May 20, 2016: Glenn Miller concert begins a walk down memory lane, by Sue Sutton

May 20, 2016 by

Sue Sutton

Sue Sutton

A friend and I recently took in a concert in Salina of the Glenn Miller Orchestra. The opening number was Glenn Miller’s signature tune, “Moonlight Serenade,” and it only took a few notes to bring a lump to my throat. I was taken back to a time when my parents were young. Maybe my parents didn’t know one another when this song came out, but this music was in our home when I was young and I have kept a strong emotional connection to it to this day.

I’m sure “Moonlight Serenade” was my parents’ song. I may have been young at the time those romantic strains came floating from our record player, but I picked up on those sidelong glances. There was subtext there. This man and woman were symbols of what Tom Brokaw termed “the Greatest Generation.” They gave back far more than they took. They had children who were called Baby Boomers, and as we slide into retirement in greater numbers, some are spelling doom and gloom for the longevity of the Social Security Administration.

Glenn Miller’s music is forever tied to World War II, “The White Cliffs of Dover” being his most ironic – in the end. He was on his way to cheer the troops in Paris when his plane disappeared over the English Channel. Nothing and noone was ever recovered from the flight.

Keep in mind these were days before TV. People got most all the information they needed on the radio or by reading newspapers. If your home had a piano, and most did, you could buy sheet music at the music or department store, and play it for your folks. Today, sheet music is a relic of the past, and landfills are brimming with discarded upright pianos.

Another faded memory: dancing lessons. As a kid, I chose tap dancing over ballet. For practice, mom would pull out a square of Masonite so I could tap to my favorite tune, “The Yellow Rose of Texas.” That tune was tops for many weeks on “Your Hit Parade” and I still have the sheet music.

Back to Glenn Miller. His compositions were dance tunes. Couples danced close or threw their partners over their shoulders or through their legs. No matter, the band members and dancers had class. Everything about them shouted Style with a capital S.

In today’s hyper culture, there’s no time for learning to read music, no need to make payments for a parlor piano, no interest in learning dance steps from a mail order booklet or singing along with music where words can be understood. Pardon my nostalgia, folks.

Glenn Miller, thanks for the memories.

— Sue Sutton retired two years ago as Cloud County Community College’s dean of humanities, social sciences and business. She is active in numerous local organizations.



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