas, about fifteen miles away.

There I entered an entirely new and different lifestyle and environment among a world of strangers. Other than my immediate family, I knew only one other person in the city of McGehee, and especially in the McGehee Elementary School: Jarrell Rial, the cousin of a Selma friend whom I had come to know when he came out to visit his Selma relatives every Sunday afternoon.

Me about the time we moved from Selma to McGehee

Me about the time we moved from Selma to McGehee

Besides my stressful experience in being uprooted against my will from my familiar and beloved childhood existence, there were other “coming of age” experiences in that decade, each of which had a profound effect on the direction of my life: For example, the death of my father in 1954; my graduation from high school in May 1956; my enrollment in Ouachita Baptist College in September 1956; my graduation from OBC in June 1960; and my enrollment in graduate school at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville in the autumn of that same year.

Me at graduation from McGehee High School in May 1956

Me at graduation from McGehee High School in May 1956

There were also huge, sweeping, and often (to many, especially adults) disturbing changes in the music of that decade, which was actually supposed to be the subject of this post. I had intended to address the birth and development of Rock and Roll music in this decade, which marked my own development from a country-born and country-raised child, to a small-town adolescent and teenager, and then to a college and graduate school student and young adult.

However, I soon realized that the subject of all the different types of music of the 1950s was so complex and so involved that due to my failing health and other complications, I simply could not devote the time and energy necessary to present it as I would like.

So, instead I decided to break the subject of the soundtrack of my life during the 1950s into two parts, beginning with the still innocent, wholesome, and entertaining Pop music of that fertile decade. The origin, development, and changing nature and course of Rock and Roll music will have to wait for the next post, if I am able to compose it.

Meanwhile, here are just a few examples of some of my favorite Pop musicians and songs from that historic and ever-changing period in my youth.

List of Some of My Favorite
Pop Musicians and Songs of the 1950s

“‘Popular music, or ‘classic pop,’ dominated the charts
for the first half of the 1950s.
Vocal-driven classic pop replaced 
Big Band/Swing
at the end of World War II,
although it often used orchestras to back the vocalists.”
—“Music History of the United States in the 1950s”

To simplify matters, I chose to break down the pop music of the 1950s into categories of individual male singers, individual female singers, male groups, female groups, mixed groups, and instrumentalists.

Each of these categories includes examples of some of the most popular musicians and songs I heard or listened to in that decade. Obviously the list (which is primarily based on a Wikipedia article titled “Music History of the United States in the 1950s”) is not intended to be complete in regard to the musicians of that period or their hits. However, the ones listed are accompanied by the actual URLs. You can simply click on the ones that interest you most to hear and see them played on YouTube videos, often accompanied by nostalgic 1950’s scenes. Other musicians and other songs of that period may be located by referring to the Addenda and Sources sections at the end of the post or by simply Googling them by performer and song title.

Into these lists of sample musicians and selections, I have inserted a few notes on particular ones that always bring back personal memories related to them, what I called in my previous posts “Musical ‘Memory Triggers’ and ‘Time-Travel Transporters.’”

Note: An asterisk (*) indicates those pop singers who also sang Rock and Roll. As noted at the conclusion of the Wikipedia article on music and musicians of the 1950s: “Even Rock ‘n’ Roll icon Elvis Presley spent the rest of his career alternating between Pop and Rock (‘Love Me Tender,’ ‘Loving You,’ ‘I Love You Because’). Pop would resurface on the charts in the mid-1960s as ‘Adult Contemporary.’)”

But although many of the Elvis songs I heard during the 1950s were actually better classified as Pop, I left my discussion of Elvis and his music for the next post on Rock and Roll music of the 1950s. However, I did address this subject earlier in my post titled “My First Encounter with Elvis and His Music,” which was about an incident that occurred in the mid-1950s.

Elvis Presley in about 1955

Elvis Presley in about 1955

Individual Male Singers

“With his blessings from above
Serve it generously with love
One man, one wife
One love through life

Memories are made of this
Memories are made of this”
—1950’s tune sung by Dean Martin

Tony Bennett (“Because of You”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i-4zvArJDGg

*Pat Boone (“April Love”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=von9jW-_eqI

During this period I worked at a McGehee dime store which sold 45-rpm records that were played all day long. Besides hearing this song by Pat Boone played every day for weeks, I also heard his hits “Love Letters in the Sand” and “I Almost Lost My Mind.” Every time I hear these songs, I think of that dime store from long ago. (To see a video of Fats Domino’s New Orleans Blues version of this song, click here.)

Pat Boone

Pat Boone

Nat “King” Cole (“Mona Lisa”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NIDX18Xl16s

Perry Como (“Catch a Falling Star”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kdK1wvKAFfg

Bing Crosby (“True Love,” with Grace Kelly)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5UPHAfvbs08

*Bobby Darin (“Dream Lover”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wVHAQX5sSaU

Eddie Fisher (“Anytime”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZEHoDupUavU

Tennessee Ernie Ford (“Sixteen Tons”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RRh0QiXyZSk

For some reason, every time I hear this immensely popular old tune, I remember our physical education class picking up trash under the bleachers at the high school football field. What the connection was between that song and that task I still don’t know. Maybe it was our way of “loading sixteen tons” of trash!

Frankie Laine (“Mule Train”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oZ62MOvS2hQ

When I was a freshman at Ouachita Baptist College in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, there was a popular young man from Malvern, Arkansas, who did a hilarious skit in the amateur talent shows. In that humorous skit he did a dead-on, dead-pan karaoke rendition of this song using a funny little kid’s cowboy hat and toy whip which he popped at just the right moments to match the pops in the song. Again, why I still recall that skit every time I hear that old song now almost sixty years later, I have no idea!

Dean Martin (“That’s Amore”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-jbqyPzbjOQ

This is another one of the hugely popular songs that were played endlessly at the McGehee dime store where I worked in the mid-1950s. Two others by Dean Martin that were played over and over in the store were “Memories Are Made of This” (one of my favorite pop songs of the 1950s), and “Innamorata,” which I chose as my favorite song of 1956, the year I graduated from high school. As such, it was featured on the little 45-rpm-record table place marker at our senior banquet. Why, of all the many Rock and Roll songs—and especially all the Elvis Presley songs—that I heard in 1956 I should choose this love song by Dean Martin as my favorite, I have no idea, except as proof of my being (even then) a “hopeless romantic and a helpless neurotic.” All of these Dean Martin songs and many more bring back warm memories of my younger years, which is why I own and play CDs of them at home and in the car.

Dean Martin

Dean Martin

Guy Mitchell (“Singin’ the Blues”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AEwkS57P4eE

Johnnie Ray (“Just Walkin’ in the Rain”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kCjTWYoRTzM

Frank Sinatra (“Young at Heart”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OROFfLYQ0b0

I liked this song so much that I memorized the lyrics and sang it without ever seeing the words. I can still do that though I am now far from being young—or even young at heart!

*Andy Williams (“Butterfly”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NPh435KiBt4

Billy Williams (“I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rxhT8T44bt8

According to Wikipedia, this “Classic 1957 revival of the Fats Wallers 1935 original only reached #22 in the UK but was a US #3 hit and earned Billy a gold disc.” Every time I hear it sung (even by Elvis on CD) it takes me back to the summer of 1957 when a carload of us college kids between our freshman and sophomore years drove back and forth between McGehee and Monticello, Arkansas (about twenty-five miles each way) to attend summer school at what was then Arkansas A&M. One of those students turned out to be the sister of Cullen Gannaway from Arkansas City. Cullen, whom I had yet to meet, later became my best friend at Ouachita Baptist College and even the Best Man in my wedding in December 1962. So unknown to me then, this song would have a small part in my romance and eventual wedding six years later and thus also a part of the “soundtrack” of my courtship and early marriage to be listed in my future post on the music of the early 1960s. (See my earlier post titled “The Peacock Love Story and the Passing of a Friend.”)

Individual Female Singers

“I was dancing with my darling to the Tennessee Waltz
When an old friend I happened to see
Introduced her to my loved one and while they were dancing
My friend stole my sweetheart from me

I remember the night and the Tennessee Waltz
Now I know just how much I have lost
Yes, I lost my little darling on the night they were playing
The beautiful Tennessee Waltz”
—1950’s tune sung by Patti Page

Theresa Brewer (“‘Til I Waltz Again with You”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WZkTC0YmfVY

Another of the many Pop songs played endlessly at the McGehee dime store where I worked in the mid-50s. I loved all of her entertaining songs delivered in her cute, pert, chipper manner and her unique squeaky little-girl voice.

Rosemary Clooney (“This Old House”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nstn4Wscl1w

Doris Day (“Secret Love”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fU8tQpCZEzg

*Connie Francis (“Among My Souvenirs”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cODVfcPzIdU

*Gogi Grant (“The Wayward Wind”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4SaeWh3h8Fg

For some reason every time I hear this old song played I immediately think of sitting in study hall in the auditorium of the McGehee High School in the mid-50s. What the connection between the song and that place is, I have no idea because that was decades before the time of portable music players, which would not have been allowed in study hall anyway.

Kitty Kallen (“Little Things Mean a Lot”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2C7SzKv2uLU

Peggy Lee (“Fever”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X7_k_0dKknA

Julie London (“Cry Me a River”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LbwjQSBH0sE

This one (and indeed each of the songs by Julie London) always takes me back to my freshman year at Ouachita Baptist College in 1956-57 where one of the guys on our dorm floor played her album continuously. At the time, Julie London was a sultry-voiced sexual icon who was married to actor Jack Webb, who played L.A. detective Joe Friday on the now-classic TV show Dragnet.

Julie London

Julie London

Patti Page (“Tennessee Waltz”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=44B6B1OycgI

Patti Page was a native of Claremore, Oklahoma, originally named Clara Ann Fowler, who took her professional name from a dairy that sponsored her local radio show. She had numerous hit songs during the 1950s and beyond. Every time I hear any of them (which is often since her cassette album is one I carry with me to the blood center I visit every two weeks), I think of two places in De Ridder, Louisiana: one, a typical 1950’s hamburger joint where her music was played constantly on the jukebox, and the other an old-fashioned drugstore, both of which Jarrell Rial, my Selma-McGehee buddy, and I visited often during our National Guard training every summer at Fort Polk. A former Marine who married Mari’s cousin used to take great delight in telling all the soldiers in our unit how he drove by that drugstore one night and saw Jarrell and me eating ice cream cones and reading comic books—while probably listening to Patti Page, the “Singin’ Rage”! A couple of young Southern Baptist “Swingers”!

Patti Page

Patti Page

Dinah Shore (“Lavender Blue”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IxbPjZ01c4Y

Kay Starr (“Wheel of Fortune”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OeIce5NsWKk

This song always reminds me of a certain diner in Hot Springs, Arkansas, where three of my McGehee High School Band buddies and I used to eat breakfast while staying at the nearby Como Hotel (no longer standing) during our annual spring band festivals in the early 1950s. The popular song must have been playing there at least once when I first heard it, and it was permanently engraved on my “memory board.”

Male Groups

“Tho’ summer turns to winter
And the present disappears,
The laughter we were glad to share
Will echo through the years. 

Tho’ other nights and other days
May find us gone our separate ways,
We will have these moments to remember . . .”
—“Moments to Remember” sung by the Four Lads,
the class song of the Class of 1956,
McGehee High School

Ames Brothers (“The Naughty Lady of Shady Lane”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JGpR6R3a1D4

Four Aces (“Love Is a Many Splendored Thing”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GnDtxiNwDS8

Four Lads (“Moments to Remember”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VOc7L7tYLNE

As indicated by the opening quote above, this tune was the class song of our 1956 McGehee High School graduating class, which I quoted in my earlier blog post about our senior class trip using the title, “Moments to Remember/Selma Methodist Church Update.”

The Four Lads

The Four Lads

Hilltoppers (“P.S. I Love You”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xj7iikbNJBg

I recall hearing this group sing this song and others when they came to Ouachita Baptist College to perform with Stan Kenton and his band in about 1959-60. Joe Dempsey, my longtime friend, Ouachita classmate, and the designer of this blog, recently sent me an email stating: “I well remember Stan Kenton coming to OBC. There’s an interesting tidbit to that visit. There was a 1954 graduate of El Dorado High School [Joe’s high school alma mater], Bob Knight who played trombone in that band. The Firehouse Five Plus Two also visited OBC a couple of times. Links to those guys [appear below]:” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E1l04Hn9s88  and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x87IQhuQ-WY and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qIUU78VaQQU

The Hilltoppers

The Hilltoppers

 

Stan Kenton

Stan Kenton

Mills Brothers (“Glow Worm”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zOoAPn3OjQ

The Mills Brothers were a black singing group whose smooth four-part harmony greatly influenced many white singers and groups of the 1950s, including Dean Martin, perhaps (after Elvis Presley) my favorite singer of that decade.

Mitch Miller and Chorus (“The Yellow Rose of Texas”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5uS5cPfbIjw

When Mari and I were courting we became acquainted with this group on a weekly 1961 TV show called “Sing Along With Mitch.” It was somewhat unusual since it featured a beautiful and talented young black female lead singer named Leslie Uggams, which was somewhat controversial in those early days of black and white integration in the media.

Female Groups

“Oh Lord, won’t you tell me why
I love that fella so
He doesn’t want me
But I’ll never, never, never, never let him go

Sincerely, oh you know how I love you
I’ll do anything for you
Please say you’ll be mine”
—“Sincerely,” as sung by
The McQuire Sisters

Chordettes (“Mister Sandman”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VNUgsbKisp8 

Fontaine Sisters (“Hearts of Stone”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wwbw8IFskSM

McGuire Sisters (“Sincerely”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-FFUeGB_Bbo

Mari and I still see these lovely ladies on those public television oldies shows and after more than sixty years can still sing along with the lyrics to all of their most popular hits.

The McGuire Sisters

The McGuire Sisters

Duet/Mixed Groups

“Now the hacienda’s dark
The town is sleeping
Now the time has come to part
The time for weeping

Vaya con dios, my darling
Vaya con dios, my love”
—“Vaya con Dios” as sung and played by
Les Paul and Mary Ford

Les Paul and Mary Ford (“Vaya con Dios,” i.e., “Go with God”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QqZ0Sdz_V40

Still one of our favorites of all the dozens of musical groups we heard during the 1950s. According to Wikipedia:

“[Les Paul] recorded with his wife Mary Ford in the 1950s, and they sold millions of records. Among his many honors, Paul is one of a handful of artists with a permanent, stand-alone exhibit in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He is prominently named by the music museum on its website as an ‘architect’ and a ‘key inductee’ along with Sam Phillips and Alan Freed. Les Paul is the only person to be included in both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the National Inventors Hall of Fame.” Although classified as Rock and Rock artists, Les Paul and Mary Ford were also considered Pop musicians.

