Monday, November 23, 2009

I'm singin' out, sistahs!

Thanks to MGM, my family history is totally getting done. Well, in oral form. My husband caught the family history bug a couple of months ago and spends his Sundays tracing family lines and emailing with distant cousins he's never met about long-dead cousins none of them ever knew. He has a lot of fun with and it's fun for me to see.


Now, I come from a line of avid genealogists on my dad's side. You know the kind. (They have a wink and a handshake deal with their local Catholic diocese to dig around in their records whenever they want. They wrote a book. There are boxes of pedigree charts.) That kind.


I do family history stuff, too. I just uh . . . well, I have a slightly different approach. On Sundays lately, we've been watching old musicals. Singin' in the Rain, The Music Man, Mary Poppins. And as we watch them, I tell my boys stories about growing up watching the same movies with my parents. They died a couple of years ago, so my oldest remembers them well but my youngest never knew them. I tell them about how Singin' in the Rain was my dad's favorite movie of all time. He checked out a book from the library about it when I was a kid and I learned all kinds of trivia about it each time we watched it together. Which was a lot, by the way. I saw that movie more than any other in my childhood. Did you know that Gene Kelly's famous scene where he actually performs "Singin' in the Rain" was performed in one take because he was running a fever of 103 and knew he had to nail on the first shot? Or that the rain in that scene is actually water mixed with milk so it would show up better on film? I know what seem like a million tidbits like that from my dad and I share them bit by bit as I watch it time again with my sons, same as he did with me.


I tell them about how Uncle Jamie always cracked up during "Make 'Em Laugh" and how we both loved the "Moses" song. And how my dad always kind of thought Donald O'Connor was a better dancer than Gene Kelly.


When I finally get my hands on Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, I'll tell them how my girlfriends all wanted to marry Benjamin and how we would laugh ourselves silly at whoever had to play Dorcas when we re-enacted the movie.


I tell them how the very first tape my brother ever bought was the soundtrack for The Music Man and that we used to perform the "Shapoopie" song with my cousins because we thought it was so funny.


I know it's not on a flash drive somewhere or printed out to hand down to my great-great-grandkids, but my children are learning important lessons about where they come from.


And I totally have to get West Side Story. My oldest is going to love Officer Krupke. I did, when I was a kid, because my parents made sure I saw it and my kids will see it too.

20 comments:

Becca said...

We were meant to be friends. Around here, the Musicals flow fast and furious. (I did show my kids West Side Story 2 weeks ago, and tears, tears. They loved it. And the girls think Bernardo is hot. I quite agree.) **And as a side note, you must see "West Bank Story" a remake/spoof about an Israeli/Palestinian forbidden romance. With songs and dancing. And falafel. (find it on iTunes videos)

Susan said...

I love musicals too. My favorite is The Sound of Music. I was in that play as a kid. I like your kind of family history. My mom sounds just like your dad. She runs the FHC center in her area and she's helped in publishing a book about all the cemetery's in our county. She and my dad even did an at home mission where they searched out cemetery's in our county (because in Va you used to be able to bury people wherever you wanted). Have fun singing.

LisAway said...

Hey! This is just the kind of family history I do! Not about musicals, but sharing all the things I remember about growing up and things we did and loved.

This is really cool and your boys will take this love of musicals with them and pass it on, too. Then maybe some of those far distant cousins will feel even more of a connection when they meet up the way your husband does with his, because they both have that musical bond.

Happy Mom said...

Oh, wow!!! How cool and appropriate to think of this as family history!!! I'm doing MUCH better than I thought I was!!!!

My children LOVE to talk like Lena LaMont! Our week is not complete without at least one "An' I can't stan' it!"

Kristina P. said...

When I was growing up, I used to watch musicals all the time. I can't remember the last time I saw one!

My favorites were Hello, Dolly!, The Music Man, and West Side Story.

MommyJ said...

