To the great relief of our neighbours we finally got a TV in our house in 1961. Until that point if there was something special on I would coerce people on our street into letting me come over and tune their set to the programme of my choice. Poor Mary Michaelski suffered through the Royal Ballet doing Cinderella, Katherine Cornell in The Barretts of Winpole Street and lord only know what other esoteric offerings. I was a very persuasive little tyke!
When we did get it our reception was pretty much limited (it had rabbit ears – honest!) to local stations plus a few pulled in from Buffalo. Several of the channels prefaced their National Anthem sign-off with brief programmes of a religious nature. My favourite (and my mother’s too as I recall) was Mahalia Jackson on CFTO. Each night they would broadcast a short film: she would stand on a bare backlit set in a simple choir gown and to the accompaniment of an electronic organ sing one of the old hymns or gospel songs that I had grown up listening to and singing.
I was reminded of those late night broadcasts when a CBC jazz programme played her version of Just As I Am the other day. Though Ms Jackson refused more than one offer to sing “popular” music the debt one genre owes to the other is readily apparent in any of her recordings or broadcasts.
What I find fascinating is the tempo that she takes this old hymn and so many others at – it seems at times to be almost at a standstill but I never feel the urge to nudge her onward.
August 14 is Creamsicle Day. Apparently there is a “creamsicle” cocktail so let’s raise a glass of orange juice, vanilla vodka and cream (which satisfies all the food groups I believe?) to a favourite childhood treat.