At home Frances and Leon played the pump organ and zither. She had used the zither to sing with her students when she taught elementary school. Now the family often enjoyed “having a sing before going to bed.” Or they would sing and then make popcorn balls.
She remembered singing “The Old Rugged Cross,” “Higher Ground,” “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” And popular songs, such as “Blowing Bubbles,” which debuted in 1918:
I’m forever blowing bubbles/Pretty bubbles in the air/They fly so high/Nearly reach the sky/Then like my dreams/They fade and die/Fortune’s always hiding/I’ve looked everywhere/I’m forever blowing bubbles/Pretty bubbles in the air.
And she liked WWI songs, “Pack Up your Troubles”:
Pack up your troubles in your old kit-bag,
And smile, smile, smile,
While you’ve a lucifer to light your fag,
Smile, boys, that’s the style.
What’s the use of worrying?
It never was worth while, so
Pack up your troubles in your old kit-bag,
And smile, smile, smile.
I remember her singing: Keep the Home Fires Burning
They were summoned from the hillside / They were called in from the glen, /And the country found them ready /At the stirring call for men. /Let no tears add to their hardships /As the soldiers pass along, /And although your heart is breaking /Make it sing this cheery song:
Keep the Home Fires Burning, /While your hearts are yearning, /Though your lads are far away /They dream of home. /There’s a silver lining /Through the dark clouds shining, /Turn the dark cloud inside out /’Til the boys come home.
Overseas there came a pleading, /”Help a nation in distress.” /And we gave our glorious laddies /Honour bade us do no less, /For no gallant son of freedom /To a tyrant’s yoke should bend, /And a noble heart must answer /To the sacred call of “Friend.”
Keep the Home Fires Burning, /While your hearts are yearning, /Though your lads are far away /They dream of home. /There’s a silver lining /Through the dark clouds shining, /Turn the dark cloud inside out/ ’Til the boys come home.
And, I remember Grammy singing the old WWI song, Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree
I’m comin’ home, I’ve done my time / Now I’ve got to know what is and isn’t mine/ If you received my letter tellin’ you I’d soon be free/ Then you’ll know just what to do if you still want me/ If you still want me
Tie a yellow ribbon ’round the old oak tree/ It’s been three long years/ Do you still want me?/ If I don’t see a ribbon round the old oak tree/ I’ll stay on the bus/ Forget about us/ Put the blame on me/ If I don’t see a yellow ribbon round the old oak tree
Bus driver, please look for me/ ‘Cause I couldn’t bear to see what I might see/ I’m really still in prison, and my love she holds the key/ A simple yellow ribbon’s what I need to set me free/ I wrote and told her please:
Now the whole damn bus is cheering/ And I can’t believe I see/ A hundred yellow ribbons ’round the old oak tree/ I’m comin’ home
When Leon got home, sometimes he would knock three times. When Fran opened the door, he would sing “Five feet Two, Eyes of Blue…” and lift her off her feet.
Has Anybody seen My Gal?
(Music : Percy Wenrich / Lyrics : Jack Mahoney) – 1914
Five foot two, eyes of blue,
oh, what those five feet could do:
has anybody seen my gal?
Turned-up nose, turned-down hose
Flapper? Yes sir, one of those
Has anybody seen my gal?
Well, if you run into a five-foot-two
covered with pearls,
Diamond rings, all those things,
Bet your life it isn’t her
But could she love, could she coo!
Has anybody seen my gal
Her favorite songs were hymns like “Jerusalem” from William Blake’s lyric:
And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England’s mountain green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
On England’s pleasant pastures seen?
And did the countenance divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among those dark satanic mills?
Bring me my bow of burning gold!
Bring me my arrows of desire!
Bring me my spear! O clouds, unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire!
I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand,
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England’s green and pleasant land.
or “O God, Our Help in Ages Past”
Our God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home.
Under the shadow of Thy throne
Thy saints have dwelt secure;
Sufficient is Thine arm alone,
And our defense is sure.
Other hymns she liked were:
“The Old Rugged Cross”:
On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross, The emblem of suffering and shame; And I love that old cross where the dearest and best For a world of lost sinners was slain.
