Friday, March 06, 2009

Let's Sing a Shanty

"Let's sing a shanty," LMH said to her sisters this morning. Because that's what all kids sit around and sing, right?

And so they did. Little Miss History, Timid Daughter and the Uber-Princess belted out The Drinking Gourd as solemnly, deeply, and loudly as three little white girls can.

"Follooooow...the dri inkin' goooourddd. Follooooooww...the dri inkin' gooourddd. The old man is a waitin' gonna carry you ta freedom..."

I laughed a moment to hear them sing such an unconventional song. But then I sobered up. I remembered the other night as we walked home from an evening program at school and the Uber-Princess looked up at the stars and asked me, "where is the Drinking Gourd, Mommy?".

She knows what it is, if not the significance of the song they sang today. We listen to this kind of music and we talk about it. They like to know. They like to learn. And so their daddy has been urging them to bring home the book from the school library about The Drinking Gourd so we can read it again.

I wanted to post a video of this song so you can get a feel for it, but none of the ones on YouTube match the version we know best. I was excited, however, to see one there with images of Graue Mill in Hinsdale - a local stop on the underground railroad near my childhood home. We need to go there sometime to flesh out that part of our country's history and underscore the meaning of this shanty my kids sing.

How about in your home? What kind of songs does your family sing?

4 musings:

Always a Southern Girl said...

Thanks for sharing that moment! We sing "John Jacob Jingle Himmer Schmidt" The kids like to sing it over and over and over!! I never realized that there was an underground railroad around here. I would love to take the kids to see it. Can you tell me where it is?

everydayMOM said...

That's funny! I can imagine them all singing in their low voices.

My kids like to sing songs from their musical last year, "Treasure Island". "We are the Pigaloos" is their favorite.

I love it when they sing songs from the Christian radio, too: "Give me your eyes" and "Lose My Soul" are their favorites. Makes the day so much better when everyone is singing!

A Musing Mom said...

Southern Girl - "John Jacob Jingle Himmer Schmidt" was one of my favorites as a kid too! I sang it all the time.

I would guess that there are other historic places around the western 'burbs where slaves found safety on their way to freedom. Graue Mill in Oak Brook, not Hinsdale (it's just north of Ogden Avenue on York Road) is the one I know for sure. I once worked with someone who lived in that part of town and there were certain features in her house that she thought indicated the original owners hid fugitive slaves as part of the underground railroad. Fascinating stuff to me.

Everday Mom - don't know any of those ones. Think I can get your kids to sing them for me?

I agree with you. I love when we have the radio on a station like WBGL and my kids start crooning along.

A Musing Mom said...

Southern Girl - okay, so here's so more info for you on the underground railroad and "stations" in our area http://www.grauemill.org/underground.htm. Apparently there are a good handful in the immediate area.