Performing at Shakey’s – 40 Years Gone

Me with my parents in November 1979. Bob, Van, and Betty Bucklin Landry at Shakey’s Pizza in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

I can’t believe it has been 40 years since our family sang at the Shakey’s in Lake Charles, Louisiana.  It seems like just recently that I acknowledged the 40 year anniversary of when we started playing there!  We actually performed there for just over a five year period.  We started on June 16, 1976, and ended in August of 1981.  Hey, I just realized something.  On Facebook, there was a post that read, “It’s Saturday night in the summer of 1976…tell us what you are doing?”  I responded by saying that I was resting from marching in the Bicentennial parade.  While it is true that I marched in a celebratory parade on that July 4th in Lake Arthur, Louisiana, it is much more likely that I was performing with The Landry Family Band during those first few months at Shakey’s.

We performed on Wednesday through Saturday nights that first year and later changed to just Friday and Saturday nights.  So actually on a majority of Saturday nights from 1976 through 1981 I was at Ye Olde Pizza Parlor in Lake Charles.  During football season, I missed many nights to be at the football games.  For 1976, 1977, and 1978 it would have been Friday nights at Bulldog Stadium rooting for the Jennings High bulldogs.  In 1979 and 1980, I would have been at McNeese Stadium on Saturday night cheering for the cowboys.  That’s kind of laughable, because I never really watched the games.  I was there because I was in the band and we marched at halftime.  I was too busy chatting with everyone around me to notice any of the football plays.

Bob and Betty Bucklin Landry with Karen Landry & Brian Fontenot at Shakey’s on Aug. 1, 1980.

I’m posting some photos from our time of performing at Shakey’s.  I don’t have a picture of our final performance there.  I don’t even know when it was.  I know it was in August of 1981, but I’m not sure of the date.  You would think I’d have been there for our final gig!  Maybe one of my siblings has a photo from it.  It’s possible that Karen or Jamie were there.  I wasn’t there because I was working at Astroworld that summer.  I was out of town and couldn’t make it there, so my final performance was probably in the beginning of June.  I don’t even know if I was told that our time there was coming to a close.

I couldn’t find a good photo of us singing at Shakey’s during 1981.  So I went back a year or two.  I found one of me with my parents in November 1979.  I don’t really have many photos of just me and my parents.  Most of the time there are many more family members included in the photo.  So even though I don’t think it’s that good of a photo of us, I still like it.

As you can see in that first photo, we were still wearing the red, white, and yellow Shakey’s shirts.  That changed at some point.  I know that it happened at least by August 1, 1980, because that is the date of the second photo.  This is my mom and dad with my sister Karen and her future husband Brian Fontenot.  It is such a good photo of all four of them.  They were all in a good mood because Brian had just proposed to Karen and she obviously said, “Yes!”  There were lots of memorable events that happened during our time at Shakey’s and this is a good representation of that.

I’m closing out this post as I sing, “Shakey’s is shaking up –  pizza people…”   Google it.

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.”

Soldier’s Joy by HC in ’43

I got the recording!  Whoo hoo!  I was thinking that I would go ahead as I usually do and write a post about my dad’s side of the family since I wrote about my mom’s side last week.  But I couldn’t get this catchy little tune out of my head.  And besides, I didn’t want to keep you waiting when I already had access to the songs I mentioned last week.  So I decided to continue from last week’s post.

It really is an amazing recording.  Not that the songs all sound wonderful, or it’s a great recording of the songs.  It’s just such an historic record of my great grandparents playing music.  I recorded just a clip of one of the tracks on my iPhone.  It starts off with one of the Phenice family women (if you are able to identify who it is, please let me know) introducing the music by saying, “June the twelfth nineteen hundred and forty-three (1943) will very likely become a memorable day to all the members of this Phenice family, because for the first time we are to have a phonographic record of our family reunion instead of the usual photographic one.”  I’m so glad that they said the date. 

Since they said the date, I thought I’d find a photo from around the same time.  So I looked in my Phenice folder and found a good photo.  I had posted a version of the photo previously, but in the meantime I have obtained a better quality image.  At least I thought I posted it before!  I just looked again and can’t find it anywhere.  I guess I posted it on Facebook before I actually started this blog over four years ago.  My how time flies!

I had estimated the date of the photo as 1943 based on the age of my uncle Austin Bucklin.  He is the toddler in the front of the photo.  But then when I looked at the photo this time, I realized that Grandma Phenice (my mom’s maternal grandmother Daisy Keys Phenice) was holding a baby.  I looked through my family tree information and found that in 1943 Daisy had a new granddaughter named Linda Phenice.  She’s the one who got this recording to me!  So the photo was taken a few months after March of 1943, which is pretty close to June 12, 1943.