When Andy Herren learned that I was making up a post on 1950’s Pop music, he sent me the following message about Les Paul and Mary Ford:

“If you can, check out Les Paul and Mary Ford’s ‘How High the Moon’ in 1951. We heard it on KVSA back when. If you listen to Les play with empathy, you realize how good he is. He invented what he called the ‘Pauleriser’ which let him play as a second guitar and then a third and fourth. I think Mary is singing with herself too. Hearing them takes me back to riding in a car with the windows down on a gravel road, and the gravel making the car jerk back and forth.”

Les Paul and Mary Ford

Les Paul and Mary Ford

The Platters (“The Great Pretender”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_1oJuwkXr0E

One of the most popular mixed groups (there was one female singer with a quarter of male singers) in the 1950s who produced a long list of hits during that period. One of those hits was titled “Twilight Time.” This song (though perhaps not the Platters’ version) was the closing musical sign-off of our local daytime radio station, KVSA, located between McGehee and Dermott, Arkansas, so we heard it often. (See the entry about KVSA in the Addenda Section).

KVSA

KVSA

Weavers (“Goodnight Irene”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YB1wzgO4B7A

Instrumentalists

“On a picnic morning
Without a warning
I looked at you
And somehow I knew . . . .”

“It must have been moonglow
Way up in the blue
It must have been moonglow
That led me straight to you”
—Lyrics to the songs “Picnic” and “Moonglow”
from the popular 1955 movie Picnic
starring William Holden and Kim Novac

Percy Faith (“Poor People of Paris”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oLhOJHg7gWI

An entertaining version of the Percy Faith instrumental hit with photos of the covers of 1950’s magazines including views of celebrities of that time such as Pat Boone, Princess Grace Kelly, and sexpot movie star Jayne Mansfield.

Percy Faith (“Theme from Moulin Rouge”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LPDF2ORPOFQ

Great musical video with wonderful photos of French-style paintings and posters of the Moulin Rouge (“Red Mill”) cabaret in Paris in days gone by.

Bert Kaempfert, (“Wonderland by Night”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NnU_nMYb0C4

A song I heard many, many times during the 1950s.

“Moonglow-Theme from Picnic” (composed by Morris Stolof)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_DBoMIi8bYc

An unforgettable scene of William Holden and Kim Novac dancing to the music of the film Picnic. I first saw this classic 1955 movie in Monticello. Arkansas, where my cousin Donald Peacock was the projectionist, and have loved it ever since. It always brings back a lot of memories, such as the quote from a computer-generated Clint Eastwood character in the kids’ movie Rango, “This isn’t heaven, kid. If it were we’d be eatin’ Pop-Tarts with Kim Novac.” Yeah.

Poster of the 1955 film Picnic

Poster of the 1955 film Picnic

Perez Prado (“Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zj64NlRnpDY

I first heard this song played by the Harry James orchestra in 1957. Since my Monticello cousin Donald and I both played trumpet in our school bands, we tried to learn to play this tune together, even composing the sheet music for it which I still have in my old trumpet case. (To learn more about Donald, see my earlier post titled, “My Cousin Donald and His Early Years.”)

Nelson Riddle (“Lisbon Antigua”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GeKB3YYV-KQ

A musical video of the Nelson Riddle version of this song with lovely photos of the quaint city from the Lisbon tourist bureau.

Hugo Winterhalter (“Canadian Sunset”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4BJE6hwRpOc

This song was later also recorded by Andy Williams, a pop singer whose music I heard often throughout the 1950s and beyond. To hear his version of this song with photos of him and beautiful scenes throughout Canada, click here.

Addenda

In the past, my McGehee High School Class of 1956 classmate Pat Scavo (known to us then as Patsy McDermott) has sent me links to free old-time music which is divided into decades and played radio-style in random order.

Here are two such links for music of the 1950s along with many other musical links to other decades, old radio and TV shows, etc.:

http://www.tropicalglen.com/

http://www.1959bhsmustangs.com/videojukebox.htm

I hope you can access these sites and pick out the songs from the era you wish to listen to. I also hope they will “bring back [your] dream divine” so that you can also “live it over again.”

To view a brief nostalgic 1953 video about KVSA, the Voice of Southeast Arkansas, located between McGehee and Dermott, with a background of the type Pop music it played in the 1950s (now called “American Standard” music) go to:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AKgm8XYU_fU

To view a sideshow on AOL about the fate of twenty music stars from the 1950s and 60s (including Doris Day, etc.), go to:
http://www.purpleclover.com/entertainment/3440-20-stars-who-dropped-off-your-radar/item/more-life-reimagined/

On April 27, 2015, my cousin Kay Barrett Bell sent me an alternate version of Ronnie Milsap’s “Lost in the Fifties Tonight” with great scenes of 1950’s people; stores and drive-ins; automobiles; dress; events and sports; games and toys; cigarettes and snacks; celebrities and political figures; products and old ads; movie/TV stars and comedians (like Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, James Dean, Elvis Presley, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca); grade-B cowboys such as Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Gene Autry, Hopalong Cassidy, the Lone Ranger and Tonto, etc.); and more, all found at: http://safeshare.tv/w/FEDEwZHZXu

NOTE: This video begins with a brief vocal introduction, which may be racial in nature, followed by two images of 1950’s white high school students (probably at the time of the Integration Crisis at Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas) demonstrating against the integration of black and white students in 1957. Viewer discretion is advised.  

Sources

The lyrics to “Lost in the Fifties Tonight” were taken from:
Songwriters: SEALS, TROY HAROLD/REID, MIKE/PARRIS, FREDERICKE, Lost In The Fifties Tonight lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Universal Music Publishing Group at:
http://www.lyricsfreak.com/r/ronnie+milsap/lost+in+the+fifties+tonight_20245451.html

The two photos of me as a boy in Selma, Arkansas, and as an elementary student in McGehee, Arkansas, were taken from personal sources.

The photo of me as a graduate of McGehee High School was taken from the 1956 MHS yearbook.

The quote about Pop music in the 1950s was taken from: “Music History of the United States in the 1950s” at:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Music_history_of_the_United_States_in_the_1950s

The photo of the 1950’s Elvis Presley was taken from my earlier post titled “My First Encounter with Elvis and His Music” at:
https://myokexilelit.wordpress.com/2011/08/17/my-first-encounter-with-elvis-and-his-music/

The lyrics to “Memories Are Made of This” were taken from:
Songwriters GILKYSON, TERRY / MILLER, FRANK / DEHR, RICHARD

The photo of Pat Boone was taken from:
https://strathdee.files.wordpress.com/2010/05/patboone2.jpg

The photo of Dean Martin was taken from:
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Dean_Martin_-_publicity.JPG#/media/File:Dean_Martin_-_publicity.JPG

The lyrics to “The Tennessee Waltz” were taken from:
http://lyrics.wikia.com/Patti_Page:The_Tennessee_Waltz

The photo of Julie London was taken from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julie_London

The photo of Patti Page was taken from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patti_Page

The lyrics to “Moments to Remember” were taken from:
http://www.oldielyrics.com/lyrics/the_four_lads/moments_to_remember.html

The photo of the Four Lads was taken from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Four_Lads

The photo of the Hilltoppers and bandleader Stan Kenton were taken from pages 124 and 125 of the 1960 Ouachitonian, the year of my graduation from Ouachita Baptist College in Arkadelphia, Arkansas.

The lyrics to “Sincerely” were taken from:
http://www.oldielyrics.com/lyrics/the_mcguire_sisters/sincerely.html

The photo of the McGuire Sisters was taken from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McGuire_Sisters

The lyrics to “Vaya con Dios” were taken from:
http://www.oldielyrics.com/lyrics/les_paul_and_mary_ford/vaya_con_dios.html

The photo of Les Paul and Mary Ford was taken from:
www.exotictikiisland.com/lovers-luau-les-paul-and-mary-ford/

The photo of KVSA between McGehee and Dermott, Arkansas, was taken from my earlier post titled “My First Encounter with Elvis and His Music” at:
https://myokexilelit.wordpress.com/2011/08/17/my-first-encounter-with-elvis-and-his-music/

The lyrics to “Picnic” and “Moonglow” were taken from:
Songwriters Eddie Delange; Will Hudson; Irving Mills Published by MILLS MUSIC INC;DE LANGE MUSIC CO.

The poster of the film Picnic with William Holden and Kim Novac was taken from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Picnic_(1955_film)

Introduction

“The music of our youth becomes the soundtrack of our lives.”
—Jimmy Peacock

“In a film, the music tells us how to feel
about what we are seeing.”

—Anonymous Film Critic

In my previous post titled “Infusion Inspiration: Memory Flood at the Center for Blood” I described how listening to old cassette tapes of Gospel music on an outdated portable Walkman cassette player helps me to pass the time while I receive blood at a city hospital blood center.

I used quotes, scriptures, Gospel song lyrics, and links to Gospel music videos to illustrate the inspiration and encouragement from the stirred memories I receive during those long tedious hours of sitting in a recliner in a cold room hooked up to an IV tube.

In this post, a sort of sequel to that one, I continue the subject of how songs of all types, and not just Gospel hymns, have the power to serve as “musical ‘memory-triggers’ and ‘time-travel transporters.’”

As I noted in that post and in the opening quotes above, over time the music we listened to in our youth and young adulthood often becomes the “soundtrack of our lives”—especially as we grow older and begin to look backward to the simpler, happier days of our existence.

Often, these memory “flashbacks” are triggered by music, particularly by a certain song—and sometimes it is the reverse, a certain memory of a past event will trigger the music being played at the time that event took place.

It happens to all of us, I suppose, but especially to us “seniors.” That’s why we often think on such occasions, “Ah, those were the days!”

Now in this post I will recall and review some of the songs that became at least a part of the soundtrack of my childhood. Since there are so many I can only present some examples that come to my mind when I recall that period of my life or some incident in it. Due to their number I will not try to provide the lyrics or the video links to all these songs. However, you can always find them by searching for any that interest you by Googling them online.

Childhood Soundtracks

“And precious things are [musical memories] to an exile,
They take him to a [time and] place he cannot be.
—My paraphrase of the Irish folksong
“The Isle of Innisfree”

“When a man says that he is seeking the scenes of his childhood,
what he is really seeking is his childhood.”
—Anonymous

If you have read my preceding post “Infusion Inspiration: Memory Flood at the Center for Blood,” you will recognize this first partial and paraphrased quote from the Irish folk song “The Isle of Innisfree.”

As I noted in that post and in this one, certain songs from our childhood and youth have the power to “take us [back] to a time and place we cannot be.” I described this phenomenon in my previous post when I wrote about the power of the old hymns of the faith that we sang in the Selma Baptist Church of my childhood.

But that experience is not limited to old hymns and Gospel songs though I am reminded that every day as my country, cattle-dealing family sat down to “dinner” (Southern for “lunch”), we always listened to two radio shows: 1) the news of livestock and commodity prices on the market and 2) a fifteen-minute program of Southern Gospel music by the Stamps-Baxter Quartet. I can even still sing their theme song, “Give the World a Smile,” almost seventy years later though I have never seen the lyrics in print nor have I heard the music in decades. (To hear this song sung by J.D. Sumner and the Stamps Quartet, the group who backed up Elvis Presley on many of his songs, click on the title.)

J.D. Sumner and the Stamps Quartet with Elvis Presley

J.D. Sumner and the Stamps Quartet with Elvis Presley (center) whom they backed up

From my idyllic, Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn childhood in my birthplace of Selma, Arkansas (which I wrote about in my earlier post titled “The Way We Were”), there are several old secular songs that still recall to my memory those simpler, happier days in my life.

For example, the first song I ever remember singing, at about age four while strolling through the house strumming a cheap plastic toy guitar, was one I heard on our old battery radio (which I wrote about in that earlier post about “The Way We Were”). It was titled “You Are My Sunshine” and was written in 1939 (one year after my birth) by Jimmie Davis, later governor of Louisiana. In fact, it was sung and declared “written by another Southern governor” in the film Primary Colors based on the presidential primary candidacy of Bill Clinton, former governor of my native state of Arkansas. (To hear this song sung by Jimmie Davis, click on the title.)

Jimmie Davis and his record of "You Are My Sunshine"

Jimmie Davis and his record of “You Are My Sunshine,” the first song I ever remember singing

Speaking of “musical memory-triggers” and “time-travel transporters,” you can imagine the sensation I experience every time I hear that old song from my earliest childhood being sung or played some seventy years later. It quite literally “strums the strings of my heart” just as I strummed the strings of that plastic toy guitar in that simple farmhouse in which I was born long ago and far away.

Of course, during my childhood there were other “soundtrack” songs that still speak to me and recall those happier days. For example, in that earlier post about “The Way We Were” I told about getting electricity for the first time in 1947. I also told how we took our habitual trip into town (McGehee, about fifteen miles from Selma) on “Sairdy evenin’” to go to the “pitcher show” and watch a double feature which always included a grade B-Western with 1940’s cowboy stars.

Malco Theater in McGehee, Arkansas, at its gala opening in about 1954

Malco Theater in McGehee, Arkansas, at its gala opening in about 1954 when it replaced the older Ritz Theater where I saw many 1940’s films (to magnify, click on the photo)

Some of those movie cowboys were known for their music, especially Gene Autry, called from the beginning in the 1930s “the Singing Cowboy,” and Roy Rogers, who got his start in Hollywood as part of the Western singing group “The Sons of the Pioneers.” A few of the songs I recall by the Sons of the Pioneers were “Cool Water,” “Tumblin’ Tumbleweed” and “Ghost Riders in the Sky.” (To view these songs on You Tube, click on their titles.)

The Sons of the Pioneers with Roy Rogers

The Sons of the Pioneers with Roy Rogers (in white hat on the right)

In a later post titled “You Might Be from the Country If . . . Part IV” I offered a quiz on some of these cowboys whose musical themes, like Gene Autry’s “I’m Back in the Saddle Again” and Roy Rogers’ “Happy Trails to You,” also became part of the “soundtrack” of my childhood years as the son of a livestock dealer who loved everything Western.

(To hear these songs on YouTube video, click on their titles. Note: The Gene Autry song takes about ten seconds to begin so wait for it to start. The theme song of Roy Rogers, whose album of greatest hits we own and listen to, includes his wife and costar Dale Evans, a photo of whom with Roy and his horse Trigger, graces the wall of Mari’s bedroom.)

Gene Autry

Gene Autry, known from the 1930s as the “Singing Cowboy”

Roy Rogers and his co-star and wife Dale Evans

Roy Rogers and his co-star and later wife Dale Evans (to magnify, click on the photo)

The War Years of the 1940s

“Listen to the jingle the rumble and the roar
As she glides along the woodland through the hills and by the shore
Hear the mighty rush of the engine hear the lonesome hobos call
You’re traveling through the jungle on the Wabash Cannonball.”
—Lyrics to Roy Acuff version of
“The Wabash Cannonball”

In that post about “The Way We Were” I told how we used to listen to “The Grand Ole Opry” in those carefree childhood days. I mentioned in particular listening to the star of the Grand Ole Opry at that time, Roy Acuff, whose songs like “The Great Speckled Bird” and particularly “The Wabash Cannonball” were great hits and heard everywhere in the country in those day.

