Flaskaland
Tuesday, October 01, 2013
  Barbi Benton Folk Music
Long about the time the time that the smart boy on crutch's grandmother stood with a group of other people of recent German extraction in a field or remote orchard (and probably at night all to instill more FEAR and RESPECT into them) and was asked to kiss the flag to prove they were real Americans by a bunch of guys who ran the town the way they wanted, the zealous patriots of the era, at that same point in history (World War I), my friend Marvin was growing up in a religious commune in New York ....

Marvin's family farmed ... and they were a Brotherhood of religious people living together .... he heard the stories when he was growing up about the distant war, and read in the newspaper (they were allowed to read outside news) how the German soldiers ate babies .... he decided that wasn't true, because God wouldn't allow such a cruel thing to happen ... Marvin and the religious group he was raised in were pacifists ... and they lead a very remote life that was designed according to their own interpretation of God's word, you see ....

In the Second World War (another Big One), he was a pacifist, too .... he wouldn't kill another person even to defend his own family (and he told that to his own family) and he refused to serve, and though he was a teacher, he and his family were sent to Manzanar ....

I brought his history up when I visited Manzanar to the Park Ranger selling books in the gift room section and I brought back tour-guide maps of the camp for his daughter, who grew up there all those many years ago.  The US government wouldn't let a Japanese doctor tend to her birth in the camp, as they feared the Japanese doctors might harm her in some way, they were so untrustworthy, the camp commander decided.

So she was born in a hospital outside the camp and then brought back to the camp.  When I started to recount that story to the guy selling books and postcards and maps, he was busy making amends to Japanese visitors and talking his warm and fuzzy ameliorating Smoky the Bear talk to them.

Marvin was a hero in town, among certain people.  After the Second World War and everyone was released from the camps to start up their lives again as best they could (after being stripped of their lands, their hotels, their wealth their possessions, and even their dinnerware), he hired some Japanese to come work his farm and help bring in crops.  They arrived on the train.  The townspeople in a small town stood by the train doors and wouldn't let the Japanese farm hands get off the train.  Marvin went and got the sheriff .... and after explaining the situation, brought the sheriff back to quiet the crowd so the Japanese workers could get off the train and get the harvest in.  The crowd even surrounded the truck that was taking the Japanese workers to the fields, occasionally shouting and pushing, and one man even smacked the wood boards of the truck and hung on to the slats as if forbidding it to go anywhere, but the sheriff told the crowd to behave themselves and the crops were harvested.

Years later, Marvin told me of the strictures of his religious society .... he had studied religion at Claremont Theological center and was shooting for becoming an ordained minister (you could be ministers in the church ... lay leader ... but the government didn't recognize that without a license, you were nobody until you had a piece of paper, and your church was not a church, see .... )

He studied there until his family needed him to come home to help with a berry harvest .... so things happened and he never finished his degree.  But he told me how strict his religious upbringing was.

 "No drinking!" (He told me his friends from the seminary got drunk in Claremont!  And so did he!  "On berry wine!"  "And Claremont is a dry town!" I laughed!   (Well, Claremont can be ok, sometimes, I decided)

"No cussing" (No taking anything in vain ... he decided to become a Unitarian because someone told a dirty joke, and he wanted to be with a group of people  where it was ok to tell a dirty joke at a church gathering)

Music was allowed, if it was Brotherhood hymn church music, and even ok to be listened to outside the church, but he didn't keep a radio in his room ....

"No dancing" (Which he felt was his own personal loss, he had never learned to dance .... So I taught him a few simple steps, and he was old, so I figured there's a dance in the old guy yet!  So we danced in the kitchen to a song from his daughter's radio, though I don't remember what it was .... 

All of this is a lead-in to writing about a Barbi Benton "folk music record."  Which I laughed about mightily! 

(Frank Zappa fans will skim through this, because Frank was dead about  six years by that time, though they should read about it as I was in the Unitarian church when I knew Frank back in the early sixties and so there is an historic continuity, you see)










 
 




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