Wednesday, November 19, 2008

On Top of Old Smokey

When I was a very little girl, we visited our dear family friends, the Davenports, at their house on Maywood in Detroit. One of my very earliest memories is of Butch Davenport, the father of the family, sitting down on the side of the double bed, into which four or five of us little kids were tucked, and singing us a lullaby in the dark. I have a vivid memory of the mattress sagging sideways under his weight, of him holding his pipe in his hand on his knee, clearing his throat a little and starting to sing in a velvety voice.

"On top of Old Smokey, all covered with snow...

He always sang "On Top of Old Smokey." I don't know why - perhaps it was the only ballad whose words he knew or maybe it was just popular at the time - but we loved to drift off to the sweet sound of his voice singing that song.

I hadn't thought about that in many years, until I was up in the chilly Boston night this week soothing our granddaughter back to sleep in the rocking chair outside her bedroom. Never having had children of my own, this was a nearly novel experience for me but while I sat with her cuddled in my arms under her soft blanket, here came the right tune to mind and the perfect words for sleepy little kids...

"On top of Old Smokey, all covered with snow,
I lost my true lover, for courtin' too slow..."

Thanks, Butchie, for this and all your many other blessings.

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10 Comments:

Blogger sara said...

how wonderful, I love that you have brought this ballad back to the present with memories of the past...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008  
Blogger Chilebrown said...

I remember making up silly lyrics to this song in elementary school. That was a very, very long time ago.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008  
Blogger namastenancy said...

What a beautiful image - only a master painter could do it justice.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008  
Blogger Buzz Baylis said...

Zoomie,

Words fail me!

MB

Wednesday, November 19, 2008  
Blogger cookiecrumb said...

Wonderful photo!!!!!

My dad also sang Old Smokey to lull me to sleep. If I wanted to go to bed before my parents thought I was ready, I'd trill "mokey, mokey!"

Wednesday, November 19, 2008  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Sara, it was a fun one to write.

Chilebrown, me, too! "On top of spaghetti, all covered with cheese..."

Nancy, yes, it's my favorite of all we took on this vacation.

Buzz, I see you have started a blog!

Cookiecrumb, what a charming child you must have been!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008  
Blogger Anna Haight said...

Very touching post, beautiful word pictures as well as the actual photo!

Thursday, November 20, 2008  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Thanks, Anna!

Thursday, November 20, 2008  
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