Andrew Sisters

12 12 2015

The Saints of Jazz

21 10 2011

They began their careers in small clubs. And cat houses. In choirs. And minstrel shows. They were applauded. Made famous. At times they were loved. They made a lot of money and spent it. On booze. On drugs. On men. And became famous. Some died in small rooms without family. Some in the arms of their children. They were all different. They were the Saints of Jazz. And they loved to sing.

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The Andrew Sisters

6 11 2009

Andrew sisters V2jpg

The Andrew Sisters (1911 –


Momma was a crusader. Daddy was a peach. Teutonic castles. Rolled across the rustic hills. Dressed up in tights. Inside dreams. Out of reach. Teach. Me to sing. And bob for apple cores. Roy. Joy. Life was so sweet. In the twin cities.

Death March. Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen. Jews. From Moldavia. Trains. Out of Mechelen. Klaus Barbie and Ann Frank. Hand in hand. Every child of God. Gets their own little yellow star. Those were golden days.

And the war raged on. In the kitchens of America. Listening to the USO. On the radio. Three little girls. Lungs like trumpets. In the fresh April breeze. Sweethearts. Singing at full volume. Through the air. Across the seas.

And the war raged on. The sisters sang on. About hugging. And kissing under an apple tree. Sang about bugles. In company D. Sang about jumping up. For those boys in their boats. In their tents. In their tanks. Brushing their teeth. Eating that grub. Sinking those subs.

Patty married Marty. Lavergne complained about a headache. Patty mentioned that it might be the hole in her heart. Maxene got drunk on rum and egg nog. And had a dream. Where a white man was dancing with his dog.

Hitler loved his children. He kept them warm. Some graduated from university. And flew to the moon. Others wished they’d never been born.

2500 women trampled guards. Trying to purchase. 1500 alarm clocks. In a Chicago department store. Uprising. At Auschwitz. The Jews trampled the guards. And burned down the crematoriums. But time was going up in smoke.

And the war raged on. Hal Newhouser was named AL MVP. In reprisal. 40 Dutch men were hung. Like apples. From the trees.

Singing songs for Wrigley’s Chewing Gum. Doles’ Pineapple. Never forgetting Franco-American. Promised to meet those service boys. When the war ended. In the soda shop. Dance and sing. Make them laugh. But on that day of reveille. Not all the uniforms, showed up.


That’s All I Want From You. That’s All I Ever Wanted

27 11 2008



Mrs. Murphy bobbed up to the cashier. The classic 18 step. With her walker. Shaking those screws and bolts. Rattling. Bones and bones. None of that osseous matter. Some that the Roman Empire could never understand.

Josephine, the cashier, smiled. She loved to see the old lady in her element. Not all her marbles are working but she sure can move those steins.

“Got a tune in your head, eh Mrs. Murphy?” Josephine nodded her head to one side and winked. Like the Andrew sisters. The blond one.

Mrs. Murphy nodded as her head bobbed up and down.

That’s all I want from you.” Mrs. Murphy pursed her lips. “A lovely song from Jaye P. Morgan.”

Josephine smiled. Then Bea, another cashier, dropped by for a moment. And the two cashiers sang together. A sunny day with bolts up to the sky. A kiss and no goodbye. That’s all I want from you.

The two cashiers laughed and Bea moved on. Shuffling her feet. Waving the palms of her hands in the liquescent air.

“You’ve got to have some fun,” Josephine said. Flashing her pearlies. Pieces of dental floss hanging out of her mouth. Like Romeo’s braided twine to Juliet. And never the twine shall meet.

Mrs. Murphy smiled patiently. She loved the song, but didn’t appreciate these kids confiscating her mood. Why do they consider their own thoughts worth expressing?

“I guess every generation has an ipod in their head,” Josephine said. Josephine loved to imagine that she could smooth over any discord. With her sassy observations.

But Mrs. Murphy had no idea what an ipod was. She would have understood jukebox. Making the gap between the generations seem like a language problem amongst teenagers from different eras.

“I don’t know about that honey,” Mrs. Murphy said shaking her head, “but I feel like there’s a juke box playing in my head. Those tunes fall into place. Can’t help but put you on your toes. Make me feel like smoking a Chesterfield. Oh boy. What a time we had during the war. The best of times as they say. My goodness how I loved to dance. My mother would have sworn that I’d been swept away by the devil himself.”

Bea stopped by again. The two cashiers sang, Don’t let me down, Oh show me that you care. Remember when you give, You also get your share. Don’t let me down, I have no time to waste. Tomorrow might not come, When dreamers dream too late.

Josephine giggled. Bea moved on. Oh that Bea loved to giggle. A jiggle in her jello.

Mrs. Murphy was not so impressed. She watched Bea dance toward the magazine stand. Where she was shuffling in the new magazines.

“She is very annoying, isn’t she?” Mrs. Murphy said. And wondered why people insisted on imposing their silliness on other folks who might have wonderful thoughts in their heads.

“Oh, we’re just having fun. Girls just want to have fun.” Josephine smiled.

“You don’t say,” Mrs. Murphy responded leaning on the counter. Her hand jumping. Her jowls shaking. “You know there are no old people. Some of us just have bad makeup.”

Josephine laughed. That’s very clever, she thought. Mrs. Murphy noticed that the young woman was impressed by her remark, a remark that she had repeated thousands of time over the last few years. After she read it in a Chinese fortune cookie. Still it made her think better of the young woman.

“In your head,” Mrs. Murphy continued, “you’re always 24. God, when you get to my age it seems that the rest of the world are children.”

“I never thought of it that way,” Josephine said as she scanned the diapers designed for seniors that Mrs. Murphy had placed on the counter.

Mrs. Murphy added some toothpaste. For dentures. And some ointment for hemorrhoids. And a brush.

“Or maybe it’s the other way round,” the old lady said caught up in her own nimble wit. “Maybe we’re all old. And being young is an illusion. A joke. A tease.”

At that moment Bea showed up again and the two cashiers finished singing their song. A little love that slowly grows and grows. Not one that comes and goes. That’s all I want from you.

Bea and Josephine laughed. And when they were finished they noticed that Mrs. Murphy had departed. Left all of her things behind. Unbagged. Unpaid for.

“What got into her?” Bea asked.

Josephine shook her head. “She’s just old.”

Bea nodded as her head bobbed up and down.

Bea pursed her lips and Josephine followed suit as they sang. “That’s all I want from you.”