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How Entertainment Changed

After tha Big War, the mood of tha town changed. So did tha way people entertained themselves. Seems when tha boys come back, few wanted to get into the old activities that they’d grown up with. Church functions like picnics, supper, dances and so forth lost their appeal to most of tha boy that come back.

They was partyin’ a lot of drinkin’ and, tha women did their share of it, too. Young families dint do a lot of stuff together any more. But, they still was plenty of partyin’…

Entertainment became tha local beer joint. Fellas gettin’ very drunk and drivin’ round dangerously. Women hopping up on bar tables to get tha attention of tha men. Lots of marital cheatin’ goin’ on and jealous people chasin’ each other around bein’ mean to each other. Was obvious tha changes. And, they want for tha better, either.


Copyright© 2013 By Burke Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.

Skunk Ladies & Speak-Easies!

Prohibition dint slow down tha consumption of alcoholic beverages much in our town. It actually speeded it up — so much so, in fact, that one time a few church ladies decided that they had to do somethin’ about it.

Just so happened that one of them ladies had quite a way with skunks. She could get them to walk right up to her and follow her right into her house if she wanted to and, they wouldn’t even spray on her.

Well, one night, she charmed about 20 of those smelly critters of all shapes and sizes right into her back yard. Then, she and several other church ladies marched them right down to that old gin-mill, opened tha door and turned them loose on about 50 people. Seems that place and tha people in it and tha entire town was so smelled up that it took weeks for things to to get back to normal.

That skunk parade ended tha ‘speak-easies’ in our town for good. And, from that point on, for that operation, tha ladies in tha church auxiliary was affectionately known as tha ‘Skunk Ladies!’


Copyright© 2013 By Burke Enterprises. All Rights Reserved.

Bill Madison – Passing On Love

I rarely put out an endorsement of a product on this website and only do so when I think the product is of high value – which in the case of this singer/songwriter – IT IS!

There is an axiom making its way around the world of music recording these days – that albums no longer sell. And, while that might be true of some, there’s still some pretty good albums being produced where every song makes it worthy of an enthusiastic purchase.

Bill Madison’s latest CD, ‘Pass On The Love’ is such an album! In it, you’ll find a unique array of covers and originals noteworthy, not just for their musicianship and singing but, for the emotion Bill brings to their lyrics. The crowning achievement of the album is Bill’s title song, ‘Pass On The Love,’ in which he addresses something that very few songwriters have touched upon – a mother’s love and the role that it plays in teaching boys and young men the significance of love in raising healthy families and in keeping families together. It is an incredible song!

In the songs covered in this album, even though some were written generations ago, Bill finds a way to connect listeners to the lyrics so they can relate to them and find meaning in them in today’s complex world. Track #2, ‘The Falcon,’ is a song written by folk-protest singer Richard Farina. It speaks of a majestic bird – who has the power to claim the skies, a power that is magnified by the intervention of man and his control over the bird. In Bill’s rendition, a prophetic, emotional indictment is made relative to the consequences of man playing with nature for his own amusement and how the end result is often drastic and often devastating. And, yes, the mandolin playing in this song is beautiful. In Track #3, Bill brings out a sense of melancholy in British folksinger Ewan McColl’s iconic working-class song ‘Dirty Old Town’ – while the place has been ravaged by industry, pollution and social ills, it’s still where people have had to live, to suffer and find the happiness they could.

Bill has us in Tom Waits’ ‘Heart Of A Saturday Night,’ letting go of things that we’ve had to deal with to grasp the free-time that we’ve earned and to discover what others might be doing to enjoy themselves. ‘Summertime,’ Track 5, well, it’s one of the best songs ever written. It’s Composer George Gershwin’s interpretation of African American spirituality and, in his cover of it, Bill does it well as he does with the old British Folksong, ‘John Barleycorn’ which compares the process of aging and dying to barley fermenting.

Mixing genres and showing just how eclectic he is in style and musicality, Bill adds in a cover of Robert Johnson’s, ‘Crossroad Blues’ – nailing the famous Delta sound with sharp voice, guitar and a touch of fine mandolin. Then, he takes us to a love story of sorts about a ‘well-traveled’ woman named Alice who meets up with a cowboy in a place where hard-earned money is easily spent and where love can go the same way – hard-earned and easily spent. We go on to another journey through love with a cover of folksinger Eric Anderson’s, ‘Looking Glass.’ The instrumentation in this one, along with Bill’s melodic lyric, offers a haunting reminder to would-be lovers that falling in love and loving can be a painful process.

This great CD contains some of Bill’s finest work. It ends with a cover of an Irish Folk Song, Jimmy McPeake’s, ‘Wild Mountain Thyme,’ a song dedicated to the memory of Bill’s friend, Rod MacKenzie. It is a beautiful/unforgettable rendition of a great song with lovely albeit haunting vocals.