So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross, Till my trophies at last I lay down; I will cling to the old rugged cross, And exchange it some day for a crown.
O that old rugged cross, so despised by the world, Has a wondrous attraction for me; For the dear Lamb of God left His glory above To bear it to dark Calvary.//Refrain
In that old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine, A wondrous beauty I see, For ’twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died, To pardon and sanctify me.//Refrain
To the old rugged cross I will ever be true; Its shame and reproach gladly bear; Then He’ll call me some day to my home far away, Where His glory forever I’ll share.//Refrain
I’m pressing on the upward way, New heights I’m gaining every day; Still praying as I’m onward bound, “Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.”
Refrain: Lord, lift me up and let me stand, By faith, on Heaven’s tableland, A higher plane than I have found; Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.
My heart has no desire to stay, Where doubts arise and fears dismay; Though some may dwell where those abound, My prayer, my aim, is higher ground.
I want to live above the world, Though Satan’s darts at me are hurled; For faith has caught the joyful sound, The song of saints on higher ground.
I want to scale the utmost height, And catch a gleam of glory bright; But still I’ll pray till heav’n I’ve found, “Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.”
“What a Friend We Have in Jesus” (Words: Joseph Scriven, 1857):
What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer! O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear, All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.
Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere? We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer. Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share? Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer.
Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care? Precious Savior, still our refuge, take it to the Lord in prayer. Do your friends despise, forsake you? Take it to the Lord in prayer! In His arms He’ll take and shield you; you will find a solace there.
Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised Thou wilt all our burdens bear. May we ever, Lord, be bringing all to Thee in earnest prayer. Soon in glory bright unclouded there will be no need for prayer . Rapture, praise and endless worship will be our sweet portion there.
But she also liked sentimental favorites, like “Over the River and through the Woods,” based on the poem by Lydia Maria Child, “A Boy’s Thanksgiving Day.”
This is how Frances remembered it:
“Over the river and through the woods to Grandfather’s house we go. The horse knows the way to carry the sleigh over the white and drifted snow. Over the river and through the woods, trot fast, my dapple-gray. Speed over the ground like a hunting hound for this is Thanksgiving Day. Over the river and through the woods to Grandfather’s house we go. Hurrah for the fun! Is the pudding done? Hurrah for the Pumpkin Pie!’
She also noted a song called “The Last Chord” (written for a dying brother):
Seated one day at the organ,
I was weary and ill at ease,
And my fingers wandered idly
Over the noisy keys.
I know not what I was playing,
Or what I was dreaming then;
But I struck one chord of music,
Like the sound of a great Amen.
It flooded the crimson twilight,
Like the close of an angel’s psalm,
And it lay on my fevered spirit
With a touch of infinite calm.
It quieted pain and sorrow,
Like love overcoming strife;
It seemed the harmonious echo
From our discordant life.
It linked all perplexèd meanings
Into one perfect peace,
And trembled away into silence
As if it were loth to cease.
I have sought, but I seek it vainly,
That one lost chord divine,
Which came from the soul of the organ,
And entered into mine.
It may be that death’s bright angel
Will speak in that chord again,
It may be that only in Heav’n
I shall hear that grand Amen.
Fran pasted into her scrapbook diet advice from Gladys Swarthout, who sang mezz-soprano in the NY Met and, after WWII, made famous the 1890s song:
JUST A’WEARYIN’ FOR YOU (Frank Stanton / Carrie Jacobs-Bond)
Just a’wearyin for you/All the time a’feelin blue/Wishin for you, wonderin when/You’ll be coming home again/Restless don’t know what to do/Just a’wearyin for you/Morning comes, the birds awake/Seem to sing so for your sake/But there’s sadness in the notes/That come trillin from their throats/Seem to feel a sadness too/Just a’wearyin for you/Evening comes I miss you more/When the dark gloom’s round the door/Seems just like you ought to be/Here to open it for me/Latch goes tinkling, thrills me through/Sets me wearyin’ for you/Just a’wearyin dear for you