When patriotism was at fever pitch

Published 1:48 am Saturday, September 28, 2013

I found a 1943 patriotic songbook by Robbins Music Corporation tucked between some old textbooks in one of my bookcases. Titled “Freedom Sings,” the price printed on the pocket-sized slightly dirty red, white, and blue book cover was 10 cents. My name was childishly scrawled in high cursive, twice on both the front and back covers.

A billowing American flag waved on the back cover with the words, “Buy U.S. War Savings Bonds and Stamps Now.” To the left of that line was a little square that enveloped the words, “We Can, We Will, We Must,” attributed to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The only other decorative feature was a small sketch of a soldier.

In 1943, patriotism was at fever pitch. I enjoyed thumbing through the pages, discovering songs that probably have long been forgotten and searching for the composers. On one of the first pages was “Marching Along Together,” with a note that it included a new patriotic lyric about the “Yankee Doodle Kids Marching Along Together.” Mort Dixon, a leading American lyricist wrote it. He was well known as composer of “That Old Gang of Mine,” “Bye Bye Blackbird,” and “I’m Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover.”

Another song included was “She Was Just a Sailor’s Sweetheart.” Joseph A. Burke, a composer and pianist during the 1920s and 30s, wrote it. He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970, having to his credit such hit songs as “Carolina Moon,” “Tip Toe Through the Tulips,” “Moon Over Miami,” and “Who Wouldn’t Love You.”

I had heard Kay Kyser sing “Who Wouldn’t Love You.” And who could forget Tiny Tim’s rendition of “Tip Toe Through the Tulips.” Other greats who recorded Dixons’ songs were Dean Martin, Kate Smith, Perry Como, Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, Ray Charles, Fats Waller, Rudy Vallee, Doris Day, Frank Sinatra, Ricky Nelson, Twiggy, Chet Atkins, Eydie Gorme, and Nick Lucas.

On page 21 was a song titled “Me and My Uncle Sam,” copyright 1941, but I was unable to determine the composer. I encountered the same with another also with a 1941 copyright called “My Own America.”

Apparently, every military service had its own song. For instance, one of my favorites was “The Marines Hymn.” I found a song that must have been dear to the mechanics who worked on airplanes: “Oh, We are Mechs of the Air Corps.” It continued with the line, “We’re the guys who make ‘em fly, grease balls of the Air Corps…” Then there was one called “The Song of the Seabees,” composed in 1942 by Peter DeRose and Sam Lewis. DeRose appeared on radio shows and was a prolific composer. He and Lewis, who started songwriting in 1912, were among those who were also members of the Songwriters Hall of Fame. “

It is amazing that you can pull up quite a few of these songs on the Internet to read the lyrics. Even better, you can listen to the music of some of them.