I wonder if the photo was taken on the same day as the songs were recorded?  She says on the recording that it was a Phenice family reunion.  This photo is a Phenice family group.  But in the recording she says that they were making a phonographic record of the family “instead of” a photographic one.  So maybe it was on a different day.  Or maybe she meant to say “as well as” in her statement and she misspoke.  You know how it is when you talk on one of those newfangled recording instruments – you get a little nervous!  Then again, Sylvan Phenice is not in the photo and he was the one that made the record.  He could have taken the photo, but then his wife Mary would have been in the photo.  Oh, well, we know that the sound recording and the photo were taken close to the same time.

The rest of the clip of the recording that I’m sharing this week is a song called “Soldier’s Joy” with Harry Clifton Phenice on the fiddle accompanied by his wife Daisy on the piano.  It’s a very old timey sounding fiddling song.  I looked it up and it originates from around the mid 1700s and has its roots in Scottish fiddling tradition.  There has been some talk that the Phenice family and name may have Scottish origins, so I find that fact fascinating.  The song was associated with the Civil War, too.  HC’s dad Samuel was a soldier in the Civil War, so I wonder if he thought of his dad when he played it.

The song is not only associated with the Civil War, but the term “soldier’s joy” came to refer to the combination of whiskey, beer, and morphine used by Civil War soldiers.  In fact, when talking about it Wikipedia quoted these song lyrics:

Gimme some of that Soldier’s Joy, you know what I mean’
I don’t want to hurt no more my leg is turnin’ green

That kinda made me laugh because Samuel was shot in the leg in the Battle of the Wilderness during the Civil War.   While staying in the hospital, skirmishes around the area kept medicine from being delivered and Samuel ended up getting gangrene.  I hope he got some morphine eventually!  That sounds mighty painful! 

So enough talking about the song.  It’s time to listen to it.  Just click on the link below.  And now I can say that I did my part in making June 12, 1943, a memorable day for this Phenice family!

 

Musical Keys and Phenice Family News

I’ve had some exciting news about the Keys and Phenice family lately.  Sometimes I look for things and can’t find them, which can be frustrating.  Other times I find hints about them and have to track them down for a while.  Sometimes I give up altogether and go searching for something else.  Occasionally something that I’ve given up on will fall right into my lap.  That’s what happened in the first part of this blog.

Clockwise from top left: Irma Hetzel Phenice, Daisy Keys Phenice, Marguerite Phenice, and Sylvia Bucklin. This photo was taken around 1932 in Hathaway, Louisiana.

Before I tell you that story, I thought I’d share a related photo.  I’ve been thinking of sharing this one for a while.  There is an old timey charm about it.  I took a photo of a photo at the Keys Family Reunion in 2017.  I can’t remember who shared it with me, but I do appreciate it.   The older woman on the right is my great grandmother Daisy Keys Phenice.  She was my mom’s maternal grandmother. 

The younger woman on the left is her future daughter-in-law Irma Hetzel.  She would marry Daisy’s son Henry in 1934.  The dark-haired girl in the photo (her face can’t be seen) is Daisy’s youngest child Marguerite.  Marguerite would marry Thomas Hill in 1943.  The youngest person in the photo is my aunt Sylvia Bucklin.  She was oldest daughter of Myrtle Phenice Bucklin, who was the middle daughter of Daisy.

I’m not sure what they are doing in the photo, but it looks like they could be listening to music.  This brings us back to the story I was wanting to tell.  Many years ago, about 1972, my mom somehow got a collection of old records from her Uncle Sylvan.  He was a son of Daisy and he was big into sound systems and recordings.   He had a company for many years called Sylvan’s Sound Service and one of the things he did was put intercom systems in the schools of Calcasieu and surrounding Parishes back in the day.

So if you are from that area and are old enough, you probably heard your morning news at school through the sound system of old Uncle Sylvan.  But the recordings that my mom got were even more special than that.  He had some old recordings of family conversations and singalongs from back in the 1940s or so.  I’ve shared some of those before.  I shared my grandmother Myrtle singing a few songs and my mom’s paternal grandmother Addie telling a story.  It’s nice to hear those old voices from the past.

I had some of the recordings, but not all of them.  I heard somewhere along the way that there was a recording of my great grandparents Daisy and Harry singing “Daisy Bell (Bicycle Built For Two)” together.  There was also a recording of Harry playing a song on the fiddle.  Supposedly, a recording was given to my dad and he was going to digitize it for them.  So when we were clearing out my parents’ home, I was on the lookout for it.  That’s when I found the recordings of Myrtle singing and Addie telling her story.   I couldn’t find the recordings of Harry and Daisy.  I even went through the archives at my sister and brother-in-law’s house, but it was nowhere to be found.  I gave them up for lost.  I didn’t tell you all about that, because I don’t like to tell sad stories.  (Ha!)

