The Music Goes On


This is a story told to me by my mother Jean Bonham Vandenburg

HOW THE MUSIC STARTED IN THE BONHAM FAMILY

O. C. Bonham played the fiddle. He met another musician, Clarence Rodgers, who also played the fiddle or violin. In fact he was a music teacher for Atoka schools and private students too. Mr. Clarence Rodgers was an accomplished Classically trained musician and was well known as a brilliant music teacher. Mr Bonham was a widower, who had four children by his first wife. Ida New. Two of them survived,Minnie Lee and Zed.

Minnie was very good on the organ and piano. She was a good vocalist too. Mr Rodgers taught her the piano and she played in church. Minnie eventually married and became the mother of five children, who grew to be talented a singers in church as well. Mr Bonham married again to Lydia New Trimmer and had two children, Oran Carl and Collie. Although Carl, as Oran Carl came to be known, survived, Collie died when a very young child. Clarence Rodgers taught Carl to play the guitar and other instruments. Mr Bonham, Mr. Gene Warren, the principal of Harmony School, Clarence Rodgers, Carl, and his friend Hardy Wilkins would gather at the Bonham house and play music during the winter when crops were harvested and laid by.

O C Bonham married later in life to Novella Burlison and they had had five children. Clearance Rodgers taught the oldest son, Orville, to play the fiddle too. His children are part of the Bonham Bluegrass family. Sara Ann, Glen, and Virgil all were talented. Their big brother, Carl, taught Ollie and Glen to play the guitar.

Carl liked ballads and the music of early Country and Western singers such as Jimmie Rodgers. His friend, Hardy, was a good musician who played for dances at the outside dance floor in Stringtown, Oklahoma that was made famous when the infamous criminals, Bonnie and Clyde had a shoot out where they killed a deputy and wounded the sheriff. Carl and Hardy were will known in the area and played for dances held in homes throughout Atoka County. His daughter can remember going to someones house and they would move all the furniture  out of one room so that could have room to dance. When the little kids and babies got sleepy the parents would lay them on the beds to sleep. When the movie, Gone With The Wind, came out, Carl and Hardy played during the intermission every night. Carl was a good singer and, thanks to Clarence Rodgers, a good musician, When Carl was first learning to play, if he missed a cord or made a mistake, Clarence would smack Carl with his fiddle bow.

The daughters of Carl and his wife, Thelma Bolling Bonham, also learned to sing at an early age. Jeannie Bonham Vandenburg and Jackie Bonham Hand, sang on a radio show that was recorded live from the Mamie Johnson school in Atoka every Sunday. They, and the teachers from Harmony decided to have a show at Harmony School to help buy new basketball uniforms, Jean and Jackie and the other students organized the show and it was a big hit in the community. It helped to get the much needed uniforms.

Jean married Eddie Vandenburg when he came back from the Korean War, He was an outstanding natural musician. Later, when he went back into the Army, Eddie and Jean were stationed many places where they always became involved with country music. They entertained at the military clubs and civilian clubs near by. They were asked to record and go on tour, but being a soldier came first so they had to let the opportunity pass. Both Jean and Eddie were song writers, and Jean continues to write today. They were both raised to sing traditional Country Music. Eddie passed away a few years ago, but Jean is still invited to sing at various venues where she performs now and then. If you get a chance to hear Miss Jean you are in for a real treat. She has had many years experience and has performed with many talented bands and fronted for many rising stars. She has some great stories to tell about the places and people she and Eddie have met.

They were parents of five children and who are also musicians and vocalists. The girls enjoy singing in church. Karron is a writer and was a choir director and, the youngest, Rebecca and her husband, David Barrington, often sing and direct musical events in their church, Eddie Vandenburg Jr. is good musician and a collector of music instruments. Some of Eddie and Jean’s grandchildren and great grandchildren also have interests in music.

With each generation, the music goes on in the Bonham family.

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Thank You Mr. Barry, Somewhere In Time


Have you ever heard a piece of music that fills your soul, your heart? One that, when the first notes play, you slip into a memory, a moment in time, a feeling that envelopes your entire being? The music from the movie, Somewhere In Time, does that to me.

I don’t know why. The movie wasn’t all that great, but the music speaks to me in a deeply, wonderfully personal way. The smooth, gliding notes make my eyes want to drift shut, and a soft smile comes to my lips as I let the music lead me away from stress, sorrow, and worry. I can sit for hours listening to the same music over and over as my thoughts wander, and day dreams drift like clouds in my mind. I feel tears gather, and when I least expect it, love fills me.

