Tag Archives: Kevin Shepardson

About Us; About You

Writing History; Recreating and Creating History

My mother, God rest her saintly soul, took up writing the last decade or so of her life.  She made a serious study of it, even joining writing clubs and taking experienced mentors.  Over the next several years she crafted a series of essays about her life: from growing up on the plains of Alberta, to raising a flock of six wild kids; plus moving from Canada, to Chicago, to Milwaukee, to Arkansas and finally to Colorado.  Eventually she compiled a few dozen of those essays into an autobiography which she self-published just two years before she passed away.  I’m so very glad she did.

Many authors have written stories and essays by incorporating elements of their own life into their works, in semi- or even full-autobiographical form.  The characters of Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” closely resemble herself, her family and acquaintances as a youth.  The fictional town of Maycomb, AL closely resembles her own girlhood hometown of Monroeville, AL.

Samuel Clemens’ novels – particularly those about Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer – include many adventures and characters from his boyhood hometown of Hannibal, Missouri – although he places them in fictional St Petersburg, complete with a cave.

The list of authors who have created this way is near endless.  Hunter S Thompson: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.  Charles Dickens: David Copperfield.  And we recognize: Aleksander Solzhenitsyn; Roald Dahl; Ernest Hemingway; Charlotte Brontë  Theirs are timeless and often moving works.

Question: Will you write about your youth, your life, your experiences? Our literary works don’t have to be moving or timeless; but we should all write.  Why? To express ourselves.  To leave a legacy to our posterity about our lives and our thoughts.  Somewhere in the decades and generations hence, a child or young adult descendant will wonder what their ancestors were like.  What YOU were like. Send them a message.

But don’t just make it up.  As Harper Lee said: an author “should write about what they know, and write truthfully.”

“Literature transmits incontrovertible condensed experience — from generation to generation. In this way literature becomes living memory ….” – Aleksander Solzhenitsyn

 

“Home is where your story begins” — Annie Danielson, Colorado CEO of the year, 2009

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My dear friend Kevin Shepardson is now in a rehab hospital in Phoenix. Reports I get are that he is doing well; in fact – miraculously well.  Although now safe from terminal danger, he still has “a very long row to hoe.”  He has great loving support from his family and many friends.  Still, he can use all the prayers, good wishes and thoughts you can send his way.

I’d written recently that – until his New Year’s Eve day cardiac arrest episode – Kevin published a daily news letter, often with musical tributes to some event or holiday.  Each year in December he includes a daily musical tribute. Every day’s inbox has a new Christmas or Winter Holiday Seasonal themed musical delight, right up to Christmas Eve Day.

This past December 23 his musical selection was “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” – which has to be one of the saddest Christmas carols ever.

Just the title conveys a lack of joy: Little Christmas? It’s like you’re being spurned by a lover: Farewell shot: “Well, have yourself a merry little rest of your life.”

The slow sadness of the song is actually appropriate.  The lyrics — composed by Hugh Martin in 1943 — were for the otherwise cheery musical movie “Meet Me in St. Louis”, to be sung by the beautiful and gifted Judy Garland during the only really sad part of the movie.  The plot at this point has her family tormented by an imminent move to New York just as big things are happening in their lives. Young ladies are falling in love and the 1904 World’s Fair is about to occur in St Louis!

In Kevin’s Dec 23 newsletter, he described a bit of the song’s history.  It was originally even much sadder. Its lyrics went:

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
It may be your last.
Next year we may all be living in the past.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas.
Pop that Champagne cork.
Next year we all may be living in New York.

No good times like the olden days,
Happy golden days of yore.
Faithful friends who were dear to us
Will be near to us … no more.

But at least we all will be together
If the Lord allows
From now on we’ll have to muddle through somehow
So have yourself a merry little Christmas … now.

(Most dreary lines in blue)

 

Wow. Makes me kind of weepy just reading and humming to myself now.

  • This Christmas “may be your last.” That’s just morbid.
  • “No good times”??? How sad.
  • “Faithful friends who WERE dear to us will be near to us NO MORE.”

