June 28, 2016

Partly sunny

Sing and swing your way through troubled times

By Angela Huston


“They Call Me A Cockeyed Optimist.”

I was a child of the ’40s, when uplifting musicals — ah, Fred with Ginger, Cyd, Eleanor or whatever lucky lady he chose for a partner — were popular and let me believe unconditionally all would be fine, even though our country was just recovering from the devastating crash of ’29 and a world war. I have no idea how people managed to keep up their spirits, but doing so was the watch word back then.

“Whistle A Happy Tune.”

However, even though the movies made us feel good, it was unrealistic to think we had nothing to fear. Criminals were powerful, their names were almost household words, but in many ways they existed in a competitive underground world of their own. We so-called average people remained confident we could rebuild our own lives away from the shadows of organized crime.

“On the Sunny Side of the Street.”

As a young kid I was pretty sure that taking a contemplative walk in the sunshine would cure all things and provide sought-after answers to puzzling questions.

“Pennies From Heaven.”

But even when the sunshine remained elusive (this is Ohio, you know), I could find something positive about the rain: it would make crops grow for the big farmers and backyard gardeners alike, and cool off steamy hot days when the only relief came from a small oscillating fan. Air conditioning? As yet a relatively unknown luxury.

“Singing in the Rain.”

When not bent on the economic and physical benefits of rainfall, I could always revert to amateurishly dancing my way through puddles, real or imagined, with or without the rain. Gene and Debbie gave us hope for a bright future.

“Swinging on a Star.”

I always laughed as I listened to Bing sing that amusing ditty. It was entertaining, but I surely would not settle for being a mule or a pig. My sights were set on shooting for the moon — if I fell short, I somehow knew I might at least land on a star.

“Catch a Falling Star.”

But if that failed, Perry said I could catch a falling star and put it in my pocket, save it for a rainy day. I believed Perry.

“Wishing Will Make It So.”

Even when doubts did try to nag me I knew it would be OK to wish for something better in life, assuming I was willing to work for it once I established a direction.

“Look for the Silver Lining.”

There were, and still are, many ugly things in the world, there always will be, yet I am unwilling to give in to all the doom and gloom. It may not always be easy, but I am compelled to find something, anything, good about life, no matter how seemingly insignificant. It is not Pollyanna thinking — it may, in fact be cockeyed optimism — but I prefer to call it survival. Old habits die hard, especially when they work.

“Smile, Darn Ya’, Smile.”

Huston, a freelance writer (and you have to be a cockeyed optimist to be one), walks on the sunny side of the street looking for pennies from heaven in Medina, unless she’s singing in the rain or swinging on stars.