[Dixielandjazz] Beebe's kids and other young folks

Steve Collins Jr. stevecollinsjr@cox.net
Thu, 8 Aug 2002 00:20:44 -0400

Perhaps I know a little more about Stephen Foster than other folks my age
(I'm 24) because I'm supposedly distantly related to him...but then again,
being a musician, I always have had a hard time relating to folks in
"mainstream culture."   I was raised with a wealth of information about many
different kinds of music.  My blue-collar parents listened to a mix of
country, "classic" rock, classical, and (don't laugh) Hawaiian music and
Sousa marches.  My mom plays banjo and piano, and her mother supposedly
played excellent ragtime piano completely by ear.  Dad was in a barbershop
quartet in high school, then went on to less glamorous careers in the Air
Force and then as a railroad worker.  I have a wonderful relationship with
my brother and sister, who are 14 and 16 years older than me and introduced
me to the popular music of THEIR time.  My mother's stepfather was a huge
influence on my love of jazz and swing music, and we would talk for hours
about how he'd actually BEEN to concerts where Benny Goodman and Glenn
Miller had performed.  When I began playing clarinet in middle school and
branched out in my musical tastes, my mom was perturbed that I liked that
"old" music that her parents had listened to!  She has since come around,
and now loves to hear me play jazz much more than classical.  :)

My thoughts on why I was lucky:

1.  My mother was one of only two STAY AT HOME moms that I knew.  Everyone
else was out in the yuppie rat race trying to keep up with the Joneses.  My
parents valued our family structure more than endless possessions.  When
Steve and I start our family, I plan to stay at home and raise our children
as well.  It provides so much closeness and chances for absorbing communal
knowledge, rather than being trucked off to a daycare babysitting service
that is so busy trying to keep kids from killing each other that it can't
teach anything.  And public school isn't much better.  The education system
in this country this day and age is nothing more than a half-hearted
babysitter.  (insert a rant about cutting arts funding in schools...)Really
enriching learning comes from the home and from a child's individual

2.  Directly related to number 1:  my parents did everything they could to
foster healthy learning rather than sitting me in a corner with a video game
or a TV program.  I had access to lots of educational material, especially
in aural form (I remember having LPs that I would play on my Fisher Price
record player:  "Old Railroad Songs," "Folk Songs of the West," even
"Victory at Sea").  They say that kids these days watch an AVERAGE of 4
hours of TV a day.  I'm lucky if I watch 4 hours in a week, and that's
usually news, public television or Jeopardy.  What can I say, I'm a nerd.
It's just that 99.99% of what's on is trash.

3.  I had healthy relationships with older family members and family
friends.  I was taught by my parents to respect their knowledge and treat
them as the treasures they are and were, rather than labeling them as
outdated and ignoring them.  Again, this is directly related to PARENTAL
INVOLVEMENT (see number 1).

Okay, off my soapbox.  My husband will probably laugh when he sees this.

Cheers and good wishes to all,

Rebecca Collins
Band of the U.S. Air Force Reserve
Robins AFB, GA

----- Original Message -----
From: JimDBB@aol.com
To: dixielandjazz@ml.islandnet.com
Sent: Wednesday, August 07, 2002 2:25 AM
Subject: Re: [Dixielandjazz] Beebe's kids and other young folks

In a message dated 8/6/02 3:05:17 PM Central Daylight Time,
nancyink@ulink.net writes:

> [edited snippet] I am sorry to have to answer this rather dismally.  I
> think that five percent would know who those greats were.  Sad, isn't
> [edited snippet] I Just discovered that my two adult sons don't know who
> Stephen Foster is. I was flabergasted.  What's more they didn't recognize
> any of the titles of his classic songs...Swanee River,  etc....
> [edited snippet] My 20 yr old daughter ... asked If I ever heard of the
> "Beautiful Dreamer."  I said, of course, that is a Stephen Foster classic.
> ... I started to give her a talk on Foster and how his immortal songs were
> such a part of the American soul.  She didn't want to hear about it.  I am
> pissed about this.

As a younger person, I have to remind Jim and others that we've been exposed
to something completely different -- OUR generation's music. So while it may
be a shame that we missed out on classic material, it's not our fault for
not knowing what our elders know. Jim, I know it's frustrating not being
able to share these things with your kids, and I'm sorry about that. (Sigh.)

   I understand what you are saying Nancy bu this is a bit different.
Stephen Foster's music is the soul of America.  There is no way ( I thought)
that a reasonably educated and alive person in this country could not know
the name Stephen Foster and at least the name of one of his songs.

Jim Beebe