It is a piece of music, meant as a background for a sad love story. I have heard thousands of soundtracks over the years, few stay in my heart and mind like Somewhere In Time. I stopped trying to figure out why it touches me so deeply and simply allow it to happen. It is a blessing.

I suppose it is silly, maybe overly dramatic, to allow music to deeply effect my life. Music is always with me, every moment of every day. Sometimes it is a reflection of my day or emotions, like listening to loud rock and roll when I drive my car on a sunny day, top down, music blaring. Sometimes music helps me create a story or a character in a story, and sometimes it lifts me out of sadness or loneliness. Music helps me say what I feel when words fail me. It makes me sing, dance, and rock my babies to sleep. It makes me want to be in the arms of the love of my life, and sometimes, it makes me cry.

It is rare that one piece of music can invoke all those feelings and thoughts. This soundtrack does all of that and more. I don’t know anything about the composer, John Barry, but he found his way to this music that has taken root in my soul. Thank you Mr. Barry, from the bottom of my heart.

Listening To Him Sleep


I lay in bed listening to my husband sleep. I started thinking about the life we have shared over the nearly fifty years we’ve known each other. It hasn’t always been an easy partnership. Life has a way of making things difficult, painful, and sometimes, sad. We have loved long and hard, and sometimes, nearly hated each other just as much as we loved. We grew from young teenagers madly in lust with each other into adults who raised our boys, drifting along with, and sometimes away from, each other. But here we are, growing old together, still holding hands, still dancing in the kitchen to love songs, still laughing with and at each other, still loving each other. We still have dreams, ideas, and travels ahead of us, and we are all too aware that it could end in one last heartbeat of either of us.

Recently, my brother introduced me to a new singer, there are several songs on the album that I like, one, however, made me reach for the hand of the man I love. “More Of You” by Chris Stapleton. The words reached right into my heart and made me cry. In the past two years five of my long time friends and my mother have lost their partner or husband. Every one of them was a sudden, unexpected loss. All but one of these marriages was a long time relationship of between five and sixty years plus years. I have known these women for many, many years. One raised me, and the rest of us became close through friendship that led us together through good and bad, happy and sad events in our lives. Now, late at night they don’t have the blessing of lying next to the man they love listening to him sleep. It makes me hurt for them. And it makes me feel even more blessed than ever to know that the love of my life lies next to me.

I know as I look at him, sleeping and mumbling in his sleep, I hear the music and the words, “I fall more in love with you/ Than I’ve ever been….”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wCcby6SVbJE

“More Of You”

When I think of you and the first time we met
And I heard the sound of your sweet gentle voice
My heart took me over and gave me no choice
And right then I knew

[Chorus:]
It makes me want more of you
Again and again
I fall more in love with you
Than I’ve ever been
From the moment you wake me up
Till you kiss me goodnight
Everything that you do
It makes me want more of you

When I look at you now that years have gone by
I think of the memories that time can’t erase
And all of the smiles that you’ve brought to my face
Your love’s been so true

[Chorus]

When I leave this earth you’ll be holding my hand
And it gives me comfort to know you’ll be there
And I’ll thank the Lord for the love that we share
You’re heaven to me

[Chorus]

Everything that you do
It makes me want more of you

Broken Memories


A Valentine for my husband of 46 years.  In all the years of pain, loss, joy, and happiness, we have fallen in and out of love many times.  Today, we have found each other again. And this is what came to mind today. I love you old man, I always have, even when I got lost in the sorrow.

Broken Memories

Memories of your arms

holding me, hands touching me

reaching for you, touching

broken memories.

Memories of laughter

sunshine days, warm nights

gentle loving,

touching broken memories.

Memories of joy

memories of contentment

careful words, giving

broken memories.

Memories of loneliness

memories of emptiness

memories of needing you

lost in broken memories.

Memories of growing old

lost and alone

finding you in my heart

mending broken memories.

Reaching for your arms

touching your love

finding warmth

leaving behind broken memories.

Dancing in the Kitchen


We were newlyweds living in a house built in the 1800’s up in the hills above Mill Valley, California. We were deeply in love, but still adjusting to each other. It was a bad day, we had argued off and on all day about silly things. He made me cry, I made him swear. It was a typical lover’s spat made worse because we were so young, both of us were still teenagers.

