Sunday, March 22, 2009

Red River Valley, MMM Part 2

There's a subject I want to write more about but can't figure out the angle. The subject is historical and readily available online. I just need to figure out how to make it personal.

Maybe this song will help get me in the mood. One of my grandfathers used to sing it to the grandkids after he'd had a coupla two three. He was the grandson of someone who was involved in the subject I want to write about.

My grandpa would always call two or three grandkids up onto his lap to sing along. The cue was "come and sit by my side if you love me, do not hasten to bid me adieu" ...

That was the old Eddy Arnold version. Lots of singers have covered it over the years (baritone Tex Ritter, CW-style Marty Robbins, lonesome ethereal Jimmy Rodgers, twangy redheaded stranger Willie Nelson), but Arnold's downhome voice sounds most like my grandpa.

I don't ever remember telling my grandpa that I loved him, except during the singing of Red River Valley. His first wife died during the terrible 1918 Flu Pandemic (which was unique in causing greatest morbidity among healthy young adults, age 15-34).

He floundered for awhile, then met & married my grandma and they managed to raise 7 kids during The Great Depression. He died of a broken heart after my grandma preceded him to the grave. I always thought he was singing Red River Valley for both his wives. One was a dark-haired beauty and the other a freckled redhead. Guess which one was my grandma.

I may need to noodle this around some more. Have patience...

9 comments:

Annette said...

I am sure this has to be difficult for you. It is a hard subject no matter what, and to be close to it would make it even worse.

Let your heart and your conscience be your guide. Most especially your heart.

D.K. Raed said...

Thanks, Annette. I am still wrapping my brain around what I could safely blog. There's a lot of family history to consider.

Also it must be said that there are so many current political/economic crises, it's hard to concentrate on deeds done 152-yrs ago.

an average patriot said...

Haven't heard that song in a while. I am listening to it again. I forgot they named a valley after you!
I look forward to see what is on your mind!

D.K. Raed said...

Avg Patriot:
it's kind of a hokey old song, isn't it. not sure, but I think the Red River Valley is in Oklahoma or Texas. OK, my "mind" such as it is, is working through presentation details. The blog is probably not the best format for it, but maybe it won't be a totally boring subject, once I get it going. It must've been a robo-call from Orrin Hatch this morning that finally spurred me into writing a bit. sorry to be so cryptic ... if you know the Mountain Meadows Massacre story, you already know most of it.

enigma4ever said...

so so sweet...and now the damn river is gonna flood..so no wonder it is on your mind and heart....really sweet that you told about him...the Inlfluenza epidemic- they are not thinking that it was actually strept throat that took so many lives....pretty amazing....and sad.

an average patriot said...

Red
How about North Dakota? Anyway the migration west is full of stories like mountain meadows and I never heard that one though.

Thankfully there was only one Donner party that we know of. I am going to cut this short so I can listen to Obama.
I am already seething knowing the critics are chomping at the bit to eat it up!

D.K. Raed said...

Enigma:
I didn't know strep throat could do that, could kill that many people with flu symptoms? And the funny thing about the Red River is I had not even heard the flooding news until AFTER I was thinking about my grandpa singing that song. Or more likely, I had heard it when I wasn't listening but it stayed in the back of my mind.

Avg Pat:
Definitely North Dakota! And I hope as I get further into the Mountain Meadows story you will see the unique aspect of it. Historians call it the biggest case of domestic terrorism until the OKLA fed bldg.

Spadoman said...

The Red River of the North, as it is often called up here in the Northland, runs North, into Canada and ends up in the watershed that empties into Hudson Bay. It is the border between Minnesota and North Dakota.

It floods often. It is mostly a narrow swath, cut below the flat farm lands. When it fills to the tops of the deep ditches, it floods easily over the tilled fields. Mostly sugar beets, all very flat. Virtually no trees except right along the river in most cases.

Fargo is due to flood Saturday when the river crests at 41 feet. In 1997, Grand Forks, North of Fargo, flooded and all the levees were rebuilt. They aren't having such a tough time this year, but Fargo is struggling. Over 2 million sandbags so far have been put into place.

Spadoman said...

I got curious because I knew there is more than one Red River in the USA. I found this blog with a lot of historical information about the origins of the song. Some say it might not be about the Red River of the North. It may be about the one in Texas or in Arkansas. Then, there is the town of Red River in New Mexico near Taos. Here's the link:

http://richardmattesonsblog.blogspot.com/2008/11/history-of-song-red-river-valley-part-1.html