Grand Ole Opry star Roy Acuff

Roy Acuff, the Grand Ole Opry star who sang “The Wabash Cannonball”

In fact, Roy and his songs were so popular that during World War II attacking Japanese soldiers used to cry out at their American enemies: “To hell with FDR (U.S. president Franklin Delano Roosevelt)!” and “To hell with Roy Acuff!” (To hear “The Wabash Cannonball” sung by Roy Acuff on YouTube video, click on the title above.)

Since the 1940s of my childhood were the years of World War II (1941-45 for Americans), some of the music in our family “soundtrack” included popular wartime songs such as “The White Cliffs of Dover,” “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree With Anyone Else But Me (Till I Come Marching Home),” and of course the patriotic blockbuster “God Bless America” sung by “The Songbird of the South,” a rousing, robust Virginia singer named Kate Smith.

Popular WWII singer Kate Smith with the cast of her first radio show

Popular WWII singer Kate Smith (center) with the cast of her first radio show

My particular favorites of some later versions of those wartime songs were “Dream a Little Dream of Me,” the signature song of Kate Smith, sung by Mama Cass; “A Nightingale Sang in Barkley Square” (also spelled “Berkeley Square”), written in 1939, the year after I was born, sung by Bobby Darin; and of course Glenn Miller’s Big-Band theme song “In the Mood.” (To hear these three songs, click on their titles.)

Other Swing music favorites included “Chattanooga Choo Choo” and “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.” Some favorite vocalists of that period included Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, the Andrews Sisters, and Dinah Shore.

Glenn Miller

Glenn Miller, perhaps the most popular Big Band leader of the 1940s

My Parents’ 1940’s Soundtrack

“He rides in the sun
‘Til his day’s work is done
And he rounds up the cattle each fall
(yodeling)
Singing his cattle call.”
—Lyrics of refrain of “Cattle Call” sung by Eddie Arnold

“After the ball is over,
After the break of morn –
After the dancers’ leaving;
After the stars are gone;
Many a heart is aching,
If you could read them all;
Many the hopes that have vanished
After the ball.”

“After the Ball Is Over,
Written in 1890 and sung in the musical
Show Boat in 1936

Although my family and I heard many of the universally popular songs and singers from the Swing and Big Band Music era during and after World War II, as a livestock dealer and his working partner-wife, my parents still tended to listen to what would today be termed Country-Western music.

Naturally, some seventy years later, I still recall with fond memory their favorite singers and songs, especially when I hear them on rare occasions. As noted throughout this series of posts, those old largely forgotten and poorly regarded pieces of musical nostalgia take me back to those simple, carefree days of my country childhood.

Mama and Daddy in about 1927, the year they married on Christmas Day

Mama and Daddy in about 1927, the year they married on Christmas Day. Note Mama’s dress and cropped 1920’s haircut, once again a popular style today. (To magnify, click on the photo.)

For example, it was not surprising that as a cattleman Daddy’s favorite type of music was Western. He especially liked songs by Country-Western singers such as Eddie Arnold, whose “Cattle Call” is quoted above with a link to a video of him singing and yodeling that entire song. I still hear Daddy singing it as he too went about his daily chores of “rounding up [and dealing with] the cattle each [day].”

Eddie Arnold who sang the "Cattle Call"

Eddie Arnold who sang the “Cattle Call,” Daddy’s favorite song

Daddy also liked the music of other Country-Western singers such as Hank Williams. Hank was influenced by other singers whom Daddy liked such as Roy Acuff (mentioned above) and Ernest Tubb (whose album of biggest hits I still own and listen to, bringing back many memories of Daddy and his love for that type of Western singers and songs).

Unfortunately, Hank Williams died young in 1953. It was not long after Hank’s death that Daddy died in 1954 at the McGehee Livestock Auction where I was working in the back, penning cattle. (See my earlier post titled “My Father’s [Cattle] Brand and Seal.”) One of Hank’s songs that Daddy particularly liked and sang and whistled (as he did Eddie Arnold’s “Cattle Call” and Ernest Tubbs’ “I’m Walkin’ the Floor Over You”) was “Your Cheatin’ Heart.” (To listen to these songs, click on their titles.)

Ernest Tubb who sang "I'm Walkin' the Floor Over You"

Ernest Tubb who sang “I’m Walkin’ the Floor Over You”

Hank Williams who sang "Your Cheatin' Heart"

Hank Williams who sang “Your Cheatin’ Heart”

Finally, although Mama liked and listened to Gospel songs and hymns as well as Country-Western music, she also liked ballads and sentimental songs from Broadway musicals and movies. One was “After the Ball Is Over” quoted above from the 1936 Hollywood movie version of the Broadway musical Show Boat, two years before my birth. In fact, I heard it so much as a child that I learned the lyrics to it without ever seeing them or trying to memorize them. (To hear this song sung by Irene Dunne in Show Boat, click on the title.)

Irene Dunne who sang "After the Ball Is Over"

Irene Dunne who sang “After the Ball Is Over”

Mama also particularly liked one that I have never heard before or since (except perhaps on one occasion that I cannot now recall.) It was called “(My Sweet Little) Alice Blue Gown” from the 1919 Broadway musical titled Irene. After more than seventy years, while composing this post I finally went on Wikipedia and discovered the source of this term “Alice Blue gown” and its significance:

“Alice blue is a pale tint of azure that was favored by Alice Roosevelt Longworth, daughter of Theodore Roosevelt, which sparked a fashion sensation in the United States.

The hit song “Alice Blue Gown”, inspired by Longworth’s signature gown, premiered in Harry Tierney‘s 1919 Broadway musical Irene. The musical was made into a film in 1940 starring Anna Neagle and Ray Milland.”

The "Alice Blue Gown" my mother sang about so often

The “Alice Blue Gown” my mother sang about so often (to magnify, click on the photo)

That explanation makes one of my Mama’s favorite songs even more meaningful and dear to my heart. (To hear this old-fashioned song that I heard Mama sing so often I also learned its lyrics by heart, click here.)

Conclusion:
“Gone with the Wind”

“Rhett, Rhett… Rhett, if you go,
where shall I go? What shall I do?”
—Scarlett O’Hara to Rhett Butler
at conclusion of Gone with the Wind

Finally, Mama was obviously impressed with seeing her first full-color Hollywood movie in about 1939, the year after I was born. It was the blockbuster movie version of the best-selling book by Margaret Mitchell titled Gone with the Wind.

Scene from the 1939 film "Gone with the Wind"

Scene from the 1939 film Gone with the Wind (for maximum viewing effect, click on the photo)

Mama sometimes referred to scenes from that movie and enjoyed hearing the song “Tara’s Theme” which ran throughout it. (To view a video of this haunting melody, with dramatic scenes from the film, including two white peacocks and Scarlett in front of Tara, click on the title above. It is a perfect example of the music in a film telling us how to feel about what we are seeing.)

All of these songs and singers, and so many more, were a great influence on my childhood and thus on my entire life. For example, “Tara’s Theme” from GWTW always has a strong emotional appeal to me every time I hear it.

But the “soundtrack” of my young life began to change when my family moved from the country to town (from Selma to McGehee) in 1948 when I was ten years old. As a result, at the end of the 1940s my simple, idyllic boyhood country life began to disappear as it, like Scarlett O’Hara’s happy, familiar life at Tara, began to become a thing of the past . . . until eventually it too was totally “Gone with the Wind.”

In my next post, “The Soundtrack of Our Lives, Part II,” I will continue with some of the music from the 1950s, arguably the most musically influential period of my entire life.

Addenda:
Links to 1940s Music and Musical

In the past, my McGehee High School Class of 1956 classmate Pat Scavo (known to us then as Patsy McDermott) has sent me links to free old-time music which is divided into decades and played radio-style in random order.

Here are two such links for music of the 1940s along with many other musical links to other decades, old radio and TV shows, etc.:

http://www.tropicalglen.com/

http://www.1959bhsmustangs.com/videojukebox.htm

I hope you can access these sites and pick out the songs from the era you wish to listen to. I also hope they will “bring back [your] dream divine” so that you can also “live it over again.”

To view a video of an amazing 1940’s-style Boogie Woogie piano player and two jitterbug dancers in lively imitation of the music and dance craze of that era, go to:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fWDfxgngrNc

Although the Hollywood musical Yankee Doodle Dandy was made during World War II (in 1942, the year that my Mari was born), I was too young to see it. However, decades later when I saw it on TV, it became one of my favorite movies, which I still watch often.

James Gagney playing showman George M. Cohan singing and dancing "I"m a Yankee Doodle Dandy" from the 1942 musical by that name

James Gagney as showman George M. Cohan singing and dancing “Yankee Doodle Dandy” in the musical by that name

Three of my favorite musical numbers from that movie are: “I’m a Yankee Doodle Yankee” sung and danced by James Cagney; “Mary’s a Grand Old Name,” sung by Irene Manning; and “Only Forty-Five Minutes from Broadway” and “So Long, Mary” sung and danced by Irene Manning and Chorus. (To view videos of these numbers, click on their titles. They are light years away from the Blues, Rhythm and Blues, and Rock and Roll songs that we teens listened to in the 1950s, the subject of my next post.)

 Sources

The original lyrics of “The Isle of Innisfree” can be accessed at:
http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/d/daniel_odonnell/the_isle_of_innisfree.html

The video of J.D. Summer and the Stamps Quartet singing “Give the World a Smile” was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uYYxsUjJzAk

The photo of J.D. Sumner and the Stamps Quarter with Elvis Presley was taken from:
http://jdsumner.elvis.com.au/

The video of Jimmie Davis singing “You Are My Sunshine” was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GiRDVArEKL0

The photo of Jimmie Davis on a record cover was taken from:
www.slipcue.com/music/country/countryartists/davis_jimmie_01.html

The photo of the Malco Theater in McGehee, Arkansas, was taken from:
McGehee Centennial 1906-2006.

The videos of the Sons of the Pioneers singing “Cool Water,” “Tumbling Along with a Tumbling Tumbleweed,” and “Ghost Riders in the Sky” were taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jFBHc2qafgU
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQc5gDXQGIs
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NcnDlgeUYs4

The photo of the Sons of the Pioneers with Roy Rogers was taken from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sons_of_the_Pioneers

The video of Gene Autry singing, “I’m Back in the Saddle Again” was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=80NoPLp-Zl0

The photo of Gene Autry was taken from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gene_Autry

The video of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans singing, “Happy Trails to You” was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XcYsO890YJY

The photo of Roy Rogers was taken from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roy_Rogers

The lyrics to the Roy Acuff version of “The Wabash Cannonball” were taken from “Metrolyrics” at:
http://www.metrolyrics.com/wabash-cannonball-lyrics-roy-acuff.html

The video of Roy Acuff singing “Wabash Cannonball” was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6yhvv234oaA

The photo of Roy Acuff was taken from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roy_Acuff

The video of Mama Cass singing “Dream a Little Dream of Me” was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P4T3tMkjRig

The video of Bobby Darin singing “A Nightingale Sang in Barkley Square” was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bKvu-8Ac0x0

The photo of Kate Smith and the cast of her first radio show was taken from;
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kate_Smith

The video of the Glenn Miller orchestra playing “In the Mood” was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FAQgXPTekOU

The photo of Glenn Miller was taken from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glenn_Miller

The lyrics of the song “Cattle Call” as sung by Eddie Arnold were taken from:
http://www.cowboylyrics.com/lyrics/classic-country/cattle-call—eddy-arnold-14949.html

The video of Eddie Arnold singing the Western song “Cattle Call” was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EtpbtKKXyuc

The photo of Eddie Arnold was taken from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eddy_Arnold

The video of Hank Williams singing “Your Cheatin’ Heart” was taken from:
|https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jg2oR91_r5I

The photo of Hank Williams was taken from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hank_Williams

The video of Ernest Tubb singing “I’m Walkin’ the Floor Over You” was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-0KHkf5V9

The photo of Ernest Tubb was taken from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernest_Tubb

The lyrics of the 1890 song “After the Ball Is Over” was taken from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/After_the_Ball_(song)

The video of Irene Dunne singing “After the Ball Is Over” from a 1936 film titled Show Boat was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qXNJO6jgwy

The photo of Irene Dunne was taken from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irene_Dunne

The video of Joni James singing “Alice Blue Gown” was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TojHJ3v2xN8&feature=youtube_gdata

The photo of the “Alice Blue Gown” was taken from:
http://www.georgetowner.com/media/images/derivatives/article_Alice20Roosevelt-BlueDress1_1.jpg

The quote of Scarlett O’Hara to Rhett Bulter at the conclusion of Gone with the Wind was taken from:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0031381/quotes

The photo of Tara from Gone with the Wind was sent to me by Pat Scavo from an undisclosed source.

The video of “Tara’s Theme” from the film Gone with the Wind was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PgF-rcHcPqE

The photo of James Gagney as George M. Cohan in Yankee Doodle Dandy was taken from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yankee_Doodle_Dandy

The video of James Gagney singing, “I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy” was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=StDpLge_ITM

The video of Irene Manning singing “Mary’s a Grand Old Name” was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=apy6Yp9O7AI

The video of Irene Manning and chorus singing “Forty-five Minutes from Broadway” and “So Long, Mary” was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qydYuLlHdkQ

 

Introduction

“In the life of a writer there are no extraneous experiences.”
—Anonymous
(Everything that happens to a writer
becomes grist for his mill.)

“I believe the future is only the past,
entered through another gate.”
—Arthur Wing Pinero
(I believe this truth applies also to the present!)

As indicated by the title and subtitle of this post, it has to do with the unexpected inspiration that I receive when I spend time in the blood center of a city hospital.

Since I suffer from a blood disorder (among a half-dozen other health problems), I am required to visit the blood center every two weeks for a blood test and injection, and about every four to six weeks for a two-part blood infusion (commonly called a transfusion).

Because of my other health issues, those regular blood infusions usually consist of two units of blood administered in separate sessions over a two-day period.

During each of those procedures I must spend three to four hours sitting in a recliner hooked up to an IV while Mari sits beside me in a straight chair in a cold and rather stark and sterile room. Although the nurses in the blood center are wonderfully warm and attentive, responding instantly and graciously to our every need and desire, there is no way they or anyone else can speed up the procedures.

Not being a fan of daytime television, which is provided for each individual patient, I had to find a different way to pass the time of each session.

At first, I tried reading (as Mari does), but I found it too difficult to concentrate in that situation and environment. Instead, I got the “inspiration” (a significant word!) to dig out the old Walkman portable cassette player and tapes that I used to listen to while exercising on the Nordic Track (what I termed the “Torture Rack”) many years ago. (To view an amusing video of modern-day children being presented an old portable Walkman cassette player, click here.)

(Note: To magnify the photos, click on each one as you view it.)

Walkman portable cassette player

Walkman portable cassette player

Me in the infusion center listening to the Walkman cassette player and holding tapes of Tennessee Ernie Ford and Elvis Presley

Me in infusion center listening to the Walkman cassette player and holding cassette tapes of Tennessee Ernie Ford and Elvis Presley. (Note my Arkansas Razorback cap, a symbol of the “Holy Land.”)