I went into the kitchen to start cooking dinner. As I usually did, I put on music to help me deal with the stresses of my emotions. The Everly Brothers were, and still are, one of my favorite groups. I always sing along with music I love. The song “Let It Be Me” came on the stereo. I started to sing along, when I felt my husband’s arms come around me. He turned me to face him and we started slow dancing in the kitchen. That was the first time we danced barefoot in the kitchen.

We’ve been married for 46 years, over the years we have danced barefoot in kitchens all over the world. Last week we danced in our kitchen here in Mississippi to the same song. It still makes me teary eyed to feel the deep love we still have for each other. The last dance I ever have, when we are so old a decrepit that we creak, will be dancing barefoot in the kitchen. And we will be just as in love then as we were the first time we danced barefoot in the kitchen back in 1972 in that old house on Rose Avenue in Mill Valley, California.

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=everly+brothers+let+it+be+me

 

 

I Love My Car!


I have the MOST serendipitous moments happen to me. I was driving my little car, top down, playing Manhattan Transfer’s song Operator (look it up) and got stopped at the stop light from hell in Southaven. (a three minute wait, every single time.) A car filled with teenage boys pulled up next to me. they had their windows down. When they got even, they all started singing along with the song. I was surprised 1. that they knew the song, and 2. that they had such great harmony. As the song ended the boy in the back seat leaned out and yelled, “call me!” I laughed and said, Honey, you just want me for my car! He fell over laughing and said, Dang, you got me! The light changed and they turned left while I went on my way. I LOVE MY CAR! I also LOVE MY MUSIC! Nothing like having worries taken away when I cruise in my lovely Posh!

Come Christmas Time


I am one of the odd ducks that happens to be fully ambidextrous and, according to all the tests I took in college, I have a brain that is exactly balanced between the right and left sides of the brain. What this means, actually, is I spend more time figuring out which hand to use to do what task, and I argue with myself on almost every single issue.

Emotions in public embarrass me, so that makes logic a good choice, except emotional people think I am cold and unfeeling because I give a logical response. If others get emotional, with good reason, I have empathy for them, but I probably won’t join them in a crying jag, hysteria, or temper tantrum. On the other hand, or side, I get hurt and angry, and I am capable of having a tantrum, I just usually turn to sarcasm, facts, and downright snobby rhetoric to let others know how upset I am.

The biggest battle I face with myself, is admitting that I am such a softie when it comes to anything to do with children, my family, my country, my religion. I can be brought to tears just hearing the National Anthem, and nothing gets to me like seeing a flag flying against the sky. Only years of self control has kept me from breaking out singing God Bless America at a flag raising. See, Embarrassing.

I love my family. I have the most wonderful children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and all the steps and add on family that comes with them. I have a husband of 45 years who has grown old with me that I love in more ways than I can say. I am deeply proud of all of them, even the one that has gone on before us brings me pride and joy. I admit, blushing, that when I see them do something that brings them joy, I have to fight tearing up. After all, they don’t want to see an old, weepy lady sobbing all over them. So I have learned to suck up the tears and smile with pride, and enjoy their achievements. Holding a grandchild for the first time is magical, sacred, and fulfilling in a way only a parent can understand. It is a continuation of all that we are. But, I never cry, nor do I laugh out loud, the logic side keeps me under control enough to be excited, but calm. None of that means I don’t feel emotion, I am just more comfortable with keeping it close and personal.

Music brings me to deep emotions, especially music that speaks to my religious being. My country and all that it was founded on is as much a part of me as my name. That patriotic belief comes from my ancestors who both founded the United States, and those that were here to meet the ships as they came in.

So, as I sit here with my fifty-fifty brain, we are once again embarking on Christmas and all it means to me. I secretly LOVE Christmas. I start planning gifts and decorations in mid-summer, and can hardly wait until Thanksgiving is over to begin my Christmas plans. I love the bright lights, glittery decorations, brightly wrapped packages, Christmas trees, baking, and all that goes into it the family traditions that our melded family celebrates. It makes me HAPPY!

On the emotional side, I love the deeply religious meaning of this time of year. The sacred music, the beautiful story of the birth of Christ, the amazing story of Mary, mother of the Savior, and the abiding love of Joseph for both of them makes me feel filled with love and understanding for all other mothers and fathers. Though our struggles may be different, we, as parents, have same love for our children.

