Friday, October 21, 2011

Boys Will Be Boys

When I first looked at this week's Sepia Saturday prompt I thought I was seeing a group of girls and boys together on a class outing.   I thought I would dig up some photos of my mother as a teacher in the 1940s,  or perhaps re-post a photo of my great grandfather with his students outside their one-room schoolhouse at the turn of the century in Oklahoma Territory (see my September post More Schoolin').  On further inspection, I realized that I was looking at a group of only boys.  There were no girls here.  The boys were, however, all costumed in outfits that give the appearance of  girls' dresses or overcoats.      Perhaps these outfits were not in fact  girl's clothing, but were instead some type of ethnic or local costume for boys.   Whatever is the truth, it is clearly evident to the viewer that  these adorable boys were absolutely delighted and amused at their circumstance.  Looking through the door behind them I see what appears to be a window styled like one would see in a church.  This leads me to the theory that these young men were all participants in a boys choir group at their local church and had just concluded their performance - to the great relief of all!  I wonder what songs they sang?  The choir director must have been relieved at their success as well - and proud enough to record the big event with a delightful group photo.

I remember as a child seeing the Vienna Boys Choir in concert when they went on a tour of  the United States.  They were absolutely marvelous!  Their crystal clear voices rang out in the concert hall with harmonies and soprano notes I had never heard before.  It seemed that they must have trained their entire lives to perform so well.  And, to my amazement they were able to do this in front of such a huge crowd!   I must confess that in addition to enjoying the music, my sister and I spent some of our time pointing out the boys to each other that we thought were cute.  


This brings me to my Sepia Saturday submission for this week:

My Dad's Barbershop Chorus

About the time I was in high school my father decided to join a local men's chorus. I can't say he was a good singer, but he loved music and he loved people. The chorus provided him an opportunity to enjoy both of these one or two evenings each week.   I, like the rest of my family, was quite proud of him for doing this and wished him well in his new hobby.  We all planned to attend the concert his group would be giving in the city's performance hall in the Spring.

Then a terrible thing happened.  My father invited my friends to come to the concert!  

I knew my dad's chorus sang in Barbershop-style harmonies.   You wouldn't find Barbershop songs on any of the lists of "top 100 hits"  my friends and I listened to.   I have blocked what I may have said to my father from my memory, but I am certain I must have shed a few tears.  I was so embarassed about what my friends would think.

When the dreaded day finally arrived I joined my friends in their car to head down to the performance hall.  I must have said "You don't have to like it, you know" to them a hundred times on the way there, and, of course, we looked for seats as far to the back of the hall as we could.  When the curtains opened and the chorus of men sang out in their ringing consonant harmonies we were bowled over.  Of course they sang the songs you would typically expect from a Barbershop chorus: Down by the Old Mill Stream, Sweet Adeline, and Wait 'Til the Sun Shines Nellie, but they added in many other songs to their repertoire.  There were songs that my friends and I actually knew and listened to such as Yesterday by the Beatles.   We found it to be a really fun and unique experience, and talked about the concert (among ourselves of course) for days.   

Much like the boys choir in this week's Sepia Saturday prompt, my dad's Barbershop Chorus lined up outside the performance hall when their concert was over.  They were all clearly quite happy it was over, and they were also quite proud of their accomplishment.  I was too.

17 comments:

Rob From Amersfoort said...

Nice story! It's a colorful group, can you point out your dad?

Just Stuff From a Boomer said...

How interesting that the little guys had on skirts too. Now I'm curious as to why. I applaud your Dad for enjoying the music he loved. But, I can certainly see that at that time in history, that was not the music our generation was listening to. I would have thought it was "old fogie" music but now I can appreciate the harmony in it.

Thanks for sharing your photos. I always like the old stories.

mary said...

Rob, he is standing on the right with black hair and black glasses.

Bob Scotney said...

A colourful bunch of barbershop boys. Even a tone deaf bloke like me can appreciate their harmony.

Little Nell said...

You know, you may be right about the church theory and I’m sure they would have to sing hymns if that was the case but what a contrast to your dad’s group. They look a much better turned-out bunch and very dapper.

Brett Payne said...

What a charming story. I can't say their colour scheme was too my liking, but I can imagine myself enjoying that performance as much as you and your friends did.

Postcardy said...

They are certainly a colorful group. I might have been embarrassed if my father did that when I was in high school, but I remember "oldtime" styles being popular with young people around that time too.

Alan Burnett said...

A great post full of connections to the theme and to your memories. I know that as I get older I look back at all those times when I was convinced that my parents lived on a different planet to my friends and I and how so many times this was an embarrassing planet. With age comes wisdom - and a strange feeling that my son views me in the same way.

Karen S. said...

Oh my goodness gracious I do believe it's the boys all grown up! I just think Alan's photo is precious of such a great bunch of boys, but truly yours could really be them later in life, right? ha ha

Sheila @ A Postcard a Day said...

It must really have been great fun, to take part and to listen.

Nancy said...

That's a fun memory. As I got my first glimpse of your father's group, my first thought was that it was a barbershop chorus. The only thing that could have made this post better was having a barbershop quartet singing in the background. I'm off to youtube to see what I can find.

PattyF said...

Fabulous post! What a great story, one which I can completely relate to. I think it's a teenager's sole purpose in life to embarrass, and be embarrassed by, their parents. I'm thrilled your father's concert was a success. Thanks for sharing your memories with us!

Liz Stratton said...

What a great memory. I can hear the harmonies now.

Christine H. said...

What a wonderful post. I have to say, I was quite surprised by all the bright colors when I scrolled down to that picture. What a great hobby - but then I love barbershop quartets.

TICKLEBEAR said...

there is more to Life than Billboard or Soul Train, and I'm glad you discovered a new side to your father.
:)~
HUGZ

Martin Lower said...

What a lovely story! You dad's barbershop group were certainly colourful.
I remember being embarrassed by my parents attending a school production I was in. And now I get to embarrass my own kids! Nothing changes....

tony said...

What Brilliant Waistcoats! I Want One!