Christmas in the 1960s in Jennings

One of the memorable things for me while growing up in the small town of Jennings, Louisiana, was the Christmas Concert at Northside Junior High School.  At least I think it was a Christmas Concert.  My dad was Bob Landry, the man – the legend.  Sorry.  I had to put that in there.  One time I was talking about my childhood and I mentioned my dad.  The person stopped me and said, “Your dad is Bob Landry?  He’s a legend!” (or something similar) Actually he was the chorus and band director at the junior high school for many years.  He had been in Elton, Louisiana, for two years and then started in Jennings in 1965.  I mentioned that in a previous post and talked about the summer band program that was so memorable.

Jennings Northside Junior High School gym circa 1965.

But the thing I didn’t mention was the Christmas Concert.  I saved that for later.  That time is now.  I even have a photo to go with the story.  It’s from the same time period, but I don’t think it’s from a Christmas Concert.  The photo looks more like an end of the year Awards Ceremony.  My dad is at the mic talking about something.  He’s directly behind a table that has two trophies on it.  I’m not sure what that was about, but they look like they could be for music.  I can see that one of them has a harp symbol for musical instruments on top of it. (Directly below one of his elbows.)

I also see Lou Gaudet sitting down next to the flag behind him.   There also seems to be some other teachers or administrators for the school sitting on chairs  in the front.  Behind them is the band.  I can recognize my oldest sister Jodie in a blue dress between my dad and the tuba.  Then to the right is the chorus.  I’m sure they’re all ready to make some music. 

If this was the Christmas Concert I’d know for sure one of the songs they would be singing.  It seems like we sang it every year.  We loved singing it.  It had some interesting harmonies and echoes, and the older guys wanted to be the ones singing, “Bum pa dum pa dum, dum dum” in a deep voice.  The name of the song was  “The Carol of the Star.”  At least that’s what we called it.  It’s a great song and I’ve never heard it since that time from any other place.  I’ve searched for the song for years.  It seems like I’ve searched for it online for over 15 years.  And I never found it…until today.

My story was going to be that I never could find it and how amazing it is that you couldn’t find something on the internet.  I searched for the first few words of the song today and came up with a result.  The song is originally called “The Love Star” and it was recorded by Harry Simone and His Orchestra in 1959.  I’m sure that’s where my dad found it.  It sounds like something he would listen to.  I listened to it, but it doesn’t compare to the way we sang it back when we were kids at Northside Junior High.  It doesn’t have any “Bum pa dum pa dum, dum dum” in it.  Not a one!  And that’s what makes the song!

So here it is!  The original recording from the 1966 Christmas Concert of Northside Jr. High.  That’s right!  My dad had recordings of all of his concerts and such.  For the longest time, those reel to reel recordings sat in the kitchen closet at 758 Lucy Street.  I used to wonder who was ever going to want to listen to those recordings!  Now I’m so glad my dad did that.  It makes me want to sing his praises and call him a hero.  I’ll stop short of calling him a legend, though.  But if you want to call him that, please feel free.  Enjoy this old version of “The Love Star,” better known as “The Carol of the Star.”

 

I might as well put the other songs from that 1966 Christmas Concert on here.  This is the song “Lo How a Rose.”

 

And the last one from 1966 is “Silent Night.”

 

Fast forward to 2010.  I was sitting at my desk in my house in North Carolina and I got a phone call from my brother Al.  He asked me if I remembered the words to “The Carol of the Star.”  I said, “Of course,” and started singing it.  Unknown to him, I had reached in to the top drawer of my desk and pulled out the sheet music for the song.  I had put it in there a few weeks earlier, so it was very handy.  I was able to recall every word of that old song.  He was suitably impressed.  I did explain to him what I had done.  He decided to record me singing the first verse of the song.  He later got recordings of my sister Jamie singing another verse.  Her husband Allen even cooperated and sang a few “Bum pa dum pa dum, dum dum”s for him.  Al also recorded my sister Karen singing some harmonies.  My mom and dad (Betty and Bob Landry) were alive at the time and they participated as well.  Al combined all of the voice tracks and made us all sound great.  It’s like we had been singing the song our whole life!  Here is the 2010 Landry Family Band version of “The Carol of the Star.”

14 comments

  • Wow, Van, you outdid yourself on this one! What a perfect time of year to post. The Silent Night recording. It sent memories ablaze in my brain. The Carol of the Star compilation was extraordinaire! I could detect your voice right away. What a blessing.

  • This is awesome! Your dad WAS a legend and a hero. You were blessed to be born into such a talented family. Thanks for sharing!

  • Tons of great memories. I feel so fortunate to have been smack in the middle of all that 4th-8th grade. Those were amazing times for sure. Not too very long ago, I had the good fortune to play music with a band for the student body, in that gym. I literally got there an hour ahead of anybody and just sat in silence and listened to walls speak to me. It was if I were in church. I remembered filing out of class, single file and headed into the gym to see a world reknown violinist, a magician, or the high school jazz band. Now it had come full circle. They would file in to see me. Then to really make it a full circle. I was startled out of my trance by a voice. The principle. Principle Gaudet… but not Lou,.. his youngest daughter Tanya, full circle. I still love the Northside gym….

  • Although I never went to Northside, I did have the honor of living down the street from the Landry’s in the late 70’s and early 80’s. Mr. Landry was indeed a legend in the Jennings music community. Thank you for sharing a small part of his legacy with us.

  • What treasures you have. Love how he put all your voices together.

  • Patricia Vanya Clifford

    I remember this song well and have sung parts of it often- what I could remember anyway. Thank you so much! I loved your dad!

  • What wonderful times. Your dad was a wonderful vocal teacher. He always encouraged each of us! Didn’t realize how good we sounded😊 We just had so much fun. 🎄

  • What a special treasure for your family! Being from a family that sang together, I understand that recordings can bring back so many memories. Thank you for sharing parts of your life. Merry Christmas!

  • Jackie Perrin Broussard

    Thoroughly enjoyed listening to the recordings from the choir. “The Carol of the Star” is beautiful. The Landry family surely had a God-given talent. Thank you for sharing.

  • Lori deCordova Williamson

    That was always one of my favorite Christmas carols to sing as a child. I love that you were able to preserve the essence of your family. Beautiful! Merry Christmas to all of you. Miss the lovely souls who have left us.

  • Bob Landry was officially proclaimed, “Mr. Music of Jennings.”

  • Love this!!❤️❤️
    Thanks for sharing!
    Loved your dad’s passion for music and his love for teaching.

  • Beautiful music!! I love the family harmony in the last song!! Thank you for sharing with us all!! Memories for generations!!

  • This music by a junior high school group is better than most high schools play! And the Landry piece, which I’ve played 4-5 times so far, is wonderful! (I love the bass part.) Can’t wait to play it for Brent next time he’s here.

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