Frenzied efforts were made by all the children to finish the sparse decorations before the big day.  The scrawny cedar had been cut from the tree line of the pasture and stood in the corner of the front room.  Colored Construction Paper, was cut into strips and glued with flour paste into gala chains, to be draped around the branches.

The nearby cotton fields had been scoured for leftover fluffs of the fruit to serve as Snow.  Tin-Foil; collected from discarded Cigarette Packages was shredded and used for Icicles.  Holly Berries and Popcorn, strung with thread, completed the festive decorations.

With the tree decorated, everyone’s attention turned to the preparing of the “Christmas Boxes”.  The Containers from the last purchase of winter shoes had been hoarded; to become the ‘Receptacles’ for the; ‘expected loot from Santa.  Crayons were utilized to record the names inside the boxes to assure that all gifts were placed in the proper container.

Let’s face it; Small Stockings were not sufficient to hold the likes of; Cap Pistols, and Holsters, Jackknives, Harmonicas, Dolls, Toys, and of course; Fruit, Nuts, and Candies:” When all the preparations were made, the long wait began.  Everyone was on their ‘Best Behavior,’ for the duration of the time before Christmas Eve.

There were even no complaints when the time came to go to the Church for the “ANNUAL CHRISTMAS SERVICE.”  Each child had a part in the customary pageant.  “In borrowed Bathrobes, they served as Shepherds, Wise Men, and Joseph and Mary; while the Pastor re-told the Christmas Story directly from the scriptures”. 

At the end of the Service, every child received a small bag containing an orange, an apple, and a few pieces of candy, courtesy of the local General Store.  After the final a-men: Everyone was eager to return home and get in bed: “For it was well known that Santa would not visit until all children were asleep”.

Concern for some was the fact that there was no snow for reindeer and a sleigh.  Add to this the fact that the Fireplace had been closed; in lieu of a Wood-Burning Heater; and questions were raised as to how ‘Santa would get in.’

The usual answers from the parents were: That Santa used a big, Truck; and that they would leave the door unlocked. To add credence to this story, they were told that the trucks engine made a sssshhhhing sound to avoid waking any children.

From the wee hours of Christmas morning:  The sounds of Cap Pistols; Harmonicas; and laughter; reverberated throughout the crisp, clear air of the countryside for the remainder of the day.  Regardless of the meager presents, the JOY, of the Christmas Season; was present in every heart.

No Research, was needed for this article; simply, because; “WE’VE BEEN THERE; & DONE THAT!”  Although the celebration is somewhat different today:  “The excitement remains, more or less the same.”



Lately I have experienced difficulty in understanding some of the terms that are employed by today’s “with it” generation.  Perhaps there are plausible explanations for this, since they have no desire to appeal to someone who could be considered “over the hill.”  Examples of the confusion which these words and terms cause me; follows along with my own interpretation.

“LONG DISTANCE CARRIER” The person whom you send to return the borrowed milk bucket to your grandmother who lives eight miles away.

SWEEPSTAKES:  Branches from a dogwood tree that are tied together for the purpose of ridding the yard of debris.

ADDER:  In addition to being a type of Snake; this word can have two meanings.  #1.  “You youngun’s can’t play until “Adder” you “Git Yo Lessions.   #2..  “Mr. Jones: I’ll pay my grocery bill, If you’ll “adder” up.”

HARD CORE:  “If you don’t watch out;”  “You’ll break a tooth on the “Hard Core” of that pear.”

UNCALLED FOR:  “Mazie put on her new Frock, and fixed up, for her date and set there in the swing for two hours, “uncalled for. “

BENIGN:  “That happened last year ’cause Jethro was eight an’ he’ll “Benign,” next month.”

HEAD FOR THE MOUNTAINS: “What all us “Flatlanders” do when we take a vacation in the middle of the summer.

BYTES:  “What we get all over our bodies from them “Red-Bugs;” when the blackberries get ripe.

“Softwear.”  “If I’ve told you once:  I’ve told you a hundred times;”  “Not to put starch in my drawers.”

HARD DRIVE:  “From here to Kannapolis is a “Hard Drive;” in a model “A”.  It takes most of the day.”

“RAP.- RAP.”  Instead of a type of music accompanied by a loud thump-thump beat:  This is what; you will get on top of the head;  “If you didn’t git yo’ lessons.”

