Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Music in the 1950s

Hello Jean
When my family settled in Summervale permanently in 1954  -  we had been there many times before on holiday at our grandparents, Reg and Ethel Durham  - some of the first music I remember hearing was on the radio on Saturday mornings. "Children's Favourites", with the friendly Uncle Mac, at 9 o'clock, started our week-end off. How many of you remember that programme? We were avid listeners and I can remember some of our favourite songs : The Runaway Train, the Laughing Policeman, I Know an Old Lady who Swallowed a Fly, and, of course, Teddy Bears' Picnic. I'm sure there were many others, but these are the ones I can most easily recall.  Uncle Mac always ended his programme with: "Good-bye children, everywhere" . How different it all is today! 



One of the first songs I remember hearing around the estate in 1954 was 'O Mein Papa', a German song usually played by Eddie Calvert on his golden trumpet, or sung by Eddie Fisher.  I remember hearing lots of Summervalians singing or whistling it. Yes, you as well, Jean! I can certainly remember Vic Noad pretending to play the trumpet to the tune!
My brother, David, wrote recently about how John Rogers was a big Slim Whitman fan, always singing his songs. Another big singer then was David Whitfield, and I recall trying to imitate him when singing 'Answer Me O My Love', usually in the bath!

The Billy Cotton Band always seemed to be singing 'Friends and Neighbours' on the radio and another great favourite was 'I See the Moon and the Moon Sees Me' from The Stargazers. There was a silly song called 'Close the Door ,They're Coming through the Window' in about 54-55, but I can't recall who sang it. Anyone remember? I think we usually heard it on the Billy Cotton show on Sundays.
We used to sing 'The Happy Wanderer', a German folk song very popular in about 1954. "I love to go a wandering along the mountain track ....val-de-ree-val-de-rah.... Dickie Valentine was a popular crooner 50S SINERS 2

at about this time, and I remember singing 'Mr Sandman, bring me a dream', one of his big hits. Another one was 'The Finger of Suspicion Points at You', which I would sing and point the finger at one of my brothers' if I suspected them of any wrongdoing!
There were lots of songs about the American West at that time. We often played cowboys and Indians, of course, so it wasn't surprising that we liked the cowboy songs. There were some memorable ones about Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier, and Roy Rogers with his 'A Four-legged Friend'. There was 'The Yellow Rose of Texas (who sang that one?) and 'The Man from Laramie', which I remember Jimmy Young singing. This was well before he became a DJ. Then there was 'Robin Hood, Robin Hood, Riding through the Glen', but I can't remember who sang it. The same is true for 'Running Bear', a song about an Indian brave.

I remember quite liking Anne Shelton.  She was a big, powerful singer. I particularly liked her 'Lay Down Your Arms ... and Surrender to Mine" . Petula Clark was another popular singer with many hit songs. 'The Little Shoemaker' was one I remember well.  Can you imagine songs like this being hits today!!

In about 1956, I think, the skiffle craze erupted and Lonnie Donegan became a big name.  'Lost John' , 'Don't You Rock Me Daddy-O', 'Gambling Man', 'Grand Coulee Dam', and 'Tom Dooley' were all great hits. This was especially true in our house as we tried to form our own skiffle group using our Mum's washboard, pots and pans. My brother, David, was very keen on this and he carried Paul and I along with it. But, like most crazes, it was short-lived.
Some of the other popular singers I remember from Summervale days were Doris Day (I liked Secret Love and Que Sera, Sera), Frankie Laine (liked his Cool Water), Frankie Vaughan - remember Green Door?) and Johnny Ray - but can't remember what he sang.
Can anyone else remember any other favourite songs and singers from Summervale in the 1950s?
Best Wishes everyone
Peter Westmacott

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