Tunes: The Surrey or Just the Fringe?

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning was FRINGE

When I saw the prompt word this morning my mind immediately went to a snatch of song from back in childhood. I don’t remember anything of the words or music, just the line “the nice little surrey with the fringe on the top.”

Now, who wrote that song? What were the words? When was it popular? A thousand blessings on the unseen folk who have answered all the questions people put to Google!

The song was written by Richard Rodgers and comes from the musical play, “Oklahoma.” I see another song listed as well, one that was very popular in its day. I can hear again in memory the whole cheerful chorus:
“Oh what a beautiful morning, Oh what a beautiful day!
I’ve got a beautiful feeling, everything’s going my way.”
It’s easy to remember and to sing; the words are appealing and the music’s a great fit.

With some songs, the words are so-so and would get nowhere without their tune. As I read over the song, “The Surrey With the Fringe on the Top,” I can’t see anything especially “musical” or appealing about the words, so I conclude it’s one where the tune was the surrey and the words were the fringe. (Click HERE to read the lyric, if you wish.)

Many songs have great lyrics that touch our hearts. They’d easily stand alone as a poem – and a lot were poems, finally set to music. Our national anthems, songs of home and family, love and courage, longing for the old folks or the girl left behind. For example:
“Way Down Upon the Swanee River…”
“When you and I were young, Maggie…”
“By yon bonny banks and by yon bonny braes…”

I don’t know if there’s been a more prolific poet than the blind Christian writer, Fanny Crosby. She wrote more than 8000 verses, many of which ended up as gospel songs and have been paired with the perfect music – lively, or slow and thoughtful – for carrying the message.

“All the way my Savior leads me,
What have I to ask beside?
Can I doubt His tender mercy,
Who through life has been my guide?
Heavenly peace, divinest comfort,
Here by faith in Him to dwell!
For I know, whate’er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well.”

Another One Coming Down

It’s time for another Crimson’s Creative Challenge
Every Wednesday she posts a photo (the one below) and bloggers can respond with something CREATIVE:

  • An answering photo
  • A cartoon
  • A joke
  • A caption
  • An anecdote
  • A short story (flash fiction)
  • A poem
  • A newly minted proverb, adage or saying
  • An essay
  • A song—the lyrics or the performance

She gives only two criteria:

  • Your creative offering is indeed yours
  • Your writing is kept to 150 words or less

I’ve read various reports lately about statues coming down because of their association with past evil. While I understand this principle and don’t find fault with it, I recall what a wise man often told his children back in the early 1900s. Once people get started, will they know where to stop? Which gave the “seed” for this tale:

Another One Comes Down

“Here by this door,” Alix pointed. “Great place for another charge.”

Tonya eyed the structure. “Isn’t this overdoing things? I mean…”

“No way! These temples of opulent indulgence were built on the suffering of starving peasants, slaving to pay crushing rent to greedy lords. And think of all the wars plotted here…the blood shed to defend this place.”

“True. But still…the tourist revenue.”

“Money has triumphed over human rights too long,” Alix declared. “Just think of the debauchery that went on behind these walls. Lecherous nobs forcing themselves on helpless servant girls; wives enduring philandering husbands; unwanted babies hustled away to a nunnery; thousands of daughters pressured into wretched marriages to forge political alliances. And tourists are worshipping all this evil!”

“Not exactly. It’s the history…”

“Right! All these castles are coming down.”

Tonya shook her head. Didn’t Grandpa always say, “There’s no moderation in the human race”?

The Love of Poetry

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is CURFEW

Seeing this prompt, one might launch into the latest news in the US, but my thinking goes to that old poem, “Curfew Must Not Ring Tonight,” written by an imaginative sixteen-year-old girl from Michigan in 1867, Rose Hartwick Thorpe.

This story supposedly took place during the English War of the Roses. A young woman’s sweetheart is imprisoned for some fault and sentenced to be shot that night at the ringing of the curfew bell. Our young heroine, trusting General Cromwell will pardon him — but Cromwell may come too late — rushes to the church sexton and begs him not to ring the curfew bell.

The sexton insists on doing his duty and turns her away, so she sneaks into the bell tower and when the sexton pulls the rope to ring the bell, she declares that, “Curfew must not ring tonight,” and grasps the bell clapper. Bashed back and forth, she bravely holds on until the sexton gives up. When Cromwell arrives, hears her story and sees her injuries, his heart is touched and he pardons the young man.

This poem was one of Queen Victoria’s favorites, according to Wiki.

It may seem odd that this old poem instantly comes to me, but the penchant is genetic. I love poetry, my Mom F (nee Vance) loved poetry; apparently her mother and father enjoyed reciting long epic poems; and her Grandmother Smith likewise. My Vance uncles were keen storytellers and cousin Linda is working on her own tales, having written down most of her Dad’s stories. I don’t know if there’s actually such a thing as a poetic gene, but evidence would lean that way.