Little did I realize that “inspiration” was only the beginning of many that I would receive as I began to listen to those relics with the amazing power to recall the past in such vivid detail—and with such surprising power!

“There Is Power in the Blood”—
and in Memory as Well!

“There is pow’r, pow’r, wonder-working pow’r
In the blood of the Lamb;
There is pow’r, pow’r, wonder-working pow’r
In the precious blood of the Lamb.”
—“There Is Power in the Blood”
(To view a video of Tennessee Ernie Ford
singing this old hymn, click here.)

Imagine my surprise when I sat in the recliner the next time, hooked up to that life-giving blood IV, and clicked on the cassette tape I had left in the old Walkman decades ago to suddenly hear Tennessee Ernie Ford enthusiastically sing forth, “THERE IS POWER IN THE BLOOD!”

Tape of Gospel songs by Tennessee Ernie Ford

Eight-track tape of Gospel songs by Tennessee Ernie Ford like the cassette tape versions I listen to in the infusion center

Coincidence? Perhaps.

Startling? Of course.

Accurate? Absolutely.

Not only was the experience startling and accurate, it was also encouraging and inspiring.

But it was only the beginning of many ongoing experiences of encouragement and inspiration I received as I listened to tape after tape and song after song from the happy days of our past lives. During the exciting days when Mari and I were still able to make our “semi-annual pilgrimages to the Holy Land” (our twice-a-year auto trips from Tulsa to our beloved homeland in Southeast Arkansas), we listened to those very same cassette tapes that were outdated even then.

But again what was most surprising was the number of memories that were triggered by those old songs, most of which we had not listened to in decades.

In an earlier post, dated August 3, 2011, and titled “Thank God, I’m a Country Boy!” I alluded to that marvelous power to evoke memories of the past by soul-stirring old hymns like the ones Tennessee Ernie and others like Elvis Presley sang on those ancient cassette tapes:

Still there’s somethin’ to be said for sittin’ and danglin’ your bare legs over the edge of an old uneven-legged, homemade slat pew in an unair-conditioned country churchhouse on a scorchin’ August evenin’ listenin’ to a red-faced, shirt-soppin’, brow-moppin’ Baptist preacher while watchin’ a busy dirt-dobber makin’ his rounds and wearin’ out both your wrists fannin’ your feverish, sweat-soaked face and shooin’ off blue-tailed flies.

Selma, Arkansas, Baptist Church

Selma Baptist Church (as it looked in the 1980s after the addition of air-conditioners) in my rural Arkansas birthplace where  as a boy I heard and sang so many of the familiar old hymns of the faith

But there is a consequence, an indelible trace left upon the heart by such experience. To this good day, more than sixty years later, I never hear or sing those old hymns we sang like ‘Amazing Grace,’ or ‘In the Garden,’ or ‘In the Sweet By and By’ without experiencing a strange bittersweet emotion: a sort of odd mixture of joy and pain, of peace and unrest, of a sense of tremendous gain and of unspeakable loss.

I think it has something to do with an old saying about being able to take the boy out of the country.

 Musical “Memory-Triggers” as
“Time-Travel Transporters”

“Turn back the hands of time;
Roll back the sands of time;
Bring back our dream divine,
Let’s live it over again.”
—Eddie Fisher, “Turn Back the Hands of Time”
(To view a YouTube video of this song, click here.)

“And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it,
and gave unto them, saying,
This is my body which is given for you:
this do in remembrance of me.”
—Jesus to His disciples in Luke 22:19 KJV

But again, it was not just the power of the old Gospel songs to evoke or “trigger” memories of the past that surprised and impressed me, but their power to serve as “time transporters,” their ability to take me back to earlier, happier days so that I could not only recall the past but also revive it and even relive it!

Although this concept may seem to be only science fiction, it is actually scriptural.

I am writing this post during Holy Week, that time in the traditional Church calendar in which Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, visited the Jewish temple, and observed the Passover meal with His disciples before His arrest, trial, and crucifixion.

At that Passover meal, also called the Last Supper, Jesus gave the disciples bread and wine, telling them to take it and eat it with this admonition, “Do this in remembrance of Me” (Luke 22:19 paraphrased).

Leonardo da Vinci's painting of Jesus and disciples at the Last Supper

Leonardo da Vinci’s painting of Jesus and the disciples at the Last Supper

In this case, the word “remember” means more than simply to “recall.” It has the opposite meaning of “dismember.” That is, it means not only to “recall to memory” but actually to “put back together again,” not only to “recollect” but also to “reconnect.”

In the more traditional sacramental churches this is the prevailing view of the power of the Communion elements—the bread and wine—the power not just to evoke or trigger a memory of Jesus Christ and His passion, but to actually bring into the present what He did in the past, to bring the past alive and to take part in it here and now.

That is what happened to me as I listened to those old songs from the past, my personal past. They brought that past alive again and put me back into it, back along that “pilgrimage to the Holy Land” where I had listened to those same old songs so long ago.

But that was not the end of the return to the past I experienced. From there I was transported back to events in my younger days, decades earlier, when those old songs served as “the soundtrack of our young lives.”

This “double-layer-memory-trigger” phenomenon will be the subject of my next post.

Importance of Songs to Our Faith Journey

“By the rivers of Babylon we sat down and wept,
when we remembered you, O Zion.”
—Psalm 137:1 NRSV
As quoted in Forward Day By Day
www.forwardmovement.org
(To view a YouTube video of this song sung
by popular Irish singer Daniel O’Donnell, click here.)

It was at Trinity Episcopal Church in Tulsa that Mari and I first encountered this sacramental understanding of the power of the Communion (or Eucharist) elements to bring into the present what occurred in the past, to bring the past alive and to relive it in the present.

Trinity Episcopal Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma as it looked in the 1980s

Trinity Episcopal Church in Tulsa as it looked when Mari and were members from about 1986 to 2005

It is expressed by Mark Bozzuti-Jones in the March 28 entry of Forward Day By Day, the Episcopal daily devotional (italics mine):

Songs have strong associate meanings. When we hear certain songs, they place us in another time or place, they remind us of who we are and from where we’ve come. . . .

The people of Israel wondered how they could ever sing the Lord’s song in a strange land. They soon came to realize that they had to sing these songs, because of how important these songs were to their faith journey.

As Christians, we are called to find meaningful ways to sing the Lord’s songs, in our own land and in foreign ones, sometimes literally but always metaphorically.

Cover of the February/March/April issue of Forward Day By Day, the Episcopal daily devotional

Cover of the February/March/April issue of Forward Day By Day, the Episcopal daily devotional (Copyright 2015. Used by permission. http://www.forwardmovement.org)

This sacramental view of the events of Holy Week and indeed the entire Church calendar gave us a new perspective not only on the Communion (Eucharist) service and the events of Holy Week but indeed of the entire Christian worship experience.

We came to understand the meaning and purpose of the liturgy called The Stations of the Cross as a way not only to observe the events of Holy Week leading up to Easter but actually to participate in them vicariously, to in a sense bring them alive again so that we could take part in them.

As an example of this phenomenon of music taking us back into the past so that we can personally participate in events from it is illustrated by the old African-American spiritual titled “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?” (To hear this old spiritual sung by the inimitable Marion Williams, which happens to be Mari’s maiden name, click here.)

Due to my failing health, Palm Sunday was the first time I was able to attend services at our local Methodist church since Christmas. After the congregation had proceeded to the front of the sanctuary bearing palm fronds, the children’s leader had the youngsters come forward. There she led them through a simple “journey” from one end of the curved chancel rail to the other. As she did so, she stopped them at a few places to call their attention to symbolic displays of Holy Week events (such as Jesus’ washing the feet of the disciples). At each “station,” she asked them questions to make sure they understood exactly what happened on that day during that week and what each event meant in the life of the Church.

First United Methodist Church of Sapulpa, Oklahoma

First United Methodist Church of Sapulpa, Oklahoma, of which Mari and I are members

Afterward, the pastor commented on how impressive that simple reenactment of the Stations of the Cross was to him and to the entire congregation as it brought all of us into those events with the children—and with Christ Himself.

That is what the old songs of faith I listen to on the outdated Walkman cassette player and tapes do for me as I lie in that cold hospital room receiving the life-sustaining blood that keeps me going Forward Day By Day.

Jimmy and Marion Peacock in a church photo at their fiftieth wedding anniversary

Mari and me in a photo made at the First United Methodist Church of Sapulpa at the time of our fiftieth wedding anniversary

Marion standing behind Jimmy at the infusion center

Mari standing behind me at the infusion center, as beautiful and as faithful as she has been now for more than fifty-two years, “in sickness and in health”

Those simple relics of the days gone by remind me of the past. But even more importantly. like the traditional events in the Church calendar. they transport me and reconnect me to the events of that past. They revive me (both physically and spiritually) and cause me to relive and participate in the events of the past, such as Holy Week and Easter, but also in my own life’s journey.

All Hail the Power!

“All hail the power of Jesus’ name!
Let angels prostrate fall;
bring forth the royal diadem,
and crown Him Lord of all.
Bring forth the royal diadem,
and crown Him Lord of all.

 “O that with yonder sacred throng
we at His feet may fall!
We’ll join the everlasting song,
and crown Him Lord of all.
We’ll join the everlasting song,
and crown Him Lord of all.”
“All Hail the Power”
(To hear this old hymn sung by Ernie Ford
from the same cassette tape, click on the title.)

Of course, the ultimate end of that Holy Week journey reenacted in the Stations of the Cross is Easter, that glorious day when God resurrected His Son Jesus from death and restored Him to life—new life in all its glory and power.

A painting of the Resurrected Jesus by Raphael 1499-1502

A painting of the Resurrected Jesus by Raphael 1499-1502

The same power that I experience in the blood of others to give me new physical life, and in the blood of Jesus to give me new spiritual life, also resides in the name of Jesus to those who put their faith in Him.

On one Easter Sunday morning I was helping to serve meals to the hungry at our church’s feeding program. As one rather disheveled man came though the line he suddenly asked, “What is Easter anyway?”

Stunned, the other servers hesitated as if trying to decide how to respond to that unexpected spiritual question.

In a moment of inspiration (there’s that word again!) I said simply and kindly, “Easter is the day that God raised Jesus from the dead so that those of us who believe in Him will also be raised from death to life and spend eternity with Him.” (See John 3:16; 1 Corinthians 6:14; Ephesians 2:6-7.)

That quickly devised explanation of a very deep and far-reaching spiritual query seemed to satisfy the man as he nodded and moved on down the feeding line. Of course he obviously needed someone to lead him through the scriptures to a fuller understanding of the complete salvation message, but that had to wait until a more appropriate moment.

The point is that there is indeed power in the blood of the Lamb, and in the name of the Lord, and in the very hymns that proclaim both—and more—recalling the events of the past to revive, renew, and restore them, and those who listen to them.

I know, because I am one of them.

Conclusion

“And precious things are [memories] to an exile,
They take him to a place he cannot be.
Especially when it happens he’s an exile,
From friends and times he knew in Old McGehee.”
—My paraphrase of the Irish folksong
“The Isle of Innisfree”
(To view a YouTube video of this song,
with original lyrics,
sung by Celtic Woman, click on the title.)

The above paraphrased quote from the old Irish folk song titled “The Isle of Innisfree” was one I cited in a previous post on June 8, 2011, titled “My Annual Tributes to the Clique.”

The only change I have made in it for this context is to substitute the word “memories” for “dreams.”

Movie poster of the 1950 film "The Quiet Man" featuring the Irish folk song "The Isle of Innisfree"

Poster of the 1950 movie The Quiet Man which featured the Irish folk song “The Isle of Innisfree”

I chose it as an introductory quotation for this conclusion because it expresses the basic message of this post: the power of music to “take us to a place we cannot be” and to a time we seemingly cannot revisit.

I say “seemingly” because the fact is that through the “mystical means of music” we can actually “turn back the hands of time, roll back the sands of time” and be transported (if only for “one brief shining moment”) to an earlier place and time.

In this post I have limited that “faith journey” to Jerusalem during Holy Week and Easter, which is my Easter message: that we too, even two thousand years later and thousands of miles away, can actually participate in the events that took place in the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ and can then carry on that life in our own lives.

In the next post I will return to this same theme of the power of music to recall, resurrect, revive, and relive the past in a more personal, secular sense. It will be based on the “semi-annual pilgrimages to the Holy Land” that Mari and I used to make before we both became too old and infirm to literally take that journey into the past of our youth and young adulthood.

I hope you will come and take that “sentimental journey” with us!

Addendum:
Paintings of Stations of the Cross

After I had published this post I received an email message from Pat Scavo, a fellow classmate of mine and the former owner of the Blue Moon Art Gallery in Hot Springs. In that message Pat inserted a link to a series of paintings of The Stations of the Cross. To view those paintings on display at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Hope, Arkansas, and learn about the artist, Randall M. Good, go to: www.stmarkshope.org and then click on Stations of the Cross. Pat says about Good: “What I admire most about his artwork is how deftly he mixes Renaissance aesthetics with modern elements, yet still pays homage to his predecessors in his contemporary compositions.”

Sources

The photo of the Walkman cassette player and the video of children confronted by one were taken from:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2605138/Is-phone-The-hilarious-reactions-baffled-children-presented-Sony-Walkman-cassette-player.html

The lyrics to the song “There Is Power in the Blood” were taken from a Web site titled “Timeless Truths: Free Online Library” at:
http://library.timelesstruths.org/music/There_Is_Power_in_the_Blood/

The YouTube video of Tennessee Ernie Ford singing “There Is Power in the Blood” was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tinAImvvtsk

The photo of the Tennessee Ernie Ford tape with the song “There Is Power in the Blood” was taken from:
http://www.8-track-shack.com/popup_image.php?pID=69344

The link to my earlier post titled “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” was taken from:
https://myokexilelit.wordpress.com/2011/08/03/thank-god-im-a-country-boy/

The YouTube video of Eddie Fisher singing “Turn Back the Hands of Time” was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=utijFt-tpNk

The photo of Leonardo da Vinci’s painting of the Last Supper was taken from:
www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&…

The YouTube video of Daniel O’Donnell singing “By the Rivers of Babylon” was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gg1JnpNBIoQ

The photo of Trinity Episcopal Church was taken from Behold the Glory: The Iconography of Grace. The Web site for Trinity can be accessed at:
http://www.trinitytulsa.org/

The quote from Mark Bozzuti-Jones in the March 28 issue and the photo of the cover of the Forward By Day were taken from: Forward Day By Day: February/March/April issue. Copyright 2015. Used by permission. www.forwardmovement.org

The YouTube video of Marion Williams singing “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?” was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xu_GW2osRVA

The photo of the First United Methodist Church in Sapulpa, Oklahoma, was taken from an earlier church Web site. The current, updated Web site for FUMC in Sapulpa can be accessed at:
http://www.sapulpafumc.org/

The lyrics of “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name” were taken from a Wikipedia entry on that subject at:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_Hail_the_Power_of_Jesus’_Name

The YouTube video of Tennessee Ernie Ford singing “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name” was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qb1PEafAhCk

The painting of the Resurrected Jesus by Raphael 1499-1502 was taken from:
“Rafael – ressureicaocristo01” by Raphael – http://www.masp.art.br. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons –
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rafael_-_ressureicaocristo01.jpg#/media/File:Rafael_-_ressureicaocristo01.jpg

The paraphrased quote from “The Isle of Innisfree” was taken from a citation in my earlier post titled “My Annual Tributes to the Clique” at:
https://myokexilelit.wordpress.com/2011/06/08/my-annual-tributes-to-the-clique/

The original lyrics of “The Isle of Innisfree” can be accessed at:
http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/d/daniel_odonnell/the_isle_of_innisfree.html

The YouTube video of “The Isle of Innisfree” sung by Celtic Woman was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1xn7rjlOxfc

To learn more about this traditional Irish folk song used in the movie The Quiet Man, go to:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isle_of_Innisfree

“Memory is the golden bridge
That keeps our hearts in touch
With all the long-past yesterdays
And things we loved so much.”
—Georgia B. Adams,
Quoted in book titled Memories of Time Past 

In my previous post titled “Delta Addenda, Etc., Part II” I interjected two subjects relating to the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day in the South and Celtic “thin places,” especially my own Southeast Arkansas “thin/then places,” still special and sacred to me from my long ago youth.