Since I am definitely not considered, “Cool.”  Therefore;  I strive to alleviate the inaccuracies which dominate the speech patterns of today’s society.  “It usually don’t happen”.

Reward for my diligent efforts; would be to hear; ‘Just One,’ young person say… “ADDER a HARD DRIVE up thare to Waxhaw, I jus’ want to take a bath, change my SOFTWARE, put some Calamine Lotion on them ‘Skeeter BYTES and HEAD FOR THE MOUNTAINS.” 

Since Jethro’ll BENIGN soon?  How come, he can’t use th’ “SWEEPSTAKES”?

 Mazie, has been ‘UNCALLED FOR’, so she can be the LONG DISTANCE CARRIER.  If she objects, jus’ RAP her over th’ head.  Besides, I jus’ got the HARD CORE of that Crab-Apple, stuck in my “wind-pipe.”

It’s obvious that I expect no more from others than I; Myself, am not willing to give.  ‘AFTER – ALL’….   “It’s a tough job: But someone has to do it”.



I sit in my recliner and dream of places to go and things to do.  With a road map at the ready and countless brochures scattered around; I plan mini-vacations to exotic locales only to be reminded by my child bride of “Sixty – Some” years that we have visited these sites in past years.

Discussions, (sometimes heated); arise over the when and where of these trips; and I am informed that I suffer from an acute case of “C.R.S”.  Since my wife possesses a mind like a steel trap:  She does her best to convince me that the place in question was where she discovered those unique, ‘Rare’ Earrings and a Favorite Tee Shirt’.

“Besides,” she states: “Who wants to wander around and look at rusted Farm Equipment?  “If you are determined to go somewhere, we could shop the, “New Mall.”

Rejection of my elaborate plans to attend the “Bluegrass Festival”, is accompanied by, “You’ve seen one.  Isn’t that enough?”  Or; “I can’t stand that whiny singing”.  “Why don’t we invite Jean and Dave to go with us to the shoe outlet?”  “I am sure that they have many new styles to choose from since we were there.”

Despondent, I return to the maps and brochures; hoping against hope that “Pedro’s Alligator Farm” will spark enough interest for at least a “Maybe.”  My conniving brain begins to work overtime and I arrive at the conclusion that the only solution to this major dilemma would be to find a unique attraction; which also includes a series of outlet shops on or near the premises.

Ahh.  At last, “The Perfect Place.”  “Junior’s Used Auto Parts and Hardware Emporium,” located next door to “Faye’s Tee Shirt and Jewelry Bazaar.”  Here is reason enough for anticipation to replace the ultimate dismissal of an idea as so much folly.  This is serious business.  Having never shopped at “Faye’s”, she even becomes excited.  “I’ll call Jean to find out which day would be convenient with her.”

Not even the usual, “You’ve been there: Done that; and forgot,” sallied forth; as .  she began to make lists of the things which she absolutely could not live without.

Perhaps the closest she would come to admitting that the idea had merit; was the remark that:  “Maybe you can find a starter for your truck; and we will not have to push it; anymore.”  “Now, drive over and get Jean while I figure out which credit card is not maxed out.”



Hit were ‘round Christmastime when Susie Mae:  She flung a fit to go down thare in Flordie an’ be wiff Rocky Phil an’ Jeddy.  She sez to me, “Jay Henry honey: You recon th’ truck’ll git us’ens thare an’ back?”   I tolt her the air wuz a’showin, through most uv them tires;  But I reconed Rocky Phil mought have a re-cap or two layin’ ‘round that he’d give us:  So we’ens sot out.

B’then we’ns got thare an’ had jus’ sot down:  Jeddy, she sez.  “Y’all jus’ got to stay ‘til Sunday ‘cause Rocky Phil an’ Davie’s gonna put on a play at th’ church.”  Wells’r, they wont no way Susie Mae were gonna budge, atter she hyeard that.

Come Sunday mornin’ we boff got dolled up in our ‘other clothes’ an’ went to watch them  two play-act.  Hit were Rocky Phil’s time to preach an’ when he come out to start, Susie Mae, she started ‘grinnin like a cow eatin’ briars;’ and tolt everbody, whot were in reach uv us’ens, “He b’longs to me an’ Jay Henry.”

