Friday, November 25, 2011

"Hello Muddah, hello Faddah Here I am at camp Grenada" Letters Home

Another Charles Joyce special - his theme this time is "Letters we sent and letters we received"

One of the popular songs in 1963, which we all sang in the Dorms at the time was Allan Sherman's

Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah (A Letter from Camp)

[Music from Ponchielli's "Dance of the Hours" from La Gioconda]

Hello Muddah, hello Faddah
Here I am at camp Grenada
Camp is very entertaining
And they say we'll have some fun if it stops raining

I went hiking with Joe Spivey
He developed poison ivy
You remember Leonard Skinner
He got ptomaine poisoning last night after dinner

All the counselors hate the waiters
And the lake has alligators
And the head coach wants no sissies
So he reads to us from something called Ulysses

Now I don't want this should scare ya'
But my bunkmate has malaria
You remember Jeffery Hardy
They're about to organize a searching party

Take me home, oh Muddah, Faddah
Take me home, I hate Grenada
Don't leave me out in the forest where
I might get eaten by a bear

Take me home, I promise I will
Not make noise, or mess the house with
Other boys, oh please don't make me stay
I've been here one whole day

Dearest Fadduh, Darling Muddah
How's my precious little bruddah
Let me come home if you miss me
I would even let Aunt Bertha hug and kiss me

Wait a minute, it's stopped hailing
Guys are swimming, guys are sailing
Playing baseball, gee that's bettah
Muddah, Faddah kindly disregard this letter.

Photo - Charles Joyce

Ralph Aldhous There was an incident early on when my parents sent me a tuck parcel. I don't remember the exact circumstances. My dad used to make these little parcels with a lot of tape and put sweets and stuff in. I got one about once a term. They were not excessive by most standards. A bit like red cross parcels I suppose. For some reason it had come to Mr Rowland's attention and he was surprised at the amount of sweets I was being sent by my parents and I was sent to his office. It was at the end of the assembly hall behind the stage. I can't remember, possibly because I couldn't understand at the time, what he was on about. Anyway, Dilys Place intervened on my behalf. She knew there were some boys who had massive amounts of tuck sent. There was a boy called Ellison I think whose dad owned a shop and who had a huge stash. He had white hair.

Rosemary Webb Rehill The tuck shop room moved all over the place. Wasn't it in that funny building to the right of the staff room in the back, at one stage? I know that became a gym later. I think? it was up all the way at the top of the dormitory block too. That became the art room later.

Trev Teasdel - By 1965 it was in the entrance to the old science lab and according to David Partridge in the dining hall block in a room near the Bursar's office. You looked forward to the tuck parcels - the staff gave them out after morning inspection. It helped your day go better if you got one or a letter from home.

Photo - Charles Joyce

Ralph Aldhous Of course, letters were censored. I think we had to hand them in unsealed. If we wrote stuff deemed unsuitable we were told to rewrite them. In my first term I was awfully homesick and I wrote great long missives which I had to rewrite. By the third year I was hard pushed to write anything. A typical letter home was something like:
Dear Mum
It's raining. Send me Some money.

Trev Teasdel I don't remember that they were censored - maybe I've forgotten - I thought we just wrote them and sent them.

Ralph Aldhous Maybe they changed it. It seems strange now, but I think then we just accepted it. Would be interested to see if anyone else remembers.

Trev Teasdel Yeah - I'm thinking now, but I think I would have found it embarrassing - letters to parents are personal by nature - you just wouldn't bother if they were being censored.

Ralph Aldhous Well you didn't. Bother I mean. You couldn't say much in a letter anyway. And my parents had worked hard for me to be there and didn't relly want to know that I had been punched 
in the face by a third year. Tank was right.

Paul Williamson  Ralph is quite right - I remember my letters being censored, and being told to re-write them if they contained any hint of criticism. As I have mentioned before we didn't complain because it had always bene done in the past.

Photo - Charles Joyce

This Photo by Michael Billings

"I gave a letter to the postman, he put it in his sack, mighty early next morning he brought my letter back" (Elvis)
Return to Sender was top of the charts at the end of 1962 after my year had completed their first term of our first year.  It was for many of us the hardest term - you were 11 and being away from home for the first time in very tough environment took some getting used to. You were most likely to be homesick in the first term. Return to Sender, a hit a few months before the Beatles took over, was a good song to contemplate getting the coach home.

Photo - Charles Joyce

Photo - Charles Joyce

Photo - Charles Joyce

By the summer term of 1966 our year were about to enter into their fifth and final form. Soon we'd have to think about a different kind of 'reality', freedom on the one hand - but the world of work on the other hand. We'd soon be writing letters to potential employers. I never did know what I wanted to do. I had started to write song lyrics and Charles Joyce taught me a few chords on guitar - Colours by Donovan. The careers officer wasn't impressed when I said i wanted to be a songwriter - he asked me what my dad did - he had his own electrical business repairing Hoovers and washing machines - ok he said - Electrical Apprenticeship. Ultimately it didn't work out - later i got involved with the Coventry music scene and later still taught creative writing for 15 years for Workers educational Association  and Leeds University Adult Education.

About that time in 1966 the Beatles had a letter song about wanting to be a writer - the sound of their multi-tracked voices and the phasing and that guitar riff blew me away - it was a new sound - I first heard it on Alan Freeman's Pick of the Pops one Sunday at home during the school hols 1966 - it immediately grabbed me!

By the fifth form, if not before, other types of letters may have been on the agenda for some of the boys - absent girlfriends, wannabe girlfriends, wannabe boyfriends. In 1966, although I also liked much of the other music that was coming out at the time, I was still an Elvis fan. Charles Joyce turned up his radio one night for me - Elvis was on with a new single - the old Ketty Lester no - Love Letters - it wasn't in the current vogue but at least a new recording at a time when Presley coasting along on film songs while the Beatles held court.

Love was in the air for teenagers and the Summer of Love was only a blink away in 1967 when we would watch the Beatles record All You Need is Love on a black white set in the recreation room.

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