Oh my.  No wonder Garland refused to sing the song that way.  She just couldn’t do that in the saddest scene in the movie to poor little 6-year old co-star Margaret O’Brien, who nearly stole the show as Ester’s (Garland’s) younger sister, Tootie.

Fortunately, the movie’s lyricist Hugh Martin eventually relented and re-wrote the song closer to the carol we know so well:

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Let your heart be light.
Next year all our troubles will be out of sight.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas.
Make the yuletide gay.
Next year all our troubles will be miles away.

Once again as in olden days,
Happy golden days of yore.
Faithful friends who are dear to us
Will be near to us … once more.

Someday soon we all will be together,
If the fates allow.
Until then we’ll have to muddle through somehow.
So have yourself a merry little Christmas … now.

Much better, but still rather somber when sung at ballad tempo, less than 80 beats per minute.  And it still has that line “have yourself a merry little Christmas” … and ends with “We’ll have to muddle through somehow.”

Muddle through?? Geepers. It was enough to help Margaret O’Brien gin up a few tears … to set her off to a fit of downright bawling – and destroying snowmen. And yet: It’s the original recording and still a very good one.

Well, there have been many covers of “Merry Little Christmas”, most notably by Frank Sinatra.  Sinatra asked Dean Martin to help him lighten up the song for his album “A Jolly Christmas.” It just wasn’t “Jolly” enough.

Martin changed the line with “muddle through” to “Hang a shining star upon the highest bough.” Dean and Frank made several other changes, which are shown in the notes below. You can hear it from the album here:  {Click the button or skip to 14:05 on the playback}

That’s a long way of getting to say this: Sally Benson’s story has had a heck of a ride over the last 111 years.  And … any way you look at it, we’re very, very glad this past Christmas didn’t fit the original two lines of “Merry Little Christmas” for Kevin.  It certainly was not your last, buddy!!  Stay strong my friend.  Peace and much healing to you.

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During World War II Americans craved entertainment that distracted them from the woes and worries of everyday.  Through much of the war, most news was not pleasant, even when the allies were winning.  For almost four years, US military service personnel perished at a rate of over 300 per day.  Casualties were over 800 per day.

The home front craved entertainment that had light, joyful stories that weren’t terribly deep. Something to take their minds off the awful news, both local and from around the world. Everyone was affected by death and severe injury in their family and among dear friends. The war was fought on the home front as well as in Africa, Europe, the Pacific.  So, who can blame them?

And the entertainment industry stepped up to meet those desires. Many entertainment creations of that era met these criteria. But two in particular share several remarkable coincidences.  These are the musical play “Oklahoma!” and the musical movie “Meet Me in St Louis.”

Coincidences?

  1. First, they are period productions, placed during jauntier times, in the first decade of the 20th century; during the Edwardian/pre-war era.

    • >“Oklahoma!” is placed in 1907, in Indian Territory just as Oklahoma is about to become the 46th star on the flag.
    • “Meet Me in St Louis” is placed in 1903-4, in, … well …, St Louis, just as the World’s Fair is about to come to St Louis.
  2. Second, each production originally contained the Rogers and Hammerstein song “Boys and Girls Like You and Me”. Producers dropped the number, twice, at the last minute due to running time.
  3. Finally, each was based on another story. In both cases, that other story was substantially autobiographical.
    • “Oklahoma!” is based on the play “Green Grow the Lilacs”, written by Lynn Riggs. Riggs was born in 1899 near Claremore, Indian Territory. He was 1/16th Amerindian*.  He grew up and went to school in, and near, Claremore — which is also the closest significant town to the setting of “Oklahoma!”
    • “Meet Me in St Louis” has a bit more history that I’m familiar with. It’s based on the book of the same title. That book, in turn, is slightly expanded from a series of semi-autobiographical essays that Sally (Redway) Benson wrote for The New Yorker magazine, from 1941 to 1942.
      • The essays were called “5135 Kensington”, which was her family’s address in a middle class neighborhood, located just over a mile from the main entrance to Forest Park, St Louis, where the 1904 World’s Fair occurred.

