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Music, music, music!

I often get emails from you remembering songs you loved. I thank you for them because most often they bring back memories for me too. I never thought about it before but music has really been a big part of my life.

My grandmother Primosch (the Austrian side) always made sure her children had music in their lives. She scraped her coins together and bought an accordion, drums and a piano. She made sure they all practiced.

John and Marie (Gram) Primosch
John and Marie (Gram) Primosch

My own mother played the piano and I can still hear her playing her favorites; "Beautiful Ohio" and "The Old Rugged Cross".

My dad's family (the Irish side) sang, and how they sang! They all had beautiful voices and I loved to listen to them. His sister Margaret was the only one who played the piano. So many of my relatives had pianos then. Player pianos that we'd pump were also very popular with us kids.

My Dad used to sing us babies to sleep with "Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ra." Later my husband sang our children to sleep with the same song. He too had a great voice.

A get together with the Sweeneys, usually at our house, always meant mom at the piano and us standing around her singing. When she took a break her sister Agnes would take over.

Helen and James (Bud) Sweeney
Helen and James (Bud) Sweeney

There would be happy songs and hearty laughter mixed in with sad (mostly Irish and war songs) and tears would well up.

We were (are) a very emotional family. I remember when my cousin Jim was in the service. My dad said he could make his mother (Margaret) cry with the first line of "Boy of Mine". No one wisely took the bet. As soon as he started to sing it she burst into tears and started hitting him. It was brother and sister still being children.and having a great time.

Bud Sweeney about to sing
Dad (Bud Sweeney) about to sing

Some times on a weeknight our Parish priest would stop by to play our piano. Mom and Dad made everyone feel at home. Mom was a great hostess and always had tasty foods and Dad would set up a bar and let everyone fend for themselves. The neighborhood loner would sit on the sofa next to the important politician and everyone was treated exactly the same.

I have never been in awe of people for who they are; famous or important has never impressed me, (just like my Dad). I have often been called a reverse snob and that's fine with me. Back to the music.

My aunt Agnes always had the latest songs on her piano rack. She would go to Kresges downtown every Saturday and bring home a new one. You could tell what was happening in the country by the songs. The war songs like "White Cliffs of Dover." Patriotic songs like "God Bless America" were always favorites.

We even sang songs from the First World War like "Over There", "When Johnny comes marching home", and "Pack up your troubles in your old kitbag". Mom always played a song to our Blessed Mother like "On this day oh beautiful Mother" and "Mother Dearest Mother Fairest". Dad loved "Mother McCree", "I'll take you home again Kathleen" and "Danny Boy".

"Boy of Mine" was one of my favorites but anything my father sang was at that moment my favorite. Later I loved to hear him sing "My Way", and he did it his way. My uncle Sid (dad's brother) sang in church (and at my wedding). He also sang at events including St.Patrick's day shows.

My mother tried to get us to learn the piano but after a couple of years, on and off, and still playing the scales she let us quit.

Pat with brothers Terry and Jim
Pat with brothers Terry and Jim

My dad liked Bing Crosby so, of course, so did I. My friends all favored Sinatra. As Sinatra aged and become more mature he became a favorite of Dads and my brother Terry, and of course then mine too.

Recently an old friend who lived next door to us mentioned how she loved to hear my mother sing during the day through the window. Funny thing, I loved to hear her mother sing as she cleaned. I never really thought much about mom's singing. She never sang with the group at parties - she played the piano.

My husband Norm loved to sing. He knew more songs than anyone and he knew all the verses. He only sang happy songs. At parties with our friends he'd burst out with an Italian song, Hebrew song, German, Irish you name it and thrilled our friends that he knew the words many in their native language. They would chime in and the rest was all fun.

He also loved to dance (but that's another column). He'd sing anywhere and loud! Neighbors heard him in the shower, in the back yard, men he worked with said he sang on the job. My son said when he'd go to the gym he'd hear his father singing in the locker room often with others joining in.

"Patty McGinty's Goat" was the most requested and he taught us all the verses. He taught our children and nieces the words to many songs, along with all the animal sounds etc. Any ride in the car was a singing event.

I loved to hear my daughters sing together. Debbie has taken over his roll of leading the little ones in "Puff the Magic Dragon" with words and names changed to fit this new generation.

We had many backyard picnics, as did our friends. As the day went on so came the music. We'd sit around a fire and sing - young and old alike. At winter parties after dinner the singers somehow wound up in the kitchen but it wasn't long and most everyone joined them.

I remember my dad and husband standing around the kitchen table with a bottle of Old Crow and singing like there was no tomorrow. My brother's daughters as well as mine could hardly wait till Thanksgiving dinner was over so they could start singing Christmas songs.

Today when I meet some of the children (now adults) of friends the first thing they say is "remember the parties and picnics with all the singing?" One friend greeted me with "Little Houses" a favorite my husband always sang.

Once a local bar had a contest and my husband and son Danny entered. They played the guitar and sang Hank Williams Jr.'s classic "Family Tradition" with some of the words changed. They came in second (should have been first).

After my daughters made a Search (a religious event for high school teens), our living room was always filled with guitars, songs and kids.

I took a class in guitar playing and each day when I came home I taught the family what I learned. My husband loved it. My daughter went on to play at guitar Masses and many events.

Every family event she'd play and the young children would sit around her singing along. The favorite was Peter Paul and Mary's "Going to the Zoo". To this day my brother, Jim, requests the song whenever we get together.

My son played electric guitar with his friends and most evenings our basement rang with music. He still enjoys playing but not as often as I wish. My son-in-law plays the piano beautifully and if you're lucky enough to hear him it's a real joy.

Several of my cousins and I sang in church choirs and my cousin Joan and I sang side by side during High School. My sister in law Pam was still singing in the choir a couple of years ago and now many of my great nieces and nephews are taking music lessons.

At Thanksgiving we all sing "Bless This House" before marching in to dinner. It brings tears to my eyes to see the whole family (about 30 of us) together in song. My sister-in-law Pam's Aunt Edith taught us that song.

This Easter, at my niece Anne's home, Danny was tuning her daughter Allie's new guitar. (She's the first of this generation to become a teenager) and a short time later we heard "Going to the Zoo" coming from the hall. The young ones were learning the words and having a great time. Shortly we in the kitchen were singing along. How lucky we are!

I started this column thinking I'd remember the old songs but instead I remembered the good memories. But is that bad? I think not.

Sing along with me as I make my list and you make yours. I bet it brings back happy memories to you too, and soon to come we'll have another column.

Let's Chat (and Sing!)

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Pat Hanson - Chat with Pat

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