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GC Myers- September Song sm

GC Myers- September Song 2014

August has finally and thankfully passed.  You would think as one gets older you would want to hold on to every moment–every day, week and month– but August never passes quickly enough for me.  This distaste for August has given September an almost magical appeal.  The very sound of the word feels cool and easy in my mind.

Relieved from the hard edges and sharpness of August, September brings cooler air and falling leaves.  Time passes just as quickly but there is a calmness which allows for reflection.  In September, I often find myself stopping and just standing,  looking into the sky and absorbing the moment, glad to just be where I am.

Maybe that’s why I love the old song September Song.  It’s a wistful reflection on the passing of time and aging.  Composed by Kurt Weill, it was written for  and  first recorded by Walter Huston for the Broadway play Knickerbocker Holiday in which he plays Peter Stuyvesant, the governor of New Amsterdam (present day New York) in the 1600’s.

The play didn’t have much success but the song, written for Huston’s limited vocal range and rough voice, has lived on as one of the great standards of modern music, recorded by scores of artists over the years. Today I thought I would play a beautiful version from the one and only Ella Fitzgerald.  As I look out of my studio window, it is cool and foggy and the words and sound of this song just feel so right for the first day of September.

Have a great day.

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I’ve mentioned before that I enjoy doing genealogical research, digging back through layers of history, trying to put together a sometimes very complicated puzzle to reveal certain connections.  One of the great pleasures I take in doing this is coming across the life stories of ancestors that are just plain good tales.

One such is from my wife’s family, the story of the lady they called the Flying Angel.  Her maiden name was Magdalena Dircksen Volckertsen and she was born in New Amsterdam (now Manhattan) in the 1630’s, her father a builder of the earliest homes there for the Dutch West Indies Company.

Her first husband ( not in my wife’s family line) was a privateer for the Dutch West Indies Company.  That is to say, he was a pirate hired by the company to attack foreign ships and competitors in the area.  Called “Captain Caper” for his daring, he was killed in an Indian attack that was the beginning of the Indian Wars of 1655.  Magadalena was left a young widow with an infant child.

Two years later she married Herman Hendricksen Rosenkrance, called “Herman the Portuguese.”  The name came not from his nationality ( he was from Norway) but from his service as a mercenary for the Dutch company in Brazil where they forced their way into sugar growing areas controlled by the Portuguese.  Finally repelled from Brazil, Herman and his cohorts were sent to New Amsterdam to engage the Indians there.  Herman stayed on as a settler, supposedly running a tavern of low repute called the Flying Angel, the origin of Magdalena’s nickname.

Magdalena had quite the temper.  On her wedding day to Herman, after downing some beers, she was walking with her sister just above what is now Wall Street in NYC when she passed and insulted the fire warden.  What was termed a street riot broke out and several weeks later  she was yellow-carded by Peter Stuyvesant, meaning she was expelled from the settlement, sent back to Holland where she and Herman bided their time for two years until they were finally allowed to come back, provided they did not open a tavern or sell spirits.

The following years were a series of adventures involving Indian Wars  (one that had Herman being captured and staked out in the sun before he was able to escape), various  legal troubles, some involving Magadalena throwing beer in the faces of a number of  men, stabbings and accusations of selling liquor to the native Indian population.  They ended up living up the Hudson, near Kingston, where Magdalena lived into her 90’s.

It’s rumored that in her later years, she would chase Indians from her property by running out at them, yelling and shaking a large growth on her neck at them.  How could she not live to 90?

It’s just an interesting footnote in our history and the early settlement of NY, one that you don’t hear much about.  I’m always excited when I come across such stories, especially when there is a small personal connection.  Magadalena and Herman would be my wive’s 8th generation grandparents.

I’m not sure how proud she is…

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