Thursday, November 30, 2017

The Gift of Music

The Gift she shared. 

My mother-in-law, Alleen Watt, believed music could start a conversation. Music did more than start a conversation in her life. People in her audiences were given a chance to dance, share stories of times passed, laugh and clap to the beat, and rejoice in the moment. She was blessed with an ear for music called 'perfect pitch.' Playing the guitar and piano came easily for her, a talent she inherited from her Papa, Charlie Morris. So many times as Alleen and I sat together in those last few years of her life, her sentences began with "Papa used to...."

Growing up in Little Axe on a farm during the depression, she and her sisters picked cotton and helped in any way possible. I felt the struggles she endured as she shared her memories, but more than anything else I felt the lasting love that her Papa had given her with the gift of music.  

Her Papa was born in 1878 in South Texas. During his eighty one years he rarely missed making music at a Saturday night dance. In her papers I found these words to a song she wrote to honor her Papa.

The lyrics are written from his point of view growing up dirt poor in Oklahoma.  

There were many times we were so hungry.
There were many times we were so cold,
When we lived there in that old half dugout
Back in those hills so long long ago.

       We came here from way down in Texas.
       Thought life would be better for sure.
       The farm we got kept us from starving,
       The bad times we learned to endure.

Papa had left us for heaven.
As the oldest child I took his place.
I was young but grew up in a hurry,
When I found out what we had to face.

       We hadn’t been long on our homestead
       When measles came to call at our home.
       Mama and sister joined Papa,
       Leaving me and two other brothers alone.

We had an old guitar and banjo,
And a two dollar fiddle and bow.
Soon we were playing for dances,
Then the time didn’t go by so slow.

       We’d ride those old horses bareback.
       Didn’t care how far we had to go.
       Those dances might last until morning,
       And oh, how that moonshine did flow.

Yes, times were hard and we did struggle.
Didn’t dwell on what might have been.
Just thanked God for all of our blessings,
And started all over again. 

*words by Alleen Watt, 1980


  1. What an amazing lady! Thank you for sharing. dncl

  2. Dear Letty, Still enjoy your stories so much. Thank you for sharing them. Your mother-in-law was truly a joy to all who knew her I'm sure. cs

  3. This is amazing to read. She really was a precious lady and endured a very hard life while young. Happy that she had you in her life. nv