Monday, June 11, 2012


I don’t like crows, and when one flew right into the grill of my car yesterday my first reaction after hearing the big thump was to think, “Well, at least it was only a crow.”  However, I don’t much like to know that I was an inadvertent participant in ending a crow’s life, either. 
That probably is the reason that one of the first things I thought about today in choosing subjects to ruminate on in the blog was strange birds in my life, none of which ever were alive.
I was putting mascara on this morning and due to my aging eyes, I pretty much had my nose touching the magnifying mirror I must use.  As I met myself eyeball to reflected eyeball, something in my mind said, “This is the Watchbird watching you.”
That was a blast from the past!  Doesn’t everybody my age remember the Watchbird drawn by Munro Leaf?
As most of you know, our minds can play loose with our memories.  My memory of the Watchbird places it in a school setting, specifically on the page of a spelling workbook, where the Watchbird, sitting on a window sill watching children at their desks says, “It is important each week to learn the words the teacher gives you to memorize. The Watchbird likes to see children studying their spelling words.  Are you studying your spelling words?”  Then the Watchbird turns to look directly at the reader (ostensibly a student) and “This is the Watchbird watching you.”
Now, in looking on the web to see what others have to say about the Watchbird, oh yes, it is there, but I must bow to the better recollections of those who say it appeared in Ladies Home Journal and all children couldn’t wait for the delivery of each month’s Journal to see what the Watchbird was watching.  All I can surmise is that there must have been something in a little flyer we regularly received at school similar to this fellow and my aging memory substituted in the Watchbird.
Be that as it may, my sister and I, mostly antagonists during our pre-teen and teen years, often glared at the other and said in dead seriousness, “THIS is the Watchbird watching YOU!” 

Another “Bird” from my past has to do with Junior Birdmen.  Many kids growing up in the early 1950s knew this song from camps they attended.  The picture above is of Troop 28 (from Long Beach, California) and is visual rendering of the Junior Birdmen song, learned at Camp Manzanita in the mountains near Santa Monica.  Our troop was formed in 1945 when we were in 5th grade, and stayed together through high school as “Mariners” which was one of the specialties Senior Scouting could have.   In fact, we are still having get-togethers, sometimes after funerals.  Although there are many variations of the lyrics, what we sang went like this:
Up in the air, Junior Birdmen, Up in the air, pilots true.
Up in the air, Junior Birdmen, Keep your eyes upon the blue (upon the blue)
And when you hear the great announcement about your wings of tin

Up in the air, Junior Birdmen, and send your boxtops in!  It just takes….
4 boxtops…
3 wrappers…
2 labels…
And one thin dime!
In the picture above we are demonstrating some of the hand signs that accompany the lyrics.  Participating are Joanne Bodtke, Kay Bostwick, Carol Smith, Barbara Aston, Dokey Mattox, Zoe McCurdy and me, Bobby Dobbins. 
And a final bird song that I pulled from my old girl scout years one day when the little granddaughters I was taking to their pre-school to help their mom out were having one of their really “off” days.  They did NOT want to go to school and for the most part I headed out with them screaming their heads off, tears flowing.

In trying to deflect their snit I started singing and one-handedly making motions as I drove west on Wilshire Boulevard in LA.  (I've always been good at multi-tasking, a necessity in raising kids.)

The song was entitled “WAY UP IN THE SKY”
Way up in the sky the little birds fly (arms waiving overhead)
While down in their nests the little birds rest (cupped hand)
With a wing on the left and a wing on the right (arms tucked in armpits)
We’ll let the dear birdies sleep all through the night. (folded hands by ear)
SHHHHHHHHH.  They’re sleeping.  (Silence)
Back in 2005 if you saw a crazy old lady in a car on Wilshire Blvd in LA with two little girls, all flailing their hands and obviously singing something, it was me and the little girls on the way to their pre-school.  As long as we sang, they weren’t yelling and crying. 

The song saved the day.  By the time we arrived, they couldn’t wait to get inside and sing for their teacher. 
These girls are now 11 and 10.  They can still remember the song.
I’m sorry that crow yesterday lost his life on my car’s grill.  Today’s blog is in memory of him! 

1 comment:

Olga said...

Actually, I really like crows. They are shifty, but very smart. I don't have any memory of the Watch Bird--my young age?? or my failing memory??