I’m telling you now, because it’s a happy story!  One of my mom’s cousins sent me a note that said that she has the recording of Daisy and Harry singing, as well as the recording of Harry playing the fiddle!  Whoo hoo!  She said the recordings were in bad shape and needed some help.  I offered to help.  Even if I didn’t know how to do any editing, I would have offered.  I would have learned just so I could hear those old wonderful recordings that I had thought were lost forever.  Don’t get too excited, because I don’t have them yet.  I think they are near and I hope to get them soon.  Then I will share them with everyone.  Remember, patience is a virtue.

The other news I have is a bit more rewarding.  While the other is a preview of something in the future, this is a realized view of something from the past.  A couple of years ago when I was looking at the Phenice side of the family, I came across some information about Grandma Myrtle’s first cousin.  Her name was Doris Enola Phenice and she lived in Colorado.  Like my grandmother she was a schoolteacher for many years.  When she was an elderly single woman, she befriended a couple who ended up caring for her at the end of her life.  They also put together a book about her life and her family that included photos and such.  There was some contact information, so I wrote them a note and said that I’d be interested in seeing that book.

So I waited patiently.  I didn’t hear anything back from that first message I sent.  I mentioned it to a distant Phenice cousin and she tried contacting them the same way and got a response.  She shared the phone number of the couple who put together the book.  I tried writing an email again…  And waited again.   Sometimes I think I confuse forgetfulness with patience. 

Anna Armina Stockton Phenice and Chauncey Phenice in Victor, Colorado, in 1900.

Then one day recently I was looking for some information about a DNA match.  This person was a descendant of Chauncey Phenice.  Chauncey was the oldest brother of my great grandfather Harry Phenice and he was the father of Doris Enola.  I found the phone number of that couple and decided to call.  The woman is still alive, but sadly she recently became a widow.  She was very friendly and said that she would be glad to send me a copy of the book that they put together.

She followed through and now I have the book!  I found out a few more interesting things about the Phenice family, but the thing I was most excited about was finding a photo of Chauncey.  I have several photos of Harry’s sisters and his brother Edd, but I didn’t have any of his brothers Chauncey or William Emory.  Now I just need to find one of William Emory!

The picture of him is when he and his wife were living in Victor, Colorado.  They went there with Will (William Emory) for a short time to try their hand at gold mining.  One of my favorite photos of my great grandfather Harry is one of him in a gold mine.  I didn’t realize that gold mining was a family tradition.  You can see from the photo that includes Harry and Edd that there is a family resemblance in the three brothers that are in the photos.

1906 in Nebraska. Top row: Daisy Keys Phenice (wife of Harry), Lola Myrtle Phenice, Emma Orra Phenice. Bottom row: Harry Clifton Phenice and James Edmund “Edd” Phenice.

Music in the Family Series Part VII – Bob Landry’s Life of Music

Surely you couldn’t think that I had finished my series of Music in the Family without shining the spotlight on my dad?  His whole life was practically about music.  His career, his hobbies, and interests were mostly centered around music.  It was the only “other woman” that my mom had to worry about!  It took more time away from her than she liked at times.

My dad was involved in choral music, band music, and barbershop singing.  If anybody was interested in music and had a question or needed help, Bob Landry was willing to help.  It didn’t matter about your heritage, race, sex, or social status, he gave his time freely, which sometimes bothered my mom.  At times she struggled to makes ends meet on the salary of a band teacher and some of those people he was helping could afford to be paying for private lessons!  But my dad couldn’t be bothered.  Music was the important thing!

Newspaper article circa Aug. 1963

I just came across this article from around August of 1963 when I was looking for photos for this post.  I didn’t even know it existed, but it has a lot of information in it that I was wanting to know.  It tells about the history of my dad’s musical experiences just prior to beginning work in the band and choral programs in Jefferson Davis Parish.  He taught for two years in Elton and then moved on to Jennings at Northside Junior High School where he would make his mark on so many people in Jennings through the years.

The article indicates that Daddy began learning band instruments his freshman year at Landry Memorial High School in Lake Charles under the direction of Eddie See.  This was around 1942 and the two of them would have a long history together.  (Such as creating the McNeese fight song “Jolie Blon”)  During high school my dad learned many various instruments and even taught other students during his senior year.

McNeese band circa 1947

After high school he went to McNeese and was in the band there.  This is a photo of the McNeese band in 1947.  Bob – or Pluto as he was known by many back then – can be seen on the far right of the photo with a baritone.

I know that about this same time is when my dad began to get involved with barbershop singing.  He was a member of the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America or SPEBSQSA for short.  Growing up in the Landry household meant that you knew these letters and what they stood for!

Bob and Betty Landry played baritone for McNeese. They can be seen in the upper left of the photo. Bob on the left, Betty in the middle, and third baritone on the right.