Thaye had got some uv th’ younguns to holp wiff th’ readin’ an’ to take up th’ collection an then he ups an’ goes behint a curtin whot they had hung up in th’ frunt.

Davie:  Then, he comes jus’a-moseyin’ down th’ middle uv th’ church wiff a white nightgown on an’, ‘bless his little heart’; he had tied some wings on his’uns back.  He were jus’ a’mutterin to hisself whilst a-gittin’ up on th’ stage.  “He kept axe’in whare that thare other ANGEL were?”

Susie Mae, she ‘jus’ ‘bout had a hissie, whenst she hyeard Rocky Phil a-holler’n, “Hyear I is.”  “ I’se a-coming.”  “ I’se a-coming.”

Hit were here that we seed  ‘th’ youngun’s  feet a-danglein’behint th’ curtin.  That youngun had climed up in th’ loft and were a’holdin’ on to a rope wiff boff han’s.

When he had done got on th’ floor, him an’ Davie commenced wiff  they play.  Hit were ‘bout th’ Christmas storie an’ they done a rale good job a-tellin’ hit.  Atter they had done finished, Rocky Phil, he ‘splained how come they had done hit this hear way.  Hit were a bit different but everbody seemed to like hit “a heap.”

Susie Mae, she were ‘bout to bust’, she were so proud.  She jus kep axin’ me, “Jay Henry;  Honey:  Does you recon, them folks know’s ’bout  Hem bein  our’n?”  “Mayhaps, we’uns ortta stay a day er’ two an’  ‘sure them up.”

“I tolt her that he mos’ probably had tolt all them people that he had got; “All uv of his smarts frum us’ens, an that Preacher School.”

“They wont no doubt that all them folks injoyed this way uv tellin’ ‘bout Christmas ‘cause whenst Rocky Phil finished up, an’ had done dismissed th’ congregation; everybody went an’ “stood-up” to’ give;  “Hem & Davie Th’ Clap’s.”  

“Writ by Jay Henry.”

Scattered Cotton

In most southern communities during the 30’s and 40’s, growing cotton was the mainstay.  This was usually the only “cash crop” and was depended on to bring in the much needed money for clothing and staples that could not be raised on the farm itself.  The growing of cotton involved much preparation of the fields.  Old stalks from the previous season had to be cut and the roots “run up.”  This was accomplished with the wing removed from a “dixie” plow and the point prying the roots from the ground.

The next step was the “breaking up” of the land.  With the wing replaced, the plow was pulled round and round the field by a mule or horse until all of the earth was turned over and then smoothed with a “drag harrow.”

Next came the “laying off” of the rows.  This operation was very important because the rows had to follow the curvature of the field in order to drain properly.  Usually this task was undertaken by The Father; or an older member of the family.

Fertilizer was then applied in the furrow and the rows were “ridged.”  If a farmer was lucky he had, or could borrow, a “Guano distributer” for this purpose.  When all of the ridging was complete, the tops of the ridge were “knocked off” and the seed were planted with a Mulel-drawn,’ “cotton planter.”  This mule powered machine plowed a trench, spaced the seed and covered in one operation.

When the seed sprouted, the field had to be “chopped” several times with hoes to rid the tender plants of grass, and plowing several times was necessary before the cotton could be “laid by.”  This simply meant that the plants would be left to mature and bear the fruits of fluffy cotton.

“Boll-Weevils” were the insect problem then and most farmers would “poison” the plants at least a couple of times during the season to try to control the pests.  Mixing a portion of pesticide and molasses in a fruit jar with holes in the top, they would shake this mixture over the plants and hope for the best.

Usually around August, the hot dry weather would cause the bolls to open and the fields would appear white.  This signaled the picking season.  The picking of the cotton was done by hand with a sack hung by a strap over one shoulder.  Stooping and pulling the fluff from each boll, moving to the next plant and repeating the operation until the entire field had been “picked.”

Two or three pickings were required as more bolls opened, and then the cotton was taken to be Ginned and Sold.  All that was left in the field was a few late opening bolls that were considered, “Scattered Cotton.”

If a youngster was ambitious, they would be permitted to pick the scattered cotton and reap the benefits of selling it to one of the “Gins.”  Although there was not much money to be made in this venture, it did provide a few dollars that he could claim as his own.

