JUST WANT TO SAY, TO ALL OF YOU IN THE PATH OF HURRICAINE SANDY, THAT YOU’RE IN OUR THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS TODAY AS YOU DIG OUT FROM THIS. BE SAFE. BE CAREFUL. BE WISE. BE BLESSED.
When I was small I had one of those little record players that fit 45’s. The kind that, if you put a 33 1/3 on it, then it stuck way off the side. The kind that, if your 45 had a big 50-cent-piece hole in the middle, you had to insert a little disc into the hole that made the big hole into a hole small enough to fit on the spindle. That’s what I’m talking about.
I loved that record player. I would sit for hours in my room, playing with Lego or my dollhouse or Barbies, listening to those records. I had at least a dozen “Read Along” 45’s, complete with their accompanying books. “You will know it is time to turn the page when Tinkerbell rings her little bell, like this: ting-a-ling.” Those were awesome.
I also had some older 45’s that had been my sisters’. These were mostly songs but also a few stories: “Scarlet Ribbons” (the Harry Belafonte version, different from my 45, but you get the idea), “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” (yes, that’s spelled correctly!), “Waltzing Matilda” (not the version I have on my 45, but a fun one just the same) by the Cricketone Children’s Chorus and Orchestra (as were many of my records), “Little Toot”, “I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy”, Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf” narrated by Victor Jory (this excerpt is similar. There is a link to it from this NPR story.), “Pancho the Circus Donkey”, “Tutu, the Littlest Ballerina”, just to name just a few. I still can hear the last line of the Little Tutu record in my head, “Her name is little Tutu, Tutu, Tutu, Tutu, Tutu, Tutu, Tutu, Tutu, Tutu…” Remember that fun quirk of records? I’m sure it wasn’t my fault that it was scratched. I’m sure I inherited it that way. I honestly am not sure if there’s more to that song or not, I always just took it off then.
One of the 45’s contained the song, “When I Grow Up”. Not until my kids were born and I put it on for them one day did I realize how…shall we say…unbelievable the song is. Very indicative of the age it was made, circa the 1950’s. Allow me to quote it for you in its entirety: The singer, a woman, sings, “When I grow up I’m going to be a fireman and put out all the fires in the town. When I grow up I’m going to be a fireman and keep those buildings from burning down. When I grow up I’m going to be a mailman and deliver all the mail to my friends. When I grow up I’m going to be a mailman, a mailman does a service that never ends. I want to be so many things as quickly as I can but woe is me it’s plain to see it just can’t be ‘cause I’m not a man. When I grow up I’m going to be a mother and try to be a mother just like mine. I’ll have a son just like my baby brother and he can be a fireman, he can be a mailman and that will be just fine.”
Yes. Those are the lyrics. I listened to it three times just now. No, my kids aren’t home to be unduly influenced. When I did put it on for them a few years back, not remembering anything much about it, I said when the song ended, “BUT WE KNOW THAT’S NOT TRUE, DON’T WE? YOU CAN BE THOSE THINGS IF YOU WANT!” They looked at me like I was nuts. “Umm, yeah, Mom. Whatever you say.” I guess I’m proof that the song didn’t ruin me. After all, I went to seminary to be a pastor, which is about the last bastian of male-only dominance out there. (Yes, I got one hate-mail letter while I was there.) But still the thinking behind the song flabbergasts me as a child of the 70’s.
Today I still love to pull out my records, though I don’t have the little old 45 player anymore. My kids and I listen to my vinyl stash when we’re in the playroom. The Hobbit and The Rescuers are their favorites. Complete with the background scritches and scratches, the circular rhythm to the slightly-warped vinyl.
And yes, they know what I mean when I randomly sing, “Tutu, Tutu, Tutu, Tutu, Tutu, Tutu, Tutu, Tutu, Tutu….” But, I hasten to assure you, when my girls grow up they’re going to be firewomen if they want to. Or pastors. Just like their mom.
Thursday: Part 2…because I had too much to say for just one post.
PS: This is an amazing version of Peter and the Wolf, if you have time to watch it. It uses Prokofiev’s music that I listened to as a child on my old 45, but not the original storytelling, in fact, there are no words, just the music and sounds. While I loved (and still do) the old version, this is wonderful! Part 1 and Part 2. Here’s a tiny taste if this is all you have time for.