Friday, April 29, 2011


My friend RB Tolar wrote in a recent post about memories of his mother singing to him as a child and of learning to sing harmony with his sisters. He ended his post with the question, "Who sang to you?"

Which got me to thinking.

I grew up in a house with lots of music, and both of my parents had beautiful voices. I remember Mom and Dad singing Psalms and "special music" at the Troy ARP Church. They also both sang in the Union City Civic Chorus, a pretty impressive community choir. But reading RB's post, the thing that came first to mind was sitting on my Dad's knee listening to him sing Froggie Went A-Courtin'.

Dad worked long days and came home to a house full of kids. For me, any one-on-one time in the evenings was pure gold. I don't have very many clear memories from my early childhood, but I do remember the comfort and delight I felt when Dad snuggled me into his lap and sang to me.

Sometimes, we curled together beside the fire in his big black leather chair. Sometimes, he perched me on his knee as he sat in Mom's creaky rocker, the squeak-squeak, squeak-squeak marking tempo as he sang. He smelled of coffee and stale cigarette smoke...might as well have been the perfume of the gods to this little girl!

The Farmer in the Dell, There's a Hole in the Bottom of the Sea, My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean. Obviously, his song choices were intended to lull small children to sleep! I commented to RB that I still remember all the lyrics to Froggie Went A-Courtin'....but when I Googled the song to find the lyrics, I discovered several verses I'd either forgotten or that hadn't been part of Dad's rendition. Or perhaps, I was just already in Dream Land by the time Daddy had sung that far into the song.

The way I remember it was....

Froggie went a-courtin' and he did ride, um-hmm, um-hmm,
Froggie went a-courtin' and he did ride,um-hmm,
Froggie went a-courtin' and he did ride,
Sword and pistol by his side,
Um-hmm, um-hmm, um-hmm.

Rode up to Miss Mousie's door, um-hmm, um-hmm,
Rode up to Miss Mousie's door, um-hmm,
Rode up to Miss Mousie's door,
Where he'd been many times before,
Um-hmm, um-hmm, um-hmm.

Took Miss Mousie upon his knee, um-hmm, um-hmm,
Took Miss Mousie upon his knee, um-hmm,
Took Miss Mousie upon his knee,
Said, "Miss Mousie, will you marry me?"
Um-hmm,um-hmm, um-hmm.

"Not without Uncle Rat's consent," um-hmm, um-hmm,
"Not without Uncle Rat's consent," um-hmm,
"Not without Uncle Rat's consent,
I wouldn't marry the President!"
Um-hmm, um-hmm, um-hmm.

Uncle Rat laughed and shook his fat sides,um-hmm, um-hmm,
To think his niece would be a bride...

Uncle Rat raced off to town, um-hmm, um-hmm,
To buy his niece a wedding gown...

Where will the wedding supper be? um-hmm, um-hmm,
Way down yonder in a hollow tree...

What will the wedding supper be? um-hmm, um-hmm,
Two fat flies and a black-eyed pea...


(So, to repeat RB's question - Who sang to you?)


Ashley Ramsey said...

RB was in a creative writing class with me in college and I always enjoyed him as well as his writing. Please tell him "hello" for me.

w.j.stricklin said...

There is bread and cheese upon the shelf. Uh-huh
Bread and chese upon the shelf. Uh-huh
Bread and chese upon the shelf, if you want any more you can sing it your self. Uh-huh
Love you. Dad

troal said...

I can remember a Porky Pig cartoon where Porky sang it:
"...froggie went-a-courtin' he did ride,
sword and p-p-p-pi-pi-p-revolver by his side."

Christian gal issues said...

I don't think anyone sang to me, but I sang to all my kids and I still do to Isaac. He calls out from his bed, "mommy will you come sing to me?". Love it. Usually it is "Jesus Loves me" and a few other Jesus lovin songs, but his other favorite is John Denver's, "Take me Home Country Roads". I had to sing that in chorus in 8th grade and i still know all the words!! Ha! He calls it the mountain mamma song :)

Suzanne said...

Priceless. Daddy must have had a real knack for knocking me out because I don't remember past getting Uncle's consent...zzz!

I love hearing Leonard sing to our children at night. He sings a couple of edited Jimmy Buffett songs. Son of a Son of a Sailor, A Pirate Looks at 40, and others cleaned up a bit.

One time one of the children heard Jimmy Buffett on the radio and squealed, "That man is singing Daddy's song!"