Another from the archives:
Annie remembered the first time she had music class. Music, or at least singing, had never been a big thing at her home. Neither of her parents professed to have any singing abilities even if they liked to listen to Big Band musicians like Tommy Dorsey or Glenn Miller. Nor did her sisters so it was not a surprise that Annie didn’t feel comfortable singing aloud except, perhaps, in church. So, music class came as a pleasant surprise for her.
The first song Mrs. Brown played on the piano and had them sing was God Bless America. Annie was not familiar with the words to begin with, but more than anything else, she was fascinated with Mrs. Brown’s piano playing.When she played the melody line of the music, she crossed her right hand over her left hand playing a run of notes after the words “from the mountains” and then once again with the words “to the prairies.” Annie loved watching her play because of this flourish as well as singing this song. Of course, this wasn’t the only song the class sang, and over the years, Annie learned to sing various songs. Sometimes on key, but most times a bit off-key.
Regardless, year after year, Annie’s class must have had fairly decent singers as they were often part of some PTA program. One year, Mrs. Brown had Annie’s class singing Stephen Foster songs. Weekly music classes focused on Oh Susannah, My Old Kentucky Home, I Dream of Jeanie, and many others from the well-worn Stephen Foster songbook. Some of the boys in Annie’s class groaned every time Mrs. Brown brought out the books, but she continued to make them sing the same tunes over and over, always adding a new one as the class mastered one. A few of the songs were liked, but some were just sad and dreary. It was the sadder songs that Mrs. Brown focused upon as if the class didn’t perform them as well as the more upbeat songs like Oh, Susannah and Camp-town Races.
One Sunday during this period, Annie walked into Sunday school at church. Several of her classmates also attended her church. As she came in and sat down, Jack, one of the cutest boys in her class at school, began singing, “I dream of Annie with the light brown hair.” Annie smiled, blushed, and then looked down at her feet in embarrassment for blushing. Before she could say anything to Jack, and she really, really wanted to, Miss Barbara, the Sunday school teacher, began the lesson, and the moment was lost.
Throughout the class, though, Annie’s mind was occupied, not with the lesson on how to “love your neighbor,” but about how much she liked Jack and his song. Did he really dream about me? Did he really sing that song about me? Does that mean Jack really likes me, too? she thought to herself. Annie tried to listen to what the teacher said during the lesson, but it was no use. All she could think about was Jack and hugged the song to herself. Fortunately, Miss Barbara didn’t call on her.
The next day at school, though, it was as it always was, back to normal. Jack didn’t talk to Annie. He didn’t even look at her, it seemed. Just one look, one word, please. Just to know that I didn’t imagine it, she thought. But, nothing, and she never knew if he liked her as much as she did him.
Afraid of giving it voice, she never told a soul–not her sisters, not her friends…until now.