We’re having a peaceful holiday weekend, but it’s very easy to forget why we have this holiday and what it is about, so I wanted to take a moment and reflect on the actual holiday. Memorial Day was once know as Decoration Day. Under either name, it’s a day to remember those who served and perished during war. The first Decoration Day was held shortly “after the American Civil War to commemorate the Union soldiers who died in the Civil War.” The holiday has been expanded to encompass those from wars since. Parades and cemetery visits punctuate this day, and gravesites are decorated. The following poem shares the mixture of love, loss, gratitude, and suffering traditionally experienced today.
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Sleep, comrades, sleep and rest
On this Field of the Grounded Arms,
Where foes no more molest,
Nor sentry’s shot alarms!
Ye have slept on the ground before,
And started to your feet
At the cannon’s sudden roar,
Or the drum’s redoubling beat.
But in this camp of Death
No sound your slumber breaks;
Here is no fevered breath,
No wound that bleeds and aches.
All is repose and peace,
Untrampled lies the sod;
The shouts of battle cease,
It is the Truce of God!
Rest, comrades, rest and sleep!
The thoughts of men shall be
As sentinels to keep
Your rest from danger free.
Your silent tents of green
We deck with fragrant flowers;
Yours has the suffering been,
The memory shall be ours.
At Chez Gallagher, we’re very excited about the holiday. We may not be as hands on with the holiday celebrations as Debbie is above, but we’ve got a full slate of activities planned. One I’d like to share with you. If you’d like to step back in time and experience a live old time radio-style Fourth of July broadcast, then you should tune into Maxwell DeMille‘s Club Cicada tonight.
Club Cicada is somewhere I’ve meant to go, but haven’t yet. It’s a Sunday night, retro-style night club, where the ladies and gents are always well-dressed. Even without the weekly party, how could they resist dressing up for the James Oviatt Building, which is a gorgeous art deco highrise?
Lucky for those of us whose geography distances them from the nightclub, it continues the tradition of live music broadcasts. The modern twist is that you only need a decent internet connection to catch their webcast, complete with video. Tonight’s program features Dean Mora and his 18-Piece Orchestra performing a tribute to the armed forces. It starts at 8:30 PM PST tonight.
We’ve been enjoying a comfy, cozy holiday at home today. It’s nice to take a time-out when we’re normally busy rushing about. We’ve been playing old time radio programs all day, some holiday-related. I was surprised when my husband found an episode of Yankee Yarns set in my hometown of Fairhaven, Massachusetts, about one particular Fourth of July celebration.
Here’s Old Time Radio Cat‘s description of the series:
Yankee Yarns is an entertaining show about New England created by Alton H. Blackington. Touting himself as a storyteller, Alton weaves tales that are alternately amazing, eccentric, horrifying and comical. His “yarns” include stories of the sticky Boston streets of 1919, when a gigantic tank of molasses burst and coated the town, or of silly Connecticutians who gather a pool of $10 million to mine gold at the bottom of the ocean.
Yankee Yarns found themselves being told in many forms throughout the years, from radio to newspaper stories to lectures, and finally in a book. Radio listeners pestered Alton long and hard for scripts of his broadcast, so much so that he finally wrote himself a book in 1954. So whether you’re in the mood for a spine tickle or a throat giggle, Yankee Yarns will leave you satisfied.
This particular episode concerns a group of boys, one of them a Delano, who cannot abide by a fireworks curfew. Instead they construct an elaborate plan on how literally to shake things up for the holiday. They build their own “bombs”, which they plant around town and set off at midnight, driving the local police crazy. The whole tale is narrated in an unmistakable New England accent, lending a bit of local color to the proceedings.
Because of The Old-Time Radio Hour, my husband and I have been enjoying Thanksgiving themed old time radio shows while we cook our Thanksgiving dinner. I never realized the difficulty ordinary people had in securing a turkey for the holiday! That theme has been one of the running gags of some of the broadcasts, but all the shows are good fun, and each tackles the holiday in its own character-appropriate way. The shows include such classics as the Burns and Allen Show, The Great Gildersleeve, The Jack Benny Program, The Life of Riley, and Our Miss Brooks.
To add to your home’s festivities, click here for program number one, here for number two, and finally here for number three.