I heard on the news scientists think they are hot on the trail of something that will cure the common cold. Reminds me of the old man who was so mad he was jumping up and down, cussin’ a blue streak.

“I knew them fool scientists would keep on fooling around and fooling around until they did something they hadn’t ought ‘ter. Now just look at what they done gone and did!”

“What’s the matter, Paw?” asked his son. “You just hear about the atom bomb?”

“Heck no. They done something a whole lot worse than that. They done invented something besides likker to cure a cold!”

But I had to run by a big box store to find some razor blades, and they are putting out Christmas stuff already. Before Labor Day.

At least, it should be a few more weeks before we turn on the radio and hear “Hi, this is Tom Baudet for Manger 6, and have you been told there’s no room at the inn? For just 29 drachma we can put you up at Manger 6, in a warm comfortable stable with plenty of fresh milk for the newborn. There’s plenty of stalls for your mules, camels, or whatever you are driving across the desert. Remember, there’s always plenty of room at this Manger 6, and we will even leave a star out for you.” Yep, dumb advertising like that comes under the heading of Christmas.

Now, that’s a pretty tune but I’m not used to hearing “I came upon a roadkilled deer, a sorrowful sight to behold, he lay upon the highway’s edge, his body was stiff and cold,” instead of “It came upon a midnight clear.”

Or as the little girl at the Convent in Tulsa had it,
“It came upon a midnight queer.” Sister Mary Margaret was shocked!

But given my choice I prefer carols sung the old fashioned way. Still, this modern stuff is not all bad. The radio had one a while ago about “Teddy the Red Nosed Senator” that was pretty funny.

“Teddy the Red-Nosed Senator had a very shiny car; if you ever saw it – you were probably near a bar: All the other Senators – wondered how he got his dames – they thought he drank too many – to play those bedroom games:” was the straight facts.

Even the last line, “That’s Teddy the Red Nosed Senator, he’s a drunken ESS OHHH BEEE” is the unvarnished! But since it’s four months until that great commercial sales event called Xmas I would much prefer “Ida Red, Ida Red, I’m plumb fool about Ida Red.”

That’s an old Bob Wills tune, and when I was a kid everybody who could took off to Okie City to see Bob play. Bob and his band would play Big Balls in Cow Town, Faded Love, Ida Red, Roly Poly, and sixty or seventy more.

But Bob packed ’em in! One old boy I knew said Bob had Klien’s Ballroom so crowded his gal fainted and he had to waltz her around three times before he could park her in a chair.

Bob and the band would keep the kids dancing until the wee hours had gotten into some pretty respectable numbers – and the police made sure the hormones stayed under control. Yep, you take your girl to see Bob Wills your folks didn’t expect you home until “the Sun was Shining Bright.”
And they weren’t worried about it. If something happened a shotgun and a trip to the JayPee’s would take care of it.

‘Course, I left there just before one of Bob’s sidemen, Bill Haley, supposedly put a spin on Western Swing and invented Rock and Roll! Not that it was a big leap from “Toodeleumbo” to “Rock around the Clock.”

But judging from the sound of things, Haley mixed Bob Will’s western swing and Hank Thompson’s honky tonk music and came up with something that rocked. But that’s another story.

What I started to say about music was that since Western Swing has come back and country music is going up when what passes for rock is going down, it seems what was old has become new again.

I have been wondering when we would get new versions of “Shoo Fly Pie and Apple Pan Dowdy,” “House of Blue Lights,” “Blacksmith Boogie,” “Nola,” “Flatfoot Floogie,” “Pistol Packin’ Mama,” and all those good songs that weren’t Western Swing.

You ever hear Mairzy Doats? “Mairzy Doats and Doazy Doats and Little Lambsy Tivy, Kittlety Tivey Too. Mares eat oats, And does eat oats, And little lambs eat ivy.” Sounds silly but it would leave you with a spring in your step. And grinning!