My kids always ask for my husband and I to tell them stories from when we were kids. They LOVE them... more than any other kind of bedtime story.

wonder woman said...

Sounds like our dads were cut from the same cloth. I, too, grew up watching and loving older movies. Musicals and not. So while I"m passing this love onto my own children (they're watching Wizard of Oz right now!) I haven't made the connection to my own father. And I should. I think your form of family history is just as important as what your husband's doing.

Lara said...

I think your kind of family history is the best kind.

Love West Side Story. It came on PBS a couple years ago and my girls were totally into it. And my Chloe just bawled and bawled at the end. I need to buy it. Maybe for Christmas. We do have the soundtrack, though, and Officer Krupke is definitely the crowd favorite!

Valerie said...

When my we were younger we used to watch all those musicals, too. My sister became infatuated with "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" and would watch it back-to-back-to-back-to-back...you get the idea. This happened every day until I decided enough was enough and hid the video from her. Her bawling and distress forced a guilt trip on me and we gave the tape back. Ahh...good times...

Becky said...

While I'm not a huge musical fan, I'm a huge fan of this post. Passing down traditions and stories is just as important as the pedigree chart.

Way to work on your family history!!

Kazzy said...

Holy smokes! I love your take on family history, and I think it is so valid. Stories. Memories. It's all part of the picture. Great post!

Chantele said...

I LOVED Seven Brides for Seven Brothers! Benjamin was my favorite too!:) My sister used to be Dorcus when we played together. That was such a funny name. Thanks for the great post! I love musicals and it was fun reminiscing. I need to rent some again!

DeNae said...

Oh, boy, you are singing my song. I'm with your dad; Gene Kelly always danced like he was dragging a lame leg around the stage. (Watch him: Step-draaaag, step-draaaag. It's especially bad in "Brigadoon")

I have a friend whose kids can pretty much act out every scene from "Seven Brides." They don't get out much...

And I adore the idea that watching favorite movies is a way to preserve family history. Who, if given a choice, would prefer a static list of generations of names over some real life stories of three or four family members, distant or otherwise?

Not me, that's for sure.

Loved this post,MJ. How's the novel coming along?

L.T. Elliot said...

A better tradition, I can't pick. I should do that with my kids. I love musicals and my little sister and I used to act out a million of them. My older sister always said it was the sign of well-educated mind when they knew those classics. =] You're a smartie, Melanie.

Amber Lynae said...

I love musicals. My little girl loves all the song movies. She is getting to the age where I can share all the great ones with her. It is exciting.

I am a Doris Day fan as well. She was so fun to watch.

That Girl said...

That's my favorite kind of family history. And I didn't know that about Singin' in the Rain - one of MY personal favorites.

Are we long lost cousins?

Kimberly said...

Donald totally was a better dancer. I had that figured out by the time I was ten.

Love this form of family history! Blogging is another, I'm pretty sure.

stewbert said...

http://www.overstock.com/Books-Movies-Music-Games/Seven-Brides-for-Seven-Brothers-DVD/69541/product.html

I had a crush on Benjamin, too, and thought Dorcas was the stupidest name ever. Now I know better. It's Renesmee.

Laura Moffitt said...

Ah I loe Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. And seriously why does everyone find Ben the best looking? I know I do but why? Anyways there is a on line DVD store that I love and there DVD's are 40% off now so you might want to check it out.

www.deepdiscount.com

You are in luck 7 brides for 7 brothers is $8!!

NIKOL said...

I just spent some time reading your posts about your Dad. I lost my own dad a couple of years ago, too.

I loved this story about Singin' in the Rain (which is my favorite movie of all time, and was also my father's). I, too, know many obscure facts. Also, how awesome was Lina Lamont? Don't you love how during the scene when Debbie Reynolds is supposed to be dubbing Lina's voice, it's actually the actress playing Lena doing the lines? Jean Hagen was robbed at the Oscars that year.