There seemed to be a whole lot of singing going on around our house during those earliest years. I can remember my dad out back working in the garden, belting out Bye, Bye, Blackbird. Another one of his favorites, inside the house with drink in hand, was Show Me the Way to go Home. That was a party-time favorite. I will remember the words forevermore.
Show me the way to go home I’m tired and
I want to go to bed.
Had a little drink about an hour ago and it
went right to my head.
Wherever I may roam
on land or sea or foam
You will always hear me singing this song
Show me the way to go home…. How dry I am!
We had a big, hand-cranked Victrola— a brand name that became so popular in those days it was almost generic for phonographs. My dad would let me stand on a chair and crank up the Victrola. But he wouldn’t let me put any of his prize 78-rpm recordings on the turntable until I was a year or two older. I’d simply stand up there and watch the music go ‘round and ‘round. The oldest record in his collection was a scratchy but still exciting performance oiPagliacci by Caruso.
One of my own nutty favorites at that age was Yes, We Havva No Bananas, We Havva No Bananas Today, sung by some ukulele player with a high squeaky voice. Or, how about that popular hold-over from WWI, entitled Hello, Central, Give Me No-Man’s-Land, My Daddy’s Over There? We even, had the sheet music for that one.
Mother owned an upright piano and a piano bench loaded with sheet music. She loved to play the piano and I thought she was pretty good. Her sentimental favorite was Let the Rest of the World Go By.
We’ll, build a sweet little nest
Alone in the West…
And. let the rest of the world go by.
I would often sit beside her on the bench and watch while she played. In addition to chop sticks, she taught me how to play that funny little melody called Java. And we’d sing it together.
Java, Java, Jing Jing Jing.