Monday, March 20, 2017

RIP - Rock In Peace, Chuck Berry


I was saddened, but not totally surprised, to hear the news that St. Louis legendary music icon Chuck Berry passed away on Saturday. Chuck Berry was 90 when he died in St. Charles County, Missouri, the same county where I live—about fifteen miles from my home.

It’s strange how the death of one person can trigger memories that have been packed away for decades. Although I never met Chuck Berry in person, his music and presence touched my soul and influenced my childhood.

Just about everyone in my North St. Louis neighborhood of the 1950s and 1960s knew about Chuck Berry and his music, including my mom.

Mom loved music, and she loved to dance. Her tastes ranged from the Country music of Johnny Cash, the soulful melodies of Johnny Mathis and Andy Williams, and the rock and roll of Elvis, Chubby Checker—and, of course, St. Louis songwriter and musical icon Chuck Berry.

My dad was a germaphobe, so it wasn’t surprising that Mom was an immaculate housekeeper. Music was Mom’s constant companion every day when she cleaned our house—make that rented flat—because my folks never owned a house back then.  

Once a week, to the sounds of whatever was playing the radio, Mom would wash and wax the floors. After the wax dried, she got out Dad’s old Army blanket and my siblings and I took turns riding the blanket like a sled as Mom pulled us around in her butts-on-the-blanket buffer.

In our cozy 1950s kitchen, Mom kicked up her heels and taught my sisters and me how to dance her version of the Charleston and Jitterbug to Chuck Berry’s songs such as: “Maybellene,” “Johnny B. Goode,” and of course, “Rock and Roll Music.”

So, rock in peace, Chuck Berry.

Thank you for bringing your gift of music to the world and a little bit of soul to my family.

Lastly, thank you for sparking this memory of dancing in the kitchen with my mom.

16 comments:

  1. This is a lovely post, Donna! It's full of memories and soul. :)

    And I love the butts-on-the-blanket buffer!

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    1. Thanks, Madeline. Hearing about his death opened memories I hadn't thought about for some time.

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  2. I love this story, Donna! Sounds like your mom could make a job I despise-housework-fun.

    Pat
    www.patwahler.com

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    1. Housework isn't high on my list of fun either. I didn't inherit Mom's immaculate housekeeping gene or her gardening skills.

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  3. The memory of your mom pulling you around on the blanket sounds like a hoot! My mom was a Frank Sinatra fan, so not much dancing around with that! :-)

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    1. Mom liked Frank Sinatra too. Her tastes were quite diverse.

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  4. Donna--I hope you're collecting these vignettes, because the story of your mom pulling around her made-of-flesh buffers is a gem.

    Yes, Chuck Berry influenced so many musicians. His passing reminded me of the many times I thought about seeing him in person... but never followed through.

    Now it's too late...

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  5. Hi Sioux,
    When I started to write this post about Chuck Berry the memories started to flow, so . . . I writing them down and hope to either do a collection of essay or a memoir if I can stay focused. Guess we'll see.

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  6. The cleaning and the dancing sound like quite a workout! Thank goodness my mom just plopped me on top of the washing machine so I could sit there while it vibrated. Oh, and she always played Eddie Arnold records. We were a low-energy family.

    Still, it's too bad we lost Chuck Berry. His music provides a lot of good memories.

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    1. Hi Val,
      That was certainly one was to keep you entertained. Mom also liked Eddie Arnold; she had eclectic tastes in music, long before I knew what the work eclectic meant.

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  7. Mymom used to slide around on a towel as she polished the floor. I would have liked a ride! Great memories.

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    1. Your mom and my mom were of the same generation. They used what worked and kept us smiling.

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  8. Hello Donna. What a darling post. You had some fun times with your Mama. I hope you are doing well and feeling better. Most sincerely, Susan

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    1. Thanks, Susan. Visiting your blog always makes me feel better.

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