Daily Prompt: Papa Loves Mambo

What sort of music was played in your house when you were growing up? What effect, (if any) did it have on your musical tastes?

Oh, my stars! When I opened up my email and saw this Daily Prompt, I actually laughed out loud.  The words to that song, Papa Loves Mambo, popped right into my head along with several others from the mid-1950s. At that time, most of the music I listened to belonged to my older brother (11 years my senior). I, of course, had songs such as “How Much is That Doggy in the Window” and other popular tunes from singers/actors such as Burl Ives, Gene Autry and Hopalong Cassidy. But the ones I remember most and thought of first when I saw this prompt were my teenage (then) brother’s records. I assume they were pretty much the hits of the day. Sometimes when I want to be silly around people now, I’ll start singing or saying the words to such tunes such as these:

Green Door

Me Make Um Pow Wow

Istanbul (not Constantinople)

Okay, if you’re through laughing, you can pick yourself up off the floor. Sheesh, I was only about six years old. Obviously, they were my formative years because the words and music stayed with me! Of course, it wasn’t long after that (probably somewhere around 1957-1958) my best friend and I taught ourselves how to jitterbug to some of these 1950s hits by watching American Bandstand!

Yes, I really do like a lot of the 50s music. But the truth of the matter is that I have always liked and will always prefer the sounds of the 1960s and 1970s. And that’s just the way it is — I mean the way I am! I’m not about to start listing all my favorites from my teen years. We’d be here all week!

Daily Prompt: Music

“When we rejoice in beautiful scenery, great art, and great music,
it is but the flexing of instincts acquired in another place and another time.”
— Elder Neal A. Maxwell

I have always loved music. Music has a way of lifting you up if you’re feeling down. There are songs that will trigger memories that I thought were lost forever. This Daily Prompt brought up a memory of when I was a child and we lived at the Marsh Hotel.  When you passed through the lobby of the Hotel there was a dining room in the back. Yes, it was operating back then.  There was an old piano in that dining room.  I don’t remember if anyone ever played it (besides me, that is).  Whenever the dining room was closed, I would spend hours banging away on that old piano.  I picked out the usual Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.  I used to pretend I was a great piano player and spend hours making up “songs” to bang out on that old piano.  If memory serves (which it doesn’t always do) that old thing was pink.  Yes, I did say pink. Granted, it was a very pale pink.

I guess my Mom took pity on me because she started me in piano lessons. They were down the street from the Hotel in a back room of a book store. I can’t remember the name of the book store or the name of the piano teacher.  I do remember she was very nice.  I absolutely loved learning the piano.  But all good things must come to an end. I was only able to take lessons for about three months.  That’s about the time my father became quite ill and nearly died. He lost the Hotel and we had to move. I can remember my teacher telling my mother to make sure she got me back into piano lessons no matter where we went. I guess she thought I had a knack for it. She said I had covered two years of material in three months. Sadly, I never had a piano again.

Well, over 50 years later, I can’t say that anymore. Last year I found the perfect piano on Craigslist. It’s beautiful, it’s like new, and they were selling it at an unbelievable price (e.g. cheap!).  I thought there had to be something terribly wrong with it so I hired a piano tuner to inspect it for me prior to purchase.  After he had examined and tested it, he told me privately to let him know if I did not buy it because he would. Well, that was enough for me.  It’s mine and it’s everything I ever hoped it would be! Here it is:

Baldwin Piano 9-22-12

It’s mine now! Granted, for now it’s primarily just a beautiful piece of furniture. Shortly after I purchased it, I lost my job, so no piano lessons at the moment. But don’t despair. I haven’t. I have the piano I have dreamed of my whole life. I have the Schaum and Thompson piano books I had when I was 10. So, it’s not a banjo but I’m a pickin’ and a grinnin’!  I have always said if I could have spent as much time at a piano keyboard as I have at a typewriter/computer keyboard, I’d be a concert pianist!  HA!

I do so enjoy music. Lots of different genres. Some time ago, I started adding songs I liked to one of my Pinterest boards (click here). I noticed that so far I’ve been keeping pretty much to the 60’s and 70’s!

Here’s a piano medley of some hymns of Thanksgiving to enjoy (oh, to play like that!):

I listened, motionless and still; And, as I mounted up the hill, The music in my heart I bore, Long after it was heard no more.

William Wordsworth

For more interpretations of the Daily Prompt click here.