Machinery does most of the work of raising cotton today, but it does not clean a field of cotton as did the hand-picked methods.  While traveling through the country today and seeing the cotton left by the machines, I sometimes think that if I could have had access to that much “Scattered Cotton” when I was young, I could have been a rich man now.

Was it really worth all that hard work?  It was the only way that was known then for growing cotton, and I don’t think that it did any permanent damage to anyone;  ‘growing -up’ in the era of “KING COTTON.” 




“The Organ” – “Up Town.”

“Susie Mae:  She picked up on playin’ th’ Pieanner when’st she wuz a shirt tail uv a gal an’ her Daddy an’ Mammy bought her a Pieanner frum them Sears Roebuck Brothers catalog.  She were  ‘bout fourteen an’ in th’ third grade whens’t she had learn’t how to play “Up Jumped th’ Devil;”  an’  “Ole Black; Joe Cut Off his Toe;” w‘thout lookin’ at all them notes.  When we’ens got married up; we’ens taken over th’ payments on that thare pieanner so’s  she cud keep on plunkin’ on hit.

One nite, jus’ ‘bout th’ time we’uns wus a’sottin’ down fer supper: Th’ Preacher frum th’ “Up-Town Church”, he called an’ sez;  “They wuz a-lookin fer a Organ player”.  He axed Susie Mae iffen she figured she cud play a Organ.  Now, Susie Mae, she wuz purely, ‘took a-back’ an’tolt him she wud thank ‘bout hit.  When’st she had done hung up, she sez, “Jay Henry, honey; you knows I got rhumatiz in my feets an’ lags an’ I ain’t shore I cud pump them-thare pedals.”

Well,sr:; I tolt her I reccon’d they had one uv them ‘lectric Organs whot don’t got no pump pedals  She got all ‘cited an’ sez, “Let me, Jay Henry, honey:” “Let me!”

I tolt her hit were her up to her but she’d hav’ta learn sumpin ‘cept; “Up, jumped th’ Devil;” an “Ain’t no boogers out tonite.” iff’en she wuz gonna play in th’ Church.  Nex’ day:  She call’d him back an’ sez “Okey Dokey.”

She practised all th’ songs she cud git her han’s on whot wuz ‘propriate fer Church fer ‘bout two ‘er three weeks an th’ time come when’st she were s‘posed to play fer th’ meetin’.  I figured I better go wiff  her an’ lissen;  so’s I cud be ‘fusst’  purson to ‘Cuss’ at her proper; iff’en she messed up.

She done rite well fer sombody whot can’t read much; “Cept”: “I noticed rite off that everbody were sangin’ th’ key uv, G; an Susie Mae were playin; in the ket uv, “F”.    I broached th’ subjec’ to ‘They Preacher’. atter th’ ‘Big Meetin;’ an’ he tolt me he wud talk to her ‘bout hit.  I sez ta him, I Sez:  “Now you got ta unnerstan that Susie Mae!”   “She be’s sorta timid, an’ she mought jus’ bust out squawlin’ iff’en you jump on her too much.”  He tolt me he wud discus’ hit wiff her kinda  ‘private like’.

Th’ funnie thang were:  Hit ‘peared like nobody ‘cept me an’ “Th’ Misterr Warner”, noticed whot were wrong.  Hit looked ta me like they won’t nobody else a’payin’ ‘taintion’.

Atter th’ meetin’ were over an’ Susie Mae had done got back to th’ shack an’ took off her Sunday Frock, she sez ta me, she sez,

“Jay Henry, honey, does you reccon’ they’ll let me play that-thare Organ some more?”  “I really had me a good ole time a’playin them songs whils’t all them folks wuz sangin’.”  I tolt her maybe they wud, iff’en she ever;  “Learn’t,  ‘not ta’ mix up her G’s an’ F’s.”   “Susie Mae shore ‘preciates th’ chanch ta do sumpin whot she ‘Injoys.                                                                                       Writ by Jay Henry



“Y’all hush up now: Y’hear?”  This order was issued to children who were getting a mite rambunctious in their eagerness for the enjoyment of whatever game in which they were involved.  Long suffering parents tolerated the squeals and/or laughter for a time, but when it reached the point that it was distracting; this one command was all that was necessary to bring about complete silence.  No one had ever heard, or for that matter; never thought that this command could possibly bring about a complex.  Children were taught to obey the parents, period.