Daddy’s college career included stints at Lafayette and Baton Rouge.  It was in Baton Rouge that he met my mom when she visited the campus for a solo and ensemble festival in 1950.  He returned to McNeese when it became a four year school and my mom started college that same year.  My dad was the first student at McNeese to play a senior recital in 1951.  This photo is a photo I scanned from the McNeese yearbook that shows the band performing in the auditorium.  You can see mom and dad in the upper left part of the photo.  Who would have guessed that they’d be making music together for 65 more years after that?

Daddy was in the first graduating class from McNeese in 1952 and then went on to join the Air Force. While there, he was in the Air Force band. Shortly after that he and my mom were married and started a family. Jodie was born in California and Rob was born in Albuquerque while he was in the Air Force. They moved back to Lake Charles where Karen, Al, Van (me), and Jamie were born. Daddy continued his educational pursuits and earned his Master’s Degree from LSU in 1962

1966 summer band program at Northside

As I said earlier, he began teaching at Northside in 1965. I have so many memories from those early years of the band program.  He had the summer band program in the old Northside gym.  It was before there was air conditioning in the building, so it could get rather warm in there with all those little bodies running around and singing with their warm little breaths!  They had classrooms on the side of the gym and we would meet in there to sing and play as the big fan in front of the classroom would swing back and forth.  We young kids would play the ukulele and the older ones would graduate to guitar and bass.  And oh the songs we’d sing:  This Land is Your Land, Five Foot Two, Down in the Valley, Red Sails in the Sunset, The Ballad of the Green Beret, Cuando Calienta el Sol, Mobile, and many many more. (One of those songs was Swinging Shepherd Blues with my sister Jodie and her friend Stella Duvall playing a flute duet.)

Barbershop quartet The Crawdads – Bob Landry, Oran Richard, Steve Coco, and Nathan Avant circa 1968

During this time Daddy was also continuing his involvement with barbershop.  He would always have a barbershop quartet, plus he would work with the chorus in Lafayette or Jennings.  This photo is from around 1968 and includes Bob Landry, Oran Richard, Steve Coco, and Nathan Avant.  This group was called the Crawdads, and there were the BoBobAlNicks, the Pride of the Marsh, and many other quartets.  I should remember more and will recognize many of them that people mention to me from time to time.  And some of the people in the quartets should be mentioned: Al Cassidy, Rusty Cassidy, John McBurney, Bobby Henry, Nick Pizzolatto, Steven Comeaux, George Smith, Doc McGregor, and again many more that I should remember!

Pam Jones, Bob Landry, and John McZeal at the band drive at Northside.

One of the big events at Northside over the years was the instrument drive in the new band room (with air conditioning!) with the help of Swicegood’s Music and Orville Kelly.  Bright, young students with an interest in band would show up to see where they might fit into this celebrated band program in Jennings.  Daddy would assess the interest of the kids and see what instrument might be the best fit for the individual.  Some people just didn’t have the right embouchure for certain instruments.  I remember that he also gave a music aptitude test to the students at some point.  I will now admit that I was always jealous of the fact that Damon Cormier made a 100 on that test and I didn’t.  Let’s not speak of this ever again.

1967 Northside band party – siblings Karen in foreground in front of Jodie, behind them is Rob in blue shirt, me (Van) with elbow covering my forehead, and Al in red block shirt next to me.

The other yearly event for the Northside band was the band party that was held at our house on Lucy Street. All the kids would come over to our house and wreak havoc. Thank goodness there was a large empty lot across the street for playing games like horseshoes and such in addition to the basketball goal we had in our driveway. My mom would always provide the refreshments for the party. My absolute favorite memory of those refreshments was when we made some special sugar cookies. We shaped them like snakes, put cross hatches on the bodies to look like scales, and gave them eyes made out of red hots! They were a big hit. I especially enjoyed the parties when I was younger because I got to hang out with the big kids likes Celia Joe Black.

1970s – Bob Landry playing upright bass with the MoodMasters

Then the mid 70s came around and there was lots of playing music for dances and such.  Not any of that “rock and roll trash” that was saturating the airways, but good music.  Needless to say, my dad was not a fan of rock and roll.  I remember even earlier when the Beatles were on the Ed Sullivan show and my dad had me turn down the volume on the TV so we would not have to listen to them.  (Yes, I was the remote for the TV at the time.  I’m that old!)

Landry Family Band circa 1977

Daddy played many different instruments and with many different people (Such as the Moodmasters shown in the above photo.  Bob Landry on bass.)  But then there came a great thought – let’s have a family band.  And with that the Landry Family Band came into being.  And of course our most recognizable gig was the five years we played at Shakey’s Pizza Parlor in Lake Charles.  Yes, you may remember us from the Food Fest at the Contraband Days or at the many receptions that we played, but we will be forever linked to pizzas (like the Bill’s special or Hawaiian Delight) and those famous spuds.  The glory never fades!  This photo is from Shakey’s.  Some of you may remember the infamous “Dueling Jugs” played by Bob and Jamie Landry.  Different instruments for sure!