 

*: I have concluded that, sadly, there is not a perfectly appropriate term for this race of people.  “Native American” fails, since there are generations upon generations of other races dwelling here in the Americas who have no other place to call their native land.  “Indian” fails since that clearly belongs to the Indian subcontinent.  They are worthy of their own clear and distinct name, so I have accepted what some others have proposed: Amerindian.

_________________________

Leaving “Oklahoma!” for another time, let’s skip over to what became of Benson’s autobiographical essays: Meet Me in St Louis.Promo1

MGM was casting about for possible cheer-you-up movie plots wherein they could cast their greatest rising star – Judy Garland – when they came across Benson’s essays.  They decided it could be made into a screenplay for a musical movie, in order to showcase Garland’s beauty, grace and voice.

Only 21 at the time, Garland initially refused the role. She didn’t want to play a teenage “girl next door.” She was an adult now.

Indeed she was an adult.  During production, she and director Vincente Minnelli fell in love – resulting in the second of five Garland’s marriages.

“Meet Me in St Louis” is full of music, song and gay dancing  (duh, it’s a musical!). As full of music as it is, the movie’s songwriters — Hugh Martin (lyrics) and Ralph Blaine (music) — only composed three original tunes for the movie. These were: “The Boy Next Door”, “The Trolley Song”, and the aforementioned, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”

These were written specifically to be sung by Judy Garland – (although she doesn’t come in on “Trolley” until over a minute — almost halfway through — after she sees her potential beau make it to the trolley.)

Both “The Trolley Song” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” are among the American Film Institute’s top 100 movie songs of all time: “Trolley” coming in at #26 and “Merry Little Christmas” at #76.

No surprise, especially to Judy’s many fans, that she also holds AFI’s #1 spot with “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” from “The Wizard of Oz.”

“Meet me in St Louis” ranks as AFI’s 10th best musical movie of all time.  Easy guess that “Singing in the Rain” is #1.

Although screenwriters took some liberty with Benson’s original texts, much of it remained faithful to her writings of her childhood memories.

  • The address of the Smith home is exactly the same as that of her childhood: 5135 Kensington Avenue
  • The names of all the family members (mother, father, four girls, one boy) and the maid are all exactly the same as Benson’s family — even the nicknames. The family’s surname, Smith, is actually Benson’s mother’s maiden name.
  • Opportunities to show what else was going on in St Louis at the time were skipped – for example Scott Joplin lived and performed just a couple miles away. Ragtime was very fresh and popular. Benson didn’t write about these because, as a young child of six years old, she didn’t remember it. She wrote about what she knew.

Today we remember “Meet Me in St Louis” for much more than “Sally Benson first wrote her essays based on her childhood memories.” She certainly had no idea where it would go – that it would be garnished with famous actresses and memorable songs.

It’s probably most remembered for the Christmas carol that Martin and Blaine wrote.  The song immediately became popular with servicemen abroad – and their loved ones at home.  Why? It heralded a happier time in the near future – next year – when we all “will be together”, “all our troubles will be miles away” and “out of sight.”  And indeed, the war ended the year after the movie’s release.

When you write your memories, no one can know what will become of them.  They probably won’t be adorned with beautiful actresses, showy songs and marquis lights.

But I can assure you this: somewhere, sometime, someplace, someone will be interested in them.  Perhaps your descendants, or a friend’s grandchild, or a grand-niece or nephew.  When they read your rambling musings, your journals, your essays – well – those works will indeed become timeless and moving works of art.

If it’s daunting, start slow and easy.  Keep copies of the notes, letters and cards you send and receive.  Start a journal, or a blog.

Write about your experiences and thoughts. Therein will lie your  memories, your “you”. Write about as many of your yearnings, loves, disappointments and successes as you dare. Yes, there — wherever you put them — available and preserved, for future generations.

As true as that is for you and me, I know this.  Last Christmas was, miraculously, not Kevin’s last.  Nor was it yours.  As soon as Kevin recovers enough to write – he will.  It seems it may be soon. And now he has so much more to write about.  I can’t wait to read it all.  And some day, his grandkids and great-grandkids will be glad that he did.