It used to be that school children were given long poems to memorize; this task was supposed to sharpen young minds. Often the verse came with a dash of humor, like this one by Anon., to sweeten the effort:

“The little boys were awfully strong
when Father was a boy.
They’d weed the cornfields all day long
when Father was a boy.
And when the day at last was o’er
they’d go and do up every chore,
Then come and beg to work some more
when Father was a boy.”

I believe young minds were improved by this exercise. Moreover, the concept in a good poem can ripple for centuries. Writers and speakers still echo the sympathetic wisdom of Bobby Burns in his poem, Ode to a Mouse:

“The best-laid plans of mice and man go oft astray
and leave us not but grief and pain for promised joy.”

“Older Than Dirt”

I was talking with a friend yesterday and she asked me if I felt a year older now. No, not a whole year older. However, I just came across a file while scrolling through my DropBox and as I reread it, I realized that I, too, am “older than dirt.”
Renee Boomer shared these thoughts about eight years ago. They’re surely worth posting again. I hope they give you youngsters under fifty a smile today, too.

Man reflectingMy husband always tells the grandchildren that he is ‘older than dirt’. They find that quite funny. When I was approaching my sixtieth birthday they looked at me and said, “Gamma, now you will be ‘older than dirt’ just like Papa.
Ha-ha. They will have their turn.

Old-Time Memories

When my Dad was cleaning out my grandmother’s house he brought me an old Royal Crown Cola bottle. In the bottle top was a stopper with a bunch of holes in it. I knew immediately what it was, but my daughter had no idea.
She thought they had tried to make it a salt shaker or something. I knew it as the bottle that sat on the end of the ironing board to ‘sprinkle’ clothes with because we didn’t have steam irons. Man, I am old!

How many of these do you remember?
– Head lights dimmer switches on the floor.
– Ignition switches on the dashboard.
– Pant leg clips for bicycles without chain guards.
– Soldering irons you heat on a gas burner.
– Using hand signals for cars without turn signals.
— Ice boxes and home delivery of ice.
— Galvanized steel bath tubs.
Toy doll in tub

Here’s an official Older Than Dirt Quiz :
Count all the ones that you remember not the ones you were told about.
Then see your rating at the bottom. 🙂

Candy cigarettes
Coffee shops with table-side juke boxes
Home milk delivery in glass bottles
Telephone party lines
Newsreels before the movie
TV test patterns that came on at night after the last show and were there until TV shows started again in the morning. There were only 3 channels — if you were fortunate!
Peashooters
Howdy Doody
45 RPM records
Hi-fi’s
Metal ice trays with lever
Blue flashbulb
Cork popguns
Studebakers
Wash tub wringers

If you remembered 0-3 = You’re still young
If you remembered 3-6 = You are getting older
If you remembered 7-10 = Don’t tell your age
If you remembered 11-15 = You’re older than dirt!

I might be “older than dirt” but those memories are some of the best parts of my life!

Remembering When…

The Your Daily Word prompt for today is EMINENT:

According to Merriam-Webster this means:
1: exhibiting eminence especially in standing above others in some quality or position : prominent
2 : standing out so as to be readily perceived or noted : conspicuous
3 : jutting out : projecting

Here’s my musing on the topic. Not really a poem, but rather an oldie’s ramble down memory lane

Beaver
Pixabay

Remember “buck teeth”?
Those prominent beaver-like
incisors nobody has these days
thanks to the workmanship
of orthodontists and braces?

And “Leave It To Beaver”
back before the name
became politically incorrect
or considered offensive
even though it was, sort-of,
but that was life back then.

Are you old enough to recall
scenes where and moms and dads
were considered eminently wise
and allowed to advise
their attentive offspring?
That was life back then.

Explosive

The Ragtag Daily Prompt for today is EXPLOSIVE

Sadly, the first phrase that came to me was EXPLOSIVE temper. My Dad F had an explosive temper, which led to scenes I don’t want to revisit. Apparently my Uncle Danny had an explosive temper, too. I thank God often that automobiles have replaced horses. While there were many kind owners, too many of those poor animals had to suffer the wrath of a cruel master with a whip and a violent temper.

As I typed in the word, my thought switched to EXPLOSIVES, their usefulness in building our country. Megatons of mountain rock blown away to make a path for the railroad track and then the highways.

Now I recall the explosions we all love to see, and watching the International Fireworks Competition in Montreal. There! It turns out there is something good to be said for EXPLOSIVE.

Fireworks.DacNinhBui

Image from DacNinhBui — Pixabay