Monday Meandering

Go down to Kew in lilac-time, in lilac-time, in lilac-time;
Go down to Kew in lilac-time (it isn’t far from London).
And you shall wander hand in hand with love in summer’s wonderland;
Go down to Kew in lilac-time (it isn’t far from London).
Alfred Noyes, The Barrel Organ

I received an email from my sister in Los Angeles asking if I remembered the day that a neighbour’s lilac tree fell down.  She went on to say how she remembered the neighbour commenting that she was unaware how dark her kitchen was – over the years, the bush had completely covered the window, and suddenly there was sunlight in the room.

Lilac

This set me off on thinking about lilacs and immediately I remembered the song “On the street where you live” from My Fair Lady.  This was a great hit in the late 1950s (Oh I know that was long before most of you were born but bear with me).

“Are there lilac trees in the heart of town
Can you hear a lark in any other part of town
Does enchantment pour out of every door?
No, it’s just on the street where you live
click here
to see the video from the original movie

Then I was off thinking about other musicals that I saw in those dim dark off days.

Carousel posterA particular favourite was “Carousel”.  This is the story of Billy Bigelow, a carousel barker  and his romance with Julie Jordan, a millworker.  They marry and when he discovers that Julie is pregnant and his is about to become a father he sings the famous soliloquy  “My boy Bill.  Then when “realises that he can’t provide for Julie and the baby he attempts a robbery to do so; it goes wrong and he kills himself rather than spend the rest of his life jail.

Some fifteen years later he has the opportunity to return to earth and sees his Julie and her daughter one time.

A secondary story line has Julie’s  friend Carrie falling in love with and marrying Mr Snow a fisherman.

Carousel was made into a movie in about 1956.  So of course, I went to see it too.

Other well known (and remembered by some of us)songs  include:

  • “When the Children Are Asleep””
  • “(When I Marry) Mister Snow”
  • “If I Loved You” – Listen here to this song
  • “June Is Bustin’ Out All Over”
    “Soliloquy” –
  • “What’s the Use of Wond’rin’?”
  • “You’ll Never Walk Alone”

Pajama GameThen I thought of “The Pajama Game“.  Great memories of this musical.  My dashing-young-Scotsman and I had just announced our engagement (August 1957) and to celebrate he took my parents and me  to the St James Theatre (in London of course) to see this musical. We had a box at the theatre, one of the only times for me and I thought us very grand.

A memory of that night has surfaced.  We all arrived  home to find that my young sister had been carted off to hospital having had an accident on her bicycle.  No cell phones to call with the news then; we had to wait to get home when my grandparents (or was it my older sister) gave us the news.  Note here – we all have hard heads and she was discharged into Mother’s care that night.

The story is set in a factory producing pajamas.  The employees want a rise of 7.5 cents an hour and a strike is imminent led by Babe.  Sid, a new superintendent comes to the factory and these two are on opposite sides of the story.

Yes, you’ve guessed it.  After several false starts and hiccups, they fall in love.

So many great songs came from that one including the very popular “Hey There” sung by Canadian, Edmund Hockridge.  Here’s a version of the song sung by Harry Connick jr – sorry I couldn’t find a YouTube version by Edmund Hockridge.  This one is great too.

Other songs included :

  • “I’m Not At All in Love”
  • “Hey there
  • “Her Is” – Prez and Gladys
  • “Once a Year Day”
  • “Steam Heat”
  • “There Once Was a Man”
  • “Small Talk”
  • “Hernando’s Hideaway”
Kismet

Imasge via Wikipedia

I saw Kismet – meaning fate or predestined course – the story of a poet and his daughter.  The poet enters the mosque to sell his verses but without success.

His beautiful daughter Marsinah  is then sent to steal oranges in the Bazaar for their breakfast, while her father sits down to beg with three others.  When the beggars object the poet claims to be a cousin of Hajj a beggar who has travelled to Mecca. However, Hassen-Ben, a  man from the desert, mistakes him for Hajj and kidnaps him. The poet (who is referred to as Hajj thereafter) is taken to a notorious brigand. It appears that some years before the real Hajj had placed a curse on the brigand that resulted in the disappearance of the brigand’s little son. Now he wants the curse removed.

