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Pa Rum Pum Pum Pum

December 17, 2014
BY CHUCK CLEGG - Columnist , Wetzel Chronicle

One of the things I enjoy about writing is the research I do for my stories. I find out interesting facts I never knew about the world around us. For the last six months I have been searching for photos and information about Ormet. I would like to do a story about the aluminum plant told though pictures and old newspaper clippings. Recently, I was told the Monroe County Historical Society may be a place to find information to help in the project.

The historical society is home to many artifacts that tells the history of the county. The vast amount of books, pictures, and newspapers are cataloged and kept in order by a nice lady I first talked with over the phone; her name is Joyce Wiggins. She invited me to come and look through what information they had in hopes it might be of some help with the research for my project.

Eager to see what information was housed in their collection, I made a trip last week to Woodsfield. Joyce greeted me and showed me the information I was looking for. After a few minutes, we discovered that she and my wife were friends many years ago. Before I go any further, I do not want you to think this story is about research of old records. That is a story I will tell at a later date, although, I am still looking for pictures inside Ormet to help tell its story.

This story is about a memory that Joyce shared with me from years ago. When she was a young girl, her family and members of the church would visit friends' homes and sing Christmas carols. She beamed with great joy as she told of visiting my wife's family during the holidays and singing songs. After they sang, Mary's mom would offer a variety of cookies and candy. Her dad gave them a sampling of that year's gooseberry wine he had made. She remembers it was the only time her mother would let her have a small taste of wine.

I realized that long ago experience was one she held in a special place from her childhood. The inviting homes and warm smiles as she and the others sang holiday songs are as fresh in her memory as though they were only yesterday.

Today, you may find a group of people singing songs of the holiday in shopping malls all over the country at this time of year. We think of them as Christmas carolers. But, the history of singing and visiting homes has been around for nearly a thousand years.

Wassailing is an old tradition of visiting homes and singing songs of the season. Christmas as we know it has only been around for a few hundred years.

The people of England are believed to have begun the tradition. The word Wassailing comes from the Old English "be in good health." It is believed that the peasants would visit the Lord of the lands' home and sing songs at his door to wish him well. So they were not thought to be begging, they often sang a song, "Here We Come A-Wassailing". The words of the song tell that the carolers were at the door not as beggars, but were there as friendly neighbors whom the lord had seen before.

In this day of hurried pace and ever increasing electronic world, we often forget the simple meaning of holiday songs. It is hard to believe we do not notice the words of many favorite old time songs as they are played at this time of year. After all, we hear them in shopping malls, grocery stores, and even in the doctor's office. We may hear them so much that we tune out the words and only hear the sound of the electronically produced noise.

We all have favorite songs we associate with a time in our lives. It may be a song that we formerly heard someone in our family sing each Christmas. It may be Frosty the Snowman that makes us think of the magic in that old hat that brings him back to life each year on TV. Whatever the song, we may find our self humming its tune as we wrap this year's Christmas gifts.

For me, it is a song that still brings back memories of growing up and being part of a group of young boys that sang a special song long ago. You see, I was part of the New Martinsville Choir many years ago. Libby Frances worked with us until we sang the song just right. After rehearsals, and with much patience on her part, we mastered the song. I can still feel the deep vibration of our voices as we began in a room filled with silence. Not a whisper from anyone as our many voices joined into one sound, Pa rum pum pum pum. As those deep resonating words echoed through the music hall we began to sing. Come they told me, Pa rum pum pum pum.

In the darkness, our voices told of the small boy who came to see the new born child. Laid before the child were gifts from kings to honor him. But, the young boy had nothing of great value to give to the King of Man. He thought for a few moments, what could he give? From deep within he realized he had only one thing to give-his music. As he began, the sound of his drum traveled from the young boy's heart to the Son of God. The song then tells us, the child smiled at the boy and his drum. As we finished the sound of our collective voices faded quietly with each Pa rum pum pum pum. The music hall that seemed so quiet when we began somehow seemed even to have fallen into a deeper hush as our voices faded into the darkness of the room filled with family and friends. It is only a song with words written by man, yet it gives a sense of the real importance of that night in Bethlehem so many years ago.

That concert was over a half century ago and yet, I still can feel the sense of pride and enjoyment for my part in the collective voices that sang. I have come to understand as the drummer boy in the song realized, the best gifts are not wrapped in silver or gold. Nor are they always big or shiny. They can be the simple words of a song, that tell of the night when a young boy learned the real gift, that mankind can share is the one that touches the heart as we remember Through the Lens.



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