Live well. Be inspired. Write. Create.

Peace.

Joe Girard © 2015

Note: Sally Benson is also well known for writing “Junior Miss”, which was also made into both a play and a movie. The movie starred Peggy Ann Garner.  It was also based on a series of semi-autobiographical stories that she first published in – yes – The New Yorker.

Most of her New Yorker essays were published under the nom de plume of “Esther Evarts.”

 

Bibliography:

Taylor, Mike: CEOs of the Year, Mark & Annie Danielson; Cobizmag: https://www.cobizmag.com/articles/ceos-of-the-year-mark-and-annie-danielson1

 

AFI top movie songs
http://www.afi.com/100years/songs.aspx

AFI top musical movies
http://www.afi.com/100years/musicals.aspx

NPR: The Story behind Have Yourself a Merry little Christmas
http://www.npr.org/2010/11/19/131412133/the-story-behind-have-yourself-a-merry-little-christmas

Some good back story on movie Meet Me in St. Louis. And a lot of detail on the plot.
http://www.filmsite.org/meetm.html
http://movies.amctv.com/movie/1944/Meet+Me+in+St.+Louis

Notes: comparing the versions of the song: Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
Garland v. Sinatra (changes for Sinatra version – 1957 – in Blue)

 merry-little-christmas

Meet Louie’s Woman

There are two successful and conspicuous songs from American music history that share a remarkable and unique coincidence — as well as several minor coincidences.

Each is so well-known that it would be difficult to find many adults raised in America who cannot at least hum along to one of them.  Many could hum along to both, recite a few words, and drop immediately into a comfortable toe tapping when each chorus is struck up. Yet, hardly anyone knows the words to the songs; hardly anyone knows the story behind these songs, or knows the stories they tell.

On the other hand, the songs’ differences are stark.

The later song is rowdy and timeless; for six decades running it’s been a top choice at parties and gatherings, especially if there is a dance floor.  And it seems destined to ride that fame indefinitely.

Fireflies at twilight

Fireflies at twilight

The earlier song is stuck in history, firmly planted in the first decade of the 20th century — the Edwardian Era.  And yet it retains its popularity as a quaint reminder of perhaps simpler times: when powered flight and electric lights were new; when great enjoyment could be found in playing flat music records on a gramophone, or sitting on the porch in the company of a comfortable friend, sipping sweet iced tea, watching fireflies in warm summer twilight.

But that one remarkable unique coincidence: a man’s name, Louie, is repeated in both of the songs’ title and chorus.

_____________________________

There aren’t many finer men than my dear friend Kevin Shepardson. One month after surviving cardiac arrest, he is still in hospital. Finally out of ICU and moved to a hospital closer to his family, he’s still in need of great medical care, and all the love, prayers, good thoughts and wishes we can send his way.

Right up to this past New Year’s Eve day, when the “event” happened, Kevin published a daily newsletter via email, which he called “The Good News Today.”  It came in two parts.  The first was spiritual, connected to the scriptures of the daily office, with a short reflection by a staff member of Creighton University.

The second part was what he called his “ramble”, with whatever was on his mind, from weather to current events.  The rambles frequently contained music tributes to some special event.  Perhaps a birthday  or anniversary of one of his many friends, or an approaching holiday.  They were always appropriate and fitting.  Kevin is a bit of a music expert (OK, music trivia geek), and you could tell he put care into selecting the proper songs, complete with Youtube links so we could hear them professionally performed.

If Kevin were to select a music tribute song for a celebration party (like his 60th, which is next week), or for a nostalgic commemoration of early 20th century America, he might have selected one of these two songs.

Or, maybe not.

___________________________

Part I

Singer/songwriter Richard Berry was a talented musician, and could perform early R&B as well as doo-wop.  In 1955, aged only 20, he penned the lyrics to a song that may live forever.

It’s about a lovesick guy at a bar, talking to a bartender named “Louie.”[1]  Berry claims he was inspired by a similar song — One for my Baby (and one more for the Road) — best sung by Frank Sinatra, where a lovelorn guy is pouring his heart out to a bartender named “Joe.”  In “Louie Louie” the guy at the bar is talking about his girl back in Jamaica … a three day and night sailing trip away. And it’s time for him to go see her.

