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.
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.”