Or “Shoo Fly Pie and Apple Pan Dowdy, Can’t get enough of that wonderful stuff!” Real shoo fly pie was as sticky as fly paper, tasted wonderful, and Jo Stafford’s song was wonderful too! The “Dee-troit Bar B Q Ribs” served up at “The House of Blue Lights” were also wonderful. Or at least Ella Mae Morse made ’em sound wonderful.

How about Al Dexter’s cautionary “Drinkin’ beer in a cabaret, and was I havin’ fun. Until one night she caught me right, and now I’m on the run.

She kicked out my windshield, she hit me over the head, She cussed and cried, said I lied, and wished I was dead. Lay that pistol down Babe, lay that pistol down. Pistol Packin’ Mama, Lay that pistol down.”

Second verse, worse’n the first, “Drinkin’ beer in a cabaret, and dancing with a blonde. Until one night she shot out the light, and Bang! that blonde was gone. Pistol packin’ Mama, lay that pistol down.”

No, Martin Luther was wrong. The devil does not have all the good songs, not by a long shot. Of course, you couldn’t prove that by listening to most of today’s DJ’s. Or to what passes for “educational radio,” for that matter.

We did have SUGGESTIVE music. Phil Harris is probably best known for “That’s What I Like About the South,” but his recording of “A Persian Kitty” (Perfumed and Fair) was banned from radio. Sure made a hit in the record store, though!

Harris put different words to an old song called “The Ship Chandlers Shop” and made “The Thing” a number 1 hit. The Thing used a drum flourish to refer to bed spring poker – but we knew what it meant. That “ship chandlers” song was popular in Lane Cooter’s tack room but I was surprised the FCC allowed “The Thing” to air.

The Weavers took an old sailors song called “The Maid of Amsterdam” or “The Fireship,” cleaned it up and made the Hit Parade. Remember “A Rovin’, A Rovin’, Since Rovin’s Been my ru-EYE-in, I’ll go no More a-Rovin’ With You, Fair Maid?”

The “fire” in that song was a fire “down below” that “burnt me bowsprit,” so it wasn’t the chorus to a nursery song, by no means. But the Weavers version got us humming and if any preachers were offended by it they didn’t voice any objections!

The words to “Bell Bottom Trousers” Bing Crosby sang on the radio were a pale echo of the explicit and hilarious version I used to hear in the tack room. The tack room version detailed why sailors pants have buttons on both sides! Them double lucky swabbies had a good reason for both sets is all I can say here!

“Bless ‘Em All, The Long and the Short and the Tall,” didn’t refer to anything like a blessing. Bussing or osculation, if you liked the prissy version, fast feeding mattresses if you chose the explicit verses, but sure not a blessing!! Not until they re-wrote it for the movie.

A song about soldiers stuck on Tulagi made the hit parade, too – but the GI words would have burnt the label off the record. The boys that wrote that epic didn’t think much of McArthur, and I figure they had a legitimate gripe. The guys that cleaned those words up had their work cut out for them.

But now the radio’s playing something about “Lacy things, the wife is missing, didn’t ask for her permission. And more where that came from. Ugh!

When I came up you weren’t supposed to say anything in earshot of a woman or child you wouldn’t say to your preacher – but there was many a day digging postholes when songs like “I wish I was a diamond, upon my Lulu’s hand,” Rudyard Kipling’s “The bards they sing of an English King, who lived many long years ago,” and A. Nonny Muss’s “I see you are a logger, stirring coffee with your thumb” made long hot tiresome days a whole lot shorter, and the blisters I was raising on my blisters a heap easier to bear.

Those and songs like them sure helped make a bunch of hot and miserable days unloading cars of fertilizer, roofing tin, and sheet rock a whole lot shorter.

No – you weren’t supposed to say anything around or to a woman or a child that you wouldn’t say to your preacher – and in my book you still aren’t – but out in the fields, in warehouses and box cars, anywhere men worked with men a song would make the day go faster and keep ruffled tempers soothed. That was, if not good, surely not bad.