Disobedience was certain to bring about either a trip to the; “Woodshed”,  (and-or),  “The Belt.” Every child was positive that the dreaded “Belt,” was the intimate in punishment for their body. In most instances, only the threat of using “The Belt” was necessary to bring about perfect behavior.

“Make haste, now!” was another order that could be justified.  What child has; “Not at one time or another”: Loitered when dispatched to perform some chore?  In the days of growing up on a small farm; there were many chores that were required of everyone; including the children.

Dawdling while attending to one chore simply meant that another one would be left undone.  In some cases, the chore that was not taken care of; resulted in another command: That of:  “Go, cut me a hickory!”

“Get in the house, right now!”  Either you had done something to be punished for or there was a chance of: “It’s coming up a cloud.”  During a thunderstorm was definitely not a time when you volunteered to remain outside some form of shelter.  Vivid tales of people getting struck by lightning were reasons enough for the young minds to obey instantly.  In extreme cases, one was required to; “Wash bare feet, and lie on a bed until the storm passed.”

“Watch out: you don’t fall!”  Children everywhere have a desire for climbing.  Whether it be a tree or the top of a building.  They feel that they must explore the heights if for no other reason than simply to find out if they can do it.  Knowing full well that they could not protect every child from the bumps and scrapes of life, the parents merely cautioned them and expected obedience.

“Act like You’ve had some raising!”  This was very important if a child was to visit another household or attend a party away from home.  It was felt that their actions reflected on the teachings in which they had received from the parents.  Good behavior was a factor that could bring about the ultimate compliment, i.e. “Now; Them young’uns have had “a heap” of raising.” 

“You know better than that!”  This denotes that you have made some foolish mistake that resulted in things going awry.  The fact that you had temporarily forgotten was of no defense.  You had been taught the right way and were expected to remember.

Instances that involved the visiting of another family in the home could very quickly prompt a command of, “Y’all go play now!” which let the children know that the grown-ups needed to discuss something not suitable for their hearing.  If it was forgotten that there were children present, one of the grown-ups would remind the others that; “Llittle pitchers have big ears.”

Perhaps there was a different approach toward the training of the young in different parts of the country, but the outcome was the same all over.  Everyone wanted their children to be taught the correct way to make their journey through life, and they did it in the way that they themselves had been trained.  The only major difference was in the choice of words.

If the parents of my childhood could observe the actions of a few of today’s children it would surely bring to mind that; “The rod had been spared:” Or, “They just ain’t had no raising.”  

While different parts of the country used a somewhat different method, they all amounted to the same things…

They simply used the commands that made sense to them.




Marketing has changed much during the brief span of my life. In earlier days, clothing was stocked by most ‘General Stores’ in a variety of sizes including half sizes in order to better fit the majority of their clientele. In today’s age of discount everything; it is rare indeed to find an item in our particular size.

I once posed the question of why to a store manager, when I had searched in vain for a pair of 42-inch trousers among scores of 28 inch through 34-inch pairs. “It’s a matter of economics,” the manager said. “By making more of the smaller sizes, they are able to produce more pairs from the same amount of material; therefore, the profit margin is higher.”

“But what about us big bellied people?” I asked.  “Recent studies have born out the fact that there are more slim people than there are large people.” “We simply order a certain item, and the factory sends the sizes according to the studies,” the manager replied.

What happened to the Store owner who knew his clientele well enough to be able to order sizes to fit every customer.  He also knew most of the preferred styles and colors. Although he usually knew what size shoes you wore, he nevertheless would take great pains to measure your feet to assure that the fit was perfect. This sometimes caused indignation when he informed:; “Mrs. Hoy- Paloy”, that she wore a size 9 instead of the requested size 5.

In many discount shoe stores today, it is next to impossible to find the exact size of the shoe that you like. Instead you are encouraged to purchase a larger size because your particular size has been discontinued.

Once, while browsing in a shoe store among thousands of pairs of the latest fashionable shoes, I began searching for the metal measuring device that earlier stores had at least one or two and I could not find even one throughout the store. I inquired about this from a clerk and was told, “That’s what the benches are for.”  “Try them on and determine if they feel good.”

