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The Capers Sing

Merrily Through Time



The Capers traveled through a musical historical adventure conducted by an amiable, youthful and most talented tour guide on April 23 at the Mashpee Senior Center.


His name is David Polansky and looking at him you cannot believe that he is the father of a 36 year old son (along with a 32 year old daughter).


The title of the program was “Music Through the Decades”. As David brought forth the songs on the keyboard and trumpet, he laced the music with personal stories to the delight of the audience. We started at the turn of the century when songs all seemed to be waltzes (“Strawberry Blond”, “In the Good Old Summer Time”).


Music reflects the contemporary. When the Oldsmobile made its appearance, Gus Edwards and Vincent Bryan had the nation singing, “Come away with me Lucille, in my merry Oldsmobile”.


The poster song for World War I was Irving Berlin’s “Over There” when our young men went to fight in Europe. As parents worried about their soldier sons, the soldiers were concerned about the faithfulness of the sweethearts left at home. “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree” was written in 1918 and popular enough to be reintroduced by the Andrew Sisters during World War II.


Young men who had never left home were now experiencing the different cultures of foreign lands. This caused concern on both sides of the ocean. “How Ya Gonna Keep Them Down on the Farm, After They’ve Seen Paree?”


The Thirties’ depression produced bread lines, apple selling and heart-wrenching photographs along with the woeful “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?” On a more cheerful and encouraging note came, “Pennies from Heaven”.


By the 1930’s, Broadway and the movies were going strong. Classics as “Gone With The Wind” and “The Wizard of Oz” were produced. Irving Berlin wrote “God Bless America”. When World War II was imminent, Kate Smith asked him to add on an introduction showing that,“While the storm clouds gather”, etc. He generously gave Miss Smith the rights to the song and it became hers.


The 1940’s became known as “The Big Band Era” as musicians entertained troops abroad and at home at the USO’s. On the home front women entered the work field to

fill the slots emptied by the men going off to defend our country and help our friends. From this experience we got, “Rosie the Riveter” and the most mournful, “I’ll be Seeing You”, and “I’ll be Home for Christmas”. Even as a pre-teen writing to cousins in the services, some of those songs brought such a feeling of pathos. Waiting for the war to end seemed interminable.


For the Western theme, we sat in front of the radio, being it a small table model or a tall one standing on the floor, and listened so attentively to Rossini’s, “William Tell Overture” , which we knew better as the Lone Ranger’s theme song. I still have the map the program offered so we could follow the trail Tonto took to find his missing friend at the time.


On a happier note was “Happy Trails to You”, Roy Rogers’ theme song, written by his wife, Dale Evans. Gene Autry had us rocking to “I’m Back in the Saddle Again”. Cole Porter dipped his hand in the western theme, unlikely for him, with “Don’t Fence Me In”.

His songs were of a different genre, a new type that showed sophistication, ie., “Night and Day”. This song was only one of nearly a thousand verifiable tunes written by this most prolific composer.


Gershwin wrote, “They Can’t Take that Away from Me” and “Taking a Chance on Love.”


Pop music followed and Louis Armstrong (not Luewy which he didn’t want to be called), was its greatest influence. He was actually nicknamed “Pops” or Satchmo. “It’s a Wonderful World” goes on and on, endlessly, in popularity since it was recorded.

He was born in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1901. By the 1920’s he left the New Orleans dive bars and joined Joe Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band at Lincoln Gardens in Chicago. By crisscrossing the United States, he brought his charismatic presence to the masses.


Fats Waller’s most famous song is “Ain’t Misbehaving”. “I’m home about eight and no place to go…” Is it conjecture to think that Fats was in jail when he wrote this?

How poetic is, “When we’re passing by

                           Flowers droop and sigh

                           Honeysuckle rose.”


Mr. Polansky, a prize winning musician, and as if the above isn’t enough, has also created children’s musical tapes. They are fun, instructive and most popular with people of all ages. 

 

The Capers’ president started the meeting with “The Pledge of Allegiance” and David Polansky ended it with “God Bless America” with no PC consideration. In fact with that beginning and ending, the audience, most of whom are veterans or widows of veterans, along with the rest, was very willing and pleased to be participants.


Story by:  Grace Polizzotti

Photos by:   Mario Polizzotti