1996 at the train station in Hammond, LA. The Landry family is always ready to sing a song or two.

Daddy retired from teaching in the mid 80s but continued to incorporate music in all aspects of his life.  He and mom sang at church, at ‘old folks homes’, and for many years they danced ’round dances’ to their favorite styles of music.  They also passed some of that musical knowledge on to their grandchildren.  When the family took a train to Chicago in 1996 for my brother Al’s wedding, we had a little time to wait at the station for the train to arrive.  We didn’t waste time doing nothing while we waited, we took out our song books and instruments and sang a few tunes!  Isn’t that what everyone does?  The picture is proof!

2015 – Bob and Betty introduced themselves to their new community at Brookdale by way of playing and singing a song or two.

Even into their golden years they were singing and playing everywhere they went.  During their last years in Jennings, they had a ukulele group that played at churches and nursing homes.  For many years they played at the War Vets home the first Wednesday of the month.  When they moved into Brookdale in August of 2015, one of the first things they did was go to the piano and play a few songs for their new neighbors.  As you can see, their love for music was a bright spot in people’s lives.  They continued sharing this as long as they could.

When my parents died in January of this year, my siblings and I decided to put together a fund that would help people to act on their interest in music.  It’s called the Bob Landry Life of Music Award and it will purchase band instruments for the school in Jennings where he taught.  The first purchase will be a flute, a trumpet, a clarinet, another trumpet, a trombone, and another flute – the instruments that the Landry kids played.  If you would like to contribute to this memorial fund, monies can be sent to the Jeff Davis Bank, P. O. Box 820, Jennings, LA  70546.

Or you could just think of him from time to time when you are enjoying your favorite song.

Music in the Family Series Part VI – Fiddling With the Keys

As I have said previously, there have been a lot of musical members of our family/families.  My family was known as a musical family since before I was born.  If you have been reading my Music in the Family Series, you would also know that there were musical family members before my parents were born as well.  So this week I’ll take you back even further.  Further than all of my other postings in this series.  Let’s go back to the 1840s.

The musical information comes from the 1840s, but the individual I’m talking about was born in 1822.  That’s right!  Almost 200 years ago, my great great grandfather Henry Keys was born in Chipping Ongar, Essex, England, to George and Elizabeth Crouchman Keys.  The date was April 12th and he was not alone.  He had an identical twin brother named James.

April 11, 1840 – Apprenticeship contract for Henry Keys to tinman John Wright

The day before Henry became 18 years old (in 1840) he entered into a contract of apprenticeship with a tin plate worker (aka a tinman) named John Wright.  The contract was for a period of three years and was signed by Henry Keys, George Keys, and John Wright.  (Pretty cool to see the signature of my great, great, great grandfather.)

The day before Henry became 21 years old (1843) he completed his apprenticeship and became a Tinman.  (He did not have a friend named Oz.  At least there is no record of anyone by that name giving him anything!)  But the most relevant part of the completion of his apprenticeship is that he rewarded himself for the accomplishment.  He had saved up money during these three years and the cherished reward that he bought himself was a violin.  It shows you what was important to him.

As a bachelor for twenty-six years, he worked as a tin plate worker making gas meters.  I’m sure he was also playing his violin during this time, but there really isn’t much else written about this period in his life.  It was on November 8, 1869, that he married Martha Ann Cook on her 33rd birthday.  She herself was an independent person who had a business of her own making clothes and accessories for children.  She must have been a musical person as well, because the only portrait of her shows her standing next to a piano with her hands fiddling with the keys.

Henry Keys

I believe this is a photo of a portrait of Henry Keys. I estimated it to be from 1880, but it could be earlier.

By 1881 Henry and Martha had five children together.  Another sign that they were a musical family is the fact that the two boys Henry and Alfred sang in a boys choir in London.  On at least one occasion they sang with the choir for Queen Victoria.  Their daughter Daisy (my great grandmother) was known to play the piano, but I’m not sure when she learned.  From the portrait mentioned earlier it looks like there was a piano in the home, so she could have learned as a child in England.

Henry and Martha had family members who moved to America.  They decided that they would move the family to America also and began to save money for this new chapter in their life.  So again, this must have been something important to them.  But sadly, Henry suffered with bronchitis for four months and died at the age of 64 in 1886.  He never made it to America where his wife and children would eventually go.  But his violin did.

I’ve read accounts of the move to America and they always say “They sold everything they had.”  But they didn’t.  They held on to a few prized possessions.  One of those cherished items was the violin that Henry bought in 1843.  When they made it to Louisiana, at some point Martha gave the violin to her son Leonard with the proviso that he would learn to play it, as long as he practiced in the barn!  This makes me laugh.  It reminds me of my mom.  When I was in junior high, I learned how to play many different instruments.  My dad was the band director so I could taken them home with me.  The only thing my mom discouraged me from playing was the violin.  When a person is learning the violin, the notes can be rather screechy in a way that would give mom a headache.  I acquiesced.

