Jack Simpson - Trip to store releases flood of memories

The holidays have come and gone, and the year 2007 has faded away leaving only memories. The year's events have joined all those past recollections.

The remnants of the Christmas ham have been converted into homemade bean soup. Dottie did the honors after I went to the grocery to bring her back some of the needed ingredients to go in the pot.

As if I haven't already had enough retrospection, I popped a Glenn Miller CD into the player and listened to it while I was enroute to the store, a flood of reminders from my youth poured forth.

Glenn Miller was playing trombone in bands before I was born. As I was growing up, he was perfecting his arranging and playing while joining such great musicians as the Dorsey brothers, Charlie Spivak, Claude Thornhill, Gene Krupa, Hal McIntyre and others now part of the history of American music. Many of today's youngsters have not heard these artists.

By the time I was in high school, Glenn Miller had achieved for his band a distinct sound and style. He was a favorite of the younger set back then. Any time I listen to this band now, nostalgia sets in. All this modern-day music is interesting, but a far cry from the Miller sound with Tex Beneke, Ray Eberle, Marion Hutton and the Modernaires.

The high schoolers of my youth went to the local Dairy Nook to listen and dance. Back there in the Pennsylvania hills, the Nook was run by a Mom-and-Pop who closely supervised their customers. No foolishness, drinking, smoking or drug use was allowed. It was a place for ice cream, milk shakes, burgers and dancing to the big bands. Bad behavior was not tolerated.

Local sweethearts listened to "Sunrise Serenade," "Little Brown Jug," "In the Mood," "Pennsylvanis 6-500," and "A String of Pearls." They went to the local movie theater to see the Miller band in "Sun Valley Serenade" and "Orchestra Wives." When the band came to the nearby Sunset Ballroom, classmates hustled to raise enough money for the tickets to the big event.

Yes, we danced, but it was more fun to stand right up close to the stage and listen to this awesome orchestra play "Chattanooga Choo-Choo" and to hear Tex Beneke, Marion Hutton and the Modernaires sing "Kalamazoo."

It was just before and during World War II that these memories were acquired. Following Pearl Harbor, Americans were united in protecting freedom. During holidays, they sought comfort and joy and a return of peace on earth. They continued listening to the music they loved even when young people went off to fight for their country.

For most, Christmas then and now is a happy time when people party, exchange gifts and celebrate the birth of Christ. The ladies in the family bustle about their kitchens preparing goodies, the foundations of all good memories. I fully expect bean soup 2007 will become something special to think back upon just as big band music helps rekindle one's youth!

Jack Simpson is a former educator, veteran, author, and a law enforcement officer. His column appears each Sunday.