It Was Midnight on the Ocean, not a Streetcar Was in Sight

My longtime readers may remember me mentioning my maternal grandfather.  He was the one who took on the pseudonym Charlie Young and lied about his age in order to enlist for World War One.  He was an extremely colorful character who was a cop in New York City during the first half of the twentieth century.  Toward his own children he was the typical autocratic Italian American man.  But toward his grandchildren he was like a big kid.  He brought us out for hamburgers and ice cream and whatever else he could think of.  He would tell us stories of the old days. Some of them quite remarkable.  And whenever things got quiet, he’d sing some variation of a song that we thought he had just made up.  It would usually go something like this,

“It was midnight on the ocean

Not a streetcar was in sight

Me and my old friend (fill in the name of a particular grandson)-boy

Were eating by the candle light

When along came a big whale

And washed us all away

Then grandma came along and saved the day.”

Now this song varied by the identity of the grandchild and the details of the trip we were on.  But it was mostly along these lines.  And to a little kid who was out on a fun car ride and getting fast food hamburgers and ice cream it was Beethoven’s Ode to Joy.  Well my grandfather’s been gone about thirty five years and about ten years ago it occurred to me to try to find the lyrics to his little poem on the internet.  And what do you know?  It turns out it’s an old English nonsense poem.  And more to the point a song was made out of it by an American country singer named Harry McClintock back in the 1920s called Ain’t We Crazy (catch the words at the 1:00 mark of the song).

Well, at the time the song was only available as part of an imported music collection that cost $600 so I couldn’t buy it then.  But this week I found it on an inexpensive album on Amazon and got it.  It turns out McClintock also has a song that ended up on the “O Brother Where Art Thou” soundtrack (Big Rock Candy Mountain).  I guess he’s not as obscure as I thought.

I sent the above link to my siblings and cousins and many of them have the same fond memories that I have of this little ritual my grandfather had.  I think I will adopt it with my grandchildren.  Of course, I’ll have to personalize it for each of them but that’s half of the fun of it anyway.  And while I’m at it I’ll tell them stories about their great-great-grandfather Charlie Young who went off to war as a very young doughboy and shot it out with 1920s gangsters from the running board of a speeding car.  They’ll probably think it’s as crazy as the song.

American Pride

One hundred and two years ago my grandfather was a sixteen-year-old Italian American kid living in New York City.  When the Americans entered World War I he wanted to join the army to fight America’s enemies but his parents forbade it and because he was under age he couldn’t join without their permission.  So, he took the alias of Charlie “Young,” claimed he was eighteen and joined without their knowing.  His sense of pride in being a New Yorker was such that this Italian American kid was thrown in the stockade for fighting with a southern recruit who called him a “Damn Yankee.”

I remember after September 11th, 2001 a reporter in New York City interviewed some students on the New York University campus who had just witnessed the World Trade Center collapsing into rubble killing thousands of New Yorkers.  He asked them whether they would be willing to enlist to revenge the attack.  And they said absolutely not.  Their future was too important to sacrifice for their country.  They did allow that there probably were less important people who could do it though.  Probably dirt people who didn’t go to NYU.

Times do change.

What does it mean about a high school if it bans the wearing of the American flag because it’s too divisive?  The only thing I can think of is that the school is outside the boundaries of the United States.  What that means to me is that whole areas of the political boundaries of the United States are occupied territory.  If you are in California you are no longer in the United States of America.  And that also goes for New England, the Pacific Northwest, the Great Lakes region, the Mid-Atlantic states and almost all of the large metropolitan areas.  A good rule of thumb is to use those voting maps of the United States and look at all the counties that vote Democrat, all of the blue areas.  Within these areas pride in America is at least an abomination and in some cases a crime.  And even outside of these enclaves, parts of your life have become occupied territory.  Most of the internet is now an anti-American domain.  Most of the large businesses have standardized on anti-American nomenclature to avoid being harassed in the Blue States.  Most of the churches have joined the enemy and even the Boy Scouts of America has succumbed.

This situation is designed to destroy the social cohesion of the American identity.  Once that is achieved, all that is left is the identity politics that the left loves so much.  With everyone divided by ethnicity, race, sex, religion and ever more idiosyncratic characteristics it is easy for the grievance instigators to rig up further outrages outlined in the intersectional conflict playbook.  And I think they’ve succeeded.  They’ve raised up the millennials to basically ignore the idea of patriotism.  Regional variation of course, exists.  There are pockets of old-style American identity and patriotism even in the tattered fabric of this country.  But even they are under active attack by the Left.  They are ever vigilant against any signal from traditional society breaking into their progressive matrix.  When it does, they send the courts and the social justice warriors to attack and destroy.

I am so sick of living in occupied territory.

My idea for fighting back is two-fold.  First off, support Donald Trump.  He is naming judges to the federal and supreme courts who can defend traditional Americans from the Left.  If they strike down all the Constitutional protections for the leftist social programs it will allow the states to decide on their own policies.  Under that scenario many states will restore the rights of traditional people to live their lives the way they want.

Secondly, I want to move out of occupied territory.  With the Supreme Court holding the progressives at bay I could live in Idaho or Utah or the Carolinas or Missouri or Kansas or Arkansas or Texas or any one of twenty states that won’t make me feel like a stranger in a strange land.  Imagine not having to know your vote is wasted.  Imagine knowing that your neighbors don’t hate and despise you.  Imagine knowing that the local school isn’t teaching your children and grandchildren that their ancestors were evil people.  That is something I dream of.

If I were more of a statist, I guess I could dream of forcing the blue states to honor the memory of their own country.  But I don’t.  Let them go down their road.  Let me go down mine.