Leonard James Keys with the violin his father bought in 1843.

And learned the violin Leonard did.  But he also learned to play the trombone and flute.  His older brother Henry played the violin, clarinet, and flute.  I’ve told you that Daisy played the piano.  Her husband Harry Phenice played the violin as well.  So did the husbands of Daisy’s sisters Ruth and Mabel.

When I was researching this information, I notice there are a lot of descendants who are musicians.  It could be that every family has a musician here and there, but it does seem like quite a few in my family.  The researching also made me wonder about that old violin from 1843.  Is it still around?  Does a family member have it?  I know that musical instruments can last a long time if taken care of properly.

So I asked my cousin Carolyn (daughter of Edith who provided me with the improved version of the photo/portrait of Henry Keys) if she knew of the whereabouts of that violin.  Her grandfather was Leonard Keys, so it is likely to be with her family group somewhere if at all.  She let me know that “Yes, indeed!” that violin is still in existence.  It is in the possession of her cousin Johnny and he still enjoys playing it!  How cool is that!?  She sent me this photo of her grandfather Leonard with the cherished violin.  A family keepsake that one day I’d like to see in person and photograph.

Here is a transcription of the apprenticeship contract of 1840 that came from Edith Keys Segraves’ book.

 

Music in the Family Part V – Jacko and Papi

Every week that I post something about music, my sock monkeys Jacko and Papi have been begging to include them in a post.  “After all,” Papi said, “I am the one that taught you how to sing.”  I always thought it was my mom and dad.  They did do a lot of singing when I was growing up.  But I also remember spending time with Papi when I was a kid.

Here is a photo of me with Papi when I was three years old.  It sure does look like he may have been singing in my ear!  He assured me that he was singing the “Yo! Ho!” song to me.  “What?” I asked, “That song wasn’t written until our Reunions Adventure.  This picture was taken way before that.”

“I know,” Papi said, “I started the song years ago when I taught Buddiloo to sing.”  So now he’s trying to take credit for teaching my mom to sing!  I know he was around back then, but I never really know when to trust what he is saying.

“Yes,” he explained, “It was around the time I was coaching Murder to sing for those old recordings you shared with everyone a few weeks ago.  I told you that!  You never listen to me.  Some sock monkey whisperer you are!  Hmmph!”

“You weren’t even there back then,” I started, but then I realized that he had been there.  I have a picture of him with Mama back in 1938.  Jacko shared it with y’all in the Sock Monkeys in the Past post.  And the recordings of Grandma (Myrtle Phenice Bucklin, not Murder as Papi incorrectly calls her) were done around 1944 “when those German Nasties were around,” as Papi likes to put it.  I’m sure he’s going to take credit for teaching her to play the baritone now.  “No,” he said, “She learned that at school.  I just sang along with her when we called the cows.”  That’s good to know.

So today I’m going to share with you “Papi and Jacko’s Traveling Song.”  According to Papi he started it in the 1940s, then he and Jacko added some more verses in 2007, and finally Jacko and I added the last part in that same year.  I’m sure some of you will recognize the melody from “The Lonely Goatherd” song from “The Sound of Music.”  It’s a rather catchy little song.  I hope you enjoy it.

Yo! Ho! Going on Adventures –
Jacko and Papi’s Traveling Song

 

Long, long ago lived a monkey sock

And a little girl that everyone called Betty Lou.

She played him a song on her baritone

Til the cows all came a-runnin’ with a moo.

They went to church with her Ma and Pa

And sang and gave their Glory Be’s to You Know Who.

She took along little Cyrus sock

Cuz he promised that he wouldn’t throw his poo!

After the service he told them tales

Of many of the places that he’d traveled to.

He made sure that they knew his skills

So they wouldn’t want to put him in a zoo.

Yo, ho! Going on adventures.

Yo, ho! Always on the move.

Yo, ho! Going on adventures.

That’s what I like to do.

Much later on in a different state,

He befriended a sock monkey who was very new.

His little friend took the name Jacko

And Cyrus then became his Papiloo.

 

Most of the time they stayed at home

With a family of several kids who grew and grew.

They looked forward to summertime

Cuz the fam’ly always went to somewhere new.

Yo, ho! Going on adventures.

Yo, ho! Always on the move.

Yo, ho! Going on adventures.

That’s what we like to do!

All of the kids grew up and left

and the house that they had lived in was too big for two.

The ma and pa got a smaller place

And they decided just one sock would do.

 

Poor little Jacko was sent away

and Jacko and his Papi had a big boo hoo!

They gave him a tag with an asking price.

At least they didn’t put him in a zoo.

He sat on a shelf with some other socks

as people walked right by with not much else to do.

Kids always grabbed them and pulled their tails

and some of them were taken home in twos.

