Monday, October 19, 2009

Songs My Mother Taught Me . . . Whistle While You Work


{This is the sixth in an undetermined number of songs my mother taught me I'm posting this month in her memory. For background, please visit the post containing the first song, Ivory Tower.}

I found this beautiful, albeit humorous, photo of my mother in one of her albums that wasn't one we looked at with her, not that I can recall anyway. There are some cute pictures of my sister and me in the album, but it is basically a grown-ups display, showing visits from some relatives and old friends, friends from her work and their families, and "Daddy Bob." She nearly married the man we called "Daddy Bob" and I remember being all for it because I loved his teen-aged son and daughter. They were Catholic, something I thought sounded exotic. I have few memories of Bob, so he must have been a quiet drunk. It was his drinking that stopped her from marrying him; she had at least learned that from her years with my father.

This shot, taken by Bob, was in a series with a visiting relative and her spouse, likely at a cabin at Lake Tahoe, but most definitely at some spot in the Sierras where they had enjoyed a getaway from kids and work. My mother was one to ham it up for the camera. I did not inherit that from her. So this was her take on their having spiffed up the little cabin before leaving the key. She didn't usually do housecleaning dressed as she is here. But she always whistled while cleaning, cooking....doing anything around the house. My mother did not sing well, but her whistling was divine: on pitch, pure, melodic, sweet.

Of course she took us to see Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and all the other Disney movies. In essence, therefore, she taught me all the Disney tunes. Ringing in my memory is this song my mother taught example. Whistle While You Work.



Anonymous said...

Such a lovely photo of your mother! I love the way she's dressed while on holidays. Especially when compared to how I dress when on holidays... in the comfiest, daggiest clothes I have! Haha!

j said...

I love this photograh -- and those heels!

YogaforCynics said...

Great photo...though, while I'm all for whistling while I work, I still prefer to whistle while slacking off...

Hattie said...

That was the most wonderful way to dress.
She was lovely.

Lydia said...

@svasti- I'm like you when on holiday and actually most every day! My mother was keen on fashion and cared about her style.

@Jennifer- It's a great shot for sure. When I found it I made a print and sent it to my sis. Yeah, those heels....

@YogaforCynics- I didn't inherit the talent or inclination to whistle from my mother (but I sing much better than she did). If you're a good whistler people will want to hear it anytime you do it. My husband whistles every once in awhile...while he's in a restful and happy state, and it's beautiful.

@Hattie- The style was really flattering to the female form, I agree. I can't believe how tiny her waist was. I think she was lovely too. :)

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

This made me think of a couple of things - firstly i was watching kids TV whilst ironing on Sunday and one of the kids on it was called Disney. I mean, what kind of name is that to be living with into your 80s??

Secondly whenever we get visitors here we get an email telling us to try and "engender a happy working atmosphere" and i am always tempted to reply, "what do you want me to do? Sing Hi Ho, Hi Ho all day??"

Finally it reminded me of the most famous line in British comedy - from "Dad's Army", which was a sit-com about the Home Guard during WW2 (mostly retired, elderly or injured men who volunteered to help out as unofficial soldiers in UK)

Pike - the slightly dim son of one of the sergents - taunts a German captain by singing a song about Hitler to the tune of Whistle While You Work.

The German captain responds by threatening to take his name on report for when the Germans win the war and asks for his name.

Captain Mainwearing (pronounced Mannering) famously cries out "Don't tell him Pike!"

Actor Ian Lavendar (Pike) still gets that shouted at him in the street forty years later!

Batteson.Ind said...

i was recently in a book shop and quietly whistling to myself as I perused the books. I do this a lot and don't realise I'm doing it most of the time. The guy behind the counter was stunned that a woman was whistling.. he said he'd never heard a girl whistle before!?...
Also, love the photo of your mum.. old photos are always so fascinating, all those little moments captured forever, It's hard to believe that at the time they were all so recent and how quickly they jump from being just captured to imprisoned by time.

Anonymous said...

I think the younger generations have learnt that old gray photos are boring. Myself included. I used to yawn as soon as i saw an old movie or photo. They seemed so dull somehow, with their nervous faces. This kind of changed when I read some works by Emile Zola. This rage of life from a contemporary author. Suddenly, I realized the gray photos had had a life. And I saw pictures with apparently living persons on them.
It's fascinating, really, looking at some extraordinary colorful old photos. The fact that there were color, only hidden from you.

Lydia said...

@Pixies- Thanks for such charming stories in your comments. Disney is a strange first name for a kid.
I'm curious about the emails you mentioned receiving telling you to perk up for visitors......does that happen at your place of employment? It would be comical if it wasn't so suffocating!
I've never heard of "Dad's Army" before but you described the scene so perfectly that I was laughing at the end thinking of the actor fielding that line decades later. Really funny!

@the watercats- Love ya all the more now knowing that you are a whistler (and for appreciating this old photo). The guy behind the counter was right; I think it's pretty rare for a girl/woman to whistle. There is this song in a movie titled Darling Lili (that my mom took us to to cheer us up after our stepfather left the family!) Here's Julie Andrews singing "Whistling Away the Dark.

@Jukka- Your comment was both philosophical and mystical, I thought. I enjoyed it immensely, and will certainly look up Zola's work now that you mention it. Thank you for being here. :)

Rhiannon said...


I have been reading all your post of the songs your mother taught you or shared with you. Very lovely stories. Some very good memories for you? I remember all the songs you mentioned and I being the same age and all.

When I looked at this photo of your mother I was just amazed at the resemblance of how much you look like her! I can see right away this woman was your mother indeed.

Is your new photo taken from your recent ocean trip a few days ago? If so who took it?...:o)..just curious since you went yourself. Maybe digital cameras can do this? I'm not too familiar with much about digital cameras as I've never owned one.

Am enjoying the stories about the "Songs My Mother Taught me". Thank you for sharing them with us.


Don't Feed The Pixies said...

Hi Lydia - yeah: not so much these days, but about 2-3 years ago we used to get emails at work all the time like that. Other companies were thinking of setting up similar schemes and we'd get "dignitaries" coming around to see what we were doing and an email/desk-drop telling us to "engender a happy working atmosphere"

But apparently some call centres have it worse: with so-called fun bonuses for the first employee who manages to say things like "That's amazing" to a customer. Not witnessed it myself, but believe it happens. I think if i had to work in an atmosphere like that i'd take an axe to someone pretty quickly!

PS: Dad's Army, Porridge, Fawlty Towers - possibly the three best British sit-coms of all time xx

Lydia said...

@Rhi- Really? You can see her in me from the shot I have in my blog profile? I don't see it, but I sure do in other photos. Yes, the new photo here at my blog is from my beach trip last week. I took it with my digital by extending my right arm out and clicking. I used the timer to take a few inside my motel room, but the lighting was dark.
It makes me very happy that you are enjoying the Songs (our Mothers taught Us!).

@Pixies- Oh, yuk. Those tales about the work environment, especially around the call centers, sickens me. Good for you to have so many talents and interests in the arts and cycling to get you away from all that junk.
The only of the three I'd heard of before is Fawlty Towers (now I'll look to see if any of them are offered on our public broadcasting station).



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