Sunday, February 6, 2011

Tennessee Ernie Ford; Harry Belafonte; and Ferdy Borchert Won Me Over.

It is
Week 6 Already of the Genea Bloggers 52 weeks of Personal Genealogy and History! Radio and Television. The prompt question is :

What was your favorite radio or television show from your childhood? What was the program about and who was in it?

Oh gosh, - TV, my all time favorite necessity of the media, along with the Internet. How blessed are we?

I just at look how Sissy dives right into this with her unique interpretation of the subject and questions.

This Story hour is brought to you

a rootdigger.

Sissy writes:
This is a long story, but well worth it.
My special momental encounter of a television program at a very young age occurred with a large screen television set at the home of the relative to those Borcherts and Gollwitzers in Truman, who built our house and gave me the
nickname Sissy, and Sonny his.
In fact, these neighbors lived a mile north and was Sonnie's Godparents. So that means for every birthday in December he had, we saw Ferdy Borchert and his wife Cordelia. They were fellow members of our St Paul's Evangelical church in St James and old family friends of Grandpa and my dad.

Usually their older only child, Lucille was absent, so it was us kids and the grown ups. To my young eyes at the time Cordelia seemed to be so strictly seriously religious. Now as an adult looking back, I do recall the twinkle in her eyes, her smiles that I often missed, when she went along with Ferdy. Or you could say it was there as she reeled him back to the right path with a reminder, when he would get carried away with all his joking and teasing. She would be explaining his actions or apologizing for him. because he loved to put one over on you with his humor and teasing. I would have to say that night I was a perfect target for that humor as a naive young girl. And I could say after that night, I grew to love it and him enough to seek him out at church on Sundays.

After the birthday supper, we were turned out into the large rectangle shaped living room with the television on in clear view of everyone. I suppose it is considered a social 'no no' nowadays, but I think that it often occurred sooner or later, when we visited someone.

Now a word from our sponser.

This Sissy Story Hour is being brought to you

by a rootdigger.

Stay tuned and


will resume in a


In very olden days men retired to the smoking room, while the women did their own thing, and I like to think that the television viewing was the men's substitute for that smoking room. The television entertainment was an offer just as cigar, candy or a drink was an offering.

Sissie's Story Hour continues

I could take a guess that it was offered to us, because they knew we had none at home. It may also have been something for us kids to do. I think in this case, that Ferdy wanted to share the program and the music with us knowing full well what would be on at that time. The singers on that particular program often sang religious songs and it was kept in mind as something appropriate to have on. They all loved music. And they still could have conversation with each other.

As I had wandered around looking at things, occasionally doing something with Steve, I wasn't listening that closely to the TV until I heard-

"Some people say a man is made outta mud
A poor man's made outta muscle and blood
Muscle and blood and skin and bones
A mind that's a-weak and a back that's strong"

and then I was trying harder to listen and liking what I heard-

"You load sixteen tons, what do you get
Another day older and deeper in debt

I liked how Tennessee Ernie Ford would belt out the catchy phrase ending-

"Saint Peter don't you call me '
cause I can't go
I owe my soul to the company store"

I was drawn to the singer and song and his show that the others were watching - Tennessee Ernie Ford's songs sometimes had been of the religious nature and those were were not like "Sixteen Ton" with "I owe my soul to the company store"

My Grandfather had been a miner, as they knew and I am sure he identified with the songs message. Grandpa also had been musical and had taken part in some music groups in his youth like Ferdy and his father did and at the time of this story was in the St. Pauls Ev. church choir, though I didn't know those things about their youth at that time.

I hadn't been listening to the men's conversations either, until the song ended. with his spectacular delivery of the end of the song.
Then I found myself listening to an enthusiastic discussion by Ferdy about Harry Belafonte and his marvelous singing, who was soon to sing. When he began to sing, I was struck, entranced, ignorant about this dark colored man singing a song on that gorgeous island, in native Island garb. The music was so different than I had ever heard. New to viewing television, too, I thought he lived on that Island in another area of the world. I was watching everything. He gave Some kind of deep native call and then it developed to.

"Day-o, day-ay-ay-o
Daylight come and me wan' go home
Day-o, day-ay-ay-o
Daylight come and me wan' go home"

And I listened to the rest of the song, with questions or comments of a childish nature.

A little later, some thought must have occurred to Ferdy about my interest and questions about Harry Belafonte.
So much so that later, when I began petting his short little black and brown haired dog, he said to me, that

"maybe I shouldn't, cause I might get my hand black."