 

A man by the name of Van came in,

And he journeyed from the same state as Papi Lou.

With help from above Van and Jacko met

And they became a trav’ling team of two.

Yo, Ho! Going on Adventures.

Yo, Ho! Always on the move.

Yo, Ho! Going on Adventures.

That’s what we like to do!

 

Not long ago Papi surfed the web

and came upon a story too good to be true.

Though he was old he still liked to see

the adventures of sock monkeys on the move.

 

There on the screen was his friend Jacko

and he traveled with a man that Papi thought he knew.

When he heard that his name was Van,

he knew it was the son of Buddiloo!

 

He sent off a note to his friend Jacko

to see about returning to the place he knew.

Jacko and Van came to pick him up

and their reunion was a big todo.

 

They met up with friends on their way back home,

and Papi hugged and kissed the girls of Rue Cou Cou.

Though Jacko and Van begged to take him home,

Papi went to live with Betty Lou.

 

Yo, Ho! Going on Adventures.

Yo, Ho! Always on the move.

Yo, Ho! Going on Adventures.

That’s what we like to do!

Music in the Family Part IV – Patureau Keepsake

I thought I should have a Keepsake version of Music in the Family.  Especially since I was wanting to showcase this instrument for a while.  I tried to find photos or audio files of it in action, but no such luck.  I do have a few photos of it though.  So here you go.

1928 Vega tenor banjo

This was my dad’s banjo for many years.  He played it at Shakey’s sometimes with the family band in the 1970s, but it has a longer history than that.   Daddy left me a document about the banjo that he wrote on January 15, 2005.

Besides playing it with the family band, he also stated that he played it with some Dixieland bands in Lake Charles.  He also played it in the orchestra pit with a ‘pit band’ for Lake Charles Little Theater productions.  But he wasn’t the first owner of this Vega Four string Tenor banjo.

Vincent Maximilian Patureau, Jr. circa 1922

Daddy inherited it in 1956 when his uncle Vincent Maximilian Patureau, Jr. passed away.  Daddy was 27 years old at the time and Uncle Vincent died at the age of 54.  He was my Mee Maw’s youngest brother.  Uncle Vincent had it for many years and played it with a band in Baton Rouge.  That’s about all I know.  I’m not sure when he lived in Baton Rouge.  Probably in the 1920s and 30s when he was in his twenties and thirties.

Maybe at the age he is in this photo.  I got this photo recently from my dad’s cousin.  (Thanks again, Sis!)  He may have honed his craft for a few years, then decided to buy himself a nice Vega banjo.  That would fit with the timeline of when this banjo was produced.  According to Daddy the serial number places it as being put together in 1928.

I got the banjo in August of 2015 when we moved my mom and dad into Assisted Living in Lake Charles.  I encouraged him to keep it because there was room for it in the apartment that he had, but he wanted me to take it.  So I did.  I’ve always thought it was a beautiful instrument.  And now it’s back in Baton Rouge, where it first came into our family.

1928 Vega tenor banjo

1928 Vega tenor banjo

Music in the Family Part III – Listen to Myrtle Sing

The more I look into my family history for references to music, the more I realize how much it plays a part of the family.  I had thought at first that the series would be a month long, but now I’m thinking it will probably be close to two months long.  And since last week we looked at my dad’s side of the family, this week will be looking at my mom’s side.  In particular, the focus will be on my mom’s mom Myrtle Phenice Bucklin.  My Grandma.

Myrtle Phenice Bucklin

Myrtle Phenice Bucklin circa 1949

When I was a kid I never really cared for Grandma’s singing.  She sang kinda loud with a vibrato that seemed operatic to me.  I’ve never been a fan of the opera.  Different strokes for different folks.  But music was always very important to her.  She was singing til the day she died.  I mean that literally.  When she was 79 years old she was still singing at nursing homes for the “old folks.”  On May 6, 1986, she was singing and playing the piano for her peeps when she had a stroke and fell off the piano bench.  She ended up dying the following morning at 6:01 am.

Not only was she singing at the end of her own life, she sang at the end of her husband’s life too.  (You know this already if you’ve read all of my other posts.)  She sang his favorite song to him – “Amazing Grace” – and as she wrote in a letter to her childhood friend, “I’d finished singing, he looked up at me, smiled and died.”  Music was definitely an important part of her life.  But music wasn’t just a part of the end of her life, it was part of her early life, too.

Her father was Harry Clifton Phenice and her mother was Daisy Keys Phenice.  Both of them were musical people.  HC played the fiddle and he like to play by ear.  According to writings of Grandma’s sister Marguerite, he played a “homey” style that everyone liked.  He would play at community dances along with other extended family members.  He entered a fiddle contest in Jennings once and lost because he played a slow tune.  Daisy was beside herself because he didn’t play a showstopper like his usual upbeat songs like “Turkey in the Straw” or “Irish Washerwoman.” (or even “Soldier’s Joy”)  This allowed Daisy’s brother Leonard to win the contest when clearly HC was the better fiddler. (No bias there.)