Somehow, I cannot rationalize that these sales techniques are better than to have your measurements taken and then being asked the one question; black or brown?”  In fact, I have never heard one of today’s clerks reply, when you asked for black. “NO, Demijon; brown will GO better with that new suit you ordered from Montgomery-Ward and with that pair of socks you got for Christmas.”

Recently, I noticed an abandoned store building being renovated. Several weeks later, I saw a sign in a front window that announced SHOES – $20.00.’  Being a glutton for a bargain, I investigated and found that they indeed were offering thousands of pairs of shoes for only $20.00 each.

Diligently searching, I discovered a pair that was identical to the ones I was wearing, for which I had paid $85.00 and change. Needless to say, I was somewhat disturbed.

Now I really don’t like to pass up such a bargain, but I did not need another pair at this time. However, rationality raised its ugly head and I began searching for a second pair in size 11-W.  30 minutes later, I found this same style shoe sitting on a box underneath a table. I grabbed the box and retreated to a bench at the back of the shop, to try them on. Imagine my surprise when I opened the box and found that the other shoe was a size 7.

Angry and sweating, I approached the manager to ask where the correct shoe was and was told,  We just take what they send us.”  My next question was; If I had purchased  this box without examining the contents, would you refund my money?”

He pointed to a sign above the register that read, NO EXCHANGES – NO RETURNS!

So much for bargains.  If it appears ‘TOO-GOOD’?,  “Dig a little deeper.” (An old Sellers Saying of mine.)  Dj.

I can also remember when  Bread,’ was an important part of the human diet and was far removed from the medium of exchange stored in banks.   Demijon.

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“CLASH”; “BAM”: “WHAM”: inc.

When I was a young Swain, there were never any courses in school pertaining to the word “CLASH.” Neither did I receive any instructions in the home about checks and stripes “clashing.”“Perhaps one reason was the fact that we were fortunate to possess clothing of any type. It was not until I was married that I was introduced to fashions. Heretofore, I simply saw a shirt that I liked, bought it, wore it with whatever pants that happened to be pressed at the time and thought nothing of it.

Suddenly things changed. I could not be seen in public with my, ‘checked slacks’ and the ‘beautiful striped shirt’.     Why?  Because they clash.”

Up until this time, I had believed that clash meant to collide, conflict, to strike together with a loud, harsh metallic sound, or to fail to harmonize. My attire did none of the above. It was comfortable, somewhat spiffy and I enjoyed wearing it.

Once, while in the men’s department of a large store, I spied a beautiful chartreuse shirt which I was certain would ‘glow in the dark’. I immediately forked over most of my weeks pay and returned home with my treasure. Placing it on a hanger and hanging it beside my pink trousers, I envisioned the striking exhibition of color coordination that I would present on the occasion of our next outing.

As luck would have it, the office party was being held the following Saturday. The power bill was delayed until the ‘last day before cut-off time’; in order for my wife to purchase a new dress while: “Here I sit with a combination that would set the Fashion World back; at least, “A COUPLE OF YEARS”.

Happily, I donned my new look; while my wife “put on her face,” and I waited for her approval.  I was not prepared for what transpired when she saw me in a stance that I had hoped resembled some of the models from the catalog. Her mouth flew open, her breathing became shallow, red splotches appeared on her face and the veins in her neck stood out as if ready to burst. When she regained her voice, she said with a croak, “YOU’RE NOT GOING TO WEAR THAT, ARE YOU??

Dejected, I replied, “Why not?”  With a low moan, she informed me, “Because it clashes!”  You should know better! Take off those monstrosities and put on your blue sui; or I will refuse to go anywhere with you.”

As I changed, I reflected on a time when my chartreuse shirt, my pink trousers and even the green, silk scarf that I had knotted around my neck would have advanced ‘Men’s fashions, world-wide; by probably ten years. And besides, in my humble opinion, my attire had made absolutely none but the best of sounds. In fact, I was reasonably sure that it could have given The Gatlin Brothers a lesson or two in harmony.  Several weeks passed and we finally were on speaking terms again when I decided to change the oil in the car.

I was underneath the engine compartment with oil dripping into my face when I called for my lovely roommate to hand me a rag.  Being unable to open my eyes; I reached for the cloth; while wiping my  face until I could see.

