There is no mistaking that music is a big part in our house. I hear Ma singing “Go to sleep, my little Buckaroo” every night when she puts Curt to bed. She hums when she is washing dishes or when she stands at the cupboard with the flour flying as she rolls out her biscuits. When I ask her who her favorite singer is, she always says, “Gene Autry”. Then she starts singing “Back in the Saddle Again”. I really don’t care for that song, but since it is her favorite, I say nothing.
I remember what Ma did to me when I was only four years old. I remember it like it was yesterday. She has friends down in the lower end of town and was going to a school play at the Tubbs District school. I guess one of her friends had a child in the play. I don’t know; all I can remember is that the teacher asked Ma if I could sing and she said yes. Before I knew it, I was standing up there singing “I’m a little Teapot, short and stout” and of course, doing all the hand motions for the spout and all. I cannot believe Ma said I could sing and had I been older, I probably would have hidden somewhere. That was my first time singing!
When Rex and I were in the “little room” with Mrs. McAllister in Locke Mills, we always were in the little play that was put on at Christmas time. I remember when the second grade got up and we were to sing “Up on the house top, reindeer paws”. I looked out and there was Ma, sitting in one of the little seats! I was so excited that she took time from her job at the mill across the road and came to hear us sing! She was smiling all the time we were singing and I was so proud!
It seems to me that music sounds prettier at Christmas. When Curt and I went to the Sunday School Christmas Party and we kids all sang “Silent Night” it just sounded so pretty, you knew it was going way down in the valley to Indian Pond and I bet even the birds stopped and listened. Well, maybe the birds couldn’t hear some of the notes that were a little off the mark, but it was still pretty.
Now that I am twelve and in the eighth grade, we have Christmas music at our Friday morning assembly. The lady pounds the old chipped keys of the school piano and we sing carols. I don’t like a couple of them but I don’t know why. “O, Come All Ye Faithful” seems to drag on forever and the boys sometimes say Face Full instead of Faithful. I like the quiet carols like “Away in a Manger” or “Silent Night”because I like pretty melodies, I guess.
Our school tree stands in the corner decorated just enough to make it look like Christmas. Each year we give our teacher some little present. I have no idea what we will give Mr. Meserve. He seems so stern. Maybe another handkerchief he can fold and put into his jacket pocket…he has it just so…shaped like a sharp point on top…and if it gets jostled during the day, you can bet your last dime he will finger it and get it uprighted. I try to behave because I know soon all of us in the eighth grade will go in different directions to high schools. Some will go to Gould Academy;others to Woodstock High School. Ma graduated from Woodstock in 1933 so I know she would like Rex and me to go there. These are things I think about when my work is done and I am sitting there just looking at the tree in the corner. I wonder if Mr. Meserve rips it out and tosses it the minute we leave on the last day before vacation.
Ma says one of her proudest moments was when our school put on a show at the Town Hall and I sang with Kay Dorey. We sang “Mockingbird Hill”. The key was too high for me, but we managed to get through it without any casualties. Then we sang “It is no Secret” which is a slow pretty song.
So even though Ma works hard in the mill and keeps the house going with all her cooking and cleaning and washing the clothes, I know underneath she loves her music. She doesn’t play any instruments but I bet she could if she had one and had the time to practice. I could not believe that she does not like Frank Sinatra because I read that everyone likes him. She says that he is just a young kid and Bing Crosby has a much better voice.
So see? Ma is really into music, but sometimes you have to really dig it out of her when she is covered with flour and rolling out biscuits.