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Wednesday
Dec052012

The Old Spinning Wheel

John and Maurene Mansfield - 1939The photo above is the only (to my knowledge) wedding picture from my paternal grandparents, John and Maurene (Fowler) Mansfield. They married in late 1939. I've been scanning a number of old family photos lately as well as recording any text written on the back (I keep my photos in Aperture). I was intrigued by what I read on the back of this photo:
John and Maurene Mansfield
Song--
"The Old Spinning Wheel"
I have to wonder if this was their song? Why else would it be written on the back of the photo (in my grandmother's handwriting, no less). In this photo they look so happy--very different from the way their relationship would later sour. My grandfather's drinking would get out of control, and they would be completely separated by 1948. They never legally divorced, but they never lived under the same roof together again. My grandfather died in 1967, four months before I was born; and my grandmother died in 1989.  

In spite of their later difficulties, I like to think that they did have good times--at least early on. I can just picture them listening to "their" song, "The Old Spinning Wheel" on the radio or perhaps a record player. Perhaps as they heard the words, they looked dreamily into each other's eyes. 

I looked up the history of this song, "The Old Spinning Wheel." From what I can tell, Ray Noble and his orchestra first recorded it in 1934. You can listen to a sample of it on iTunes. I'm pretty certain that this would have been the version my grandparents would have listend to because of the date when it was recorded.

iTunes classifies the song as jazz. This isn't the kind of music I think of when I think of jazz. To me it sounds a bit more like big band, but when I start talking about music, I get out of my depths very quickly.

There are many versions of the song that have been recorded over the years. My favorite of the ones I listened to was recorded by Patti Page in the fifties, but this wouldn't have been "their" version because my grandparents had been long split up by that time. There's an instrumental version on Johnny Cash's At Folsum Prison album, but again, this is too late since he recorded it in the sixties. 

Here are the lyrics to the song:
(verse)
Covered with dust and forgotten,
Like the face upon the wall.
The one souvenir of the days gone by,
I treasure most of all:

(refrain)
There's an old spinning wheel in the parlor,
Spinning dreams of the long, long ago.
Spinning dreams of an old fashioned garden,
And a maid with her old fashioned beau,
Sometimes it seems that I can hear her in the twilight
At the organ softly singing "Old Black Joe."
There's an old spinning wheel in the parlor,
Spinning dreams of the long, long a go.

(verse)
Turn back the years of my childhood
As you turn, old spinning wheel.
Just show me a lane with a barefoot boy,
As shadows softly steal:

(repeat refrain)

 

Your questions, thoughts, comments and rebuttals are welcome in the comments section below. 

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