Monday, July 27, 2009

Jimmie Rodgers - Away Out on the Mountain

Collected memories. Or is it re-collected history?

The other day I’d written about Sons of the Pioneers and my association of that song with my dad cooking breakfast.

Over the weekend I received an eMail from him. In it he reminisces about his childhood and a few songs that impressed him. He relates some pre-1937 musical memories of his childhood. Here, I’ll let you read his own words:

"My father had a Model T Ford pickup. No top, a very short bed and very hard to start on cold mornings. I an remember chugging along at a brisk twenty miles per clip and him singing, The Old Dan Tucker song. I could not remember the words to the song so I gave it a try on the internet and by golly there were several versions of it. So I have printed them and am in the process of committing them to memory. No, you will never hear me sing them because I can't sing. Couldn't carry a tune in a basket. (something both of his children inherited)

My parents had on old wind up Victrola, with a walnut veneer cabinet. It stood about four feet tall more or less. When the lid was raised to expose the turn table there was a picture of the Victor dog listening to its master’s voice. Sometime before my memory, my father had bought several Jimmie Rogers records. They were very popular in the mid- and late-nineteen thirties. The one that I remember the best was " Away Out on the Mountain". The words to that song inspired the imagination of a boy who had a high interest in mountain men and their stories.

Rogers's music was the first of what has become Country Western today. It was music about railroads, hobo's, and jail-house blues. His was the music of the Great Depression of the Thirties. It was a transfer of Black-sung blues to a hillbilly-hobo blues. Rodger's made yodeling popular. Your great Uncle Paul Mitter thought he was a great yodeler. My mother said it was awful. I don't remember hearing him yodel, so I can't comment one way or another.

While I am at it I have one more memory of the Model T days. But it doesn't really involve music. On the way home sometimes we would stop at a little beer parlor in Centerville, (east of Fresno) and he would have one beer and I would have root beer. On the wall behind the bar was the famous picture of Custer's Last Stand. I can remember sitting there and looking at the Indians scalping the troopers and Custer standing in the center of a ring of dead horses and troopers firing his pistol. Since no one survived it of course was just the artist's rendition of that historical event in late June of 1876. Historical research has proven that it didn't happen that way."

Interesting isn’t it – how memories connect, collect, and form a family history.

This is a short week. Just three days here in the office. I guess I better make the most of my time.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm glad he's doing these memories - he always wanted his mother to sit in her living room and record her past, as she thought of things; however, she was too inhibited ? to talk into the tape recorder. So our only memories of HER childhood are the ones that Dad remembers. tp