When I was able to open my eyes, I saw an oil-soaked chartreuse shirt with the buttons cut off. Until this day, there has never been an explanation of what happened to the pink trousers.

Why do I not ask, you say? It’s simply because I’ve got better sense than to stir up another hornets nest. .      Jay Henry


The End Of A “Musical Career”

During and after World War Two; one of the more popular songs was the “Army Air Corps Hymn.”  This song and many other patriotic songs, were sung in ‘Chapel’ when I was in elementary school.  Our music director was a lady who taught music and piano lessons in addition to her duties as a staff teacher at the small school.

She decided that the school needed a Glee Club, and “I” was among the five or six students to sign up for this extracurricular activity.  We practiced one afternoon each week after classes in the auditorium, since that was where the only piano was located.

Mrs. Smith, (not her real name), was very patriotic and ‘The Army Air Corps Hymn’ was included in our repertoire;along with ‘America,’  ‘The Navy Hymn’, ‘God Bless America’, and of course, ‘The National Anthem’.

The last phrase in the refrain of The Army Air Corps Hymn had always been sung as; “We live in fame; or go down in flame:”  ““HEY; Nothing can stop the Army Air Corps!”

However, these words in the song book; we all used, were written, “We live in fame or go down in flame; “SHOUT:”!”   Nothing can stop the Army Air Corps.”

Mrs. Smith insisted that we were to pronounce the words EXACTLY as they were written.  She was quick to admonish us, if we used the word HEY,” instead of SHOUT.”

During our many practice sessions, we were careful to heed her instructions; knowing full well,  that this was not the way the song was performed by Fred Warring and the Pennsylvanians’  on our battery-powered Radios.

After many weeks of painstaking work with us, Mrs. Smith deemed the Glee Club ready to present our concert to the entire school at Chapel.  The Principal suggested that the appropriate time for this presentation, would be the Friday before Memorial Day.

When all of the students were assembled in the auditorium, the Principal read a few verses of Scripture, and offered a short prayer.  “(Yes: It was acceptable to pray in school during those ‘unenlightened’ days).”   Then he announced that the school’s Glee Club would present their rendition of the more popular patriotic songs of the period.

Mrs. Smith took her place at the piano and struck a chord that signaled for the curtains to be opened.  The red and gold curtains parted and ‘there we stood’, (all six of us); in all of our ‘rag-tag glory’.

Each of us was holding a small flag in our hand, and we began by singing ‘The National Anthem’.  Mrs. Smith was not necessarily a connoisseur of harmony; therefore, our attempts at (Tenor, Alto, Bass, etc.) was definitely not blended.  We had replaced musical ability with, “NOISE”.  To say the least:  “We had a captivate audience”.

The last song that we were to attempt was ‘The Army Air Corps Hymn’.  Mrs. Smith’s smiling face indicated that we had performed satisfactorily up until we sang the last line in the refrain.

Every member in the group followed her repeated instructions to tf he letter; EXCEPTME,” and BUBBA:”  WE, literately, screamed; “HHEEYY,” instead of  “SHOUT!” The piano music stopped for the rest of the song, while Mrs. Smith tried to compose herself.

The giggles from the assembled body did little to console her.  Her grave expression was fixed directly on the two “perpetrators” of this dastardly “deed”.

Even the Principal was hard pressed to disguise the mirth that he felt.  Needless to say, Bubba and I” were immediately dropped from the roster of the “Glee Club”.

It was, however, heartening to discover that the rest of the budding singers also resigned from the chorus; citing sympathy for the two of us.  This unfathomable act ended a promising career in the field of entertainment, for a couple of kids who “Rebelled,”  We had attempted to ‘right’ what we knew was ‘wrong’.

I suppose that it was just as well that Bubba and I, sought other careers; since we were so darned hard-headed that we could not follow instructions.  Becoming “Famous” had eluded us at the ripe old age of “Twelve.”  At least;, we were never subjected afterwards; to hoards of autograph seekers.

Bubba eventually, served four terms as Magistrate for the County;  and “I” – (still seeking fame and fortune);sought employment with a “Pharmaceutical Firm”; advertising a newly developed, Youth  Lotion”. 

My primary duties with this business, were to circulate; before & after photos,’ proving that:  [“UGLY” DON’T Necessarily, HURT] !