My Mother and My Dad Were Yankee Doodle Dandy – Jacki Kellum Memoir

Last night, I watched Jimmy Cagney sing and dance his way through the movie Yankee Doodle Dandy. I’ll admit that if there had been anything more interesting playing on another channel, I would have watched that. I have seen Yankee Doodle Dandy scores of times, but I am delighted that the stars aligned just right for me to re-watch that wonderful movie. It made me think about my mother and my dad.

Yankee Doodle Dandy is a story that is loosely based on the life of George M. Cohan, who wrote the songs Yankee Doodle Dandy, Over There, and other tunes that became synonymous with World War II. I cannot venture a guess at how many times that I have heard my folks sing Over There. The following is from the last frame of the movie, and by that time in the film, I had worked myself into a nostalgic frenzy, and it made me cry.

For readers who have recently joined me, allow me to review that I have my 89-year-old mother’s actual writings about the World War II era, when she was one of the masses of young women who worked in American munitions factories. You can read what she said about that Here.


My dad served in the Army Air Corps. In the above photograph, he is on the bottom row, third from the left.


You can read about my dad’s military service Here.


When my dad was home on leave, my mother met my dad at a dance. While my dad was still at home on leave, VJ Day happened, and the war ended. My mother and dad married soon after that. Here


My mother and dad remained married until my dad died, when he was just shy of becoming 92-years-old. My mother is six years younger than my dad, and she is 89-years-old now.

By and large, marriages don’t last 70 years now. It has become quite easy for married people to become unmarried, and that often becomes the case in modern America. In my opinion, our capacity for throwing marriages and family members away now is a problem of epic proportion. I wrote about that Here.

How very, very different life is today, as compared to the time when my mother and dad were young. Several wars have occurred since World War II, and unfortunately, as our nation’s people learned not to remain loyal in marriage, they also learned how to quit caring much about our soldiers who were being deployed to fight in our nation’s wars.

Americans no longer believe that we fly a Grand Old Flag. We may give our flag a few nods on the Fourth of July, but America is no longer a patriotic country. Americans have become fat, lazy, and apathetic. We have reached the point that we don’t care about much at all, and that lack of caring has permeated into the family structure.

When I was a child, families normally lived close to each other. It was not uncommon for several generations of a family to live under one roof. That would drive me nuts. No doubt, I am part of the problem. But I do believe that if families merely lived closer to each other, they would be tighter. In a recent article, I rebutted the axiom that Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder Here.  In my experience, absence does NOT make the heart grown fonder. It makes the heart grow cold, and it allows the mind to shut down, shut out, and forget.

I also have my great aunt’s memoir. She was a child during the Gay Nineties. Her grandparents were part of the great frontier movement from the East Coast to the southern midwest.

In reading my great aunt’s memoirs, I am allowed to observe a time when families were friends. Several children slept in the same bedroom. Families played games together. Families took care of each other. Families cared about each other. Families were Families. I hate to say that in our modern culture, that is often not the case.

In the same way that I do not believe that our nation has been improved by losing its love for our country, I do not believe that our society is improved by our peoples’ losing the ability to care about each other.

I remember when I first heard a recording of Barabara Streisand’s singing People. That was half a century ago, and even then, I was struck by the fact that people had already begun shifting away from each other. I could already see that people had begun losing their abilities to need each other. The song People became one of my all-time favorite songs.

Bottom line: Americans today just do not care much about anything or anyone at all–at least not about anyone other than ourselves. We are not only apathetic, we are spoiled and we are greedy. Why are we surprised that our nation is in demise?

©Jacki Kellum January 10, 2016

Modern Families


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