The song was finally recorded with his group, The Pharaohs, in 1957 as the B-side to “You are my Sunshine” on the Flip Records label. Their R&B version of “Louie Louie” was totally understandable and was pretty easy to follow.  As a minor hit; it was soon re-released as an A-side.  Richard Berry & The Pharaohs’ original version of Louie Louie is almost painful to listen to. That is, if you’ve been weaned on the later rock version. Their version of the song soon languished, maintaining some popularity on the west coast, from San Francisco to Seattle.

Album Cover - Richard Perry and the Pharaohs

Album Cover – Richard Perry and the Pharaohs

Over the next few years, quite a few groups in the Pacific Northwest picked up the song, and played versions of it in concerts and small gigs. Some recorded it.  In fact, to date, “Louie Louie” has been covered and recorded over 1,500 times. [2]

Well, moving to 1963, “The Kingsmen” were a new group in Portland, Oregon. They had been playing the song for months at parties and gigs, getting wilder and wilder with the song.  No longer Rhythm and/or Blues, it was full raucous Rock ‘n’ Roll.

Ken Chase had a local radio show, and ran a teen night club where the Kingsmen played. After hearing them play the song live, he agreed to set up a recording session for the song.  They did the song in one take, since they were tired from having just performed a Louie-thon. Or because they were cheap (the recording only cost $50).  Or both.

Nonetheless, over the years, it’s the Kingsmen’s almost totally incomprehensible version of “Louie Louie” that has become the standard. Since the Kingsmen, it’s known more for the guitar instrumental bridge than its lyrics or story.  It has been recognized by organizations and publications worldwide for its influence on the history of Rock and Roll.

 

  • In 2007, in Rolling Stone ranked it #5 in its list of 40 songs that changed the world.
  • In 2004 Mojo Magazine rated it #1 in “Ultimate Jukebox: The 100 Singles You Must Own”.
  • Mojo and Rolling Stone have rated it the #51 and #54 top songs of all time, respectively.

 

Stories and commentary on “Louie Louie” and the Kingsmen could fill volumes. For example:

 

  • The lead singer for the famous Kingsmen 1963 recording, Jack Ely, quit the group four months afterward over a disagreement. At the time only some 600 copies had been sold. Ely missed out on large royalties.
  • Washington State considered making it the state song.
  • The states of Washington and Oregon, and the cities of Seattle and Portland have declared “Louie Louie” days. [3]
  • There is an “International Louie Louis Day” [4]
  • The FBI investigated the song to determine if it was obscene [5](the lyrics are that incomprehensible), as it was so popular at raucous parties (as recreated in National Lampoon’s movie “Animal House” [6]).

    • Which is pretty laughable today, considering how “artists” like Barrack Obama’s good friend Jay-Z fill their “songs” with the F-word and the N-word – not to mention gratuitous violence, usually against women – and are rewarded with critical acclaim and Grammy awards. Not that most true music aficionados or anyone with common sense would give two BMs about that.

 

Interlude

Another somewhat famous song nearly shares this unique “Double-double” Louie coincidence.  Each is named “Brother Louie”, wherein “Louie” is repeated in the song lyrics, but not in the title.  One version was recorded by Hot Chocolate (in the UK), and was covered by the group Stories (US based).  The Stories’ recording came in at #13 in the US for 1973; Hot Chocolate’s recording was #86 that year in the UK.

There is a second “Brother Louie” which is completely different, by Modern Talking (1986). It did not crack the top 100 for that year. I’m not familiar with this song, but it seems mildly annoying.

After Jack Ely had left the Kingsmen he soon realized he was going to miss out on those royalties.  So he wrote and recorded several songs with his new group, The Courtmen, alluding to his “Louie Louie” connection, including “Louie Louie ‘66”. But it is really the same song, although this time easier to understand.

Subsequent lawsuits between the Kingsmen and Ely resulted in him getting paid $6,000 and label credit as the lead singer on future record pressings.

