My Mom’s Revelation about Her Part-Time Job as a Blues Singer
My mother has some of the best stories I've ever heard. She used to tell them to my sister and me when we were kids. Funny stories. Really bizarre ones. All true.
But it wasn't until after my dad passed away in 2005, that we both learned something about Mom we had never known.
When my mother was a nursing student at the University of Louisville in the 1950s, in order to have a little extra money--she'd call it "mad" money--she worked part-time at a tavern singing blues, jazz, and torch songs.
Mom was a part-time lounge singer.
HANDS DOWN, the best story about her that I know.
About seven years ago, we drove her up to Louisville for a nostalgic day trip. When she was in school, she had no car, so everything she did was around the Bardstown Road/Baxter Avenue area.
Kentucky Baptist Hospital--part of U of L at the time--was just a couple of blocks over.
She remembered everything--the old neighborhoods, the homes looking about the same as they did back then.
We took her by the church she attended while she was a student.
And the old hospital is still there, although it is something completely different now.
And because of the car situation, this lounge was just about a block away from her dorm.
In 2012, when we visited, the lot where the old tavern once stood was empty.
But she knew that's where it was because of, again, the houses nearby.
She never told her mother this happened.
I can understand that.
I can also understand why this didn't come to light until well into my adulthood. But I'm really glad it did.
Mom chose all of her songs and had to buy special outfits for her performances. And she never kept any of them.
And, you know, Mom said the patrons were perfect gentlemen and always made sure she got back to her dorm safely.
My parents raised us in a judgement-free zone. Mom always accepted and accepts everyone. She has never met a stranger.
And while she frowns, strongly, on drinking alcohol, she had no issues about singing at a piano (someone else played) in a bar around others who were.
Happy Mother's Day, everybody!
If you're fortunate enough that your mom is still living, ask her to tell or retell you some stories about her life. I've likely never met her, but I guarantee they're good ones.