Sometimes I shudder when I think of the (ahem) all-American upbringing we had in public school in the 1950s and 60s. I was reminded that today is Columbus Day where we actually believed that no human being had seen the Americas until Columbus arrived. It was just sitting here desolate, waiting for someone (a white European) to find it.
Just now, a song we sang went through my mind... the lyrics were:
In fourteen hundred and ninety two,
Columbus sailed the ocean blue
He sailed and sailed and sailed and sailed
To find a land for me and you.
I'm grateful I don't remember the other verses.
When I was at my 35th high school reunion, believe it or not, my elementary school music teacher was there -- God only knows how old she is -- and she remembered me -- God only knows why... (because I was always "a joy to have in class" as the teachers would write -- that meant I was unapologetically the ultimate teacher's pet) and I said to her that when I think of some of the songs we sang, it makes me laugh -- like all the religious (read: Christian) songs and all the Stephen Foster songs -- can you imagine anything more ludicrous than a bunch of suburban white kids singing "Old Black Joe" or "Swanee River" (which the music book actually wrote as "Swanee Ribber"). She laughed and said that Stephen Foster songs were banned long ago. Probably a good thing.
I also remember singing "Dixie" -- bet that isn't sung anymore either -- wish I were in the land of cotton, old times there are not forgotten... I think we believed there was something slightly wrong with the song, that it didn't belong to us, wasn't a part of our New York suburban world, but we liked it anyway.
Of course, too, there were all the military songs we also regularly and patriotically sang. I don't think I knew was a caisson was until I was in my 20s, but that didn't prevent me from belting out, "Over hill, over dale, we will beat the dusty trail as the caissons go rolling along..." Is that right? Is it "beat the dusty trail?"