Of course, there are stories within stories.  Wazir a merchant must have the Caliph marry one of the princesses of Ababu or he will be ruined.  But the Caliph, masquerading as a commoner, has seen Marsinah and is determined to marry her.  As you can imagine, all turns out well in the end for the couple.

Two great songs from this one are :

  • “Baubles, Bangles and Beads”
  • “Stranger in Paradise”. Click here for Tony Bennet’s version of this wonderful song. Note – after posting this blog I found this lovely version of Tony Bennet singing with Hedy Lamarr’s pictures.  Just fantastic.

The King and IAnd finally, The King and I.  Who hasn’t seen the movie but I saw the stage show.

We all know the story, based on the book “Anna and the King of Siam”.  Anna goes to Siam to be the Governess to the King’s children.

The well known scene of Yul Brynner and Deborah Kerr dancing to “Shall We Dance” was supposed to be the governess’s way of describing western love to this eastern potentate.

Anna and the King disagree over the fact that she and her small son are expected to stay in the palace while her contract stipulates a separate house.  This is the ongoing conflict between the two.  He also objects to the way in which she is teaching the children.

Their attraction to each other is evident throughout but of course, nothing can come of it.  We later see that after various other trials and tribulations Anna is packed and ready to board a ship leaving Siam forever when a letter is brought from the King who is dying.  Anna hurries to his bedside and forgives him.

So all works out well once again!

And the songs from this musical:

  • Hello Young Lovers
  • Shall we Dance?
  • I Whistle a Happy Tune
  • We Kiss in the Shadow
  • Something Wonderful
  • I Have Dreamed
  • Getting to Know You – Julie Andrews sings here.

How innocent the story lines and the music in all of these musicals!  But what great memories they invoke.

And back to the original thoughts for this post – Lilacs

“I am thinking of the lilac-trees,
That shook their purple plumes,
And when the sash was open,
Shed fragrance through the room.”
Mrs. Anna S. Stephens, The Old Apple-Tree

Special thanks to my sister in Los Angeles for the inspiration for this post.

Sisters

Oh so very long ago.

“We each hear different drummers,
but still find music to dance together.”
Judith Baxter
, Sister, friend and confidante
1938 –

Advertisements

26 responses to “Monday Meandering

  1. We may be on different continents but cut from the same cloth, born in the same year, with mutual memories of the same wonderful music and who knows what else? I considered “If I Loved You” to be mine and Bill’s song, as well as the theme from Carousel. A wonderful post Judith – as always. And thanks to your sister for providing you the lilacs inspiration. Dor

    • Thanks Dor. Always lovely to her from you. And yes, we have so much in common. I am buying the lottery tickets regularly now so that I can get over to meet you in person.
      After publishing this post I came across Tony Bennet singing a Stranger in Paradise with Hedy Lamarr’s photos as the backdrop. – Take a look at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WVtp13FqHPU. 🙂

  2. You grew up in a time when there was quality entertainment, all of it. My daughter likes to watch the old tv shows that I grew up with and those “old” musicals and classic movies. My mom loved her lilacs, but they were small shrubs where we lived.

  3. The lilacs here and in London when I was growing up are very large – more trees than shrubs.
    Glad you enjoyed my meanderings. Have a look at the Tony Bennet YouTube that I found after I posted the blog – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WVtp13FqHPU. What a beautiful woman Hedy Lamarr was, and she is even before my time.

  4. What a PRECIOUS photo of you and your sister!

    It’s funny how things can trigger memories, isn’t it? I love musicals, and I got that from my mom. Your post reminded me of her collection of LPs – I was always fascinated by the graphics. Of the ones you’ve listed, I’ve only seen My Fair Lady and The King and I, but am familiar with the rest. For some reason, I was reminded of the movie Lili. As a child, I liked the song Hi-Lili, Hi-Lo.