You can read much more about the history, mystery and saga of “Louie Louie” here, here and here. And about a zillion other sites.

________________________________

Louie, part deux

July 1848 was a seminal moment.  The Seneca Falls Convention kicked off what could be called the Women’s Movements that still have modern-day repercussions.  Historians have suggested that it was not so much a feminist movement or a woman’s rights movement – it was a wide reaching social movement. [7]

By the turn of the 20th century, it was women who had led the charge for founding the Red Cross (Clara Barton) and for humane treatment of severely ill mental health patients (Dorthea Dix).  Women were becoming doctors and surgeons (not the same thing then).  They supplied the energy and drive to reform labor: advancing stricter child labor laws, organizing unions to drive for better and safer working conditions (especially for garment workers), and for five day work weeks, instead of the usual seven days. And pushed for forty hour work weeks, instead of the usual 60 or 70, with paid overtime compensation.

Alcohol abuse – in fact downright drunkenness – was a huge problem in 19th century America.  The temperance movement – based on the desire for a healthier family life – owes all of its early energy to Women.

Yes, women were feeling their oats and ready to do more.  They were shockingly daring to smoke in public and demanded the right to vote (By 1900, several western states, — Wyoming, Utah, Idaho and Colorado — had already granted full women’s suffrage [12]).

In marriage, women grew less and less inclined to be totally subservient to their husbands.  Yes, they loved their men and were devoted spouses and mothers, but – especially in the middle and upper classes – they were eager to get more out of married life than children and laundry.

Women, their influence and their interests, cut a wide swath across the social milieu as America approached the grandest, the largest, and the most extravagant World’s Fair in history: the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, to be hosted at Forest Park, in Saint Louis, Missouri, in 1904.

In 1890, Saint Louis was the nation’s second largest producer of beer. By 1904 they had dropped to number five, but that’s still a lot of beer. The big brewer Anheuser-Busch sold large quantities on the East Coast thanks to enhanced distribution via refrigerated cars they had helped pioneer on the nation’s ever expanding railroad capacity.[13]

Early in 1904, New York lyricist Andrew Sterling was trying to come up with a song to promote the upcoming World’s Fair in Saint Louis.  Two stories of his inspiration for the earlier “Louie” song survive, although it is likely that each is apocryphal.

The first story claims that in New York, those Saint Louis beers (Budweiser and Busch) were often called “Louis”, pronounced “Lou-ee” —the same as the French Saint, King Louis IX, after whom the city is named. It seems that at a bar one night, Sterling hailed the bartender, whose name happened to be Louis (Louie).  Wanting another beer, he called out, “Another Louis, Louis.” [8]

A second, similar, version of the song’s inspiration has Sterling and co-composer Kerry Mills (who wrote the music) sitting together across a bar from a bartender named Louie and ordering a mixed-drink called a Louie. [9]

In any case, it was the repeating of the name “Louis” — pronounced “Louie” — that caught on and inspired Sterling to pen the lyrics to the song “Meet me in Saint Louis, Louis.” He must have been feeling a bit jolly, since he wrote each half-verse and the chorus in the form of a limerick (A-A-B/B-A).

In the opening verse of the song, we find that Louis’ wife (Flossie) has left him, apparently without warning.  She leaves a note with the line: Life is just “too slow for me here.”  She’s perfectly willing to re-connect with him, but on her terms, as her note continues in the chorus:

Meet me in Saint Louis, Louis. Meet me at the Fair.
Don’t tell me the lights are shining anyplace but there.
We will dance the Hoochee Koochee. I will be your Tootsie Wootsie.
If you will meet me in Saint Louis, Louis; meet me at the Fair.

Billy Murray was a very popular singer of that era.  In fact, his voice graces four of the top ten hits of 1904.  His recording of “Meet Me in Saint Louis, Louis” was made in May of that year and was immensely popular.  It was the #2 song of 1904 (behind Sweet Adeline, which actually had three different recordings make the billboard).

The Murray version is kept light and cheery – it skips a key verse that makes it quite clear that Flossie (Louis’ wife), is making an extreme act of defiance.  She wants more out of this marriage.

