|Posted by John Jung on January 20, 2017 at 2:05 PM|
When we left Macon, Georgia where I was born to move to San Francisco in 1952, we packed up all our few possessions worth bringing, mostly clothing, family photos and small household items that we could ship on the train as part of our baggage allotment (I think 150 lb. per passenger).
We left behind our two "devices" for home entertainment, a small Philco radio that let us listen to comedy and drama programs as well as play by play broadcasts of football games and a hand cranked phonograph similar to the one pictured below. We had only about ten 78-rpm records, none of them purchased by my parents but were left by the previous occupant of our living space.
One recording that I enjoyed a lot even though I didn't really know what it meant had an amusing (to me at the time) refrain that I misremembered as, "Henry, who's that knocking on the hen house door." Decades later, in a fit of nostalgic search for childhood memories, I searched online music lyric databases in vain to try to find that song.
Then, lo and behold, the other day as I was decluttering my possessions, I discovered a folder that held four of these 78-rpm records that for reasons I can't imagine, we had brought along with us from Macon to San Francisco over 50 years ago. And, it brought tears to my eyes when I found the 1926 recording of "Knocking on the Hen House Door"....there was no Henry in the song after all. Moreover as the image of the record below shows, the banjo performer and composer was identified as Doc Walsh....someone I had no information about but google informed me that he was a well regarded country music performer of the 1920s.
Knocking On the Hen House Door
And, miracle of miracles, YouTube actually had a recording of Knocking on the Hen House Door, but I warn you that in the 1920s, the term, nigger, was commonplace in referring to black people.
In the refrain of the song, the singer repeatedly asks the !*# "nigger" to stop knocking on the hen house door.
Our One Chinese Record
We did have one Chinese record that my brother George and I played incessantly. It has a martial air, and we marched around the room as it blared forth. Learned later it was composed in the 1930s as a tribute to the Chinese resistance against the Japanese in the 1930s before WW II. Known as the March of the Volunteers, it was later adopted as the National Anthem of the People's Republic of China.
Categories: Our Family