Looking through various music books in Mom’s collection, I came upon a yellow folder titled ‘Taylor Reunion Songbook’. “I remember these!” I exclaimed, although in truth I never made many of the early reunions. I had heard the stories of the dark starry nights and the crackling bonfire as cousins, aunts and uncles encircled the flames and sang by the light of the fire to songs that were familiar to the oldest generation. And, I remembered long drives up to our cottage in Canada, singing these songs as we drove.
So, I asked Aunt CB to write a few words:
Dennis and Ann Catherman, Aunt Barb and Uncle Harold with Kathy looking over their shoulders, 1980
“Reunions started after Mom died. We all needed to get together to report on jobs each of us were doing, and also just needed to be together! It fell into a pattern of a weekend in September, near my parent’s wedding date (September 30th, 1915), and we started at one another’s houses.
As we grew up, we had a piano at home, and we each took lessons. And, at every Taylor get-together (B.W. and his boys), they always sang hymns. So it was natural for all of us to sing. We sang in two and three part harmony. Esther usually played the piano as she was the best, but we sang anything. We also sang in the car when we were going to Grandma Baker’s in Center Lisle or to B.W.’s in Batavia. So it was natural for us to sing at reunions.
Aunt CB, Aunt Ruth and Chuck Lochner on guitar, 1980
After a bit, I put together this songbook and had about forty songs (this current songbook contains 222 songs!—Pat).When we went to the park in later years, we had a little table organ to use, but we didn’t need it; I would just start them off and anyone would call out a song to sing. In later years, the younger generation did not seem to have the same enthusiasm for singing as we four girls did, so we were outvoted; the songbooks were put away.”
Mom remembers some songs in particular when driving in the car:
- · ‘American the Beautiful’
- · Old McDonald’
- · ‘I’ve Been Working on the Railroad
- · ‘You Must have been a Beautiful Baby’
- · ‘In My Merry Automobile’
- · ‘When Johnny Comes Marching Home’
When singing around the piano:
- · ‘When It’s Springtime in the Rockies’ (ALWAYS, Mom writes—lovely to harmonize. According to Mom, this was their signature song, and to quote her ‘We really rocked on that one!’)
- · ‘I’m Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover’
- · ‘By the Light of the Silvery Moon’
- · ‘In the Shade of the Old Apple Tree’
- · ‘Let There Be Peace on Earth’ (Another good harmonizer writes Mom)
- · ‘In the Garden’ (Mom writes that Aunt Doris had this played in the background at her funeral. When Mom explained to the minister how much this meant to Doris and her siblings, the minister had them sing it at her graveside.)
And, at Taylor Family Reunions, the little kids especially enjoyed:
- · ‘Puff the Magic Dragon’
- · ‘On Top of Old Smokey’
- · ‘He’s Got the Whole World in his Hands
The songs Pat remembers so fondly include:
- · ‘O Tell Me Why’
- · ‘Hang Down Your Head Tom Dooley’
- · ‘Bicycle Built for Two’
- · ‘Five Hundred Miles’
- · “Hello Dolly’
- · ‘Swing Low Sweet Chariot’
I KNOW cousins have more favorites, more memories of these Taylor Reunion songs. Add in the comment section!
Chuck Lochner, so often our guitar player, writes: “Ahh those Taylor genes. Brings back the vision of Esther on piano with her siblings gathered around singing ‘Heart of My Heart, How I love that Melody.’ Memories Forever.”
“Heart of my Heart”ends with -- “I know a tear would glisten if once more I could listen To the gang that sang ‘Heart of my Hearts’. How I would love to see the gang of Taylor siblings once more singing that song, no doubt in perfect harmony.
Looking forward to another Taylor Reunion in September!
Bob Taylor and Aunt Doris, 1980, No Doubt discussing the words to 'Little Miss Bliss' !