In the preceding post titled “Delta Addenda, Etc., Part I” I examined several items about the Mississippi River Delta and related topics such as its disappearing plantation and cotton culture and recent winter storms that covered its ubiquitous cypress trees in a rare coating of ice and snow.

In this third post in that series I return to that first theme of items relating to the Mississippi River Delta, but including some items about the South in general.

First are three “addenda to the addenda” that I received from Joe Dempsey, Gayle Harper, and Pat Scavo after publishing Part I of the Delta Addenda post. They have to do with Joe’s visit to modern-day Lake Dick, featured in the first part, an update on Gayle’s book about her journey down the Mississippi River, and a new Southern Web site sent to me by Pat titled “The Bitter Southerner.”

These are followed by other Southern topics such as a map from Paul Talmadge of the eleven distinctive regions of the United States and a review from Pat of the sequel to the famed Southern novel To Kill a Mockingbird.

Next, there is a link to a must-see site sent to me by my cousin Kay Barrett Bell titled “10 Old School Southern Rules to Abide By in the Present.” On that subject, on March 24, Pat Scavo sent me a link to the Natchez, Mississippi, Spring Pilgrimage with many photos of Southern Belles, Beaux, and mansions.

Finally, I offer an addenda and conclusion on the subject and primary theme of the entire post and blog about the importance of “gathering up the fragments of our lives so that nothing may be lost.”

This post is long but I hope you will at least scroll down through it and read the parts that interest you. (Note: To magnify the photos, simply click on each one as you view it.)

 Addendum Post on Lake Dick, Arkansas, Project
and Photographic Trip Up the Mississippi Delta

“Woosht Ida knowed yu wuz gon discus Lake Dick.”
—Joe Dempsey’s response to my March 5 post
titled “Delta Addenda, Etc., Part I”

“We discover a place where you can still get
an RC Cola and a Moon Pie,
and we have a shot of the Ground Zero Blues Club
at Clarksdale, Mississippi.”

—Joe Dempsey, “The Lake Dick Project,”
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind,
September 27, 2009

As you can see by the title and quotes above, after publishing the current post titled “Delta Addenda, Etc., Part I,” I received a very brief email response to it from Joe Dempsey, my longtime friend, Ouachita Baptist College classmate, and designer of this blog.

To that brief response Joe added a link to his Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind post published on September 27, 2009. That post begins with his visit to the Depression-era Lake Dick cooperative farm project site featured in my post. He then continues his narrative with a photographic journey from Lake Village, Arkansas, twenty-five miles below our hometown of McGehee, Arkansas. From there he crosses the Mississippi River and proceeds up the other side of the “Father of Waters” through the heart of the Mississippi Delta.

Lake Dick water tower

Lake Dick Water Tower from Joe Dempsey’s Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind on September 27, 2009

As I promised Joe, here is that link to a fascinating look not only at the present-day state of the Lake Dick area but at other sites in both the Arkansas and Mississippi Deltas.

RC and Moon Pie from Joe Dempsey's original Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind, September 27, 2009

Joe’s original caption from September 27, 2009: “RC Cola and a Moon Pie. Can be a breakfast, lunch or dinner substitute or a convenient snack when the spirit moves one in that direction.”

To follow Joe on this enjoyable and enlightening “sentimental journey” into both the long ago past and the near past, click on the title of the post, “The Lake Dick Project/The Towering Past.”

Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale, Mississippi

Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale, Mississippi, across the River from Helena, Arkansas

Update on Book about
Trip down the Mississippi River

“I’ve just been notified that Roadtrip with a Raindrop: 90 Days Along the Mississippi is a FINALIST in the competition for Foreword Review’s INDIEFAB ‘Book of the Year’ Award!”
—Author Gayle Harper in March 18 email announcement
about her upcoming book award

As noted in the quote above, Gayle Harper’s book about her voyage down the Mississippi River has been nominated as a finalist in a “Book of the Year Award.” I reviewed this book and provided more information about it and Gayle in an earlier post titled “You Might Be from the Country, If . . . Part II.” To read that post, click on the title.

Print

According to Gayle:

“The winners will be announced in June at the American Library Association’s Annual Conference to be held in San Francisco. Keep your fingers crossed, my friends . . . but, whatever happens, I am humbled and honored to have it included as a Finalist!”

Gayle Harper at book signing

Gayle Harper at book signing of Roadtrip with a Raindrop

Finally, after recommending that the reader visit the Author Facebook Page, Gayle concludes with this appeal:

“AND, while you’re on the website, if you haven’t seen the new Book Trailer yet—it’s a quick, fun, lively sampling of the spirit of Roadtrip With A Raindrop. It’s also available on You Tube. Please do share it with anyone you like!”

Roundtrip with a raindrop

To visit Gayle’s Web site, click here.

Bitter Southerner Web Site

“I am busy reading about the ‘best’ gas station food
in the Delta starting with some I know
and some I do not know!”
—Pat Scavo sharing new Southern Web site
in email dated March 5, 2015

On March 5, my 1956 McGehee High School classmate Patsy McDermott (now Pat Scavo of Hot Springs, Arkansas) sent me a link to a new Southern Web site her husband Phil had discovered titled “The Bitter Southerner.”

Later that same day Patsy Mc wrote that she was busy reading an entry on that site titled “My Southern Education” and expressed the hope that I would soon take time to read it—and indeed everything on the site. It can be reached by clicking on the title above.

Gone With the Wind as featured on the Web site "The Bitter Southerner"

Gone With the Wind photo as featured on the Web site “The Bitter Southerner”

Let me know what you think!

Note: Speaking of the Mississippi side of the Delta, on March 12 Pat sent me the following photo of the cotton gin at Dahomey Plantation from about 1900. To learn more about Dahomey Plantation, which is now up for sale for $20 million, click here or Google Dahomey Plantation.

Dahomey Plantation cotton gin in about 1900

Dahomey Plantation cotton gin in about 1900

“Where Do You Live?”

“Colin Woodard, a reporter at the Portland Press Herald and author of several books, says North America can be broken neatly into 11 separate nation-states, where dominant cultures explain our voting behaviors and attitudes toward everything from social issues to the role of government.”
—Reid Wilson, “Which of the American nations do you live in?”

On January 31, 2015, Paul Talmadge sent me an interesting email tiled titled “Where Do You Live?”

As shown below, that email included a link to a site which includes a map of the United States divided into eleven distinct regions. (To view the regions more clearly, click on the map.)

Where do we live

You will note that while Northeastern Oklahoma where I have lived for the past thirty-eight years is part of the Greater Appalachia region, Southeast Arkansas where I was born and raised is in the Deep South region. This important distinction serves as the basis of my entire blog about “My Oklahomian Exile from The Holy Land” which includes all aspects of lifestyle, culture, and language.

To Kill a Mockingbird

“. . . even now the book [To Kill a Mockingbird]
sells 1 million copies a year . . .”
— Sam Tanenhaus, Tulsa World, February 22, 2015

On February 3 Pat sent me an email titled “Something to Look Forward To” with a link to an online report about the publication of the second novel by Harper Lee, the author of the best-selling Southern novel To Kill a Mockingbird.

In the report, written by Maddie Drum of Huffington Post, the reporter had this to say about the event:

“Harper Lee, the author of the beloved novel To Kill a Mockingbird, will publish a second book this summer. Go Set a Watchman was completed in the 1950s, but set aside by the writer, who went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for the only novel she ever published.”

To read the actual report, click here.

To Kill a Mockingbird

A second article titled “Why ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ remains relevant today” by Sam Tanenhaus appeared on the Opinion Page of the Tulsa World on February 22, 2015. According to the writer:

“. . .  even now . . . the book sells 1 million copies a year—holding its own against each season’s biggest releases and yielding its author an annual royalty of about $1.7 million. It’s been translated into 40 languages. One British survey ranked [it] 65th among all-time bestsellers.”

10 Old School Southern Rules

“There are rules upon rules in the South. Some spoken and some unspoken. It can be hard to keep up with all of them, and depending on where you live in the South . . . , you might adhere to some rules more than others. Here’s a list of some old school Southern rules you may not know or have forgotten.”
—Jenny Bradley, “10 Old School Southern Rules
to Abide by in the Present,”
Country Outfitter, July 1, 2014

Southern Belles and Beaux at the Natchez, MS, Spring Pilgrimage held on March 7 to April 7, 2015

Southern Belles and Beaux at the Natchez, MS, Spring Pilgrimage held from March 7 to April 7, 2015 (to magnify the photo, click on it, and then see the note and link to it below)

On March 3, 2015, my cousin Kay Barrett Bell, a native of Selma/McGehee, Arkansas, sent me an online link to an interesting site titled “10 Old School Southern Rules to Abide by in the Present.” (To read these rules, click on the title.)

Some of these tongue-in-cheek “rules” you may have seen or heard before, and some may even be considered outdated by some people’s loose standards of Southern etiquette. But they are worth a revisit, especially since the author of this blog post, an obvious Mississippi resident who comments on each rule, claims to be a fan of the Arkansas Razorbacks! Woooo pig, sooooeeey!

Would an (at least honorary) Arkie of the Covenant lie about such an important subject as good Southern manners?

Nevah, honey chile, jus’ nevah!

Now by-by, y’all . . . til’ nex’ time!

PS After I had composed this post on March 24 Pay Scavo sent me a link to the Natchez (MS) Spring Pilgrimage held from March 7 to April 7, 2015. To learn more about the pilgrimage, click here and see the link in the Sources section below.

Addenda and Conclusion

Your posts are the epitome of
southern scholarship among other things. . . .
Some of the greatest things ever written
have been written in exile. . . .
[Your] exile is the root of your genius!”
—Paul Talmadge in emails to Jimmy Peacock
on March 6 and 15

“Gathering up the fragments of the events in our lives helps us to put the proper closure to things that really matter to us. No matter what happens to us, big or small, miraculous or plain, may we remember to ‘gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.’”
—Mark Bossuti-Jones, author of the daily entry for March 15
based on John 6:12 NRSV in the Episcopal devotional Forward Day By Day
www.forwardmovement.org

Whether Paul Talmadge’s comments about my “southern scholarship” and “exile [as] the root of [my] genius” are true or not, the quote from Mark Bossuti-Jones from the Episcopal daily devotional Forward Day By Day on the importance of “gather[ing] up the fragments of the events in our lives” is certainly true!

Cover of the February/March/April issue of Forward Day By Day

Cover of the February/March/April issue of Forward Day By Day

In fact, that is precisely what I have been trying to do over the past thirty-eight years of my “Oklahomian exile,” and especially over the past four years since I began not only to “gather up the fragments of the events in my life” but also to preserve them in this blog “so that nothing may be lost.”

As a Chickasaw cultural historian says in an Oklahoma TV ad for his tribe and his work in restoring and preserving its heritage: “I am trying to preserve the past for the sake of the future.”

May you also begin (or continue) to “gather up the fragments of your own life” and find some way or place to preserve them for the sake of future generations “so that nothing may be lost.”

Sources

The photos of the Lake Dick water tower, the RC and Moon Pie, and the Ground Zero Blues Club were taken from Joe Dempsey’s Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind post for September 27, 2009, at: http://www.corndancer.com/joephoto/photo100119/photo111.html

The link to my earlier post titled “You Might Be from the Country, If . . . Part II” was taken from:
https://myokexilelit.wordpress.com/2014/12/02/you-might-be-from-the-country-if-part-ii/

The three photos of Gayle Harper, her book, and the Mississippi River were taken from her March 18 press release at: https://www.facebook.com/GayleHarper.MississippiRiver

The Facebook link to Gayle Harper’s book about her voyage down the Mississippi River was taken from:
https://www.facebook.com/GayleHarper.MississippiRiver

The link to Gayle Harper’s Web site was taken from:
http://gayleharper.com/

The photo titled “Gone With the Wind & My Southern Education” was taken from a link sent to me by Pat Scavo on March 5 from the Web site “The Bitter Southerner” at:
http://bittersoutherner.com/

The photo of the 1900 Dahomey Plantation cotton gin was sent to me on March 12 by Pat Scavo. More about Dahomey Plantation, which is up for sale, can be found at:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/deepfriedkudzu/67901764/

The photo of the map from the site titled “Which of the 11 American nations do you live in?” by Reid Wilson was sent to me by Paul Tamaldge on January 31, 2015, and was taken from:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/govbeat/wp/2013/11/08/which-of-the-11-american-nations-do-you-live-in/?tid=trending_strip_3=

The report about the publication of Harper Lee’s second novel after To Kill a Mockingbird was sent to me by Pat Scavo and was taken from:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/03/harper-lee-novel_n_6603994.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000063

The photo of the cover of the first edition of the book To Kill a Mockingbird was taken from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/To_Kill_a_Mockingbird

The Tulsa World Online article titled “Why ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ remains relevant today” was taken from the following link on February 22, 2015:
http://www.tulsaworld.com/opinion/sam-tanenhaus-why-to-kill-a-mockingbird-remains-relevant/article_9b3b389a-b081-5256-bf55-1b20d9beefc3.html

The “10 Old School Southern Rules to Abide By in the Present” was sent to me by my cousin Kay Barrett Bell on March 3, 2015, and taken from:
http://www.countryoutfitter.com/style/10-old-school-southern-rules-abide-present/

The photo of the Natchez, MS, Spring Pilgrimage was sent to me by Pat Scavo and taken from:
http://www.natchezpilgrimage.com/natchez-spring-pilgrimage.php

The quote about gathering up the fragments of our lives was written by Mark Bossuti-Jones, author of the daily entry for March 15 in the Episcopal devotional Forward Day By Day. Copyright 2015. Used by permission. www.forwardmovement.org

The photo of the cover of the Forward By Day was taken from: Forward Day By Day: February/March/April issue. Copyright 2015. Used by permission.   www.forwardmovement.org

Introduction

“To an Irishman [a Southerner] th’ land he lives on is like his mother. . . . . There’s no gettin’ away from it, this love of th’ land. Not if there’s a drop of Irish [Southern] blood in ya.”
—Gerald O’Hara to Irish/Southern daughter Scarlett
in Gone With the Wind

“I live on a river. I have taken
hundreds of photographs of the water. . . .
I will never have my fill of photographing the water.
It reminds me of my thirst for wholeness and connection.”