It wasn’t like it is today. The doggone radio is full of junk that should be exiled to the tack room. Or outer space. Junk that’s a whole lot worse than anything I ever heard as a kid. Mean, bad stuff. Back when I was a kid I heard one naughty song sung in public, one time, and that’s when the Cooter Twins put the hooks to Banker Mullendore’s wife.

Every dirty word in that tune was strictly in the mind of the listener. But they put a burr under her saddle, and did she buck!

She used words that would make a muleskinner blush, and a two mule team pull a ten ton load out of Honey Island Swamp! ‘Fact, most of the profanity I know I learned that hot July morning.

Now, you talk about a plumb ree-diculous sight – here’s this fat squaw dressed fit to be the widow at a presidential funeral, railing at two ragged hayseed farm boys with language that is even barred from TV till yet!

Old Willie Pickle had been a muleskinner and a buffalo hunter and he said later he’d never in all his ninety years heard a better example of plain and fancy cussin’. ‘Fact, Mr. Willie said if he had been a little younger he would have been tempted to try that woman at driving a forty mule jerkline.

If profanity really makes mules pull she would have been good at it. And no faster than the trucks ran in those days she could probably delivered the freight at least as fast as I Goe Fast Freight. Isadore Goe, prop!

The Sheriff and Judge Ross both told Mullendore that you can’t prosecute somebody else for what’s in your mind – but the penalty for cussin’ in public was six months. The Mullendores caught a Connie out of Okie City the next day. They took an “Extended European Tour,” while the racket died down.

That’s the one and only time I ever heard anything like that in public. I heard plenty of it around the tack room, the implement sheds, anywhere men had time to kill, or where men worked and a steady rhythm would make the work go faster.

And I have seen a few perfectly respectable ladies smiling and tapping their toes as they listened. A few even laughed out loud. But nowadays you can hear a lot dirtier stuff than anything I ever heard in the tack room. Just flip on the radio.

But this is August 25th and the radio is comparatively clean! Most of the time, anything goes, and they don’t hint around. They tell you straight out to go out and kill cops and such. Anyhow – I started to talk about something else entirely. I think! I was going to rattle on about the wonders of this modern age – and I surprised myself.

I understand Harvard University is offering a new course. Stair climbing – because so many college students were raised in ranch style houses.

Seriously, have you seen this modern furniture they want us to use? I have spent quite a bit of time on the phone because of the west coast dock strike, and I was talking to a manufacturers rep in LA. His company just moved him to a new office, and hired an outfit to “decorate” the place.

Barry was really glad of the move, he’s a lot closer to his job, but ever since the move he’s been miserable. He’s been just sooo tired, sooo achy, sooo dragged out!

He told me today he figured out the problem. They decorated his office in this fancy ultra-modern stuff, and he’s been sitting in the wastebasket!

Barry reps for a division of Coats and Clark, the thread making people. C&C sent out a request for a bid on some plating and polishing, and in due time got a letter back. The letter said….

“Our computer has computed that the cost to you of the work you have requested will be”…

Coats and Clark sent a reply a few days later.

“As that is more than anticipated, we would like to suggest that your computer make an appointment with our computer to discuss ways and means to reduce the cost of plating and polishing.”


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2 Responses to

  1. I happened upon a decent collection of 78s some time back. Your post reminds me of that great old tune by the Andrews Sisters, “Rum and Coca Cola.” I’m not sure when it actually dawned on me that the lyrics to that song are maybe about wholesale, generational prostitution and substance abuse. The racial overtones are quite a bit more blatant though. It’s not that popular music used to be saintly so much as the modern artists are rarely witty or clever about it. Then again, I’m sure you’d know more about that than I do. Anyway, keep up the good work!

  2. Stranger says:

    That version of Rum and Coca Cola were more a comment on Jamaica vacations. FCC ruiles of that era were Victorian if not overtly prudish. Try Youtube for Ruth Wallis, one of the less offensive of those FCC censorship would not allow to be aired.

    My hosting company will not allow me to post them here, but the lady will have you in stitches. Davey’s Dinghy, indeed.

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