"And Grandpa Sang Too"

by

Diane Olson

 

Old Dan Tucker was a fine, young man,

Washed his face in a fryin' pan,

Combed his hair with a wagon wheel,

Died with a toothache in his heel.

 

If you happened to be walking through the bush on RussTurner's farm around sixty years ago, this is one of the many songs youmight have heard him singing as he went about his daily work.

If you look back a few generations, I think you'll findthat most people were very patriotic. They really had to be during timessuch as World War I and World War II. Some of these patriotic songs havebeen handed down through the years.

One of the good ole' favorites was Yankee Doodle whicheveryone knows. Another was called George Washington. School kids were singingthis around seventy-five years ago. It tells how George Washington neverlied and how he won the war.

Also a song called Lincoln was sung. The first verse tellshow Lincoln was brave, sincere and true. The second and third verses tellhow brave, strong and wise he was in winning the Civil War. We still honorhim in songs today.

If we were to walk into the little one room school whenGrandma and Grandpa attended we might hear this song entitled Uncle Sam.

Today we made a man of snow,

To guard our schoolhouse door,

And we salute him as we go,

To playground or to store.

 

He stands straight, and you'll agree,

He's not a common man.

You look at him and you can see,

A statue of Uncle Sam.

 

He wears a beard and stovepipe hat,

His face is old and kind,

The staunchest old aristocrat,

That anywhere you'll find.

 

And even tho' he'll melt away,

As snowmen always do,

We wave to him and proudly say,

Three cheers, Uncle Sam, to you!

 

There have always been babies so there have always beenlullabies. If we could have listened at the door of Mrs. John Munro of St.Vincent about sixty-five years ago, we might have heard her sing this lullabyto her baby son.

Hush be still as any mouse,

There's a baby in our house,

Not a dolly, not a toy,

But a laughing, crying boy.

 

We would probably hear the familiar Rock-abye Baby On theTreetops, too.

Then we have the songs people sang just for fun or forthe sake of singing. These were usually the popular songs of the day. Someof our grandparents walked or rode a horse two or three miles to get togetherwith some neighbors for a "fun sing~

Also, there was the Farmers Club. People came with theirpotluck suppers to the Joe River School where they met. After a good mealthere was always time for singing. If we could have gone with our grandparentsto one of these meetings, one of the songs we might have heard was DarlingNelly Gray. This was a favorite among many. Then there was Sweet Adeline;In the Evening by the Moonlight; When You and I were Young, Maggie; Wait'til the Sun Shines, Nellie; and Put on Your Old Gray Bonnet.

Because so many Scottish people settled here you wouldprobably have heard either Annie Laurie, or The Blue Bells of Scotland,too. Comin' Through The Rye; In the Gloaming; The Old Oaken Bucket; andThe Quilting Party were some more you might have heard.

If someone felt like dancing, the fiddlers would startplaying that lively old favorite, Turkey In The Straw. Soon all were eitherclapping or dancing.

A pretty song with a popular tune that has been revivedthrough the years is Red Wing.

Oh, the moon shines tonight on pretty red wing . .

 

Of course cars were just coming into existence. One ofthe first was the Oldsmobile. Whether Grandpa owned an Oldsmobile or not,as he rode along you might have heard him sing In My Merry Oldsmobile.

Come away with me Lucille,

In my merry Oldsmobile,

Down the road of life we'll fly,

Automobubbling you and I.

 

To the church we'll swiftly steal,

Then our wedding bells will peal,

You can go as far as you like with me,

In my merry Oldsmobile.

 

There were songs Grandpa sang when he was courting Grandma.As they strolled along hand in hand he might have sung Dear Old Girl; SingingIn The Rain; When You Wore a Tulip; or Last Night.

Then came the wedding bells. Russell Turner of Hallockstill has a copy of the song sung at his wedding sixty years ago. It's calledFor Love's Sweet Sake, by B.N. Stults.

You ask me why I love you so-

The secret of my heart you'd know

Why do I linger by your side

Content if I may there abide.

Why does the dew drop kiss the rose

Until each petal radiant glows.

Why does the sunlight melt away

The mist that clouds a summer day.

You ask me why I love you so

My heart is yours. I only know

I can no other answer make,

I love you, dear for love's sweet sake,

I can no other answer make,

I love you, dear, for love's sweet sake.

 

Then after the first baby was born we might hear Grandpasinging to Grandma My Old Heaven. And in later years as they sat aroundthe fire he might have sung Silver Threads Among The Gold.

Have you ever heard of Stephen Foster? Of course! He wrotemany songs that are our favorites today and were favorites around one hundredyears ago. Some of the familiar ones sung everywhere and anywhere are OldFolks At Home (Swanee River); My Old Kentucky Home; Good Night; Jeanie WithThe Light Brown Hair; Oh, Susanna; Hard Times Come Again No More; De CamptonRaces; and Ring De Banjo. Another song by Stephen Foster that everyone'sheard of but probably doesn't know the words to is Old Black Joe.

Gone are the days

When my heart was young and gay;

Gone are my friends

From the cotton fields away;

Gone from the earth

To a better land I know,

I hear their gentle voices calling, "Old Black Joe"

I'm coming, I'm coming,

For my head is bending low;

I hear those gentle voices calling, "Old Black Joe"

 

This song wasn't written by Stephen Foster but it has tobe mentioned. Clementine.

Oh my darlin', Oh my darlin',

Oh my darlin' Clementine,

Thou art lost and gone forever,

Dreadful sorry, Clementine.

 

One part of Grandma's and Grandpa's or Great Grandma'sand Great Grandpa's lives was going to church every Sunday. They sang there,too. Some of their favorite hymns were Nearer My God To Thee; No Not One;Rock of Ages; Oh, God, Our Help In Ages Past; and for the ScandinaviansChildren Of The Heavenly Father; and He The Pearly Gates Will Open.

Singing at our grand-parents and great-grandparents wasa very important part of their lives. Now with television, radio, theaters,and better transportation, singing has become less important in the livesof people of the Valley. Of course, we still have our jazz and rock musicand all, but I think we all really like to get together and sing the songsthat our grand-parents loved.

 

Bibliography

 

Anderson, Mr. and Mrs. Swan, Noyes; MN Interview, January9, 1972

Cameron, Mrs. Wallace, St. Vincent, MN Interview, December23, 1971

Maddy, Dr. Joseph F. and Miessner, Dr. Otto W. All AmericanSong Book, Robbins Music Corporation, 1942

Munro, Mrs. John, St. Vincent, MN Interview, December 23,1971

Songs of Long Ago, D.H. Baldwin and Co., Chicago, 1905

Stranger, Mrs. Joseph, St. Vincent, MN Interview, December23, 1971

Turner, Russel, Hallock, MN Interview, January 9, 1972

Turner, Mr. and Mrs. Harold, St. Vincent, MN Interview.,January 9, 1972

Ward, Mr. and Mrs. Willis, St. Vincent, MN Interview, January9, 1972, Russel, Hallock, MN Interview, January 9, 1972

Turner, Mr. and Mrs. Harold, St. Vincent, MN Interview.,January 9, 1972

Ward, Mr. and Mrs. Willis, St. Vincent, MN Interview, January9, 1972