—Mark Bozzuti-Jones, author of the daily entry for March 10
in the Episcopal daily devotional Forward Day by Day
www.forwardmovement.org

I had intended to publish a different “Delta Addenda, Etc., Part II” made up of accumulated items about the Delta, the South, and a few other non-related subjects.

However, I changed my schedule when I came across some items related to the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day. These items came in the form of an online article on the celebration of this Irish saint’s holiday in the South and another on Celtic “thin places.”

Of course, that term “thin places” means to me my birthplace of Selma, Arkansas, and the Mississippi River Delta of my youth and young adulthood. So I decided to compose a new “Delta Addenda, Etc., Part II” post on these subjects. The original “Part II” post will be edited to “Part III” and will be published in a couple of weeks.

Note: To magnify the photos in this post, simply click on each one as you view it.

Southern Saint Patrick’s Day Celebrations

“Dubbed the World’s Shortest Saint Patrick’s Day Parade,
the Hot Springs [Arkansas] bash spans
a spectacularly stunted
ninety-eight feet of Bridge Street.”
—CJ Lotz, “Saint Patrick’s Day, Southern-Style,”
Garden & Gun, February-March 2015

On March 6, Pat Scavo, my high school classmate known to us still as Patsy Mc, sent me a link to an online article about “five Southern locales [to] go green (in a big way) on the luckiest day of the year.” To read that piece, click on the title above.

Of course, the reason Patsy Mc sent that piece to me is twofold: 1) Because she lives in Hot Springs, Arkansas, one of the cities featured in the short article, and; 2) Because she knew I was going to feature a segment in this post about Celtic “thin places” in Arkansas, which includes Hot Springs, a unique Ouachita Mountain retreat I have loved since I first visited it as an adolescent Delta flatlander in the late 1940s and last visited for a fifty-year class reunion in 2010.

Hot Springs, Arkansas

Hot Springs, Arkansas, one of the five sites of Southern-style St. Patrick’s Day celebrations

(See my earlier post featuring some curiously related Hot Springs stories titled “The Three Unwise Men: An Arkansas Christmas Memory.”)

Celtic/Southern “Thin Places”
Between Heaven and Earth

“The phrases ‘thin veil’ or ‘thin place’ pointed to
God’s Immanence in the created world
—the holy right where we are, not far away. . . .
The presence of God is palpable in these places.”
—Ann Rose, author of the daily entry for February 3
in the Episcopal daily devotional Forward Day by Day
www.forwardmovement.org

 “I discovered the Celtic saints who wrote of God’s presence
throbbing in everything in creation. . . . God speaks to us through creation.”
—Ann Rose, author of the daily entry for February 26
in the Episcopal daily devotional Forward Day by Day
|www.forwardmovement.org

In two daily entries during the month of February in the Episcopal daily devotional Forward Day by Day quoted above, Ann Rose speaks of the Celtic tradition of “thin places.” By definition, these spiritual “thin places” are where there is the closest connection between heaven and earth.

These are special places where the presence of God abides most strongly, where He is experienced most vividly, and where He speaks most intimately.

As an “Arkie of the Covenant” (of mixed English, Irish, and Scotch-Irish ancestry), who has been living for almost forty years in exile from the Holy Land (my native state of Arkansas in general and my native Southeast Arkansas in particular), I have identified and sensed these special, personal “thin places” (which I also call “then places”) in my own life and have written about them throughout this blog.

It is only natural that I should do so, especially as the years of my life and my “exile” from these precious (and now previous) places of my childhood and youth have grown longer. It is also only natural that I should do so as my advancing age and failing health have increasingly kept me from making my “semi-annual pilgrimages to the Holy Land” in which these “thin/then places” of my past are located, though unfortunately many of them have already disappeared, and others are soon to follow.

Notice how many are churches (two Baptist and two Methodist), to which I have had a special personal relationship, and how many are of the inherent twin Irish/Southern elements of land and water.

Southeast Arkansas “Thin/Then Places”
That Renew My Spirit

“Therefore we do not lose heart.
Though outwardly we are wasting away,
yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.”

—2 Corinthians 4:16 NIV

Briefly, these personal “thin/then places” can be divided into two groups for which I have provided basically seven instances and photos, each with a scriptural reference to reflect their spiritual importance to me, especially as my physical existence becomes shorter and shorter.

First is my birthplace of Selma, Arkansas, including such places as:

  1. The farmhouse without electricity, telephone, or running water in which I was born in 1938;
My birthplace in Selma, Arkansas

“Look to the rock from which you were cut and to the quarry from which you were hewn.” (Isaiah 51:1 NIV)

  1. The two-room elementary school I attended as a boy;
Selma Elementary School

“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:29 NIV)

  1. The general store/post office I frequented as often as possible; 
Selma general store in 1980s

“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19 NIV)

  1. The Seven Devils Swamp from which God cast me out to become “an Exiled Arkie of the Covenant” but somehow, unlike Mary Magdalene, never saw fit to cast the Seven Devils out of me;
The Seven Devils Swamp near Selma, Arkansas

“[Jesus] appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.” (Mark 16:9 KJV)

  1. The Selma Baptist Church, which my maternal grandfather co-founded and pastored in my childhood years;
Selma Baptist Church

“I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD.” (Psalm 122:1 KJV)

  1. The Mt. Tabor Methodist Church and Cemetery, co-founded by my Georgia Peacock ancestors and where Mari and I will be buried alongside them;
Mt. Tabor Methodist Church

“I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18 KJV)

  1. The Selma Methodist Church, the first church I ever attended and the icon, the visual image that comes to my mind most frequently when I think of Selma, my beloved birthplace and childhood home.
Selma Methodist Church

“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” (Luke 18:16 NIV)

Second is the Southeast Arkansas Delta and our hometown of McGehee, including:

  1. The First Baptist Church of McGehee where I was converted in 1949 and married in 1962;
"What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder." (Mark 10:9 KJV)

“What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” (Mark 10:9 KJV)

  1. The McGehee Livestock Auction where I started out life as a cowboy and where my father died on May 25, 1954, when I was fifteen, thus ending my cowboy days;
McGehee Livestock Auction at time of Arthur Peacock's death

“For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills.” (Psalm 50:10 KJV)

  1. Bayou Bartholomew, “the longest bayou in the world,” which passes between Selma and McGehee;
Bayou Bartholomew

“Turn again our captivity, O LORD, as the streams in the south.” (Psalm 126:4 KJV)

  1. The numerous cypress sloughs that dot the table-flat Delta landscape; 
Arkansas Delta cypress slough

“He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul.” (Psalm 23:2 KJV)

  1. The Delta plantation houses like Lakeport Plantation and their luxurious fields of cotton;
Lakeport Plantation amid cotton fields

“Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.” (John 4:35 KJV)

  1. The quickly disappearing shotgun and dogtrot tenant farmer houses; 

Delta shotgun house side view
Delta shotgun house front view

Shotgun and dogtrot houises

“In my Father’s house are many mansions. . . . I go to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:2 KJV)

  1. Perhaps most iconic, the Mississippi River itself, beside which Mari and I did much of our courting and where I went each time we returned to the Delta to dip my toe into the muddy water and renew my now seemingly impossible vow to one day “come home again.” 
The Delta Queen on the Mississippi River

“And he shewed me a pure river of water of life . . . proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.” (Rev. 22:1 KJV)

Conclusion

“Nostalgia for certain values tends to set in just as they’re disappearing. Happily, nostalgia can bring those values back, too.”
—Paul Greenberg, “It really is a wonderful life,”
Tulsa World, December 19, 2013

To me all of these “thin/then places” are not only special they are indeed sacred though some of them, like me, have changed almost beyond recognition (as shown in the “mid to late 1940’s” photo of downtown McGehee below), or been replaced (like the high school I graduated from in 1956 and the Mississippi River bridge that Mari and I crossed hundreds of times in our courtship and marriage)—or even disappeared completely (like the most popular hangout for teens in the 1950s). (Be sure to click on the photos to magnify them.)

Parade in McGehee, Arkansas, in the "mid to late 1940s"

Parade in McGehee in the “mid to late 1940s” in which the young boy riding behind the police car looks like me

McGehee High School as it looked in 1956

McGehee High School as it looked when I graduated from it in 1956

Skyway in the 1950s

The Skyway Drive-In as it looked when first built in about 1950

Old Mississippi River bridge as seen from new bridge as the old one was being dismantled in about 2010-11

Old Mississippi River bridge (background) as viewed from the new bridge (foreground) as the old one was being dismantled in about 2010-11. (Note the barges passing beneath the new bridge as the old bridge passes away, thus leaving the past behind and heading for the future.)

But whether totally changed, replaced, or gone forever,  these are unique places where indeed heaven and earth do come closest, where I feel the presence of God most strongly, and where God appears to me most vividly, and where He speaks to me most intimately.

It has now been five long years since my last “Bucket-List Trip” to visit the remaining vestiges of these special, sacred, “thin/then places.” (See my first two posts on this blog titled “My ‘Bucket-List’ Trip, Part I” and “Part II.”)

I miss them greatly, which is one reason I am literally failing in health: physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. It is also why four years ago in May I began to compose and publish this blog: “My Oklahomian Exile Literature by an Exiled Arkie of the Covenant.”

Like Norman Maclean, who wrote at the end of A River Runs through It, “I am haunted by waters,” I am also haunted by land, especially “the Holy Land.”

Unfortunately, as I say in one of my endless self-quotes: “Since my health has become so precarious, all of my joys must now be vicarious.”

Thank you for joining me in my ceaseless attempt to experience, even vicariously, the special “thin/then places” in my rapidly diminishing life. May you identify, revisit, and reconnect with all of your sacred “thin/then places” before they—and perhaps even you—also disappear!

Additional Links and Sources

To visit other Irish/Southern posts in this blog, go to:

“St. Patrick’s Day Tributes and Trivia,” March 14, 2012: https://myokexilelit.wordpress.com/2012/03/14/st-patricks-day-tributes-and-trivia/

“Some of My Favorite Irish Quotes,” March 21, 2012: https://myokexilelit.wordpress.com/2012/03/21/some-of-my-favorite-irish-quotes/

“Some Southern Stuff VI: Love of the Land,” April 25, 2012: https://myokexilelit.wordpress.com/2012/04/25/some-southern-stuff-vi-love-of-the-land/

“Saint Patrick and Other Irish Saints and Names,” March 10, 2014: https://myokexilelit.wordpress.com/2014/03/10/st-patrick-and-other-irish-saints-and-names/

The photo of Hot Springs was taken from a travel brochure on the sightseeing tower atop one of the mountains that surround that popular resort city.

The quote from Mark Bozzuti-Jones about his love for water and for photographing it was taken from the March 10 entry of the Episcopal daily devotional Forward Day by Day. Copyright 2015 Forward Movement. All rights reserved. Used by permission. www.forwardmovement.org

The quotes from Ann Rose about Celtic “thin places” were taken from the February 3 and 26 entries of the Episcopal daily devotional Forward Day By Day. Copyright 2015 Forward Movement. All rights reserved. Used by permission. www.forwardmovement.org

The link to the online article written by C. J. Lotz titled “Saint Patrick’s Day, Southern-Style,” as featured in the Garden & Gun Web site for February-March 2015, was sent to me on March 5 by Pat Scavo and was taken from:
http://gardenandgun.com/article/saint-patricks-day-southern-style

Most of the remaining photos were taken from my personal collection, except for the following:

The photo of the Seven Devils Swamp was taken from a November 15, 2013, article in Seark Today written by Patty Wooten and titled “Seven Devils: The Wildlife Paradise with the Ominous Name.”

The 1952 photo of my father in the ring at the McGehee Livestock Auction (no longer standing) was provided to the family by the now-defunct Arkansas Democrat.

The photo of the Arkansas cypress slough was taken from a postcard by Jenkins Enterprises at www.jenkins-enterprises.com.

The photo of Lakeport Plantation and cotton field was taken from the Lakeport Web site at http://lakeport.astate.edu/.

The photo of the Southern dogtrot house was taken from Joe Dempsey’s “Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind” on 10/12/14 at:
http://corndancer.com/joephoto/photo360379/photo368.html

The photo of the Mississippi River was taken from a postcard from the Delta Cultural Center in Helena, Arkansas, at: http://www.deltaculturalcenter.com/

The photos of McGehee in “the mid to late 1940s” and the Skyway Drive-In were taken from a now unknown source.

The photo of the McGehee High School building was taken from the 1956 MHS yearbook.

“The acquisition of memories is the business of life.”
—Carson the Butler in Downton Abbey

While I was composing the last few posts for my blog at the end of 2014 and the beginning of 2015 I received several tidbits and updates from friends on subjects they thought might interest me.

During that same time period I collected several other items (such as the opening quote above on memory) that seemed to fit into the theme of my entire blog.

Since I finally closed my regular blogging of the seven-part series titled “You Might Be from the Country, Parts I-VII,” I thought I would try to make up a new post to share some of these various new tidbits I have received or collected over the past few months. However, after beginning that project I discovered that there was so much material I had to divide it into two posts.

I have titled this varied collection “Delta Addenda, Etc., Parts I and II” because in fact the items in these two posts deal with more than just the Delta, as you will see as you peruse each one. But regardless of their relationship to the Delta I think you will see why they were of interest to me and to those who sent them to me.

The items in this first post do relate directly to the Mississippi River Delta and its sharecropper-tenant farmer agriculture, the historic but rapidly changing plantation culture of the Delta, the importance of the cotton industry on which the Delta depended for so long, and a couple of recent winter storms that covered the cypress sloughs of Arkansas’ “Bayou Country” in a rare blanket of snow and ice.

Lake Dick Farm Cooperative

 Lake Dick represents the most socialistically oriented of the many cooperative farms established in the 1930’s.”
—Donna R. Causey, online article about Lake Dick,
a Depression-era Arkansas farm cooperative

The first of these Delta-related subjects is a link to a site about Lake Dick, an Arkansas Delta farming cooperative, that was sent to me by Paul Talmadge on January 18.

As noted in the opening quote above, Lake Dick “represents the most socialistically oriented of the many cooperative farms” established by the U.S. government during the Great Depression.

