When I was a teen I found a vintage photo of my parents on their honeymoon. Decoupage seemed to be all the rage back then. I found an old piece of wood in my folks basement and I glued the photo to the wood and put many layers of polyurethane on it until it looked like glass. Little did I know that was the only photo of them that I can find to this day but they still loved it. I still have that. A snapshot in time. The time was January 8, 1944 and it was their wedding day and my mothers 28th birthday. It was a simple wedding, nothing fancy, as my dad was heading overseas and they only had a short time to be together….I think it was 3 days. When I look at their faces in this photo, tears sometimes well up as they looked so happy. That guitar was never far away from my dad’s arms. They both loved music. He had that old Gibson with him in his hut in Italy and entertained in many USO shows while “over there.” He brought back many souvenirs from the war and almost all of them were monogrammed with his and her initials or just hers. I have cigarette cases and little portable ashtrays and little trinkets here and there in my home that were tokens he gave to her. I have most all of their letters to each other. Some are a little hard to read as they make me blush. Many letters to his mom…my grandmother Eva were written. She was a school teacher and almost demanded he write her every day and he did. Some of them are priceless. He took many photos while away and someday I’d like to get them onto a cd but for now they are in a box.
After he got home from serving in WW11, they started raising a family. They had two boys….then me….then my little brother. They were taking bets on me as to whether I was a boy or girl. My folks really wanted a girl after two boys. My uncle Sidney was in on the betting and had said all along it was going to be a girl. He won the bet. He was a funny man. He sure liked his bottles of beer but he was a good man. He stood up for people and was never afraid to speak his mind if the situation called for it. If you didn’t like it well….too bad. He didn’t do it in a mean way….just a matter of fact way. He wouldn’t stand for others putting down good people for no reason and I liked that about him. My father spent many a Saturday afternoon at Uncle Sidney’s house playing music and drinking beer right there at the kitchen table, two houses up from mine.
When not working, or at Uncle Sidney’s or elsewhere, my folks would sit at our kitchen table on a Saturday and play music all afternoon. My mom had a great voice and belted out old tunes while my father strummed that old Gibson. There was almost always a quart of beer under the table and a glass on top. My mom might have one and my father had the rest and more! They sang and sang and it was the happiest time of day if you walked into that house, which many did. There was a song I always requested that my mother sing…..for years I asked for this song because I loved how she sang it. She would put a lot of guttural and animation into the performance of the song! I loved it! That song was Bill Bailey. That became one of the most requested songs for her to sing at many dances and gatherings over the years. My father had a sheet music collection. He had hundreds of pages of sheet music. Once the word got out, many people he knew, and some strangers that just heard about it, started bringing him music. At some point, either a family member or friend or stranger, purchased an old copy of the original Bill Bailey that was decoupage onto a piece of wood. That hung in my folks house for years and now it hangs in mine.
You can see it here in my kitchen and I cherish it. I love the idea of old sheet music on wood but I don’t see it that often. Good memories are carried on in my home from my parents who really gave me such a wonderful gift in music. When I hear a banjo or an old guitar or any of the songs they once sang I am brought to my knees in gratitude for those two wonderful people. It will put a smile on my face quicker than anything else and it will bring on the “Ugly Cry” as Oprah says too….depending on where I am at that day! I know I have written about this song before so bear with me…..there WERE other songs but this one was a special one as you can see.:)
Eventually my dad purchased a beautiful candy apple red Gibson Les Paul guitar. Today, my nephew Adam, has that guitar and plays it in Nashville. He and wife Carey are a duo just like my parents were. He is a music producer and their studio is in their home. Here’s a photo of them at a club performing and he is playing my dad’s Les Paul.
More on them at another time…:)