Sing me the old songs!

You say you miss all the old songs–well, how old? Will these from the ’30s and ’40s suit you?
“’Twas on the Isle of Capri that I met here,
’Neath the shade of an old walnut tree.
As I sailed with the dawn in the morning,
Yet my heart’s on the Isle of Capri.”
“South of the border down Mexico way,
That’s where I fell in love
When the stars above came out to play
And now as I wander, my thoughts ever stray,
And now as I wander, my thoughts ever stray,
South of the border, down ‘Mexico Way!’”
And if you don’t want romance, how about railroaders or cowboy tunes, such as:
“Casey Jones was the rounder’s name
On the old 47 where he won his fame.
He mounted to the cabin with orders in his hand
And took his final trip to the Promised Land!”
“Little Joe the wrangler
Will never wrangle more,
His days with the round-up, they are over.
Twas a year ago last April that he joined the outfit here,
A little Texas stray and all alone.
But ask local musicians and you will learn the most frequent they get is for ‘The Green Grass of Home.’”
Bing Crosby, of course, kept us supplied with his music for many years also, including Irish limericks. He had “Galway Bay” and “Irish Eyes” but probably not the following:
“Did you ever go into an Irishman’s shanty where money was scarce but whiskey was plenty.
A three-legged chair and a table to match
And a hole in the floor for the chickens to scratch!”
Gordon McTaggart, well-known local songster, may give you “The Wild Caledonia Boy,” also from Ireland. He had a group doing beloved tunes of the last generation—which everyone insists must be revived for the greater good of radio and T.V.
While we’re at it, let’s throw in some country-westerns such as you’ll hear at Rainycrest on the last Wednesday evening each month.
Our own entertainers there will include vocalist Jackie Grynol and Bob Wepruk, George Elliott (violinist), Dennis Lozier, and Val Pelopetz, and maybe a holdover or two from the Rainycrest Rascals, such as Joey or Claude DeBenedet, Vergil Cousineau, or Angelo Dittaro.
The Rascals never quit for 30 years!
While we’re at it, include some westerns and those fine old railroaders: “Casey Jones” or “The Wabash Cannonball.” For genuine western feeling, I liked these lines:
“The doors have leather hinges and the windows have no glass. You can see the lonely coyote as he sneaks up through the grass! At my little old log cabin on my claim.”
As a sentimental favourite, there was “Cowboy Jack” while Canadian Wilf Carter’s “Strawberry Roan” was unrivaled for action.
Then, a way back, “When the Work’s All Done this Fall” is of similar vintage to “The Big Rock Candy Mountain,” out of the old hobo school!
It seems I come across the old song lovers every day and I’m right at home here—but don’t ask me to sing or you’ll be sorry!
Jan and James Andrews, the author, will be happy to discuss this brand of entertainment with you, and Stan Hawley has accumulated a stack of records I’d covet, never having done any collecting myself.
But I picked up my guitar in the far-off days of Gene Autry. “That Silver-Haired Daddy of Mine” was front in his song book and everyone knew it! Gene also introduced “Rudolph” for Christmas.
As a small boy, I was impressed by neighbourhood girls singing nightly across Third Street on the Shortreed front porch—my future wife among them. The group would include her sisters, Noni and Gail, plus Lois Kerr and Shirley Tighe. They had the “Wreck of the Old 97” down pat!
Railroad wrecks were great material for the old songs and gave us tunes like “Casey Jones” to start the trend. So along came “The Wabash Cannonball” and eventually “The Acheson, Topeka and Santa Fe,” non-wrecks these.
A great group in Bergland must be coaxed to appear here again, and I guarantee you can’t walk away. And if you’re lucky, Myron Hawryluk and his organ will start you out in “There’s a ship lies rigged and ready in the harbour.”
Keep your ears open and contact the radio station to see whether it will announce a regular evening for our old music because so many are feeling robbed of much we used to hold dear.
And this, after all, is our centennial year!
Just beware of Stompin’ Tom Connors, who is a johnny-come-lately with his “Mukluk Annie from Frobisher Bay.” Wilf Carter is usually preferred by all us old fogies!
Before Wilf rode the Strawberry Roan, he sang: “I’m hangin’ around town, not makin’ a dime, When a fellow steps up and says I suppose you’re a Bronc rider by the looks of your clothes. . . .”
The spirituals and songs from the south also were heard more years ago. Among the latter: “Oh Susanna,” “The Yellow Rose of Texas,” “Swanee River,” “Old Black Joe,” and Al Jolson’s “Mammie.” He sang “I’d walk a million miles for one of your smiles!”
• • •
Walter Andrusco wants all to know he is now 96—and proud of it. Our old bandmaster believes he may now be the town’s oldest living citizen in this centennial year, but if there is anyone older, let’s hear about it.
In fact, if there is good response, I’d like to print names and ages of everyone over 90 in this column. And I know there is a surprising number out there!

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