Out, damn song

Yesterday we drove to Utica to watch Number One Son’s swim meet. On the way, we passed over the Erie Canal, which I pointed out to Mer’s boyfriend because he likes stuff like that.

Then BH and I started singing “Low Bridge, Everybody Down” which every kid in Central New York learns to sing in second grade and then is forced to sing over and over every year as a form of torture and mind control.

Frustrated Teacher: “If you kids don’t settle down back there, we’re all going to sing The Song fifty times instead of going out for recess.”

Terrified students: “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!” (Classroom falls silent instantly.)

And now I can’t get the damn thing out of my head. (Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal….) I am about to start playing Christmas carols as sung by the Animaniacs. (Low bridge, cause we’re coming to a town!…) Anything would be better than this.

Found a great quote about travel in a letter from John Adams to his wife yesterday. He was very sad because he was in Europe and she was in Massachusetts and they really, really missed each other: “What a fine Affair it would be if We could flit across the Atlantic as they say the Angels do from Planet to Planet.” God, I love history.

Off to the doc this morning, hair stylist this afternoon, decorating trees in between. Tomorrow is our “first” Christmas…. when we open presents with the college kids who are home this week, and who take off for other homes later. So, Merry Christmas, all!

14 Replies to “Out, damn song”

  1. It seems like every 4th or 5th grade class takes an Erie Canal boat ride, so we were drilled with that song for weeks before the field trip. That and “Fifty Nifty” although that’s more to do with the whole country.

  2. I’ve got a mule and her name is Sal . . ./i>

    We sang it in grade school in California, too.

    I was born in Buffalo, but we moved when I was four, but there is just no escape from Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal…./i>

  3. Erie Canal

    Get up there, Sal,
    You passed that lock!
    15 miles on the Erie Canal.
    And we’ll make Rome before
    6 o’clock!
    15 miles on the Erie Canal.
    Just one more bridge and back we’ll go,
    Through the rain and sleet and snow . . .

    Low bridge, everybody down.
    Low bridge, ’cause we’re coming to a town.
    And you’ll always know your neighbor.
    You’ll always know your pal,
    If you’ve ever navigated on—the Erie Canal.

    I grew up in Maryland, and we sang the song, too.
    So it traveled south, as well!
    (Although, Maryland is not THAT far south!)
    Lisa Trumbauer

  4. I’ve got a mule her name is Sal, 15 miles on the Erie Canal. She’s a good ol’ worker and a good ol’ pal, 15 miles on the Erie Canal.

    ACKKK! I learned to play this on the piano when I was in elementary school. I forgot about it! Now it’s in my head! ACKKK!


  5. Hee. I grew up in Illinois and Missouri, but we had to sing that song too. We had a different, no doubt foreign unAmerican heathen, version — “fifteen years on the Erie Canal.” The mule was still named Sal, though. You can’t argue with the rhymes.


  6. I used to have the Erie Canal song stuck in my head for months at a time. I actually started humming it while walking next to the canal last night — I can’t believe I remembered it.

  7. My parents and grandparents sang that song to me, helped in teaching it to me by Peter Spier’s marvelous book The Erie Canal, in which each line of the song is illustrated by him.

    Great quote from Adams. (I love history, too, and for much the same reason!) Franklin made a melancholy remark about how much he would love to see the amazing advances he was sure humanity would achieve after his death.

    You may not have read this, from Nathaniel Ames’s almanack for 1758 and immediately following his musings about what the future might hold for his country:

    “O! Ye unborn Inhabitants of America! Should this Page escape its destin’d Conflagration at the Year’s End, and these Alphabetical Letters remain legible when your Eyes behold the Sun after he has rolled the Seasons round for two or three Centuries more, you will know that in Anno Domini 1758, we dream’d of your Times.”

    I never read that without goosebumps, and my heart fills every time with overflowing compassion and love for all Americans of the past.

  8. This Californian had to learn that song, too. And “Fifty Nifty.” I quite like both of them, though. I still sing the latter whenever I am called upon to produce a list of states (rare, but it happens).

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