In her later years as she grew more comfortable on stage, Mother, on occasion, would sing. She always prefaced her tunes by saying that her children had begged her not to sing, but she was going to anyway. That, of course, delighted her audience.
Mother often sang a song her daddy had taught her when she was a child. Her daddy, James Wilson Tucker, was baldheaded. He told a young Kathryn that he believed the mosquitoes lay in wait for him to fall asleep at night. Then they would all gather around his bed and sing “The Mosquito Song.” It went like this:
Buzz, buzz, buzz
There’s someone in this bed.
Buzz, buzz, buzz
No hair upon his head.
Buzz, buzz, buzz
We’ll paint old baldhead red.
There’ll be a hot time in the old town tonight!
My daddy, Amasa Benjamin Windham, was a bit of a troubadour himself. He died when I was three, so I have only hazy memories of him. He was a journalist, an artist, a playwright, a philatelist, a songster and much more. After his death, Mother placed importance on keeping his memory not only alive but also lively. That remembrance included periodic singings of songs Daddy liked. They weren’t all politically correct, but it was an era of incorrectness before our faults were acknowledged.
Daddy had lots of songs he loved to sing, and this was one of my favorites:
Oh, Mamie, don’t you feel a-shame-y?
Tell me, are there any more at home like you?
Reputation shady, but a perfect lady
A beginner but a winner, Mamie.
Mamie took some notions
In a dry goods store.
Put ‘em in her pocket
And headed for the door.
But the old floorwalker
Made her take them back.
Mamie was a kleptomane-y, kleptomaniac.
(Chorus: Oh, Mamie, don’t you feel a-shame-y….)
Mamie took the measles.
Mamie took the bed.
Mamie took the doctor,
And this is what he said:
“Take a little something ‘til you’re feeling fine.”
Mamie had been taking something, something all the time!
Daddy had dozens of these ditties that he loved to sing around the house or driving around on Sunday afternoons. I wish I could recall more of them, but they’ve been lost to time and clouded memory. One that is not lost was a song he sang called “Down by the River.” It goes:
Down by the river,
I saw a figure,
Teeth knocked out
And her hair peroxided.
Even in the moonlight
She was cock-eyed-ed.
Lace from her petticoat
Blowing in the breezes,
Caused by the knocking
Of her knee-ses.
She had a wooden leg,
And she couldn’t walk,
But I love her just the same.
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"Some people are important to intellectuals, journalists, or politicians, but Kathryn Tucker Windham is probably the only person I know in Alabama who is important to everybody."
–Wayne Flynt, Professor Emeritus in the Department of History at Auburn University.
Ben Windham & Dilcy Windham Hilley
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