Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Sound of Music

Music has always been an influence on people beginning as a child. I feel that if a young boy or girl is deprived the joy of music, even as an infant, they are missing something huge.

When I was just a kid back in Smock, we did not listen to a varied bunch of musical styles. When walking up the street from church on a Sunday in any other season but Winter, you could hear the strains of Lil Wally or Marion Lush or The Dynasonics coming from almost every home. Sunday meant church but it also meant polkas.

As you are most aware if you have read any of my prior blog entries, Smock was a town that was filled with primarily Slovak and Polish people. Sure, we had a few other ethnic groups thrown in but those middle-Europeans were the majority. So polkas were prolific.

And even if you weren't Polish or Slovak, you knew the difference between an oberek and a czardas and you knew what "Chicago Style" verses "Hunky Style" meant. You knew that Ja Parobok z'Kapusan was played at weddings and you could hum The Bridal Dance. And you got your share of this music at weddings, parties and every Sunday when Johnnie Sims Polka Party was broadcast from Latrobe, home of great polkas, Fred Rogers and Rolling Rock beer.

For me, I began my "study" of music on the piano in St. Hedwig's church hall when I was 5 years old. It was an old upright. I remember that it came from Philadelphia, which was a town far, far away. I had no idea that it was out of tune. The church hall was never locked for the same reason that you never locked your house or your car doors. Later at about age 9, I began to sneak into St. Hedwig's (which was also always unlocked) and play their awful electronic Baldwin organ. I learned what all of the little tabs did. And I used to think that the keyboard marked "Swell" meant that you could play some really swell music on this thing. I even learned to play the 16 pedals which were immaculate since no foot had ever trod on those in our church.

As far as I know, the only musical person that studied music was Bob, my neighbor. I used to hear him squeaking his clarinet through the walls of our duplex home. He went on to play saxophone and trumpet and founded a polka band called The Dynasonics. Other than Bob, I was the only one that I knew about from Smock Hill who ever saw the inside of a recording studio.

Music tells so much about a society. And the music that echoed in those hills around Smock was decidedly middle-European. But it was happy music, most of the time. Besides, how can you tell a sad story in a polka?

As Johnnie Sims used to say, "Happy music for happy people."

Later in life, I took up the Irish whistles and like the piano and organ, I taught myself. And ironically today, I still play happy music, mostly in churches.

Who would have ever thought that Jack & Margie's kid would ever do that?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Fayette Nam

This is a completely undoctored picture taken of the sign at the Fayette County fairgrounds last Monday.

My good friend Bob Dvorchak and I began referring to Fayette County as "Fayette Nam" when we were in our 20's. Seems as though the term has caught on.

As many of you would know, Smock is fixed in the south central part of Fayette County and we pretty much enjoy that Fayette County "sunshine" as you can see here in the picture.

Well, I thought I'd make a list of ways that you could tell someone was from Fayette County. And no, none of these were stolen from Jeff Foxworthy. It's all pretty much {{{gulp}}} true. There may be a few questionable words here, but you must please consider the source.

You know that you're from Fayette County when:

You've never been up Route 51 North further than Marlene's.

You deer hunt (NOT "hunt deer") with a gun that costs more than your car.

You have at least one car in your yard that is older than 1960 (on blocks).

You think a stripper clip on a gun magazine is erotic.

You think that expensive liquor is Jaquin's Ginger Flavored Brandy

Your doctor tells you that you have nocturnal emissions and you check your car.

You have actually received and eaten government cheese.

You think that eating at Hooters is "livin' large".

You think that Budweiser is an imported beer.

You tell your friends that the Yuengling Brewery misspelled "Yingling".

You wrote in Jeff Foxworthy's name for President of the U.S.

You were once picked up by a woman who said "Hey, nice tooth".

Your thought that the best 3 years of your life were 5th grade.

Someone asks if you want to "shoot the Ohiopyle rapids" and you get your gun.

You call a woman with two black eyes and a broken jaw "a slow learner".

You love anything by Dinty Moore.

You have drunk numerous times from a hose.

You've been to the Look Inn in Rowes Run and lived to talk about it.

You think that Big Foot is a truck.

You have at least once in your life wished you could play the chandelier.

You have at least one family member named Pickles.

You think that the word "Cooder" is an anatomical term.

You think that Ben Roethlisberger actually owns a company that sells beef jerky.

You not only know what a kolatch is but when and where to buy it.

You married your high school sweetheart...while still in high school.

You have actually participated in and won a pissing contest.

You think that the hymn Ave Maria doesn't have enough bass.

You think that tire, fire, plier, higher, and dryer all have one syllable.

You consider dentistry a luxury.

You've either owned a dog or have been personally called "Shit for brains".

You know someone who has met Elvis.

At one time in your life, you did not have indoor plumbing.

You learned to shoot before you learned to spell.

You think that Gomer Pyle was an actual Marine.

You can name 47 different brands of cigarettes.

You've changed the oil in your car and then used it in your lawn mower.

You actually know how to start a tractor.

You blame extreme weather conditions on NASA.

For those of you who would like to find me and "teach me a lesson", I live in Yazoo City, Arkansas and yes, I'm in the book.