The family also would have other families come over for a ‘sing-a-long.’  Daisy would bake peanuts or popcorn, and sometimes she would go all out and make popcorn balls with caramel and nuts.  (A treat that my mom would make for us from time to time.)  HC would play the fiddle, Myrtle (Grandma) or Daisy would play the piano, her brother Henry would play the violin, and Warren and the others would all sing along.  So Grandma grew up around music and was used to playing and singing in front of people.

That is a good thing, because otherwise she wouldn’t have been a willing participant when her older brother Sylvan suggested that he would record her singing some of her favorite songs in 1944.  Sylvan was into radio and sound systems from a young age.  This led to the Bucklin family being one of the early adopters for radio in the early days.  It also led to Sylvan making recordings of his family conversations and singing.  I am particularly thankful to him for that.

When I ‘rediscovered’ these recordings last year, I wasn’t sure who it was singing on them.  I thought it sounded like Grandma, but they were in a style that I liked.  I checked with mom and she assured me that they were Grandma.  The recordings were from around 1944.  It was after that time that she started taking singing lessons and adopted the more operatic style that I heard when growing up.  She even sings the old Irish song “Mother McCree” with a brogue and rolls her Rs.  I love it. (The titles of the songs are linked to the recordings.)

The recordings are in really good shape.  I did edit them to make it easier to listen to them.  When she sang “Smiles” she went straight into “Perfect Day” and I wasn’t sure it was a new song. I separated them into two separate files. Then on “There’s an Old Spinning Wheel in the Parlor” the song was cut off before the ending.  Fortunately for us, she had perfect pitch which made the editing easy.  Otherwise the beginning of the song would be out of tune with the end.

So enjoy listing to Grandma sing these old songs from bygone days.  I always find that listening to them in my car has the best effect.  If you have a smart phone that is linked to your sound system, that is.  And do it when you’re not driving!  I’m sure that thought never crossed her mind when those songs were recorded.  Mercy me!

After Grandma and Grandpa moved to Jennings in the 1970s, Grandma sang many solos at the Trinity United Methodist Church.

Music in the Family Part II – Patureau

When I was young I thought I knew everything.  Understood everything.  What is it about the innocence of youth that makes people think this?  Is it innocence?  Yes, I guess it is.  Maybe a little bit of ignorance thrown in with it, though.  The older I get, the more I realize that I don’t know everything.  Not even close.  When you are young, you know your immediate family and you kinda know your place in it.  When you start looking into family history, you realize that your family is much bigger and spread out.

This is particularly true for the idea of music in my family.  When my family had the Landry Family Band in the 70s and 80s, we (maybe I should say I) thought we were so innovative and different.  People would even say that it was “special” or “extraordinary.”  We weren’t famous or anything, but we did play together every week at Shakey’s Pizza Parlor in Lake Charles.  We’d also play for events or parties.  It was pretty special, but it wasn’t the first time that family members performed music together.

Kelly's String Band

Kelly’s String Band circa 1890s performed in the Plaquemine, Louisiana, area.

Just look at this photo from the 1890s.  The name of the band was Kelly’s String Band and there were some family members in it from my Patureau family line.  In the front with the funny looking trumpet (not a string) is my great great uncle Alcide Patureau (my father was Bob Landry, his mother was Erie Patureau, her father was Max Patureau, and Max & Alcides’s father was Ferdinand Patureau who was originally from France).  Alcide’s (& Max’s) brother Omer is the one in the middle with the banjo.  The guy on the right with the mandolin is Alcide and Omer’s (& Max’s) nephew Ferdinand Hebert (son of Aline Patureau Hebert).  The two guys standing up are Nick Manola and Wade Landry.  I don’t know of any relation to them.

So at least 80 years before our Shakey’s day, there were family members performing for other people’s entertainment.  And I’m sure there were probably more before that in the unknown history of the family.  This is the earliest photographic record of a band in my family.  I’d love to know what they sounded like and what kinds of music they played.

Plaquemine, Louisiana, in 1894 - Patureau family

Omer Patureau and Ferdinand Hebert

I have this other photo of two of these members who must have branched out on their own with their dueling banjos. (Or maybe they were a duo before the band got together.  Not exactly sure of the date for the first photo.)  This is Omer Patureau and Ferdinand Hebert in a photo dated 1894.  Both photos show that they were taken in Plaquemine.

As I’ve said before, people in the past did not have as readily available access to entertainment and information as we do now.  Maybe when people came from their homes and listened to them entertain, they heard things like people saying they were “special” or “extraordinary.”  And maybe they were.

As I get older and particularly with the passing of both of my parents, I do look back at those times playing music with my family and they are special to me.  And they will become more special as time goes by.  This I do know.

 

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