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] !