My Downtown Playground – Part 1

Downtown Van Wert, Ohio

Downtown Van Wert, Ohio

Around 1956 my family moved to a little town called Van Wert, Ohio. Apparently Dad took it upon himself to buy an old hotel smack dab in the middle of town. It was called the Marsh Hotel or the Hotel Marsh, depending upon individual preference. This became my new stomping ground. We occupied the Manager’s Suite on the top floor.

But what–you say–did a kid do in the middle of downtown for entertainment? Well, there were lots of things to occupy my days and my mind.


For starters, there’s the Hotel itself. How many kids get the run of the house, especially if that “house” is a hotel? Being Nancy Drew incarnate, I could run up and down those hallways and into empty rooms looking for “clues” and building cases.

There was a big formal restaurant dining room in the back of the Hotel. In that dining area sat an old piano. Gosh, I loved that old piano. I didn’t know how to play but that didn’t stop me. I learned all the easy stuff kids learn on pianos without lessons. Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star; Row, Row, Row Your Boat; you get the idea. Little tunes kids can pick out on their own. Of course, that was only allowed during times the restaurant was closed. We wouldn’t want to ruin anyone’s appetite!

The check-in desk was full of surprises with its cubbyholes and glass display cabinet. There were boxes of cigars in the display that were for sale. I don’t like the smell of cigar smoke but I did like the smell of those cigar boxes! I had quite a collection of the old empty boxes. Most were used to store my crayons and other trinkets.

Marsh Desk

Yep, that’s me, my Mom and my faithful companion, Happy, right there at the check-in desk. It’s a pretty beat-up picture but if you look real close over my Mom’s right shoulder, you can just barely make out an old PBX switchboard. I’m guessing it was installed maybe in the 1930s or 1940s.

Antique PBX

Antique PBX

This picture is just an example of the PBX with those cords and buttons and I knew how to use it. I was able to take and place calls on occasion to help out! It was fun.

elevator handle

The hotel was four stories and had an old Otis elevator that was manually operated. It had one of those gates across the door that was shut manually. And then there was the apparatus that moved the elevator up and down. It was pushed to the right to go up and left to go down. The trick was when you stopped at each floor you had to bob up and down until you got it lined up. Otherwise, there would have been a big step up or down when exiting the elevator. I did operate the elevator on occasion. There were times when I just wanted to go upstairs and grab something out of the apartment without having to run up and down the flights of stairs so I would take the elevator. Sometimes I would even get to take the guests to their floor. Then you always said “Watch your step, please.” Of course, I  only got to do that when Shorty was busy! We had a regular bellhop named Shorty who was also the elevator operator. Such a nice man he was, too. Heck, he tolerated me, didn’t he?! Hey, I just realized. Could this be like a forerunner to video games? You don’t see the connection? Well, I had to synchronize the handle up and down to get it lined up just right with the landing.

The Cisco Kid and Diablo

The Cisco Kid and Diablo

There were definitely some perks being the young daughter of the Hotel owner. Every now and again someone famous or sort of famous would stay at the Hotel. One such individual I remember so well was Duncan Renaldo. Who is that some of you younger readers might be asking. Why, it’s the Cisco Kid! Oh, Pancho! Oh, Cisco! Leo Carrillo, who played Pancho in the TV series was traveling with him. Of course, he also brought with him his trusted horse, Diablo, but Diablo, much to my chagrin, did not stay at the Hotel. They were in town for the Van Wert County Fair. Even as a child, I knew that the Cisco Kid was a VERY handsome man! He and Pancho were talking with me and asking me if I watched their TV show. Of course I told them I did – and I did. When they asked me which day it was on TV, I couldn’t tell them. I was so embarrassed at the time. But, he was so gracious. He had such a wonderful laugh and he said I was so cute. Well, that was all I needed. I was smitten. Of course, my poor mother was just sure that I would be “discovered” and asked to go to Hollywood and become famous and rich. Ha!

From Google Images - not the actual dance troupe

From Google Images – not the actual dance troupe

One other example was a troupe of Irish dancers touring the country. If memory serves, they probably ranged in age from about 10 or 12 to about 15 or 16. Having Irish blood myself flowing through my veins, I felt as one with them! They were teaching me how to do the Irish jig and a sword dance. My, but they were a fun bunch. I was able to ride on the tour bus with them to one of their stage performances. Naturally, I fell in love with a couple of the Irish boys. They weren’t just cute – they had the neatest accents ever! They paved the way for Michael Flatley and Lord of the Dance!!

Yes, there was a lot of mischief for a young girl to get into at that old Hotel. In Part 2 I’ll move my activities to the great outdoors. Look out world, here I come!