As a young child I delighted in our Magnavox HiFi. I would sit on the scratchy green wool sofa in our den while listening to Rosemary Clooney. Her album, Rosemary Clooney Sings for Children with its pink background was a clear favorite. I loved the track, Betsy, My Paper Doll, because I was the lucky recipient of the Betsy McCall paper dolls hidden in the pages of my mother’s McCall’s Magazine. The other song that spoke to me was The Little Shoemaker because my father was in the shoe business. At six, it felt like Rosemary Clooney was singing to me personally. I hadn’t realized Rosemary Clooney was an icon until years later when I watched her sing with Bing Crosby in White Christmas on the Sunday Million Dollar Movie.
Recently I was reminded of that album while walking in Central and Carl Shurz Parks in this time of transition. On the grass are one- and two year-olds in a safely distanced semi-circle with their caregivers listening to Broadway level singers shaking egg instruments and leading the children in song. They are singing their hearts out to their young audiences who may or may not be singing along. Each performer grateful for any gig as theater crawls back from being dark.
How fortunate I was to have enjoyed the musical styling of a great songstress. And, how lucky these toddlers are to meet up with some of the best singers from around the country. It’s not clear if it’s simply a part of their activity schedule or if the family values the influence of music in our lives. Either way, I appreciate walking past them remembering the simple touch of my mother’s hand when placing the needle gently on the spinning album even when I asked to hear it again and again.
In addition to Rosemary Clooney, I heard Lena Horne, Harry Belafonte, Ray Charles, Bobby Darin, Julie Andrews, Judy Garland, and many more who allude my memory, crooning through our oak HiFi. On Sundays we listened to opera on the classical radio station. That’s when my grandparents visited. We all sat quietly on the same itchy green sofa or love seat. If we couldn’t be quiet, we had to go play in the basement. I favored Puccini and Mozart. The songs felt pretty to me. But not having an album cover to attempt to read was a limitation that had me go to the basement after an aria or two.
I’m not listening to enough music these days. It’s time to open-up iTunes and delight in Rosemary Clooney and friends.
- Play music you used to enjoy. Take in the memories and notice how the songs and music impact you now
- Take a walk and see what associations you conjure. What recollections come to mind?
- Create new memories by sharing music with someone you respect. If possible, listen together. If you can’t, you can enjoy the association with the music.