Barbara Seely Cooper
It has been fun to follow all the memories of old TV shows and songs that bring us back to our younger days. Many of the songs were favorites of mine, and I still react when I hear them playing. Once in a while I forget myself and sing along, a disaster no one nearby deserves.
In the Seely household, music was huge. My earliest memories are of songs done by the big bands, notably Glenn Miller, because Dad was passionate about Miller’s music. Dad’s collection was vast, and he was an expert on the members of each band and their skills. He also loved jazz and classical music, and listened to albums by Stan Getz, Louis Prima, and others. He would play them endlessly, and the music was his “happy place” where stress and cares of the world could be put by. I still know most of these songs by heart, and can recognize the band and/or the players a lot of the time.
Singers he loved were (first and foremost) Fran Warren, with Ella Fitzgerald, the Modernaires, Tex Benecke, and Keely Smith high on his list of stars. In classical music, he felt Rise Stevens was superb. A major instrumentalist favorite was Bobby Hackett, a fabulous cornet player who had his own band but played for others, including Glenn Miller and Jackie Gleason’s orchestra. All of this music was a regular part of my growing up…Dad even taught me a two-step dance to big band music. Mom loved to jitterbug (still does!) and is not one bit embarrassed to step into the aisle at a big band concert to cut a rug.
Dad’s ability to whistle was also extraordinary. He would accompany his albums by whistling along, but he added to the music rather than mimicking it. Even classical music such as “Carmen” was always backed up by Dad’s whistling. A favorite of us daughters was his version of “Peter and the Wolf.”
One of life’s interesting turns happened recently when our family had our DNA tested and found relatives on Dad’s side of the family. Dad was adopted at age 2 and was never able to access his adoption papers. He would be very happy and proud to know about his biological family. Would you believe they were engineers and musicians? His cousins are Keith “Red” Mitchell and Gordon “Whitey” Mitchell, both renowned bass players. Dad’s collection included a number of albums with Red Mitchell playing in the band. Dad’s musical and scientific interests were so very close to those of his family’s. It is bittersweet that he did not know them. The physical resemblances are startling also. My sisters and I are having a wonderful time getting to know the descendants of Dad’s family. They are wonderful people! We are still searching for more information about his biological mother.
While I am typing this, I have a tape of big band music playing, and as always, it takes me back to being at home listening to Dad play his albums and talk to us about the music. My memories of those times brings me solace at difficult times and brings some magic into ordinary days. I have delayed leaving a store or restaurant to hear an old tune Dad loved, and I never fail to turn up the car radio to full blast when one of the songs plays. For me, memories of songs from the 50’s and 60’s are good, but the ones from Dad’s collection are the most loved and most poignant.
Here’s to William Frederick MacNeil Mitchell, adopted as Edgar Thomas Seely, a musician at heart who left a legacy of listening pleasure to his family. He was a first-class father, too. His legacy lives on – both of my sisters are musicians, and one nephew has a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering, which relates to Dad’s lengthy career as a NASA scientist. The other nephew is a nurse. Dad was in the Army Medical Corps during WWII, so even that skill has been carried down. There are artists in Dad’s biological family too. He was a Renaissance Man in every sense.
Memphis, TN - Thanks this week go to Barbara Seely Cooper and Max Kull for helping me fill the Traveller with some interesting content. Their contributions came in a very busy week for me with three basketball games and one football game on my calendar, along with a visit to the VA's optician for new glasses.
I'm afraid I don't know the date of this picture. I'd guess it was from some time near the end of the '65-'66 school year given the faces I do recognize and the number of folks in shorts. It came from a box of photos I "liberated" from the Traveller storeroom during the last weeks of the '66-'67 school year. I see a lot of '66 folks in the picture. Jeff Davidson, Ken Higginbotham, Johnny Roberts, Jim Ramsey, etc. I would bet some of your readers could shed some light on the event.
My brother Don (back), my mother, and me and our TV on East Clinton Street.
The Vintage Television
TV Shows of
Loss of an Old Friend
I was so sorry and somewhat surprised Sunday morning, to see J.L. Boone's notice of passing. J.L. and I were good friends at Lee and especially during our Junior and Senior years. J.L. was a very talented artist and we both took Mrs Heddon's 6th period Art class. We also were both in the Art Club, but to tell you the truth I think the only club meeting we ever attended was for the Art Club group photo that would be used in the Lee Annual. Looking back through my old Annual, I see we were on the back row standing together, side by side, J.L. with that big cheese eating grin of his and me with my hands in my pockets. J.L. had a wonderful sense of humor and a great wit and imagination. Anytime I saw him in school or saw him approaching down the hall he would always have a sly smile or big grin on his face. It would just spontaneously bring a smile to my face. J.L. was one those people you always looked forward to seeing.
We both had our minds set on the pursuit of a commercial art career and as I see by reading his obituary, J.L. was quiet successful. Each time I would return for one of our Lee High Reunions, I would hope J.L. would be there. I so wanted to know about his life and what had become of him and his career aspirations. Sadly he never attended and I was never able to run into anyone who knew what had become of him. Even though I never got to see J.L. again after high school, it is so good to know that we both were successful in achieving our ambitions of making graphic arts a career. I only wish I could have seen some of his work.
Thanks Tommy, for posting J.L.'s passing, I at least now know that he had a good life and found joy in the creative art he was so talented in.
From Our Mailbox
This week's emails have been inserted as stories and not emails.