Say It Isn't So

Monday, November 14, 2005


We've all heard the line, "When I was in school I had to walk ___ miles to get there". It was a way our elders had to tell us how easy we were having it. Well, my journey was about 3 miles. Down hill going, up hill back home. Sometimes I would ride the skate board that my Dad made for me out of an old pair of roller skates that my sister didn't use any more, and carry it back home. Mostly I walked it. Down Cote St. Antoinne Blvd. and by Murray Hill Park, winding my way into the flatlands and on down to the ledge that the school was built on overlooking the St. Lawrence River.

I had just started High School. I was 12 years old and very excited. They had put me in the music class, which was reserved for kids with an ear as well as a scholastic aptitude. I had a bit of musical training in the way of 1 year of piano lessons (I will always regret not having done more, but it was my choice to opt out) and 1 year of recorder. I wanted to be in the strings section. The violin made such beautiful sounds. They put me in the wind section. Once there I wanted to play the saxaphone, I already loved Jazz (thanks to Peter Gunn). They gave me a french horn. I stuck it out for about 6 weeks, always begging for the saxe. Then I asked to transfer out.

So I ended up in a singing class! Coming from a family of crooners, I did enjoy that form of music making. Although I don't think I sing very well, it was passable and pleasureable. One of the songs that I learned to sing was "Fair Cuba" the cuban national anthem with English wording. It was 7 months after the Bay of Pigs. It was a beautiful song.

Fair Cuba
Sits enthroned in an ocean of light
Where the dawn comes in splendor
And the stars in the night
Shine with radiance bright
Shine with radiance bright

Are her fields and her forests of green
And the beauty they lend her
Oh fair Cuba tis thee
Land of flowers and of trees
Land of flowers and of trees

Those are just some of the lyrics. I remember it well because it was so beautiful.

Not long after learning that song President John F Kennedy went to Dallas, TX, where he met with a fateful end. Everyone was in shock, even in Canada. That school, that taught me how to sing the Cuban National Anthem, flew their flag at half mass until the President was buried.


At 11:03 AM, November 14, 2005, Blogger mdmhvonpa said...

As for the assasination ... I have no context. I do believe that Kennedy was much more a conservative (Even as a Democrat) than many Republicans today. I would vote for him.

As for the milage between school and home, When I lived in Utah, I had to take a public bus across SLC to get to the catholic school I was attending. Bleh!

At 3:45 PM, November 14, 2005, Blogger mouse said...

I need to make a correction. The Bay of Pigs incident was 2 1/2 years before the assassination. Back then I had no concept of time. Suppose that is still true, even now.

Sir Mdm: There's an old song by the Cream that is only slightly younger than the events I mention here. In it there's a line that goes, "I support the left, but I'm leaning to the right".

A catholic in a mormon town! Must have been only one school for you, eh?

At 9:29 AM, November 17, 2005, Blogger mdmhvonpa said...

Heh, me and a dozen other kids. We would get pounded on a daily basis. It's how I got to be such a good track athelete. I would have to run to the convent at top speed to out-race the stones and stick ... once I got there, the Nuns of Perpetual Beatings would take over and summon the Wrath of God down. The public school kids knew the boundry and would stay on the other side of the street from the fenced in 'compound'.

At 10:49 PM, November 22, 2005, Blogger Amy Byrd said...


What a neat story about the walk to school. I loved hearing about the St. Lawrence River as I lived very near it and often camped on it with family and friends. But I was saddened by your lack of choice when you got to the music class! You wanted this or that instrument, and they always gave you something else.

I don't think I have met anyone who started lessons on an instrument, especially the piano, who did not say they wished they had studied it harder. What is it with kids they don't believe anything their parents tell them? That is, until 'we' become adults with our own kids and have those nagging remembrances of our parents saying the very same things we are saying.

The Cuban anthem is very pretty. I was in chorus for years and had the coolest old, old lady teacher. My favorite was The Battle Hymn of the Republic. She'd get a few deep-voiced guys to do a background sound like that of drums or thunder while we sang in parts. ohh.. Just got a shiver thinking about it. And we did ALL the verses. Beautiful. It remains one of my favorite songs of all time.

At 2:05 PM, November 25, 2005, Blogger mouse said...

Amy, As my father used to say, "Too soon old, too late smart!" It is so very true. Especially if you were born curious, stubborn and fiercely independent, like me.

At 8:02 AM, December 04, 2005, Blogger Pris said...

What a great post. What a gorgeous photo!

I had to smile at your reference to walking. My father had grown up on a farm and he and his brother walked into town to school. The phrase 'I walked through sleet and snow...' will always remind me of him:-)

At 5:47 PM, October 05, 2012, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the 4th grade, we learned the second verse as follows:

Enchanting, are her fields and her forests of green
And the glory they lend her
Of all tropical isles
Fairest Cuba is queen
Fairest Cuba is queen

Whatever the words, it is a lovely and enchanting song, and now, 52 or so years later, I still find myself singing it!


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