  5. Hi Judith–nice post. My sister was really into musicals when we were growing up and my brother and I used to drive her crazy by making up alternative lyrics to the songs we thought were especially goofy. I’ve mellowed since then. The most amazing thing to me is that the guy who played Freddie in My Fair Lady was Jeremy Brett who went on to be the best Sherlock Holmes ever.

    • Thanks Thomas – I hadn’t connected that Jeremy Brett. Wasn’t he a great Sherlock Holmes? Hope the weather is improving in yur part of the country – it is here at last.

      • Yes, he was great. I had the good fortune to see him perform a Sherlock Holmes play live on stage in London.

        We’re finally having perfect summer weather!

  6. Christine in Los Angeles

    Judith, what a nice post , I’m glad my email started you thinking of the shows from our youth. The lilacs here don’t have that great perfume – it’s something to do with the nights not getting cold enough. Well, I’ll just suffer through it – our lovely weather is a good trade-off.
    Heck, is that us, in the photo?
    God bless, Christine

    • The photo is a card that you sent me for my birthday many years ago and I kept. I do think it is lovely.
      Thanks for jogging the memories – do you recall how many times we saw Carousel? Four or five I think.
      Love Judith

  7. Thank you Judith, what a wonderful sing-along to start my morning. The King and I, and My Fair Lady hold a very special place in my dvd collection. 😀

    • AS I said in an earlier post, I was at the opening night of My Fair Lady all those years ago and so is a particular favourite. But I saw Carousel several times. Enjoy your sing-a-long. 🙂

  8. Pingback: Shall we dance ? « Photographic Memories

  9. Like a sweet and inspiring song, you words flowed so beautifully. As a kid I watched the King and I. I thought it was superb, even magical. The songs lingered like a spell. I will check the other movies…Thank you. Wishing you all the love and joy on Valentine’s Day and everyday.

  10. I popped over from Sallyann’s link – she was right to link this one! Great post! The King and I stands out to me as one of the most magical movies I saw as a child – Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella takes the title for the most magic though. sigh… thanks for the glittery walk!

  11. The King and I is one of my all time favorite musicals – after Sound of Music of course. 🙂
    Hello Dolly with Barbra Streisand was on television this weekend. It was great to see bits of that again.

  12. I LOVE that picture of you and your sister – it’s so cute! I also love musicals. Even though the story lines are hokey, they make me smile and the music is wonderful. But Carousel always made me sad.
    Lilacs are my favorite flower. I planted 2 bushes 16 years ago and, up until last year, never got a single flower. Poor soil, not enough sun, whatever. Sure hope we get a repeat of that wonderful scent this year.

    • Well I cheated. The picture is from a birthday card my sister sent many years ago but I love it.
      Sorry about your lilac. My son and daughter in law have a magnificent one but for whatever reason there is no smell.

  13. Loved all the links you provided, Judith. I had a Rogers and Hammerstein piano music book and used to play many of those tunes. I particularly like the music to South Pacific. We used to have a hedgerow of lilacs in our side yard when I was growing up in Connecticut. Always loved the smell of them. By the way, I keep thinking of you as we are getting closer to the end of our winter and know you must be into the middle of your summer.

    • Hi Susan – can’t believe that I forgot South Pacific and Some Enchanted Evening – brain cells must have been tired or out for a walk.
      I do love lilacs and my son and daughter in law have a large one at their place but alas, no smell. 🙂
      Well our summer has really been a non event this year. I think back to all those posts during your summer when people/bloggers were complaining about the heat.

  14. Marianne London UK

    Oh how the memories came flooding back. I remember the night you went to the theatre I was with the usual crowd. Our Irene, the Gibson Boys and Lenny Hudson (he was so Handsome) I was doing tricks on a bike and fell in the empty paddling pool on London Fields. I was very bad I do not remember going to Aunt Julies but come to when she was trying to clean me up. But Mum appeared and then all was right with the world I think I may have spoilt the night for you. I have never been the same since that night. Really away with the fairies

    • All was always well once Mum appeared. Aren’t we lucky to have had her and our great childhood.
      I have often wondered about your mental health and what caused the problems in the first place and now I know!
      Take care small sister.

So what's on your mind?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s