The site contains more information about the Lake Dick cooperative with photos of some of the farmers who lived on it. It also includes a photographic section on the importance of the general store in rural Arkansas in 1938, which happens to be the year I was born in rural Southeast Arkansas and the subject of another one of my previous posts titled: “Selma Store Evokes Boyhood Memories.”

Interior of Lake Dick general store in 1938

Interior of the Lake Dick general store in 1938, the year I was born

Selma general store as it looked in the 1980s

Selma general store as it looked in the 1980s, forty years after I left Selma in the 1940s (to magnify, click on the photo)

To visit the Lake Dick site and view the photos of some of the farmers, the cooperative, and the general store there, click here.

Farm laborers at Lake Dick, Arkansas

Farm laborers at Lake Dick

For more photos, be sure to click on the other links on the Lake Dick site.

Dockery Plantation

“Listen to the sounds of [Blues singer] Charley Patton
as you travel through history back to the birthplace of the Delta Blues.”

—“A Personal Video Tour of Dockery Farms”

On January 23, Pat Scavo sent me a link to a ten-minute video tour and history of Dockery Plantation, located across the Mississippi River from our hometown of McGehee, Arkansas. The video, narrated by Blues music legend B.B. King, claims that Dockery was the birthplace of Mississippi Delta Blues music.

To view the fascinating video, click here.

Blues legend B.B. King introduces the video on Dockery Plantation

Blues music legend B.B. King introducing the video on Dockery Plantation (to magnify, click on the photo)

Empire of Cotton

“In 1862, British merchant John Benjamin Smith boasted that the manufacture of cotton yarn and cloth had become ‘the greatest industry that ever had or could by possibility have ever existed in any age or country.’”
—Glenn C. Altschuler, “Book Review:
‘Empire of Cotton: A Global Industry,’”
Tulsa World Online, January 25, 2015

On January 25, the Tulsa World published a book review about cotton production written by Glenn C. Altschuler.

According to the reviewer, the book, titled Empire of Cotton: A Global History, written by Sven Beckert, shows how the cotton industry shaped the world. Interesting, despite the decline and virtual disappearance of the once predominant Cotton Kingdom in the Arkansas Delta, it is claimed in the article that “worldwide cotton production is expected to triple or quadruple by 2050.”

To read the informative review of this book about the history and future of cotton production, which I also examined in several of my previous posts, click here.

Empire of Cotton: A Global Industry

Empire of Cotton: A Global History

A $75 Cotton Branch!

“‘Leben-cent cotton and twenty–cent meat,
now that’s a combination ya jus’ cain’t beat.
How’n the hell they ‘spect a man ta eat,
with ‘leben-cent cotton and twenty-cent meat!”
—Depression-era cotton farmer’s lament
(quoted in earlier post
“Wish I was in the Land of Cotton, Part II”)

On the subject of cotton, here is a photo of a cotton branch that was sent to me by Pat Scavo on February 15 with the cryptic note: “$75 for a branch of cotton . . . better than making a dress out of a flour sack.”

Seventy-five-dollar branch of cotton

Seventy-five-dollar branch of cotton (to magnify, click on the photo)

My wife says that at those prices cotton farmers ought to quit trying to pick and bale and sell their cotton crop as fiber and simply break off the branches, put them in vases, and sell them as art decorations!

For the source of this photo, see the Sources section at the end of the post. For links to other sources of cotton art, simply Google “cotton branch art” or “cotton stalk art.”

Delta Winter Storms and Cypress Trees,
Baby Doll House in Snow

“In the Delta, snowfall, like an alligator sighting,
is just rare enough to cause a stir
among the locals and make headlines
in the newspapers.”

—Jimmy Peacock

On February 18, 2015, the McGehee Times, our hometown newspaper, published several photos of a recent ice storm that had struck the Arkansas Delta.

Here is a photo of the cypress trees in the McGehee city park which are loaded down not with Spanish moss but with Southern ice! (To magnify, click on the fuzzy photo.)

McGehee Ice Storm

The photo caption read:

“A shot of winter weather covered trees and powerlines with ice Monday. While these reports of brief power outages in McGehee affecting nearly 1,200 customers, there were longer outages in rural areas west to Drew County [in which I was born in 1938]. Officials say the brief period of freezing rain did not cause any major road problems in the McGehee-Dermott [Mari’s 1942 birthplace] area. The storm that brought winter precipitation also brought frigid temperatures behind it. (Photo by Debbie Gilbert.)”

Shortly after I had inserted this segment about the icy cypress trees in the McGehee city park, on March 2 I received Joe Dempsey’s Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind post which contained abut thirty photos of a six-or-seven-inch snowfall in his Delta hometown of Pine Bluff, Arkansas. The very first photo on that post was of a cypress-studded lake covered with snow, a much clearer photo than the one I had scanned of the McGehee ice-covered cypress trees. As Joe noted:

“Enough snow has accumulated on the boughs of these fine cypress trees to make them bend with the weight — and the snow continues to fall.”

Snow-covered cypress trees in Pine Bluff, Arkansas

Snow-covered cypress trees in Pine Bluff, Arkansas to magnify, click on the photo)

What is interesting is that Joe was the one who suggested and helped to establish the Wiley A. McGehee Memorial City Park. To view Joe’s entire Weekly Grist post with all his professional-grade photos of snowy scenes in Pine Bluff, click here.

After I had prepared this part of the post I received the following photo from Pat Scavo showing the Burrus (Baby Doll) House in Benoit, Mississippi, just across the River from McGehee, as it looked after a recent snow storm. (To learn more about this house and the Hollywood plantation on which it sits, click here.)

Snow-covered Burrus (Baby Doll) House in Benoit, MS

Snow-covered Burrus (Baby Doll) House in Benoit, MS (to magnify, click on the photo)

Sources

The photos and link to the Lake Dick farm cooperative from the 1930s were provided by Paul Talmadge from:
http://daysgoneby.me/arkansas-lake-dick-represents-socialistically-oriented-many-cooperative-farms/

The photo and link to the video about Dockery Plantation in the Mississippi River Delta was provided by Pat Scavo and taken from:
http://dockeryfarms.org/notes/personal-video-tour-dockery-farms

The link to the Tulsa World January 25 review of the book Empire of Cotton: A Global History was taken from Tulsa World Online at:
http://www.tulsaworld.com/scene/books/book-review-empire-of-cotton-a-global-history/article_13922dc7-0410-5ddf-8482-47298e985fc9.html

The photo of the cover of the book Empire of Cotton: A Global History was taken from:
http://www.amazon.com/Empire-Cotton-A-Global-History/dp/0375414142

The Depression-era poem about the price of cotton and meat was taken from a previous post titled “Wish I Was in the Land of Cotton, Part II” at:
https://myokexilelit.wordpress.com/2012/06/20/wish-i-was-in-the-land-of-cotton-part-ii/

The photo of the cotton branch was sent to me by Pat Scavo and was taken from:
https://fbcdn-sphotos-d-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-xpa1/v/t1.0-9/s600x600/10987008_10200213783184814_5568512315629798260_n.jpg?oh=ee69e504e66a3b75df5b967cdb368f43&oe=55592E84&__gda__=1431037819_d931795680f5f11c78ef2d4be49a3159

The photo and caption of the McGehee city park with the cypress trees covered with ice were taken from the February 18, 2015, issue of the McGehee Times and used with permission.

The photo of the snow-covered cypress trees in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, was taken from Joe Dempsey’s Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind blog post published on March 1, 2015 at:
http://corndancer.com/joephoto/photo380399/photo387.html

The photo of the Burrus (Baby Doll) House in the snow in Benoit, MS, was sent to me by Pat Scavo on February 27, 2015, and was taken from:
http://www.hollywoodplantation.com/directions.html

Introduction

“If you don’t understand who you are
and where you come from,
it’s hard to understand your place now.”
—actor John Turturro, quoted in
Parade magazine on February 15, 2015

In the previous six posts in this series “You Might Be from the Country If . . . Parts I-VI” I attempted to explain who I am by examining where I came from as a country boy born and raised in rural Arkansas.

In the last of these posts, Part VI, I presented some “false French” that I encountered in my years as a French teacher, translator, and interpreter.

Now in this last post in that seven-part series I offer some of my favorite French quotations collected over the years of my life and career. Due to ongoing health issues, this may be my last post for the foreseeable future.

Favorite French Sayings

Quand nous étions en Arkansas,
dix des Français qui m’accompagnaient
ont demandé un établissement sur la rivière Arkansas.

(“When we were in Arkansas,
ten of the Frenchmen who accompanied me
requested a settlement on the Arkansas River.”)
—Henri de Tonti,
Explaining establishment of Arkansas Post (1686),
Historical Collection of Louisiana, Vol. 1, p. 68

“I started out life as a cowboy in Arkansas
and came to Oklahoma as a French-English translator.
As our Yankee friends say, ‘Go figure!’”

—Jimmy Peacock

If you have followed my blog all through these three-and-a-half-plus years and more than a hundred-twenty-plus posts you may recognize the first quotation above which appeared in my earlier post titled “Arkansiana IV: Arkansas’ French Connection.”

Jimmy Peacock as a cowboy in the mid-1940s

Me as a cowboy in my birthplace of Selma,  Arkansas, in the mid-1940s (to magnify, click on the photo)

Jimmy Peacock dressed as a Frenchman in the mid-1960s

Me as a Frenchman at a French teachers’ institute in the mid-1960s (to magnify, click on the photo)

You may also have noted my explanation of my own personal connection to the French language in a post titled “How the Words in Italics Changed My Whole Life” and my love for French Louisiana that led to our disastrous honeymoon to Cajun Country and New Orleans in December 1962. (See my post titled “Our Honeymoon Was No Honeymoon for Mari.”)

As a result of my years of studying and teaching French I eventually became a French-English translator and interpreter for an international Christian organization in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Later, I became the U.S. representative and translator/interpreter for a traveling French evangelist.

Through all those years of exposure to the French language, I came across several French sayings that have stuck with me.

Here are just a few of my favorites. I must admit that now, almost four decades later, the origin of some of these French quotes is unknown or forgotten.

“Ce qui n’est pas clair n’est pas français.”
(“What is not clear is not French.”)
—Antoine de Rivarol
L’universalité de la langue française
(The Universality of the French Language)

“Chaque jour je fais deux choses que je déteste;
je me lève et je me couche.”
(“Every day I do two things that I hate:
I get up and I go to bed.”)
—Unknown

“Nul homme n’est un héros pour son valet de chambre.”
(“No man is a hero to his personal valet.”)
—Quoted by French evangelist Jean-Louis Jayet

“Aujourd’hui, ce qui ne vaut pas la peine à dire, on le chante.”
(“Today, what is not worth saying is being sung.”)
—Anonymous

“Ne me dites pas que ce problème est difficile.
S’il n’était pas difficile, ce ne serait pas un problème.”
(“Don’t tell me that this problem is difficult.
If it were not difficult it would not be a problem.”)
—Ferdinand Foch

Ferdinand Foch

Ferdinand Foch

Le cœur a ses raisons, que la raison ne connaît point.”
(“The heart has its reasons, that reason knows nothing about.”)
—Blaise Pascale

“L’homme n’est rien, l’oeuvre tout.”
(“Man is nothing, work is everything.”)
—Gustave Flaubert in letter to George Sand,
quoted by Sherlock Holmes in The Red-Headed League,
from “Literary Skills of Sherlock Holmes” by Ted Friedman.

“De la discussion jaillit la lumière.”
(“From discussion springs forth light.”)
(Provided the discussion is honest, accurate, and amiable!)
—Nicolas Boileau

“La France a perdu une bataille,
mais
 la France n’a pas perdu la guerre . . . .
La France
 ne peut pas être la France sans grandeur.”
(“France has lost a battle, but France has not lost the war. . . .
France cannot be France without grandeur.”)
—Charles de Gaulle

Charles de Gaulle

Charles de Gaulle (to magnify, click on the photo)

“L’audace, l’audace, toujours l’audace.”
(“Audacity, audacity, always audacity.”
or, “Dare, dare, always dare.”)
—Attributed to both Georges Danton of France
and Frederick II of Prussia,
quoted by Gen. George Patton in the movie Patton

Georges Danton

Georges Danton

Frederick II

Frederick II

George Patton

George Patton

And my favorite French quote,
the official slogan of the French-speaking
Canadian province of Quebec:
“Je me souviens.”
(“I Remember.”)

Forget the Past! How Can I Do That?

“Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing . . .”
—Isaiah 43:18-19 NIV

The quote above about forgetting the past was the scripture passage for the daily devotional lesson from The Upper Room for February 21, the day I wrote this section of this post. Coincidentally, it was also the date on which I began work as a French-English translator at the Osborn Foundation in Tulsa in 1977, thus beginning my Oklahomian Exile.

Paradoxically, when I inserted that biblical quote I had already closed this section on my favorite French quotes with my own French self-quote about the past:

“Je déteste le présent et je crains l’avenir,
mais j’adore le passé.
C’est là où toute ma vie est allée
et où moi aussi j’irai bientôt!”
(“I hate the present
and I fear the future,
but I adore/worship the past.
That’s where all my life has gone
and where I too will soon go!”)
—Jimmy Peacock
(To hear this sentiment about the past
expressed in music, listen to 1950s crooner Eddie Fisher sing
“Turn Back the Hands of Time”)

On that note, as a “hopeless romantic and helpless neurotic French cowboy” I conclude this post and series with a link to a video of the inimitable French cabaret singer Edith Piaf performing “Non je ne regrette rien” (“No I regret nothing”) with French and English lyrics on screen. To read about Edith Piaf, click on her name; to hear the song with a totally different view of the past, click on its title.

Edith Piaf

Edith Piaf

On a lighter note, to watch an amusing minute-and-a-half take-off of this song from the popular computer-animated movie Madagascar III: Europe’s Most Wanted, click here.

 Conclusion

All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit
and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.”
—Acts 2:4 NIV

Finally, in about 1983, after studying, teaching, translating, and interpreting French for more than twenty-five years, I was invited to come to France for an orientation visit with a French evangelist I represented at the time. It was the first and only time I ever set foot in any French-speaking country!

During that two-week visit I was interviewed on French radio. I still have a cassette recoding of that interview in which I gave my Christian testimony in French. (See my earlier post titled “My Religious Conversion.”)

Not bad for a “cowboy from Arkansas” (the son of a livestock dealer and the grandson of a country Southern Baptist preacher), an “exiled Arkie of the Covenant” whose only remaining contact with French is his daily Bible reading in the same French Bible he used to translate and interpret more than thirty years ago!

