Musings from the Hill: Aug. 27, 2015
Labor Day signifies the end of good old summer time. In New Jersey, school days never began until after Labor Day and ended about the middle of June. A daughter, who moved to Texas, informed me a new law had been passed making it illegal for any Texas school to begin before the end of August. I was told by a longtime Kansas resident that long ago, Labor Day also marked the start the school year in Kansas.
It makes good sense to me. Would it save money on air conditioning? Of course “way back when” air conditioning was still far in the future. On really hot days, we ran under the hose sprinkler, and the little ones sat in a wash tub to keep cool because large plastic pools did not exist. In southern New Jersey, water was readily available. Our town’s water supply came from an artesian well and was the purest fresh water available. We also often played cards. Favorites I remember were Tripoli and Auction Bridge. If there was only two of us, which was rare, we played Honeymoon bridge. Monopoly and Contract Bridge were still in the future.
We spent many enjoyable hours with a good book. At an early age, I read over and over my mother’s childhood books, “Trail of the Lonesome Pine,” or Gene Stratton-Porter’s “Girl of the Limberlost” and “Freckles.” We also read the “Wizard of Oz,” and my brother the Tom Swift book series. We often recited poems by memory. Robert Louis Stevenson’s “A Child’s Garden of Verses,” “When We Were Very Young,” by A. A. Milne or poems by James Whitcomb Riley and Eugene O’Neill.
Many years ago when the BBBB (Baldwin Biddies Breakfast Bunch) met regularly, comments were made about the fact we could not understand the lyrics of a current song. “It’s better if we don’t know. Some are unprintable,” replied a Biddie.
In the 1930s and '40s most of our songs were from the Big Band era. They were danceable, sung softly and had to do with lasting love or of unrequited love. A few that come to mind are “Dancing in the Dark,” “Blue Moon,” and “Clouds.” Later songs of WWII: “Harbor Lights,” “Red Sails in the Sunset,” and “(There’ll be Blue Birds Over) The White Cliffs of Dover.”
This past semester, when Sarah studied aboard in England, one of her friends went to go see the white cliffs of Dover because she remembers hearing of the song from WWII.
We did have a few songs that did not make sense. Who can forget, “Chicoery chick,-chala-chala-check-a-la-roma in a bananica. bolicka-walica can’t you see? Chickory-chick, it’s ME!” or, “Down in the meadow of the itty bitty pool, lived three itty fishies and a mama fishie too. Swim, said the mama fishie, swim if you can and they swam and they swam right over the dam.” I remember my grandfather (student and great books advocate) being particularly annoyed by the senseless rhetoric. However no "bad words” ever passed our lips.