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Grandma's Music and Dance

by Bill Kritikos
Lyndon, Kansas
May 10, 2001

Here are the things that I remember about my Grandmother's music. My grandmother was born in 18?? and died in 199? at the age of 103.  Sorry, I do not have the exact dates on hand and I have not had time to look them up.  She lived in Osage County Kansas near Lyndon, Melvern and Osage City until her divorce in 19?? when she moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma. She returned to Osage county in 1950. During her childhood, her family moved to Dakota Territory for two years and lived on a claim won in a lottery in a sod house. The trip both ways was by covered wagon. She did live most of the 60's and 70's in Topeka before once again returning to Osage County.

First of all my grandmother was not a musician. She "played" the piano. I don't think she really understood the functions of all of the black keys or at least she was inconsistent in reaching them. She played best in the key of C. When her memory failed in her late 80's, her piano was about the last thing she could recognize as being hers. Her favorite radio station was WIBW where she listen to mostly 50's western music.  I think was called the Morning show or the Early Show. Her favorite program however, was the Author Godfrey show. Some of her favorite sheet music selections for the piano were “Red Wing,” “Silver Threads Among the Gold,” and songs by Hank Williams, of the Louisiana Hay Ride fame.

In her later years when her memory was failing in the nursing home, she was usually remembering a dance the night before. She couldn't remember anything of the near present, but she could remember the dances that happened some time around 1900. She considered herself pretty and to be a good dancer. She danced with all the men at the dance. I suspect she was a flirt and I, at least, think she was pretty. The dances she remembered were either at Melvern or Lyndon. They lived between the towns so they could have been either. When she lived in Topeka, she danced regularly at a senior citizen hall somewhere. She was still a flirt and I am sure she still danced with all of the men at the dance. She was married for a second time for a few years to a man I believe she met at one of these dances. The marriage did not last.

When I was a child, she lived about two miles down the road from our farm. I spent many days there, and sometimes nights. My parents would allow me to walk down many times during the Summers. At sometime during these years she told me about taking a wagon from near Lyndon to the "resort and springs near Carbondale.” I am not sure if the resort was in Osage or across the line in Shawnee county. The trip would be about 15 miles so it would take about 5 hours by wagon. I think they would begin a little before lunch, have a picnic along the way, and arrive Saturday evening at the dance. These dances would last all night, or until there were no dancers or musicians. I never thought to ask what kind of music or dances were performed and I don't remember her telling me. They would return on Sunday fore noon. I think these were family affairs where the whole family went.

At one time her father, George Burnett, took up trading pianos as a business. His entire stock of pianos was lost when their home burned to the ground. The first thing they tried to save was a piano, and in the panic it became stuck in the door and it and everything else was lost. I understand that my great-grand parents had many fires. They must have had problems with lamps, matches and cigars.
Somewhere I have the newspaper announcement of my Grandmother’s wedding. I remember that her sister played the piano but, I can't find it to see if the songs are listed. They may be. When it reappears I will let you know. On a different subject, "Journey to Boston" (from the Maine book), perhaps the same as "Trip to Boston" was played by Kelly Werts at the dance last Saturday. He said that is was also a phrase meaning that the lady was expecting a child.

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