Jimmy Peacock holding his father's branding iron

Me holding my father’s branding iron

Rev. Willis Barrett, maternal grandfather of Jimmy Peacock and cofounder/pastor of the Selma Baptist church

Rev. Willis Barrett, my maternal grandfather and cofounder/pastor of the Selma Baptist church (to magnify, click on the photo)

Sources

The photo of Ferdinand Foch was taken from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferdinand_Foch

The photo of Charles de Gaulle was taken from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_de_Gaulle

The photo of Frenchman Georges Danton was taken from:
http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Georges_Danton

The photo of Frederick II of Prussia was taken from:
http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Frederick_II_of_Prussia

The photo of General George Patton from the movie Patton was taken from:
http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Patton_(film)

The link to the video of Eddie Fisher singing “Turn Back the Hands of Time” was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1kp-yN7KeFQ

The photo of French cabaret singer Edith Piaf was taken from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%89dith_Piaf 

The YouTube video of Edith Piaf singing “Non je ne regrette rien” was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zRCYEkA0_q8

The YouTube video of “Non je ne regrette rien” from the movie Madagascar III: Europe’s Most Wanted was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XTt4SrzibV0

 

Introduction

“It was on this date in February 1977 (the year that King Elvis died, see Isaiah 6:1) that I accepted the invitation from international evangelist T.L. Osborn to ‘come to Tulsa and help me get the Gospel to the French world.’ Thirty-eight years later I am still here . . . in My Oklahomian Exile from the Holy Land (Arkansas).”
—Jimmy Peacock

“In Arkansas there is a mountain,
and a state park on top of it,
both named Petit Jean . . .
But it ain’t Petty and it ain’t Gene!”
—Jimmy Peacock

In an earlier post titled “Moments to Remember/Selma Methodist Church Update” I wrote about our McGehee, Arkansas, High School Class of 1956 senior trip to Petit Jean State Park, which sits atop a mountain named Petit Jean.

McGehee High School as it looked in 1956

McGehee High School as it looked in 1956 at the time of our senior class trip to Petit Jean State Park (to magnify, click on the photo )

In that post and in earlier ones about Arkansas’ “French Connection” (the title of a popular 1971 Hollywood movie) I examined the early French exploration and settlement of what is now the state of Arkansas, including the many French names that have been left behind in it as a result.

Petit Jean is one of them, though, of course as has so often happens, the original French pronunciation (“p’tee ZHAW(N)”) has been anglicized into “Petty Gene.” (To read more on this subject of the French vestiges in my native state, including its very name, visit the posts titled: “Arkansiana I: The Name of Arkansas,” “Arkansiana II: Pronunciation of Arkansas,” “Arkansiana III: Change the Name of Arkansas,” and “Arkansiana IV: Arkansas’ French Connection.”)

Petit Jean State Park (to magnify, click on the photo)

Petit Jean State Park

Now in this new post (the next to final one in the series titled “You Might Be from the Country If . . .”) I would like to continue that theme. As such I will offer several other examples of misunderstanding, mispronunciation, and misuse of French terms and phrases in general among the American public. These are especially evident among TV news and sports announcers who might be expected to know better—or at least to take the time to look them up before mangling them beyond recognition by any real French speaker.

(Note: The correct pronunciations of the French terms and phrases in this post are actually only Americanized approximations since French has an entirely different set of sounds from English, sounds that can only be accurately represented in print by phonetic symbols. In this post, emphasis on syllables is indicated by ALL CAPS. Generally, in spoken French, syllables tend to begin with a consonant and end with a vowel, to be broken and pronounced equally, with emphasis on the final syllable of each word, phrase, and sentence, e.g., “Canada” pronounced in French “Cah-nah-DAH” rather than the English “CAN-uh-duh.”)

Mangled French Terms and Phrases

“Most Americans’ use of French words and phrases
is not just anglicized French, it is ‘manglicized’ French!”
—Jimmy Peacock

“Monsieur Hercule Poirot est blessé,
mais il fait toujours son travail à son bureau.”

(“Mr. Hercule Poirot is injured,
but he continues his work at his desk.”)
—Sample for French mispronunciation/misuse

David Suchet as Hercule Poirot

David Suchet as Monsieur Hercule Poirot

One of the most obvious misunderstandings by speakers of American English is that the final consonant in French is NEVER pronounced. Thus, French terms such as “Monsieur” are incorrectly pronounced “Muh-SIEU” when in reality the final “r” is pronounced in French “Muh-SIEUR.” This rule applies to many French words that end in “-eur” or “-ieur.”

On that subject, of course there is the French word all Americans use for “Miss”—”Mademoiselle”— which they pronounce as “MAM-zelle” when it is actually “Mad-mwah-ZELLE,” literally “my young lady.”

One bit of pretense that grates on my ear, nerves, and soul is the pronunciation of the French Quarter in New Orleans which was originally called the “vieux carré” (meaning literally, the “old square”). People who want to try to show off their knowledge of New Orleans French names will invariably mispronounce this term “VIEW kuhray,” when in actuality it is “vyuh cah-REH.”

Vieux Carre in New Orleans

The French Quarter in New Orleans

And then there is the NBA sports announcer who pronounces the last name of a pro basketball player named “Sucre” (which incidentally should be spelled “Sucré”) as “SHOO-gray”when it is neither “Shoo” nor “gray.” Instead it should be pronounced “Sue-CRAY.” (Incidentally, if the name is actually “Sucre,” then it should be pronounced “SUE-cruh” but still not “SHOO-gray.”)

Speaking of accents in French, which are of great importance in that language, the same type of “false French” occurs in writing.

In a recent syndicated religious devotional in the local newspaper on the subject of respecting the differences in people, the writer ended by noting, “As the French say, ‘Viva la difference.'”

The only problem is that expression is NOT French, it is “Spanglish.” The word “Viva” is Spanish, and the word “difference” is English!

The actual French phrase should have been “Vive la différence.”

Again, the question is: Before using such a French term, why did the writer (and the sports announcer above) not take the time and effort to first make sure it was correct?

Another example of false French is the mispronunciation of terms such as “masseur/masseuse” (“male/female massager”), pronounced in French “mah-SIR/mah-SIRZ,” which are NOT pronounced “mah-sewer/mah-soose”! Likewise, the terms “chanteur/chanteuse” (“male/female singer”) should not be pronounced “shan-tewer/shan-toose”!

Quelle horreur!

Then there is the false idea that French terms such as “poireau” (the French word for “pear”) and French names (such as “Hercule Poirot” in the quote above) are pronounced “PAW-row,” when in truth they are properly pronounced “pwah-ROW.” Another example is the name of the Bahamian-American movie actor named Sydney Poitier whose last name is NOT pronounced “POE-ti-aye,” but rather “pwah-ti-AYE.”

Actor Sidney Poitier

Sidney Poitier

Another is the false impression that in order to make the final “oh” sound on a French word, it has to end with “eau” and a final “x.” For example, I saw a TV ad for Louisiana State University which showed a sign reading “Geaux Tigers!” (“Go Tigers!”)

That is real cute and clever . . . except that the normally silent “x” at the end of a French word ending in “eau” (pronounced “oh”) simply indicates that the term is plural!

For example, take the common term “beau,” which is pronounced correctly in both French and English as “boh.” To add an “x” to the end of that French word “beau” so that it becomes “beaux” simply changes it to plural, as in the common French term “beaux arts,” which means “fine arts” and is pronounced “boh-ZAR.” (Note: The final “x” in such terms is pronounced only in front of a following word beginning with a vowel; otherwise, the final “x” is silent, as in “beaux regards,” pronounced “bo ruh-GAR”).

Yet in spite of this explanation it seems that any American (even in French-speaking Louisiana) who attempts to create a French word ending in “eau” (i.e., the “oh” sound) will automatically and incorrectly add an “x” to the end.

“Say it ain’t seaux, Jeaux!”

(To understand my double “pun” here in imitation of this practice of false French, click here to learn the origin and significance of the famous “Black Sox” baseball phrase: “Say it ain’t so, Joe!”)

Also consider the common French term “tête-à-tête” which is almost always incorrectly pronounced “tet-ah-TAY.” It is correctly pronounced “tet-ah-TET”— “head to head”—same word “tête” for “head” on each end!

Also there is the common but totally inaccurate attempt to pronounce the popular French show term “Cirque du Soleil” (“Circus of the Sun”) as “SURK-diew-so-lay” when it is actually more like “seerk-du-so-LAY-yuh.”

Then there is the French term so often both mispronounced and misused: “coup de grâce” which is almost always pronounced incorrectly as “koo-duh-GRAH” when it is actually “koo-duh-GRAHSE.” And it doesn’t mean a “death blow” per se since in this case the French word “grâce” means “grace” or “mercy.” It is thus the “mercy blow” given to put a poor suffering soul out if its misery.

And, of course, there is the common American term “chaise lounge” (a long, reclining chair usually mispronounced as “chase lounge”). That example of false French (or “manglicized French”) occurred because of both misspelling and mispronunciation. The actual French term is “chaise longue” (meaning “long chair” and pronounced “shez LOWNG”).

In that same opening quote above about Mr. Poirot working at his desk, there is an excellent example of another type of false French: what the French themselves call “faux amis” (pronounced “foe-zah-ME”), which literally means “false friends.” (Note the use of the final “x” again to indicate that the term is plural.) These are words in French that look like they are the same as English but are not: for example, the French word “travail” (pronounced “trah-VYE-yuh”) means not “travail” or “travel” but “work.”

Here is another set of false friends: The French word “la prune” (pronounced “la PREWne”) does not mean “prune” but “plum”; and the French word for “prune” is “le pruneau” (pronounced “luh prew-NO”). Of course, by now you know that the plural form of “le pruneau” would be . . . you guessed it, “les pruneaux” (pronounced “lay prew-NO”)!

Another false friend is the French term “blessé” (pronounced “bless-AYE”), which does not mean “blessed” but rather “injured” or “wounded.”

Finally, a third example of a false friend is the French word “raisin” (pronounced something like “ray-ZAI(N),” which does not mean “raisin” but “grape.” The French word for “raisin” is “raisin sec” (pronounced “ray-zai(n) SEK”), meaning literally “grape dry” or “dried grape.”

Though I could list hundreds of other examples of false French terms, phrases, pronunciations, and meanings, there is the universal American misconception that the final “r” in all French terms ending in “-oir” is silent. That is NOT true.

Here are examples of such terms with their English mispronunciations and their correct French pronunciations: “boudoir” (English: “BOOD-wah”/French: “boo-DWAHR”); “memoir” (English: “MEM-wah”; French: “mem-WAHR”); “armoire” (English: “ARM-wah”; French: “arm-WAHR”).

And on that subject, despite what you may hear on the old movies channels, the infamous 1940s “film noir” (literally “black film”) genre is not pronounced “film nwah” but rather “feelm-NWAHR.”

Again, the examples are legion, but “voilà” (pronounced not as in English “WAH-lah” but as in French “vwah-LAH”) those that I have chosen!

The others will have to await a future post. Until then: “au revoir” (pronounced correctly not as “AH-vwah” or “OH-vwah” but as “oh–ruh-VWAHR.”)

“Until we see each another again.”

Addenda and Conclusion

“Pralines have an interesting history. Their origin may be traced to France in the 1600s to the grand manor house of the French diplomat Cesar compte du Plessis-Praslin.”
—Barry Fugatt, “Pecan pralines help beat the winter blues,”
Tulsa World, December 27, 2014

On a related subject, Mari and I were married on December 27, 1962, after which we spent our honeymoon in Cajun Country and New Orleans. (See my earlier post titled “Our Honeymoon Was No Honeymoon for Mari.”)

Coincidentally, on the day of our fifty-second wedding anniversary, December 27, 2014, Barry Fugatt, a native of Louisiana and the Tulsa World garden editor, published a column in which he cleared the air once and for all about the proper pronunciation of both the words “praline” and “pecan”!

Pecan pralines

Pecan pralines

First, Fugatt noted the source of pralines (in the opening quote above) as a certain French nobleman named Cesar compte du Plessis-Praslin. I can assure you that name would be pronounced in French something like: “Say-ZAR kawnte du Ples-SEE—Prahz-LAI(N).”

The source of the English word “praline” is that last name “Prahz-LAI(N).” Although French nasals are almost impossible to represent in writing in English, the fact is that as Fugatt notes the proper pronunciation “prah-leen” is closer to the French than the popular but totally inaccurate pronunciation “pray-leen”:

“And while on the subject of pralines, please allow an old Southerner to weigh in on a contentious subject. The proper pronunciation for the fabulous French confection is: ‘Prah-leen,’ with a long ‘aaah’ sound. Only Yankees, or folks with poor speech modulation, use the shrill sounding pronunciation, ‘Pray-leen.’

“And if I may be allowed another small insight—no offense intended—the proper name for the nut from which the confection takes its name is rightly pronounced: ‘Puh-kahn’ and not ‘Pee-can.’ Sons and daughters of the South can hardly endure hearing the confection called ‘pee-can pray-leen.’ It has all the melodic charm of finger nails being scraped along a blackboard.”

Amen, mon ami de Louisiane! (pronounced in French: “Ah-men, mow-nah-mi duh Lwee-ZYAHNE!”)

Speaking of French and Country, on January 2, 2014, I saw an article on AOL about the death of Donna Douglas, a native of Louisiana, who played Elly May Clampett on the highly popular 1960s TV show The Beverly Hillbillies about a country family from the Ozark Mountains.

The Beverly Hillbillies

The Beverly Hillbillies

It so happens that I met Donna back in about 1983 at Rhema Bible Training Center in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, where she was a student after her TV career. I was there to interpret for a French evangelist for whom I served as American representative. The Rhema contact person asked us if we wanted to meet Donna Douglas.

Of course, I said yes. The French evangelist did not know who Donna was, but I explained to him in French that she was a hugely popular American TV star.

When we met her, Donna was very soft-spoken, sweet, and beautiful—just like Elly May.

Donna Douglas

Donna Douglas in 1967

When she learned that I was from Arkansas she asked me, “Did y’all eat grits?”

I said jokingly, “Why, if it hadn’t been for the weevils in the grits we wouldn’t have had any protein in our diet at all!”

She thought that was funny.

Note: The final post in this series, titled “You Might Be from the Country If . . . Part VII,” will conclude the series with a few of my favorite French quotes. To that list I have added a link to a French song performed by Edith Piaf and an amusing take-off of it from the recent kids’ movie Madagascar III: Europe’s Most Wanted.

Sources

All French-English words, meanings, and pronunciations were verified by Cassells’ French-English English-French Dictionary and the Visual Bilingual French-English Dictionary.

The photo of the McGehee High School building (no longer standing) was taken from the 1956 MHS yearbook.

The photo of Petit Jean State Park was taken from a travel brochure published by the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism.

The photo of the French Quarter, the vieux carré, in New Orleans was taken from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_Quarter

The photo of actor David Suchet as fictional Belgian detective Hercule Poirot was taken from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hercule_Poirot

The photo of actor Sidney Poitier was taken from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sidney_Poitier

The quote from Barry Fugatt’s article on pecan pralines was taken from “Pecan pralines help beat the winter blues,” which appeared in the Tulsa World on Saturday, December 27, 2014.

The photo of pecan pralines was taken from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Praline

The Wikipedia article about the TV show The Beverly Hillbillies and the photo of the titleboard of it were taken from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Beverly_Hillbillies

The Wikipedia article about Donna Douglas and the photo of her in 1967 were taken from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donna_Douglas

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