The dresses that hung in the hall,
Were gone; she had taken them all.
She took all his rings, and the rest of his things.
The picture he missed from the wall.

“What? Moving?” The janitor said.
“Your rent is paid three months ahead.”
“What good is the Flat?” said poor Louis, “Read that!”
And the janitor smiled as he read.

Chorus: “Meet me in St Louis, Louis …”[10]

 

Flossie had not only left, she took all of HIS things.

Further fixing the song firmly in a long ago era, Flossie’s note pledges “We will dance the Hoochee Koochee; I will be your Tootsie Wootsie.”

We might recognize Tootsie Wootsie from context, as it also appears in “In the Good Old Summer Time”, the #6 song of 1902 as recorded by William Richmond, charting at #1 for seven weeks.

You hold her hand and she holds yours
And that’s a very good sign
That she’s your Tootsie Wootsie
In the Good Old Summertime

“Tootsie Wootsie” is a sweetie pie: a boyfriend or girlfriend you can cuddle up to. And more.

The Hoochee Coochee was a dance that was considered very daring – even lewd – at the time. It was sexually provocative with lots of mid-section gyrations. It had become somewhat popular through exhibits at two earlier well-attended World’s Fairs in America; the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia and the 1893 Columbian Exhibition in Chicago.

The Hoochee Coochee was an “entertaining” dance to observe —usually men observing women with a bare midriff.  Flossie says “we will dance” it — as in, together.  Hmmmm.

If you think about it, Louis’ runaway wife, Flossie, really had a lot on her mind, and lot to offer.  As Michael Lasser says in “America’s Songs II” — “It offers a tempting invitation: She promises him a good time at the Fair and afterwards. … the promise borders on sexual abandon.” [10]

So Flossie was not simply rebelling and running out on poor Louis.  Her offer was all, or nothing.  As in: All of her, or none of her.  She was promising him some exciting “action” — connubial pleasure, if you will — if he would simply comply with her demand to leave home and…

“Meet me in Saint Louis, Louis.  Meet me at the Fair!”

No wonder it was so popular!

Yes indeed!  Marriage can be plenty interesting in a fun way if men would just take the time to listen to their wives once in a while!

Here’s hoping and praying that Kevin, and his Tootsie Wootsie Sue, can very soon run away and enjoy the delights of “hoochee koochee” as well.

Kevin and Sue Shepardson

Kevin and Sue Shepardson

Until then, I wish you all peaceful snuggling; or rowdy dancing.  Or both.  Your choice.

Cheers,

Joe Girard © 2015

 

________________________

Final notes and thoughts, followed by footnotes and bibliography.

 

  • Neither Sterling nor Mills attended the Fair in Saint Louis.
  • The Song was revived in the 1944 movie starring Judy Garland “Meet Me in Saint Louis” (this time pronounce the American way: like “Lewis”), wherein the chorus is sung by quite a few excited folks in the opening scenes. [Plot flaw: this is mid-summer of 1903, and according the sources I cited, the song’s words and sheet music were not written yet, nor had it become popular]
  • My Friend Max Storm, founder of the 1904 World’s Fair Society, has his doorbell set up to play the chorus to “Meet me in St Louis, Louis” when it rings. His Tootsie-Wootsie, Shara, lovingly puts up with this, and much more.
  • The song is often shown without the second “Louis” and  without the comma between.  This is incorrect.
  • The Berry song “Louie Louie” is often shown with a comma between the two Louies.  This is also incorrect.

 

 

Footnotes/bibliography.

