Most of you reading this won't know who Gene Autry was.
The Singing Cowboy.
Back in the late 40s and ealy 50s, he was a big deal. Not as cool as Roy Rogers, but close enough. He had a radio show and later a TV show. His horse's name was Champion and he had an assortment of sidekicks in the movies and small screen.
He was mild in manner, a straight shooter, every thing a red blooded American kid wanted to be.
But, he was a singer. He made kid songs we could sing along with. He took Jesus out of holidays and made reindeer and jelly beans what you looked forward to after suffering through a long boring church service (especially if it was in Latin.)
Here's how he sang about Easter:
Jelly beans for Tommy, colored eggs for sister Sue. There's an orchid for your Mommy and an Easter bonnet, too.
That was MY youth.
White gloves, light coat, new scratchy dress and hat with a fake flower or two on it.
And Mass. In Latin. That lasted forever, with the story of the crucifixion and resurrection that took about two hours.
Nicer to think about bunnies and chocolate.
Moving right along, he also took care of Christmas. He had a couple of Christmas songs...one about Santy Claus and the famous one about Rudolph.
I was a kid. It was the 50s. You went to church every Sunday. You went to catechism. You prayed, you went to confession after you were seven. You made communion religiously. God was always watching.
And then along came Gene Autry.
I don't know whether Roy Rogers, the King of the Cowboys, sang secular holiday songs, but I know Gene knocked 'em off regularly.
If kids don't know about Jesus suffering, about celebrating His life and not candy, of feeling sad on Good Friday and wearing new scratchy clothes, you have to blame Gene.
Please go to YouTube and check out these links. It was hard for me to get there.