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Daughter of Ishmael by Diane Stringam Tolley

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by Diane Stringam Tolley

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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

We'll Sing As We Go

Dad. He of the wondrous voice.
My Dad loved to sing.
Fortunately, for the rest of us, he had a very nice voice.
And great rhythm.
It's just his timing that needed work.
Let me explain . . .
When one lived as far from civilization as we did, 'going somewhere' inevitably involved . . . well . . . travelling.
For extended periods of time.
I'd like to point out here, that wonderful inventions like DS's, cell phones , IPads and the all-important DVD players existed only in science fiction. Our entertainment consisted of visiting, looking out the window, and books.
Or, in my case, just visiting or looking out the window. Reading in a car, though perhaps my favourite diversion, unavoidably made me carsick.
Ugh.
Whenever we travelled, there was always that stretch of road (I know you've been there), usually somewhere in the middle, where we ran out of conversation and the scenery got boring.
And everyone in the car, driver included, got sleepy.
That's when Dad would start to sing.
At full volume.
He really only had one.
See what I mean about timing . . .?
His family was treated to such classics as, "Who Put the Overalls in Mrs. Murphy's Chowder". Or, "My Diane" (my personal favorite), "Two Little Boys" (which always made me cry), "Daisy", or the ever popular, "The Doors Swing In and the Doors Swing Out".
Usually, Mom would also join in.
Suffice it to say that, before us kids could carry on a lucid conversation, we could sing. We didn't always know what we were singing, and our school teachers sometimes questioned the suitability of a song that took place almost entirely within a saloon ("The Doors Swing In . . ." - see above.)
But that's beside the point . . .
We were in tune and definitely had the words right.
Or at least as right as Dad did.
It wasn't until some years later that I realized my Dad used . . . poetic license.
One day, I was singing "Two Little Boys" while I cleaned out a pen in the barn. Unbeknownst (real word!) to me, Dad was leaning on the fence in the far corner, listening.
I got to one line and just did what he had always done. "Da Da Da Da Da Da Dum Dee."
He burst out laughing.
When I spun around and glared at him accusingly, he told me that he'd been waiting for me to get to that line so he could finally hear what the real words were. He had never been able to remember and had just put in 'placer' lyrics.
I had memorized them accordingly.
Scary, isn't it that we pick up what we are taught . . . mistakes and all?
I've wandered from the point.
Again.
Now, whenever I drive along a road that Dad took us down, or even a road that resembles a road that . . .
I remember. Feeling happily sleepy. And that beautiful baritone voice, suddenly belting out the lyrics to some song that probably only Dad remembered.
Or possibly that Dad made up.
But so soothing to us denizens of the back seat.
I think I can hear him still . . .


15 comments:

  1. Hah! Love it! And now I need to know the words to "Who Put the Overalls in Mrs. Murphy's Chowder" ...

    My daughter does something similar to your dad. When she doesn't know the words she sings "something something something" :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, and here are the words to Mrs. Murphy's Chowder:

      Oh the Murphy's gave a party just about a week ago
      Everything was plentiful, the Murphy's they're not slow
      They treated us like gentlemen, we tried to act the same
      But only for what happened, well it was an awful shame

      When Mrs. Murphy dished the chowder out
      She fainted on the spot
      She found a pair of overalls
      In the bottom of the pot
      Tim Nolan he got rippin' mad
      His eyes were bulgin' out
      He jumped up on the PI-A-NO
      And loudly he did shout

      Oh, who threw the overalls in Mrs Murphy's chowder
      Nobody spoke, so he shouted all the louder
      It's an Irish trick that's true
      I can lick the mick that threw
      The overalls in Mrs Murphy's chowder

      So we dragged the pants from out the soup and laid them on the floor
      Each man swore upon his breast he'd ne'er seen them before
      They were plastered up with mortar and were worn out at the knee
      They'd had their many ups and downs as we could plainly see

      when Mrs Murphy she came to she began to cry and pout
      She'd had them in the wash that day and forgot to take them out
      Tim Nolan he excused himself for what he'd said that night
      so we put music to the words and sang with all our might

      Oh, who threw the overalls in Mrs Murphy's chowder
      Nobody spoke so we shouted all the louder
      It's an Irish trick that's true
      I can lick the mick that threw
      The overalls in Mrs Murphy's chowder

      Delete
    2. Thank you SO MUCH! It's a good one!

      Now, about the tune ...? Here is where a video would come in handy (ahem) ... Seriously, I would love to be able to sing this to my new grandson. Maybe not right away, but when he's old enough to join in ...

      Delete
  2. If I made up a story for bed time I could never change it because the kids remembered everything!! It's amazing what they remember.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This is all too familiar. Particularly the puking if I read in the car.
    Neither of my parents could sing though - the music (such as it was) came from us.
    I can still recite great slabs of the stories we were told regularly though. And do.

    ReplyDelete
  4. The music brings it all back. I'm glad you still have these sweet memories. Now is the best time to teach the grandkids how the world REALLY worked in the 1980's.!

    ReplyDelete
  5. You have such wonderful memories. My dad couldn't sing, he was a whistler, also played harmonica and button accordion, but not while driving ....
    I do remember though at several particular places in the roads we travelled an old toy beach bucket would be handed back for me to keep on my lap, just in case. I was always sick on windy roads and there were plenty through the hills here before the freeway was built.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Whistling is right up there with singing! AND the harmonica and accordion?! Love this!
      Yep. The container in the lap. I know it well . . .

      Delete
  6. When we would head out camping with our kids when they were little we would teach them songs like this slightly inappropriate, but fun. Things like "Elvira" and "Just a Swingin' were family favorites. I've been wondering how you've been doing. I know you must miss your dad so much. I've been thinking of you often and hoping that you were okay. You aren't going to believe it but I finished it last night. It being the book I've been working on! It needs a lot of editing (it's only the first draft) but it's complete and I'm still amazed, terrified and thrilled all in one. I just hope it's one worth reading. I don't know what to do with it, but it's written. I would be honored if you would read it and give me your honest opinion. I'm sure you are so busy so if you can't that's okay. I'm rattling, I do that when I'm a nervous wreck haha!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. First of all: CONGRATULATIONS!!! Do you realize how momentous this is?! So many people say they're going to write a book and only a fraction of them ever do it! My first suggestion to you is this - go through it once more. Second draft. It'll be painful, but do it. It's easier to edit a printed page than a blank one, so it'll go much faster, I promise. Then, after you've given it the once-more over, send it out to non-partisan (beta) readers. People you trust to give you an honest opinion. I'm thrilled that you honoured me by asking that I be one. I would love to do it!

      Delete
  7. I'd figured on editing it at least 3 times before it will be ready. I just wrote, so there are lots to do stilt. I can't believe it has a beginning, a middle and a glorious end!!! Thank you Diane, I've been positively giddy all day. You are the very first person I have told that I finished except my family. I don't want to tell to many because I'm afraid I will jinx it. This has been my dream for so very long I'm getting tears just thinking about it. I even have a story in my head that would make it a trilogy later on. I'll keep you posted. Thanks for always there to cheer me on. You mean the world to me!

    ReplyDelete

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Diane was born and raised on one of the last of the great old Southern Alberta ranches. A way of life that is fast disappearing now. Through her memories and stories, she keeps it alive. And even, at times, accurate . . .

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