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Friday, May 27, 2005

Silver threads

I run a "Rise Up Singing Circle" at my house on Thursday nights. My job is to play piano, sing loudly and in tune, and to facilitate the remembering of old songs - it's typical that my group remembers the beginning of a song and sings it with gusto but runs its boat into the rocks after a couple lines.

If there's a song they want to sing but they don't know it very well and I also don't know it, I look it up and we do it next time. Tonight's "new" song was Down By the Old Mill Stream, written in 1910 by Tell Taylor.

I discovered (thank you, Google) that there are verses to this song, not just the chorus. As I typed them up I was thinking a song like this will never be written by someone of my generation.
My darling, I am dreaming of the days gone by,
When you and I were sweethearts beneath the summer sky.
Your hair has turned to silver, the gold has faded too,
But still I will remember where I first met you:

Down by the old mill stream where I first met you,
With your eyes of blue, dressed in gingham too,
It was there I knew that you loved me true,
You were sixteen, my village queen, by the old mill stream.

The old mill wheel is silent and has fallen down,
The old oak tree has withered and lies there on the ground,
While you and I are sweethearts the same as days of yore
Although we've been together, forty years and more.
Because it's like this:
  • How many of us knew our current sweeties at the age of sixteen? My ex-in-laws did, but these days?

  • How many of us are going to be with our same sweethearts for forty years?

  • How many of us are going to let our hair turn silver? I have, but I know I'm in the minority. I actually have a friend a bit older than I am, with flaming red hair a la the Sweet Potato Queens, who says it makes her ill to look at my silver threads.

  • How many of us would allow the words "faded" and "withered" to be used anywhere in our vicinity?
I would like it to be ok to get old. So far, thankfully, I am hale and hearty, can take long hikes and dig deep holes and sleep on the floor, but I would like it to be ok to look my age, as they used to say, and sometimes maybe even make the little "oof" noise when I sit down after an exhausting day.

Here's a line I love from another ancient song, When You and I Were Young, Maggie: "My face is a well written page, Maggie, but time alone was the pen." People used to say: "I earned these wrinkles." Why isn't that ok any more?

I'm tired of the quest for eternal youth. It starts so early, isn't it weird to see actresses in their 30s with botoxed foreheads? Isn't it upsetting when actors and actresses suddenly get a lot of plastic surgery and don't look like themselves any more?

Wouldn't it be nice to grow old with the people we were young with?

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At 10:23 PM, Blogger kenju said...

Melinama, you should read Time Goes By (

Ronni talks about growing older too. I did not know my husband until I was 22, but I have been with him for 42 years in July.

I used to sing those old songs as a child; brings back good memories.

At 6:36 PM, Blogger Batya said...

Lovely, I can't understand why people want to look younger than their age and undergo surgery, chemicals etc.


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