Sing a Song

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Earlier this week I was making dinner with my family, and out of nowhere I started humming, and then singing, “Oats, peas, beans and barley grow. Oats, peas, beans, and barley grow. You and I and everyone knows how oats, peas, beans, and barley grow.” It’s a silly song from my childhood that I hadn’t thought about in years. I didn’t even know it was still there inside me until it suddenly just came out of me.

I’ve blogged before about how smells can be so strongly associated with memories that sometimes you can be transported to another time and place.  Can’t You Smell That Smell   I’m not sure if I subconsciously had those childhood songs of yore in the back of my mind this week – if I did, I didn’t know it – but it happened again.

Yesterday morning, I was using Clorox Clean Up to spruce up some vinyl placemats. Something about that chlorine bleachy smell made me think of riding the bus to and from swimming lessons. Any Stockbridge friends remember taking summer swimming lessons in the 70s? For some reason I think we met at the town library, but it seems more likely it was at the school. We climbed on a school bus and were driven to Mason to an outdoor pool for swimming lessons. I remember very little about the lessons themselves. The memories that have stayed with me are all about the bus ride and the sing alongs.

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Oh they built the ship Titanic to sail the ocean blue

And they thought they had a ship that the water would never go through

But the Lord he raised his hand that the ship would never land

It was sad when the great ship went down

I knew a lot of the songs that other kids knew – The Ants Go Marching One By One, 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall, Bingo Was his Name-o, etc. but I wasn’t familiar with the Titanic song that everybody else seemed to know.  Where they learned it, I’m not really sure, but by the end of ten commuter swim lessons, I had learned it and it stayed with me for the next forty plus years.

It was sad (so sad), it was sad (so sad)

It was sad when the great ship went down to the bottom of the

Sea (husbands kissed their wives goodbye, little children lost their lives)

It was sad when the great ship went down

I was probably in fourth or fifth grade, and even though I grew up in a small town, and probably went to the same school as everyone on the bus, the only person I distinctly remember knowing was my friend, MJM.  I think she and I went to Girls Scout day-camp together as well.  I don’t remember much about day camp either, except I do know I was in the Red Circles group and the song I learned at that activity was The Bear in the Woods.

The other day (echo)

I met a bear (echo)

Out in the woods (echo)

Away out there (echo)

The other day I met a bear, out in the wood away out there.

I know there are both simple and complex scientific reasons that I remember the lyrics to these songs from childhood, but I can’t remember where I put my keys two hours ago. True story – I couldn’t find my keys when it was time to leave work this week and I spent twenty minutes making two loops through the whole building only to find I had put them in the wrong pocket of my purse. But as I pondered my blog this afternoon, I had no problem remembering the words and hand claps to Say, Say, oh Playmate.

Do kids still sing?  Yes, I know my friend’s kids know all the words to the latest BTS or Billie Eilish song.  But do they still sing silly songs?  We sang with our parents in the car, I hand clapped to Miss Mary Mack with my elementary school friends, and MJM and I sang Kumbaya and Found a Peanut at youth group campfires. 

I posted on our family Facebook page about how oats, peas, beans and barley popped into my head.  “I love that we were a family that sang,” replied my sister.  Me too.  ❤️

2 thoughts on “Sing a Song

  1. Oh yes! Great reminder of the musical magic of our youth. I’m amazed at the memory of all the words to songs from my tween and early teen years that “pop” into my head at times only to plague me for days. Haven’t figured out where they came from.

    Thanks for the side trip today, Sue. Keep on writing.

    Liked by 1 person

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