Friday, March 19, 2010

I Do...As Long As We Do Not Kiss...

My family moved to Beaumont in 1940 and we lived at 1375 Pipkin Street in South Park. All of our neighbors were cordial folks. Our next door neighbors east of us were Tommy and Anna Dee Heartfield. They had a daughter named Deanna who was a member of the Pipkin Street Gang. You may remember from previous columns that the PSG was made up of 12 kids that lived in the 1300 block of Pipkin.

Anyway one afternoon when I was about 8 years of age I decided it was time to get married. I asked Margaret Ann Burch who turned me down. I asked Kay LeBlanc but she was not interested. Then I proposed to Deanna Heartfield who was 7 and she accepted. Many of the Pipkin Street kids were present for the marriage ceremony which took place in the ditch in front of our house. Jackie Garretson was one of my favorite playmates so he was asked to perform the ceremony.

Everything went smooth till it was time to kiss the bride. I shied away which was a good thing because Deanna turned her back on me. Seems neither of us wanted anything to do with the kissing part. Jackie informed us that we could not get married if we did not kiss. I told Jackie to go ahead because the kiss was not something people had to do. So Jackie proceeded to marry us without the kiss. He introduced us to the group as, “Winston and Deanna and they are married.”

Some ten minutes after the wedding ceremony my dad called me to come eat supper. I went inside the house and told my parents that Deanna and I had gotten married and that I would like to invite her to eat with us. My mother and dad chuckled and told me to go ask her parents. So I did. When I knocked on Deanna’s front door, Mrs. Heartfield answered. I proceeded to explain to her that since Deanna and I were married that Deanna needed to start eating her meals at my house.

Mrs. Heartfield seemed amused and invited me in so that I could chat with the entire family. I explained to Mr. and Mrs. Heartfield how that Jackie had performed the ceremony with most of the neighborhood kids present. Hastily I added, “…but we didn’t kiss.” Then I made up the following: “Besides my parents think it’s a great idea and sent me over to bring her to my house.”

Mr. Heartfield congratulated us but advised us to hold off for a few years. He said, “When you finish up with school and if you still want to get married, we’ll talk about it then.” The Heartfields sent me home empty-handed.

When I got back home to eat supper (without Deanna) my mother told me that I was too young to be thinking about marriage and should not be going around trying to marry the neighbors’ girls. I learned later that Mrs. Heartfield had telephoned my mother. They had talked for 10 minutes. I never knew the content of their conversation but I suspect that they annulled the marriage.

Later on in life at age 27 I married Mardell, my wife of 46 years. We have enjoyed a storybook marriage through all those years. Once in a while I wonder if I have two wives? Mardell may be my second wife since Deanna and I never divorced.

On the other hand I know that Jackie was not authorized to perform weddings. Another way I know that my wedding to Deanna was not valid is that at the close of the ceremony, we did not kiss.

But sometimes I still wonder…?

Winston Hamby

Saturday, March 06, 2010

There's Music In The Air...

When I was a third grader at J. L. Giles Elementary School in Beaumont, something happened that has stayed with me all my life. I had just gone to bed one night and began hearing music. The song I heard was “Somewhere Over The Rainbow,” by Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg. I had become aware of this song some months earlier at the Jefferson Theater when my family took me to see The Wizard of Oz starring Judy Garland. The song was beautiful and today at age 74 still is one of my all time favorites.

But the unusual thing about hearing the song in bed that night is there was no radio or record playing. I was trying to sleep. When the song began playing in my head I got up and double-checked that we had turned the radio off. Ever since that night in 1943, I have enjoyed hearing music in my head almost anytime.

Some people who hear music have been treated by specialists for mental disorders. Not me. I have always liked the music. In fact I consider it a gift from my Maker.

My musical mind can tune in whatever kind of music I want to hear. A good march by a great band is special. Particularly when the band is in your imagination.

Sometimes I prefer listening to classical music so I tune my mind to an unseen orchestra. Other times I can flip my mental tuner over to country music. Also I love to listen to the old church songs that my mind retained from when I was a kid. Another of my favorites is jazz because it allows for improvisation. I can listen to old popular tunes or new original ones. In fact my mind’s ear can bring in original compositions with all forms of music. Many times while driving down a highway I will not turn on the radio because the tires on the pavement play such beautiful music.

There is an interesting aspect of this activity that shows up when I want to write a song. First I write a poem. Then I share that poem with the grand chorus that resides somewhere in my brain. The chorus sings the poem. I notate the melody that the chorus gives to me. Many times I can write the harmony from the same source. In other words, all I have to do to come up with a song is to write the lyrics (poem) and call on my chorus to do the rest.

One day I explained to my sister, Ann, that I can hear two tones simultaneously. One tone is a melody and the second tone harmonizes with the first one. Ann then explained to me that she can hear three harmonizing tones and currently is working on a fourth tone. I teased her that a fourth tone might be the final stage.

Ann said she always has heard music in her head. She never mentioned it because she assumed that everyone could hear imaginary music. I researched this and learned that many people hear music when there is none. Run a computer search engine on “hearing music that is not there.” You will find an abundance of really fascinating information on this phenomenon.

An interesting side note to this story is that the other day, Jenna, my five-year old granddaughter said, “Paw Paw, I hear music in the air.” I said, “That’s wonderful Jenna. Learn to write it down and someday you may become a famous composer.” So I know that my “mind music” will live for at least another generation.

I can hear it now. “Birds fly over the rainbow. Why then, oh why can’t I?”

Beautiful. Just beautiful.

Winston Hamby