Tuesday, March 06, 2007


I would talk about Idol tonight, but I don't want to. How's that for temperamental? MSNBC's Test Pattern blog directed me to an online test to name all 50 states in less than 10 minutes (take the test here). Thanks to a song I learned many moons ago, I was not only able to name all the states in a mere 95 seconds, but I did it in alphabetical order.

When I was reading the Test Pattern comments, I realized that there are apparently legions of people who also learned this song. As I read more and more of the comments, I think I've concluded that it was taught to elementary school kids around the country for the Bicentennial. I remember quite distinctly being in 4th grade when Mrs. Watson-Jones taught it to us, which was 1976 for me.

I only remember the part that lists the states. I'd managed to completely block out the rest of it (except at the end where you shout very deliberately NEW HAMPSHIRE IS THE BEST!). Here it is for your listening enjoyment. Pay no attention to the massive typo on the title of this clip.

Did you ever learn this song? Can you still sing it? How well do you remember the Bicentennial?

I remember lots. My father, oldest brother, and I were in a Revolutionary War reenactment militia. My uncle who lived in Concord, Massachusetts (birthplace of the revolution) bought me a black plastic fife, which started my 8-year hobby of dressing up in authentic costumes, reenacting battles (the fifers were always at the front of the line and therefore the first to die), marching in parades, and traveling far and wide. A year or two later once my interest in fifing was cemented, my Dad had a rosewood fife carved for me. I also procured a buglehorn and penny whistle along the way, with a brass scabbard for the lot of them (well, except the buglehorn, which I flung over my shoulder on a satin rope).

By the time we journeyed to the South in the early 80s to do the later Revolutionary battles, I was regularly teaching spectators about the instruments and even showing them how to play. I especially remember Yorktown, which not only had over a million participants, but was even attended by President Ronald Reagan and France's President Francois Mitterand. The combined fife and drum corps was over a thousand musicians strong. There was a time delay from the front of the group to the back of it. It was cool.

At camp, a group of girls about my age came up to me and asked about the fife. I spent probably 15 minutes in explanation and showing each of them to play a note or two. When the lesson was over, one of them said to me in a serious Southern drawl, "Where're y'all from?" When I answered, "New Hampshire," she said in the same serious drawl, "I thought I detected a Norrrrrrthrnnn accent." She dragged out the word "Northern" as if she were picking up a mouse by its tail to toss it out of the house. Too funny.

Also in 1976, my parents bought a brand new Volkswagen bus. It was two-toned with blue on the lower half and white on the top (not quite like the one pictured, which is actually a 1959 model). The full-size roof rack was red, and it bore state-issued Bicentennial commemorative licence plates. We were a patriotic lot.

After a decade of having a VW bus as the family transport, this would be the final one for us. It lasted four years, after which, my parents bought the wildly popular 1980 Chevrolet Citation for $4000. It's amazing the weird little details I remember from my youth.

Time for bed. By the way, the boys were weak again tonight. Only Blake Lewis and Chris Sligh were worth the price of admission. OK, I guess I couldn't go completely without an Idol mention.

Song playing as I finish writing this post is a serious flashback from the beginning of the house music craze. "Good Life" by Inner City. I love this song. Five stars.


Michelle said...

OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1 I cannot believe you found that!!! That is soooooo cool! Yes, I learned it in 4th grade as well! My favorite memory of the bicentennial was the Freedom Train! It had the liberty bell in one of the cars... awesome! I have a picture of it somewhere... covered in dust, I suppose... Thanks for the memories!

kellycoxsemple said...

I'm an expert at nostalgia, Meet-Shell! :-) If you find your dust-covered picture, you should blog it!