Right before arriving in Arkansas, I had a conversation with Brother John G. about his win at the county fair. He won the talent contest by playing his guitar and singing "Wayfaring Stranger," and he's qualified to compete in the state competition in early 2007. We chatted for quite a long time because I also had experience in competing in the county fair talent contests, and one year, my best friend and I won and went on to the state competition.
Well, I arrived at the box lunch social and sat right next to Adam and Ashlie to watch the program. Anna and I had spoken earlier about the hard work that her mom had put into creating a slide show that would review the previous years of the Wednesday School. And, Anna had talked to Sister Terri about finding lively music to accompany the slides.
Right in the middle of the presentation, my ears perked up after hearing just a few notes of one song, and I asked Brother Adam to join me in singing it (quietly, of course, so not to interrupt the show.) He gave me the strangest look and said, "I have no idea what this song is!"
Before going on, I must explain that Dad has hundreds (if not thousands) of records. And, he always kept a stash of them downstairs right with the record player. At times, there would be sudden exchanges of records from the downstairs to the upstairs, especially around the holidays or when Dad would begin to reminisce about particular artists. But, one record seemed to stay in the stereo case almost all of the time, and it was one of John Denver's. I think it was the "Back Home Again" album of 1974, but I'm not quite sure. Either way, I played this record over and over. And, the song that was definitely played most often was "Grandma's Feather Bed."
Our junior high decided to have a talent show, so Dad helped my friends and me put together a performance of this song - complete with overalls, pigtails, eyeliner freckles, and Piggly Wiggly dolls. (These were the KMart take-off of Cabbage Patch Dolls, but we LOVED them! We used them for the pig part of the song.)
Later on, my best friend Susan and I headed off to Illini Girls State, and we heard there would be a talent show. So, we decided to resurrect the number...with a few major changes. The crowd seemed to love it. Then, when we realized the Fulton County Fair talent contest was right around the corner, we decided to enter just for fun. We had no idea that we'd win!
So, here's a hilarious picture of Susan (left) and me at the county fair:The overalls were from Susan's neighbor, Elmer. The t-shirts were from Dad. The freckles and blacked-out teeth were supplied through various ladies' eyebrow pencils and eyeliners. And, our heftiness was created by a complicated stuffing technique with pillows, blankets and towels. We could barely walk at times, so you can imagine how funny the "dancing portion" of our routine was. Dad, as always, did a wonderful job accompanying us on piano, and Susan and I took turns with solos, harmonies, and our best southern accents. It is fun to think about the number of times we performed this and how many laughs we received. In fact, sometimes WE laughed so hard it was difficult to sing through the song.
For those that don't know the words, the following is how I remember them. And, for those who don't know the song at all, here is a first and a second excerpt of other artists' recordings. (I cannot find a recording of John Denver singing the entire song.)
When I was a little bitty [girl],
Just up off the floor,
We used to go down to Grandma's house
Every month or so.
We'd have chicken pie, country ham,
Homemade butter on the bread.
But, the best darn thing about Grandma's house
Was her great big feather bed.
It was nine feet high, six feet wide.
Soft as a downy chick (bawk! bawk! bawk!)
Made from the feathers of forty'leven geese.
Took a whole bolt of cloth for the tick.
It'd hold eight kids and four hound dogs
And a piggy we stole from the shed. (snort! snort!)
We didn't get much sleep, but we had a lot of fun
On Grandma's feather bed.
After supper we'd sit around the fire.
The old folks'd spit and chew.
Pa would talk about the farm and the war.
Granny'd sing a ballad or two.
I'd sit and listen and watch the fire
'Til cobwebs filled my head.
Next thing I'd know I'd wake up in the morning
In the middle of the old feather bed.
Well, I love my ma, love ma pa,
Love Granny 'n' Grandpa too.
Went fishing with my uncle, wrastled with my cousins.
I even kissed Aunt Lou! (EWW!)
But, if I ever had to make a choice
I guess it ought to be said:
I'd trade them all plus the [boy] down the road
For Grandma's feather bed.
I'd trade 'em all plus the [boy] down the road
For Grandma's feather be-e-ed! YEEE HAWWW!