Far away places with strange soundin’ names

Far away over the sea

Those far away places with the strange soundin’ names

Are callin’, callin’ me

Many of my fondest memories concern dreams dreamt and wishes fulfilled. Songwriters
 Joan Whitney and Alex Kramer had me in mind when they published this song in the 1940’s. Bing Crosby made it famous. I believe he first recorded it accapella because musicians were on strike.

I listened to it many times on the radio and on our phonograph player. I was 9 or 10 years old then and I loved to read. Robert Louis Stevenson, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and Jack London. Treasure Island, The jungles of Africa and the far North were on my mental horizon but never, I thought would I visit any of them.

Goin’ to China or maybe Siam

I want to see for myself

Those far away places

I’ve been readin’ about

In a book that I took from the shelf

Once, I was 6 years old and heading for the dentist’s office on the trolley car. I saw the prettiest church – right there on the corner of Flatbush and Church Avenues in the heart of Brooklyn, New York. “I wish we went to that church,” I said to my sister Janice, who was escorting me to the tooth doc.”

“Don’t be silly,” she said. “We live in the Flatlands. Not here in Flatbush. So it’s too far away.”

Dang. She had me there. Pure logic. Except that we moved to Flatbush when I was seven and I was enrolled in Sunday School in that most beautiful church. My wish came true. I believed.

I was very shy when I hit puberty. I suddenly realized that girls were smart as well as tough, like my sis, and that no one would ever want to marry me. Heck, when I was 12 or 13, I couldn’t imagine having a job, an education or money. I could barely manage to get myself to school in the mornings. I dreamed that I could find a foreign girl who didn’t speak English too well and trick her into marrying me.

SWISH. Just a few double decades later I’m married to the fabulous Daisy. Hey – she even speaks a little English and she seems to like me. Go figure.

I start gettin’ restless whenever I hear

The whistle of a train

I pray for the day I can get underway

And look for those castles in Spain

The earth spun around a few more times and I strolled the Alhambra Gardens in Grenada, Spain. I spent a month a month in Siam, except that now they call it Thailand. I voyaged across the Straits of Gibraltar to visit North Africa. We crawled over the Forum in Rome. Pompeii was swell the Andes Mountains in Colombia are for real.

They call me a dreamer,

well, maybe I am

But I know that I’m burnin’ to see

Those far away places with the strange soundin’ names

Callin’, callin’ me

 I was such a poor student. Starving actually – I just hadn’t figured out that I needed a job to get money. I wished that Dad would send me some from Florida. I kept running out of cigarettes. Oh well. It all worked out – just not exactly as I imagined.

Sometimes as I sat on bus benches, waiting for slow buses, I wished I had a car to whisk me around. Well, in the fullness of time, and after a few hard knocks, I did own many cars. Sometimes they owned me, if you know what I mean. I was a poor Miami working stiff with a hellacious commute. I wished for money in the bank – suddenly that wish came true. Unfortunately I didn’t realize that old age came first. Dang and double dang agin.’

I pray for the day when I’ll find a way

Those far away places to see

Those far away places with the strange soundin’ names

Callin’, callin’ me

Callin’, callin’, callin’ me

My Coast Guard friend, Lieutenant Andy Agreeable, prayed for a Cadillac, for $10,000 in the bank and for a promotion to Lieutenant Commander. He told me that he promised God to be a good Episcopalian and to tithe. He quit hanging out in bars and chasing women.

Andy told me that it worked. The money arrived suddenly from the sale of a forgotten inherited property. The Cadillac was almost new and bargain priced. He got promoted.

“Wow Andy,” I counseled him. “You better be careful.”

“Naw,” he said. “God is on my side. I associate with a better class of people now. The men in my new church don’t try to pat my wife’s ass. I sleep like a baby.”

Next thing I knew he fell getting out of a car, hurt his back, and was never able to work again.

Well my friends. Wishes do come true. But. Be very careful of what you wish for.


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