Thursday, March 13, 2014

Uncle George to the rescue!

My Uncle George, a Tampa police officer, deserves a great big ATTABOY! for coming to the aid of a stranded driver yesterday morning. But not just any stranded driver--this man was on his way to the hospital in rain and rush-hour traffic to undergo a kidney transplant when his truck got a flat tire! You can read about it in today's Tampa Bay Times.

Mike is understandably proud of his not-so-little-anymore brother, who was born on M's 39th birthday. He says it's hard to believe George is the same young man who only a few years ago forgot to bring his tuxedo to his own wedding, so everybody had to wait while he went back home for it. But that's another story.

There's another super cool aspect to George's police job: he sometimes gets to help make public relations videos for the Department. Here's one from October of 2012. George first appears at the 17-second mark, as Cop #2. When a third one joins the scene a second later, George ends up on the right. He's also in several other scenes. Can you spot them?

Whee, doggies! Book 'em, Georgie--but be careful out there!

Friday, March 7, 2014

A Song with Multiple Personalities

Today is Grandma Grace's 90th birthday. In her memory we want to play two versions of one of her favorite songs. One is sad, the other is happy. But they're the same basic song. Go figure.

The original version, called "When You and I Were Young, Maggie," is a two-hanky tearjerker. The words were written as a poem by George Washington Johnson way back in the 1860s. The poem soon became popular as a song when it was set to music by James Austin Butterfield. This is possibly the version Grandma learned as a girl, but as Mike says, we're speculating a bit on that. Here is a nice YouTube clip of it sung by a famous dead opera singer named Jan Peerce, who M got to meet after a concert when he was a teenager. (M, not Mr. Peerce.)

The reason we aren't totally sure that Grandma learned this version first is that it was re-scored in the early 1920s as an uptempo ragtime duet by Jack Frost and Jimmy McHugh. They called it "When You and I Were Young, Maggie Blues." (Mike says this title is a misnomer, since it's not a blues song at all, but an anti-blues song.) Over the next several decades it was recorded by a number of popular singers, and this was the first version that Mike ever heard. He and Grandma used to sing it together at their house and on long driving trips and even made this 78-rpm record of it in a boardwalk sound booth at Jacksonville Beach, in 1952:

Unfortunately the record is unplayable, since over the years it has come to look like someone's done an Irish step-dance all over it. But here's a good YouTube rendition of "Maggie Blues" by Margaret Whiting and Jimmy Wakely:

Are you listening, Grandma? Happy birthday!