I’ve put a link on this site to Bill Madison’s website because I greatly appreciate his music and his contributions to the genre of folk. Folk singing and balladeering is becoming a vanishing art in the music world. But, Bill’s love of music and his extraordinary creativity is helping to keep it alive.

Merle Burke

S&H Green Stamps Bow & Arrow!

When I was a youngster, S&H Green Stamps used to be quite the deal around here. They was used as a promotion thing and, tha store in town used to hand ’em out to get people to buy from ’em.

My Mother always got S&H stamps and, she’d redeem ’em for some pretty good things. Lot’s of times, us bein’ poor and all, that was tha only way we got anything new in tha house and, tha only way tha folks could get us kids any gifts for Christmas.

Well, one time I guess when I was about 12 or 13, I saw an item in tha S&H catalog that I just had to have – a youth-model bow and arrow made out of hickory wood. I asked Mother if she’d get it for me for Christmas and, she did.

There it was for me on Christmas mornin’ all wrapped-up in pretty paper – a bow with a bow! I took it outside and, I spent all mornin’ shootin’ arrows at this cardboard box. Dint take me long though to do what I did best when I was a young-un – break things. I pulled back hard on tha bow and broke tha bowstring. Put another one on it, pulled back and, that hickory wood made a crackin’ sound and, my bow snapped clean in two. One piece whizzed by head and nearly caught me right in tha throat.

I was mad that it broke. Was hard on myself for breakin’ it. But, Father told me not to be. He said twas defective wood and a poor quality product from a foreign country. After that, I dint have much use for S&H Green Stamps – givin’ me cheap junk like that.


Copyright©2013 By Burke Enterprises. All Rights Reserved.

Aunt Snooty & Wrong Eggs!

When I was a young ‘un, I used to spend an awful lot of time up at Nanny’s and Grampa’s helpin’ out with tha chores – feeding tha turkeys, pigs, and chickens and so forth.

One time, my aunt come up from down country to visit Nanny and Grampa and, to be honest with you, she want one of my favorite people. She was always lookin’ down at others, specially me and my family. My brother always said twas because she had a little money and thought she was better than tha rest of us. He always referred to her as ‘Aunt Snooty.’

Well, one day Nanny told me to go out and gather up some eggs for Aunt Snooty’s breakfast. I dint know if I’d find any but, when I got out to tha coop, I couldn’t believe my eyes. They was about a dozen eggs in one nest box! I gathered all of ’em up, scurried into tha house with ’em and then headed for home.

Want but an hour when Nanny was on tha phone teliin’ my mother that they wanted me back up there pronto. I dint know what was goin’ on. Sure found out though. I want even in Nanny’s and Grampa’s house when Aunt Snooty had me right by tha ear draggin’ me to tha sink. She said, “You see what you made me eat you little weasel?” I looked down at tha sink and they was a bunch of tiny baby chicks in a wash bowl. How was it my fault? I dint know they was special eggs. Grampa dint tell me that he put some hatchin’ eggs in tha hen-house.

Aunt Snooty slapped me on tha back of tha head and said, “Now you get for home and don’t you let me catch you up here again!” I wasted no time gettin’ away from that ole ‘battle-axe!’ To this day Brother would laugh over that incident. But, it pretty much ended my chore duties at Nanny’s and Grampa’s.

Copyright© 2013 By Burke Enterprises. All Rights Reserved.

Rude – Griddle Cakes

I was never much for pullin’ pranks on people and dint care much for others doin’ it either. But, there’s times when some people have got it comin’ to ’em.

We had these people who used to come up here from down Boston way (we used to call folks from down that way – ‘flatlanders’) and, they was tha snootiest people you’d ever want to deal with. Nothin’ was ever good enough for ’em and, they always made it pretty miserable for tha folks around here who ever had to work for ’em. Most people just stayed away from ’em.

One time, they came to one of our church breakfasts and, they was throwin’ their weight around pretty good and bein’ just as rude as ever. Well, they got under Mildred Leach’s skin pretty good that day and, if you knew Mildred, you knew that she want one to cross!

I was just about ready to throw out tha eggshells we’d been usin’ for tha pancake mix and tha skin off tha homemade bacon when Mildred said, ‘wilfred bring some of that skin and some those eggshells over here.’ I brought ’em to her – but, I dint have a clue why she wanted ’em. Found out pretty quick though! She mixed tha eggshells in with a half bottle of hot pepper sauce and some pancake mix – just for those people. Then, she cut up that tough old pigskin and fried it up for them. I’ll tell you, my mouth dropped when she went out front and personally served it up to them.

Well, those folks took to hollerin’ and, tha man started yellin’ about bringin’ a lawsuit against tha church. Pastor had to smooth things over pretty good with them.

They never came back to tha church and, for weeks after that incident, we had a good laugh about it – everyone except Mildred. She was in Pastor’s doghouse.

wilfred Poole

Copyright© 2013. By Burke Enterprises. All Rights Reserved.

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