Mom had a great tendency to break into song at most any time, a trait that was passed down to me and perhaps to some of my siblings as well. There is one snatch of lyric that I can recall her singing on many occasions: “How are things in Glocca Morra?” She would sing it out in her sturdy, clear voice, taking care to hit each note like a little bell.
Well now, what the heck is Glocca Morra? It sounds like someplace in Ireland. That notion isn’t too helpful – my mother was of Polish and German descent and never set foot in Ireland. I don’t recall ever hearing the song except for that one line from my mother’s mouth. I also don’t recall that she ever sang more than just that one line (I suppose she could have, and I’ve simply forgotten), but I must have heard her sing that one line dozens of times over the years.
Enter the Internet. In a matter of moments, I was able to learn where that song came from. It’s from the 1947 Broadway musical Finian’s Rainbow. There was also a movie version in 1968, directed by a young Francis Ford Coppola and starring the unlikely pairing of Petula Clark and Fred Astaire! It was, in fact, Astaire’s last musical performance in a film. The movie version, by the way, appears to have been poorly received.
In any case, it seems far more likely that my mother’s familiarity with the song dates from 1947 than from 1968. By 1968, she was knee-deep in children and somewhat disconnected from pop culture. But in 1947, she was going on 15 years old and was probably quite familiar with Dick Haymes’ popular recording of “How Are Things in Glocca Morra?”
So there’s a little bit of background for us. It still doesn’t explain why Mom was so fond of breaking out into that particular lyric. I suppose there’s a good chance she didn’t know the reason herself, but that’s really quite all right by me. I don’t need the reason; just the memories.
And there you have it – a tiny slice of the past filled out a little, and a fond memory of the birthday girl.