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Readers’ corner

Don’t get fooled again! Silly me for not double checking about the origin of the song, taps, that appeared here on Memorial Day. Great story but an urban legend. Many readers let me know it was false, both by phone and e-mail. Here is the real story: (taken from http://www.snopes.com, the urban legend Web site.) “Taps was composed in July 1862 at Harrison’s Landing in Virginia, but after that, the fanciful e-mail quoted … parts way with reality. There was no dead son, Confederate or otherwise; no lone bugler sounding out the dead boy’s last composition. How the call came into being was never anything more than one influential soldier deciding his unit could use a bugle call for particular occasions and setting about to come up with one. If anyone can be said to have composed taps, it was Brig. Gen. Daniel Butterfield, commander of the 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, V Army Corps, Army of the Potomac, during the American Civil War. Dissatisfied with the customary firing of three rifle volleys at the conclusion of burials during battle and also needing a method of ceremonially imparting meaning to the end of a soldier’s day, he likely altered an older piece known as ‘Tattoo,’ a French bugle call used to signal ‘lights out,’ into the call we now know as taps. (Alternatively, he wrote the whole thing from scratch, a possibility not at all supported by his lack of musical background and ability.) Whether he wrote it straight from the cuff or improvised something new by rearranging an older work, Butterfield brought taps into being. With the help of his bugler, Oliver W. Norton of Chicago, the concept was transformed into its present form. Taps was quickly taken up by both sides of the conflict and within months was being sounded by buglers in both Union and Confederate forces.” Sorry!

Wearing white after Memorial Day: Jane Swan called to say that she thinks this notion is outdated and mostly stems from the Northeast. Then I also got an e-mail from reader Bobbie Pickering. This is her take on it: “I studied fashion design and illustration in the late ’50s, early ’60s period. Wearing white shoes after Labor Day was a fashion no no. Absolutely no black after Memorial Day, and the white kicked in either after Easter or Memorial Day, depending on the weather. Other fashion taboos were mixing any kind of print with a pattern, mixing blue and green in one print or outfit, and your purse always had to match your shoes. Even your lipstick was to match your outfit. Ah, but times have changed. Just watch ‘What Not to Wear’ on TLC and anything goes today; you can mix and match almost anything, anytime. Some of the styles today make me cringe.”

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Dixie Redfearn can be reached at 477-4238 or by e-mail at dixier@theunion.com, or by fax at 477-4292.


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