Tag Archive | Lexington

Major Industry in the Window Well

My big brother and I had a thriving transport industry when I was small back in 1957.  Our Dad sold construction machinery so our interests often led in that direction.  Our new white brick house in the Gardenside neighborhood of Lexington, Kentucky had a basement below ground. To allow natural light Window wellinto the basement, there were windows which were slightly below ground, and had corrugated wells or shells that surrounded them.   These mysterious apertures were always lending themselves to mischief and made great hiding places.

The Christmas when Mike received a crane and dump truck was unexpectedly warm and a temporary reprieve from the snow temporarily so we played outside every day.  After learning to maneuver the crane and operate the bed of the dump truck, we had to find ways to put them to use.  We gathered sticks, and  piles of leaves and were making a general mess when we discovered the gravel down in the window wells.  We hauled the gravel out of the well bucket by bucket, filling up the dump truck, till Mom said we had to stop and put it all back and smooth it out again.  This stymied our plans so we had to get really resourceful for new materials to haul.

Our cat had kittens a few weeks prior to this, so it occurred to Mike to go into the Kitten Delivery business.  He set up shop in the back yard, making all those amazing mouth noises that little boys devise for their major machines, cranking it out and running it around with vigor.  He would call out the orders as they came in from our demanding imaginary customers and get ready to deliver his product without delay.

It was always my job to jump down into the well, which seemed 10 feet deep to me at the ripe age of 4.  I would kneel down and capture a squirming kitten (placed there earlier by yours truly much to the chagrin of their Mama cat), then yell to the foreman (much older Joe Mike the master craftman–who was 7) to reel the bucket down.  He loved that steel Tonka Crane that he’d received from Santa that year, and he would turn the hand crank that lowered the black steel basket down into the well with enthusiasm–sometimes cracking a kitten in the head, or plopping onto the unsuspecting little critter like a giant black claw.

I would close the claw, tuck the little creature into the basket that it made, and yell, “Geronimo!” releasing the basket to watch it go toddling skyward to be dumped into the bed of his dump truck for hauling away.  This was a slow and precarious process, as the cargo tended to pop out out of the truck bed almost immediately to go exploring.

We kept at it  until the Mama cat had enough, coming to rescue her little band  Her bleating meows alerted our Mom, who caught us and put a stop to our innocent feline torture trials.  We found other uses for tCrane piche crane and dump truck after that, just as adventurous as you’d imagine would come from the mind of a precocious 7-year-old.  But that Kitten Transport Delivery service was probably the best time we had that Christmas and a memory that hasn’t faded in almost 60 years.

Like Fishing? Help me Fish Up an Old 78!

Old Congolese 78 rpm records, being the three ...

One of my better memories of growing up in the countryside near Lexington, Kentucky was learning all the words to my parents’ “platters”—their collection of 78 rpm records.

Songs I learned included Blueberry Hill by Fats Domino, The Death of Floyd Collins sung by Vernon Dalhart, (see my next post) hits by the Andrews Sisters like Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, big bands numbers like Tuxedo Junction, just a really eclectic mix of all my parents’ favorites.

Mom let me spend hours in my chair.  A slightly hyper three year old, I loved hanging sideways in the old maple Boston Rocker, head hanging off the edge, turning the world upside down, playing the 78 RPM records (and later 33 RPM albums) on the victrola.

I was careful with them, almost never let one get scratched, and didn’t play tem too loudly for her comfort.  In point of fact, I think she loved it when I turned them up louder occasionally. I’d sing along to my heart’s content, the little performer in training unaware of the young housewife listening in.

One record, black with a red label, was titled, “The Fishing Song” and was sung by a female, possibly a black woman by her inflection.  She had a trio of back-up singers who were all guys.  I don’t know if my brother has the records now or not, but I haven’t heard the song played in 30 years or so.  I’ve tried googling it, searching through ITunes too, to no avail.  So we’re going on my memory here.

I could sing it for you, but I’ll spare you the pain.  The tune sounded like a swing number, you know, a big band type of sound.  I remember a bass fiddle emphasizing the beat, and the words to the tune went like this:

Once upon a time a little boy was going fishin’ and he asked a little girl to come along,

She said, “Wait till I run and ask my Mommy.’  Presently she came back and sang this song:

‘Mama told me I couldn’t go fishin’ with you.

‘Mama told me I couldn’t go fishing with you.

‘She said us women get the blame when men start playin’ that fishing game, that’s why

‘Mama won’t let me go fishing with you.’  (here the guys echoed “fishin’ with you”)

The trio of guys sings,

‘Hey, Girl, don’t you hear what your Mama say,

‘We’ll do this thing our way,

‘We’ll drive down to old Cape Cod,

‘Cause I’ve got a real nice fishin’ rod,’

(next phrase simultaneous with the girl’s) ‘Hey, Girl, why don’t you let me go fishing with you’

Girls’ line intermingled with the guys’: ‘Oh, no! Unh Uh!  I cain’t fish with you today!’ (echo) ‘Not today’

‘Papa took Mama fishing on the Rio Grande.

‘Papa took Mama fishing on the Rio Grande.

‘He said we’ll catch us a big walleye, well,

‘The fish got away but here am I, that’s why Mama won’t let me go fishing with you.’

‘Mama told me I can’t go fishin’ with you,

‘Mama told me I can’t go fishin’ with you,

‘She said those lines ain’t always made of twine, and

P’apa had more than fishin’ on his mind,’

The whole group ends with a descending trill: “That’s just why I can’t go fishing today……”

I know for sure the song’s title is “The Fishing Song”. I’d like to know the singer, the record label, and where to get a copy of it if possible.  So if you have any idea who sang this please let me know.  Otherwise…beware that Fishing Game!