[1] “Louie Louie,” the saga of a lovesick sailor pouring his heart out to a patient bartender, named Louie. — and other “Louie Louie historical highlights: http://seattletimes.com/html/entertainment/2003643550_louietimeline01.html

[2] According to some references, Louie, Louie has been recorded over 1500 times. LouieLouie.net and Peter Blecha, 4/1/2007 Seattle Times: http://seattletimes.com/html/entertainment/2003643548_louie01.html ]

[3] Washington, Oregon, Portland and Seattle “Louie Louie Day”.  April 12, 1985 (Washington), April 14, 1985 (Seattle), April 2, 1986 (Oregon): http://www.louieday.org/default.htm

Finally, in the city where the Kingsmen recorded it, Portland celebrated “Louie Louie Day” October 5, 2013: http://koin.com/2013/10/05/its-louie-louie-day-in-portland/

[4] April 11 (the birthday of Richard Berry) is celebrated as International “Louie Louie Day“ [http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Louie_Louie_Day]. It is also listed by Chase’s Calendar of Events, and the National Special Events Registry

[5] FBI investigates “Louie Louie” for obscenity.  http://vault.fbi.gov/louie-louie-the-song

[6] Plot error.  Animal House supposedly occurred in 1962, one year before the Kingsmen’s recording was released.

[7] Women’s movement as Social Movement. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/647122/womens-movement

http://womhist.alexanderstreet.com/socm/intro.htm

“Women and women’s organizations also worked on behalf of many social and reform issues. By the beginning of the new century, women’s clubs in towns and cities across the nation were working to promote suffrage, better schools, the regulation of child labor, women in unions, and liquor.” http://www.loc.gov/teachers/classroommaterials/presentationsandactivities/presentations/timeline/progress/suffrage/

“Women were key players in the push for prohibition (meaning outlawing the sale and consumption of alcohol), improved housing standards, regulations of the food and drug industry and government inspections of factories. ”

http://education-portal.com/academy/lesson/womens-suffrage-early-feminism-movement-19th-amendment-leaders.html
The above link has been changed to: http://study.com/academy/lesson/womens-suffrage-early-feminism-movement-19th-amendment-leaders.html

[8] The First Moderns: Profiles in the Origins of Twentieth-Century Thought,  William R. Everdell [chapt 14/pg 206]; https://books.google.com/books?id=yVRb9sJ2KjEC&pg=PA206&lpg=PA206&dq=sterling+get+me+another+louis,+louis&source=bl&ots=znJQdCCPif&sig=zfezVLEHcMmQC78dXauLWFRVxJo&hl=en&sa=X&ei=HX7IVPGaIoKnNv7wgqgM&ved=0CD0Q6AEwCQ#v=onepage&q=sterling%20get%20me%20another%20louis%2C%20louis&f=false

[9] America’s Songs II: Songs from the 1890’s to the Post-War Years, Michael Lasser [1901-1905/pg 27]; https://books.google.com/books?id=RlmLAgAAQBAJ&pg=PA243&lpg=PA243&dq=America%27s+Songs+II:+Songs+from+the+1890%27s+to+the+Post-War+Years,+Michael+Lasser&source=bl&ots=H_e1kCaphg&sig=hnTC8TDuh_gj_vV2NjlgW9l9e_A&hl=en&sa=X&ei=U4DIVLK7GYedNrfwgbgN&ved=0CDkQ6AEwBA#v=onepage&q=America’s%20Songs%20II%3A%20Songs%20from%20the%201890’s%20to%20the%20Post-War%20Years%2C%20Michael%20Lasser&f=false

Note: In further research, I could find no such drink called a “Louie” or a “Louis.” But that could just be that Google hasn’t found it yet.

[10] Meet me in St Louis, Louis: lyrics. “500 Best Loved Songs”, edited by Ronald Herder, page 219-220.

Verified lyrics; http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/j/judy_garland/meet_me_in_st_louis.html

[11] The Hoochee Coochee (or Hoochie Coochie) in America: http://www.readex.com/blog/hoochie-coochie-lure-forbidden-belly-dance-victorian-america

[12] Women’s suffrage timeline by state in the US: http://constitutioncenter.org/timeline/html/cw08_12159.html
Odd that Washington as a territory granted full suffrage in 1883, but not as a state until 1910. In fact, the territorial laws were twice overturned.  http://www.washingtonhistory.org/files/library/TheFightforWashingtonWomensSuffrageABriefHistory.pdf

[13] Primm, James Neal (1998). Lion of the Valley: St. Louis, Missouri, 1764–1980, pg 328-330

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