Moon over the Mountain

Sara and Son, probably 1930

“Son was such a cute little boy with blonde curls. Daddy finally decided it was time for him to get a haircut, and Mama carried him to Kennington’s where he got a Buster Brown cut with bangs. Every day when I got home from school, he and I would get in the back hall and play Sunday School or school. Then we would get his blocks and build a pig stand (the drive-ins of those days) and we would use all of his little cars and trucks for the customers. He got a Tinker Toy set, and he and I built elaborate contraptions in the living room.

“Sometimes he would upset me and Mary, though, when he would tear up our paper dolls and especially the day when we had made a swing out of cardboard and he promptly destroyed it. Mama didn’t often punish him, but the one time I remember she did was on a Sunday afternoon when he decided to grab a heavy ceramic type top from the jewelry box on Mama’s dresser and threw it at me, hitting me in the head. I think that did bring on a spanking out in the garage where he happened to be when I told on him.

“There was a hatchery on the street near us, and one day one of the chickens, a little rooster, wandered into our backyard. We immediately decided to make a pet of him and named him Peter Pan. He turned out to be a mean little rooster who liked to chase us and peck our legs.

This was never meant to be a pet.

“One day Mary and I were having a tea party under a tree on the side of the house, and Peter Pan broke it up. It would tickle Son when he got after us, so he would bring him out to chase us. Mama thought he was just being cute to do that.

“We had brought the Victrola from Greenwood when we moved, and Mama bought records by Kate Smith, who had just gotten popular as a singer. Her favorites were ‘Tiptoe Through the Tulips’ and ‘When the Moon Comes Over the Mountain.’ Another popular song was ‘It’s Only a Shanty in an Old Shanty Town.'”

Kate Smith in her prime.

When the moon comes over the mountain
Every beam brings a dream, dear, of you
Once again we’ll stroll ‘neath the mountain
Through that rose-covered valley we knew

Each day is grey and dreary
But the night is bright and cheery
When the moon comes over the mountain
I’ll be alone with my memories of you

Son and Sara maintained that close relationship throughout their lives, and he was a source of unlimited support, both emotional and practical, after she was widowed in 1992. He was a rock for the whole family and never seemed to mind too much that having four sisters could be a burden as well as a blessing. Sara clipped out every newspaper article and award writeup for Son (and there were many) and put them all carefully into a scrapbook, I guess so her own grandchildren would know how special her little brother was. One assumes that she forgave him for unleashing that rabid rooster and decimating her paper dolls.

And what more is there to say about Kate Smith, the Patron Saint of Plus-Size Ladies? If you have no other means of inspiration over this 4th of July weekend, grab a hanky and pull up her scene on YouTube from This is the Army (1942), where she introduces Irving Berlin’s God Bless America. That should do it.

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About sec040121

Hello....I'm in possession of a priceless collection of memoirs and memorabilia left by my mother, Sara Evans Criss. She was a native and lifelong (88 years!) devotee of our small town, who covered this peculiar and volatile corner of the world for 30 years as the Memphis Commercial Appeal's Greenwood bureau chief, a job that started out with debutantes and high school football and wound up spang in the midst of one of the twentieth century's most enduring social upheavals. This blog is dedicated to her memory and the legacy she left behind, both for her family and her community.
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2 Responses to Moon over the Mountain

  1. Susan says:

    Granny always maintained that Daddy only had one spanking in his childhood. Daddy told us it would be much more accurate to say that he only had one BAD spanking and a whole lot of little ones.

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