This is the one time of the year I tell my logical side to zip it and take a holiday. Oh, I allow it control when it comes to things like planning how much I need of what to get things done, and I allow it free reign with finding the best deals for gifts, but otherwise, it stays out of things. This is the time of year I can cry, laugh, and rejoice without feeling embarrassed, or out of control.

Yep, being one of those few that struggle with an ambidextrous brain and body, is not easy. But come Christmas time, only one side is in control. God Bless You One and All, may your dreams come true, and may you rejoice in all the love of Christmas and all it means.

The Waltz – A true story from my past.


It was a typical winters evening in Nottingham. The streets were glistening with rain, the air was cold and damp, and the walk up the hill to catch the bus seemed extraordinarily long since I had stayed late doing my daily shopping in the City Centre.
As I trudged slowly along, my ears caught the sound of someone playing old tunes on a piano. I glanced up and saw, through a large window, an elderly gentleman playing on an old upright piano in what seemed to be a recreation room in a pensioner’s home for the elderly. The walls were industrial gray green, the floors cracked brown linoleum, and the furniture the dismal Formica and plastic found in many such places.
As I stood listening to the piano player, he began to play a waltz. Suddenly, out of the shadowed corner of the room, a couple began the long sweeping steps of an old-fashioned ball-room waltz. The man was stooped with age, and the tiny, white haired woman seemed fragile in his arms. As the danced, they gazed into one another’s eyes with winsome smiles. They moved in perfect harmony, born, no doubt, of many years of dancing together.
The cold, wet evening seemed to disappear as I gazed at the dancing couple and in my mind’s eye, they were no longer elderly, but, instead, I saw a young, tall pilot in his RAF uniform dancing with a beautiful, dark haired girl with smiling eyes. A couple, obviously, in the first steps of love and passion waltzing in a crowded ballroom lit by crystal chandeliers and candle light. As he held her close in his arms, they began the steps that would lead them into a life together. One filled with love, pain, worry, and joy. As the waltz ended, he softly kissed her temple and swore he loved her.
The strains of the old piano faded and I was abruptly brought back to that rainy winter night, and the elderly couple stood in the middle of the floor as he softly kissed her temple. Hand in hand they slowly turned and walked back into the shadows of the room. The street was unexpectedly quiet without the music and the wind rushed around the corners of the buildings bringing freezing rain, but I felt warm in the glow of the light spilling from the window of the pensioner’s home and the small slice of life I had just witnessed in a waltz between a man and a woman who would love each other for eternity.

At A Little Stone Church


At the little stone church on a dusty country road, cars and trucks park in a row in the evening sun. The people stream into the building, dropping off homemade snacks while the aroma of coffee begins to fill room.

It is obvious that the people are long time friends as they greet one another. Slowly the stage fills with amplifiers, guitars, fiddles, mandolins, and a smiling man settles himself to play the piano. The men pick up their instruments, the audience quietly chatters, and with a downbeat the band begins to play.

This isn’t your ordinary band. The youngest member is in his early twenties, but the oldest is nearing eighty. The music is pure country and gospel – American style. They have hundreds of years of combined talent and ability between them, and it shows. There is no set pattern to the songs they play. In turn the singers, young and old alike, stand to sing songs that have been part of American music for generations. Sad songs, gospel songs filled with hope, and songs that create memories of days gone past. The band catches the downbeat and simply needs to know what key the singer wants to sing. Then they bring the music alive.

White heads nod in time to the music, worn hands clap out the beat, and faces smile in recognition of the talent of the musicians and singers. The younger faces in the crowded room smile and listen intently to the words of each song, knowing they were learning at the feet of masters.

As I sit and listen, I am transported back to the days of my childhood when I would listen to these same songs on the radio. Suddenly, my eyes fill with tears of nostalgia and the yearning for days that are long past.

I can’t help but wonder where the good in the world has gone. In the rush of getting ahead, making progress, and living large, the world has lost touch with the simple joys of life. Singing on the front porch with a guitar and mandolin, sitting around the kitchen table laughing at old stories, walking out into the sunset to enjoy the beauty, all seem to be lost in the hurry of life. Where are all our simple joys? What has happened to our traditions?

For the time being, they are alive and well in the small stone church on a dusty country road in Oklahoma. As the sunsets to the rhythm of country music, the world seems to stand still just to listen, with pure joy, to the melody.