Saturday, February 21, 2009

Music, Music, Music

I've always loved music, I inherited it from my mother. She loves to play the piano and sing, especially if her boys will sing with her. At Christmas time it was easy to sing along but during other parts of the year, I didn't know the songs she loved to play. She didn't know too much Kansas or Lynyrd Skynyrd and I didn't know the big bands. Then a couple of years ago, the family had Christmas at my house. My nephew was here and he talked of how much he like jazz. So with a few hints from him I started collecting jazz. Then an amazing thing happened, I started downloading the music that my mother loved to play, songs like "Always" and "Chances Are". I started listening to Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, and "ole Blue Eyes". I also found that I started to really enjoy music. It became soothing to my soul. Relaxing. But the most important thing, I can now sing along with Bessie as she plays the music she loves. That makes her day and that makes mine.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Bluegrass Memories

“You can always use some SOAP to wash the week away. Come and join the Southern Oklahoma Acoustic Players and let our melodies soak into your soul. On Friday or Saturday nights the sounds of bluegrass, gospel, and some down-home-blues pierce the night with the resonance of a hundred singing strings.” That raucous radio announcement never failed to get my peaked anticipation to rise like a hot summer’s day does to the thermometer’s mercury.

Strong Irish coffee scents the air as Mickey takes the stage to play lead on “Miss McLeod’s Reel” with Kenny on his upright bass, Sissie on rhythm guitar, and Billy Joe playing the fiddle. The town’s old maid, Miss Wilson, sits in the front row on a old metal folding chair, tapping her toe on the old warped floor of the Opera House. In back sits Katherine, better known as Katie, with Bryan holding her hand, at fifteen they just know it’s true love. Over to the side Grandpa Snelson is doing a “Jed Clampitt” dance as the Reel rolls into full speed. Grandma Snelson throws back her head into a laugh that cackles throughout the House.

As the music flows into the night air, it pulls people to the Opera House like the smell of mother’s cookies would pull my friends to my house. As the crowd grows, it spills out into the night and suddenly we have a street dance. The police pull up and block both ends of the block for our safety, but the town is empty because everyone is here. The musicians mix into the crowd to play and sing their harmonies.

Mrs. Adams daughter, I never can remember her name, breaks open a jug of cider, sweet cider mine you, none of that hard kind would do here. Miss Penley starts cutting the cakes, mostly chocolate or strawberry icing, with little Beth Ashley sticking her sticky fingers in to test each one.

Suddenly Jerry stops the music and yells to quiet the crowd, “I have an audacious announcement to make. I just asked Jenny Lynn to be my betrothed and she said YES!” The band breaks into their version of the Hallelujah Chorus as the mayor shakes Jerry’s hand and gives Jenny Lynn a kiss on her forehead.

Grandpa Walker looks at his old railroaders watch and yells, “Time to go, gotta get some sleep before I can nap in the church pew in the morning.” The band plays one more song, a quiet quiescental piece so the lovers can have one last hold me close dance.

As I lock up the Opera House, I turn to a deserted desolate street that just mere moments ago was filled with laughter, rhythm and rhyme. I slowly walk down the avenue, head filled with remorse of another night having passed and anticipation of what the next weekend will bring.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The First Watermelon - A Rememberance

I would sit on the patio and wait, watching each car as it rounded the curve looking for that red and white Buick station wagon. That red and white station wagon would be carrying my Uncle Porter and Aunt Aliene and the long anticipated Texas Watermelon.
It would be mid-June of the summer of 1965 in Southeast Kansas, the weather would be getting hot and I'd be in the "I'm bored, there's nothing to do” mode, but today it was broken by the anticipation of cutting into that watermelon.

They would finally arrive, Uncle Porter smiling that big broad smile of his, especially big this time because of his prized passenger, not Aunt Aliene but that big, juicy, the other red meat, monster watermelon. The ceremony would begin, Uncle Porter would drop the tail gate of the station wagon and stand there like Vanna White and present the watermelon. "She's a beaut this year!" We would stand there with our mouths open in awe at the green striped object of our desire.

Dad would bring out the wash tub, bought just for this occasion and sit it under the big elm in our side yard. There he and Uncle Porter would carry the melon over, encase it with ice, and cover that with a blanket. "Go play, it won't be ready until after supper." That phase made time go into slow motion. Dad usually got mad after the one hundredth time of me asking if I could check to see if the melon was cold yet, "If you ask one more time there will be no melon for you. I told you to go play." I'd go inside and sulk until supper.

Supper was fried chicken, mashed taters, corn, green beans, homemade bread and an apple pie in case someone didn't want watermelon. The pie would be always be there the next day, if Uncle Porter didn't sneak off with it. I would inhale dinner and then have to wait while Dad finished off the chicken. He'd even chew on the neck bone drawing out the anguish that was building in my soul for having to wait for that long anticipated bite of cold, sweet melon meat.

"Whatsya think Porter, think that melon is cold yet? Think it's about time to slice 'er up?"

"We might have to test 'er out first, Bob, we better make sure it's good before we pass 'er out to everyone."

With that we adjourned to the elm tree, I blasted pass everyone and jerked the blanket off the top to make sure nobody had stolen that glorious fruit. Dad and Uncle Porter would place the melon on the picnic table and prepare for the "test piece" Dad would cut a small triangle out of the middle and inspect the color and smell. "Smells good Porter, I think you might have pick a good one." Then he would drop a bite in his mouth and pick up the "watermelon knife" and slice into it. He always cut the melon in half length ways and then cut the halves into half moon pieces. I'd grab the first one and go sit on the ground under the elm and dive into that precious piece of sweet melon. Aw so sweet it tasted, like candy that would melt in your mouth. The sticky juice would run off my chin and all over my shirt, and I didn't care. The meat would be a deep red turning to pink as you chewed closer to the rind. The black seeds were shot out my mouth into the wash tub where they mingled with the ice. I'd chew up the white seeds, adding to the pleasure of eating my favorite fruit. Afterwards, I'd lay back in the grass and dream of tomorrow when I could eat another piece. The second though was never as sweet as that first long anticipated bite of watermelon.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Anna and Oprah

Poor ole Anna, such a miserable soul
An old maid and spinster, least that’s what I’m told.
She watched the mail man on his rounds each day,
She liked to watch how his bum would bump and sway.
Her hair tied in a knot on the back of her head
Not a straind out of place even when she’s just out of bed.
A brown sweater she wore all year round,
Over a white high collared buttoned blouse, oh so renowned.
On her feet she wore grandma boots,
No, really, inherited from her Grandma’s Smoots

Then one day her front door bell rang,
There on her porch stood Oprah and her gang.
“We’re here to give you a makeover,” Oprah said with glee
“And I’m footing the bill, you get it all for free.”
Well they cut and they permed, plucked and painted
When they finished Anna nearly fainted.
Standing there was a reflection in the mirror
Whom she looked like it could not be clearer
Standing there looking back at her through that piece of glass
She turned and said, “Phew, Oprah, you sure got gas!”