Startled I stopped, as a child does in alert fashion. But still with trust, I had stopped and looked at my hands. Unsure. And from then on he thought I believed that the black of the fur would rub off. I am sure I actually knew it wouldn't, I had petted colored animals on the farm, and just knew it from blind experience it wouldn't, but no matter. As far as he was concerned, I had fallen into his joke at my young age.

His wife entered in to explain him, in the usual way she did. We had a little conversation about fur and skin color that did not rub off. From then on he enjoyed the memory of I, a little girl falling for his little joke. We went home after that.
[I was to remember this incident several times in my later years.]

We'll resume the story after some Quick words
from the sponsor:

From then on, I would listen to the radio and the station on the radio in the barn in hopes of hearing the song. My brother had told me that he had heard it sometimes on certain numbers of the station dial. when I had a chance, I would go down to the barn to hear the radio.
Dad always had on Polka's and those songs of the New Ulm station of the German Bohemian nature on his radio in the barn. I asked my father, if he had ever heard the song that Tennessee Ernie Fords had sung. So sometimes he would turn his dial, so we could hear other songs and often I did hear Tennessee singing. I began to play with the radio station dial in the house, usually with the old plastic looking radio in the basement for more of Tennessee Ernie Ford. That's when I heard the songs of his that I was beginning to love - ". I owe my soul to the company store. and "Mathilda. But most of all I discovered my most favorite to this day of all of his songs. This old house.

"Ain't gonna need this house no longer
Ain't gonna need this house no more
Ain't got time to fix the shingles
Ain't got time to fix the floor
Ain't got time to oil the hinges
Nor to mend the window pane
Ain't gonna need this house no longer
I'm a-gettin' ready to meet the saints."

Now Back to the story

Ferdy and Cordelia gave me a gift that day too. Mom of course protested. They gave me a white blouse. I certainly needed one like that. Cordelia explained that Ferdy thought siblings should get presents when other siblings got birthday presents. [ I have remembered that idea myself for a long time. I tried it with my own children.]

We got Christmas presents too from them that year. I couldn't tell you what Sonny got, but I can tell you that when I opened the box and rolled back the tissue paper and saw what the Borcherts had given me; I knew with instant understanding why. He did explain it himself, though, why he had given me a twelve inch black doll. He explained to mom that he just had to do that, since he had teased me so about black fur and brown skin color joke. He even asked me, if I understood why I got the brown skinned doll, and if I liked it. I said I liked it. And I liked the attention from this man with the twinkles in his eyes. Even if it wasn't what I might have wanted, he said he was pleased he gave it to me. I knew or felt even at my young age with out his words, that there was more to this than just the joke. Words cannot express why I liked my gift of that doll. For some reason his gift was more than it was.

There are times now as I think about that, I wonder what prompted all that? What was behind it for him. Was there more to this than just a man of faith, and fun, who liked to play Jokes on children.?

We'll be Back again after a word from our

See I did find Harry Belafonte's songs and it thrills me to see all the words.
The song famously sung by Harry Belafonte The Banana song.**[ 1956]

Day-o, day-ay-ay-o
Daylight come and me wan' go home
Day-o, day-ay-ay-o
Daylight come and me wan' go home

"Work all night on a drink of rum Daylight come and me wan' go home .........Day, me say day, me say day, me say day....ay-ay-o Daylight come and me wan' go home

Back to our final chapter

I told you my story was worth it. Advertisements, commercials and all. I am glad you didn't change the channel. Oh yes that's right we're a one channel blog. I have some favorite shows coming up that I'd like to remind you all about.

Be sure and stay tuned for the Family and
with Pizza;
Mary Tyler Moore and Rhoda;
Mighty Mouse and the Mouse hater;
All brought to you by arootdigger


Yes, Sissy we are a one channel Blog. Now if we could only be a commercial free story hour!

Belafonte's songs became popular with the children. It was especially known to those who watched the Muppets. It sure brings back the memories. I want to sing for some reason.

So What do you think about Sissie"s story hour, should it stay a few more posts?

What was your favorite radio or television show from your childhood? What was the program about and who was in it?

Source for more of Bellafonte :
Island in the sun; Get an ugly girl to marry you;

Dayo Banana song. first one I found with sound. not any particular reason for it, I am not responsible for your visit there. As far as I know it's okay.

Tennessee Ernie Ford Sources :

Note : Editing will occur.