My Aunt Mae who went west during her youger days and married before moving back to Detroit with her husband who she missed dearly sitting with me in the kitchen and tuning in to her favorite singer Kate Smith, beginning each time with her theme song “When the Moon comes over the mountain, that’s when I will be coming back to you … when not listening with me to the “Katzenhammer Kids” a favorite comic section of the Detroit newspaper … with 7 year old me sprawled on the kitchen floor following word for word with my finger as “Uncle Ben” read the comic strip to us. This must have been a forerunner of the later Kids’ Shows, and teaching the alphabet and words over the radio before Television took over! – ”
Kate Smith’s Biography
Kathryn Elizabeth Smith was born May 1, 1907 in the nation’s capital. From an early age she loved to sing and dance. She performed locally in theatres and at nightclubs and was discovered by a New York City show producer in 1926. She was featured in the musical comedy Honeymoon Lane on Broadway and later in Hit the Deck and Flying High.
She was discovered in 1930 by Columbia Records vice president Ted Collins, who became her partner and manager and who put her on the radio in 1931. She was an immediate success on the air and she soon broke the record for longevity at the legendary Palace Theatre.
In 1932 she had a cameo role in Paramount’s The Big Broadcast. Then she starred in her own movie, Hello Everybody!, with co-stars Randolph Scott and Sally Blane. In 1943 she sang “God Bless America” in the Irving Berlin picture This is the Army.
Kate began making records in 1926; among her biggest hits were River, Stay ‘Way From My Door (1931), The Woodpecker Song (1940), The White Cliffs of Dover (1941), I Don’t Want to Walk Without You (1942), There Goes That Song Again (1944), Seems Like Old Times (1946), and Now Is the Hour (1947).
In the fifties she began making LP albums, with such best sellers as Kate Smith at Carnegie Hall (1963), How Great Thou Art (1965), and America’s Favorites: Kate Smith/Arthur Fiedler/Boston Pops (1967).
Her theme song was When the Moon Comes Over the Mountain, whose lyrics she helped write. Irving Berlin regarded the song she made most famous, God Bless America, as his most important composition. Kate predicted, in 1938, that the song would still be sung long after all of us are gone – and it surely will.
She had the most popular radio variety hour, The Kate Smith Hour, which aired weekly from 1937-45. At the same time she had the No. 1 daytime radio show, the midday Kate Smith Speaks, a news and commentary program. In 1950 Kate entered television with a Monday-Friday afternoon variety show, The Kate Smith Hour (1950-54). It proved so popular that NBC gave her a prime-time show on Wednesday evenings, The Kate Smith Evening Hour. Her last TV series was CBS’s The Kate Smith Show, a weekly half-hour musical series in 1960. She made many guest appearances on top TV shows, such as The Ed Sullivan Show, The Tennessee Ernie Ford Show, The Jack Paar Show, ABC Hollywood Palace, The Dean Martin Show, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, The Andy Williams Show, The Tony Orlando and Dawn Show, and TheDonny & Marie Show.
During the last decade of her career Kate gave dozens of live concerts, in various American cities. In 1972-73 she had extended engagements at the largest nightclub in the Reno area, giving two shows each day.
Kate ended her career on a high note. She became singing good-luck charm for the Philadelphia Flyers hockey team with her renditions of God Bless America, helping to inspire them to two successive Stanley Cups (1974 and 1975). In 1976 she was named Grand Marshal of the Tournament of Roses Parade. Fittingly, the last song she sang was that Irving Berlin anthem on a bicentennial special just before July 4, 1976. She died in Raleigh, NC, June 17, 1986. ” EPILOGUE: Berry Elementary School was located in a predominantly Italian neighborhood 3 or 4 blocks from the magnificent wealthy mansions on East Grand Boulevard leading to the then picnicing, swimming, canoeing, yachting recreational area, Belle Island. At the time the above occurred, I was in the Third Grade and the teachers as a followup to “reading and writing” classroom work had scheduled “spelling bees” which I had consecutively won each time! The classroom became suddenly quiet and all eyes were upon a Black woman who had been escorted to the classroom. She wore a threadbare thin coat not suitable for the cold weather outside with several buttons missing replaced by safety pins and which could have been described as a Good Will product. That woman was my mother! The teacher with the permission of the School Principal had contacted and invited my mother to visit my classroom to be seated and witness a “spelling bee,” which, though visibly shaken, I won again! Moral of that experience: Racism is learned … Racism is handed down from generation to generation, aided and abetted of course by misleading, inaccurate, and false and not authentic American and World history books . I had really not been conscious that I was Black, a Negro, until then. Apparently the teacher and other students must have felt the same way. I was just another of the blue eyed, blond hair, black and brown hair and brown eyed students, only with a tanned or brown skin! … The very opposite occurred in my college classroom, particularly that involved a graduate student Ph.D. candidate teaching two or three or my political science courses who boasted that he was of a “proud,” “Scottish descent, and wore an English Derby or Eton hat to class when he received the Ph.D. while teaching those classes. It was at the time of the Prince Edwards County school desegregation case and the ensuring white racist supremacy backlash. This instructor predicted that “Neegroes” … with emphasis on the “Nee” (implying “niggers”) would never be integrated in Prince Edwards County. And, you know, he was right! … yearslater schools though supposedly integrated were “re-segreated” as in the past. [See Prince Edwards County”] … My Mom must have been tremendously impressed with what she observed on that day. She persistently held out and kept her only son, Harold, would have the opportunity to get a college degree and not have to go to work upon graduation from high school at a southside Columbus Ohio, Buckeye Steel Casting Company where three or four other uncles worked following the famiy move to the southside Columbus, Ohio neighborhood near that factory where it was known young adult Black males had died young from factory-infected conditions and diseases like lung cancer, etc. … While she was still living she traveled from Columbus, OHio to New York City to be seated with other parents, relatives, and friends of the large graduating June 1960 Colleges and Class graduates receiving their degrees in the central campus area located between Butler Library and in front of the grand architectural building edifices of Columbia University. – “The Closing of Prince Edward County’s Schools
After Virginia’s school-closing law was ruled unconstitutional in January 1959, the General Assembly repealed the compulsory school attendance law and made the operation of public schools a local option for the state’s counties and cities. Schools that had been closed in Front Royal, Norfolk, and Charlottesville reopened because citizens there preferred integrated schools to none at all. It was not so Prince Edward County. Ordered on May 1, 1959, to integrate its schools, the county instead closed its entire public school system.
Governor J. Lindsay Almond addressing the General AssemblyView fullscreenMore informationThe Prince Edward Foundation created a series of private schools to educate the county’s white children. These schools were supported by tuition grants from the state and tax credits from the county. Prince Edward Academy became the prototype for all-white private schools formed to protest school integration.
No provision was made for educating the county’s black children. Some got schooling with relatives in nearby communities or at makeshift schools in church basements. Others were educated out of state by groups such as the Society of Friends. In 1963–64, the Prince Edward Free School picked up some of the slack. But some pupils missed part or all of their education for five years.
Edward R. Murrow, the famous radio and television journalist, presented the program “The Lost Class of ’59” on the CBS television network. It caused national indignation. Nonetheless, not until 1964, when the U.S. Supreme Court outlawed Virginia’s tuition grants to private education, did Prince Edward County reopen its schools, on an integrated basis