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Monday, 24 September 2007

Almost Heaven

By TravelinOma of TravelinOma's Library

"Sing The Teddy Bear Song!" we coaxed Dad and Uncle Mel. It was a late August night, and the moon was out. I was about nine, lazing on one of my grama's quilts with all my little cousins around me looking up at the stars while Aunt Ree strummed her ukulele and the moths buzzed around the porch light. Family picnics always ended this way.

Grampa's fresh peaches had been cranked into ice-cream. In the cellar under the back porch, the freezer with the rock salt and ice were covered with newspapers and left to finish the process. The corn-on-the-cob dripped with butter, the cucumbers brined in vinegar and the onions scented the air. Raspberries were eaten right off the bushes and very sour, green apples begged for salt.

There was a big brick stove at the back of the yard where the hamburgers sizzled, waiting to be dressed with homegrown tomatoes. Watermelon rind pickles and chili sauce were on the table along with an empty dish of olives. We kids scampered around the yard, with a black olive stuck on every finger. We almost fell into the goldfish pond, hid behind the hollyhock bushes and rolled down the sloping lawn while our moms hustled the food outside and in, and our dads re-hashed the ballgame. It wasn't West Virginia, but it was almost heaven.

The best part was after it started to get dark. Grama and Grampa harmonized as they sang Shine on Harvest Moon and we all joined in on Are You From Dixie (for some reason I thought I was from Dixie when we sang that song!).

Our sing-a-long was a crazy variety, including Little Grass Shack, Edelweiss, When the Saints Go Marching In, and Bill Groggan's Goat.

The favorites, however, were totally ours. My dad and his brother used to combine lines from lots of songs and create medleys. The Teddy-Bear Song started out with "Honey won't you look into your baby's eyes..." rolled into "Sweet Adeline was singing down in Dixieland..." and somewhere in the middle ran into this ditty:

Well, I had a little teddy bear that had no tail,
Just a little patch of hair.
The sun came out and burnt the hair away,
And left the little teddy bare.

The song eventually ended with "Mister Mo-on, bright and shiny moon, please shine down on, talk about your shinin', please shine down on me."

Babies and toddlers fell asleep as we crooned to that moon. As the oldest grandchild, I prided myself on staying awake 'til the very last song. I even knew all the words.

This is one of the memories I love to visit. In my heaven, we get to check out the DVD of our life and do some kind of virtual reality time-travel to relive our most cherished moments. You'll find me almost dreaming on grama's quilt, listening to my dad sing.

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 02:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


A line from a song, a taste of fresh fruit or a light summer breeze can waken wonderful warm memories.

Nice story.

I really I loved this, Marty!!!!!

My dad's family was big on singing, too! Some of my best memories are of my Aunt Eileen playing the old upright piano with her brothers gathered around singing the old songs.


This story reached in and wrapped itself around my heart. Memories of singing, memories of family...it doesn't warm the heart any better than this. Thank you TravelinOma for sharing this treasure of a story. By the way, is Oma the German word for GrandMother?


What wonderful memories you stirred up in my heart, Marty.
I can remember when I was a kid my father and mother and their friends gathered at a place called Sweet Marie's and someone always had a ukulele and the popular songs then were "Moon Over Miami" and "If You Were the Only Girl in The World" and the very best was when it was time to go home everyone would sing "Goodnight Sweetheart". Such happy memories. Thanks.

Oma is German for Grandma. There are explanations galore on my blog, but the easy one is I have 18 grandkids spread far and wide, and I have to travel to be with them!

The reason I share memories is so others will be reminded of their own. It thrills me when it works. Thanks for the comments.

We used to sing a lot at home when I was a child, and my grandmom always sang when she was cooking. When my children were small, we sang while I played the organ every day after school. I hope my children have fond memories of that like you do of your family!

This was wonderful Marty....I just loved it. We had a lot of singers in our family too....I often think back at those family times; but we're keeping them going in our present family too. My kids and I are very into music....a lot of different kinds. Thanks for the smiles...

It's so nice to reminisce about simpler and happier times. Family traditions are so very special. Thanks for a trip down memory lane.

Too many families have replaced their closeness and storytelling/singing relationship with mechanical activities and commercial products. I have noticed a profound change in children's development as a result. They appear more stressed, restless, self-centered. The parents and grandparents who recognize this can make a difference.

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