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My mother's big secret

Contributed by SHARON POSTOAK
Choctaw history

   The night I will never forget was one when I saw my mother looking so radiant. At 6 years of age, I thought I knew everything about my mother, but little did I know, she had a big secret.

   Mom enjoyed listening to gospel music. She had a large collection of gospel records, many of which you may be familiar with, such as the Happy Goodman Family, the Speer Family, the Gaithers and her favorites, the Blackwood Brothers and the Stamps Quartet, just to name a few. These records are very precious to me; they show my mother's love for music.

   Remembering a special night that would never be forgotten or erased from my mind was the revelation of my mother's well-kept secret. It was the month of July, and my mother and I were taking a trip to Dallas. We were boarding a Greyhound bus that afternoon. The bus station at the time was located across from the police station in town. It was an enjoyable ride, and the seats were comfortable.

   When we arrived at our destination, our cousin, Ella, picked us up in her red car and drove us to her house. At a young age, I thought Dallas was just a beautiful place to be. After relaxing and having a bite to eat, mom said, "We better get ready so we can get a good seat."

   "Mom, where are we going?" I replied.

   We were going to one of the biggest all-night singings put on by the Stamps Quartet. So we hurried along and got all dressed up.

   My mother looked so beautiful. She had a pretty silk dress on with high heels to match. As I watched her fix her short brown hair, she then applied some red lipstick. Wow. As for me, I had a light blue dress on with white patent shoes, frilly white socks and white gloves. Mom then combed my long brown hair and put it up in a bun. She also gave me a pretty bracelet and a heart necklace to wear. We were ready. We grabbed our purses and were on our way.

   When we arrived, there were so many people. My mom took me by the hand and said. "This place is called the Sport Auditorium," where all the best singers will perform on stage tonight. As we made our way in, we made one more stop to check our hair before we found our way to our seats. "Wow," I thought, we were right up front! Right next to the stage, we had the best seats in the house. While we were waiting for the singers to come on, I turned around in my seat and the whole auditorium was full. There was not an empty seat to be found.

   As the music started, everyone's attention was focused on the stage. At that moment I could tell my mother was very elated. The large curtain started to open; you could feel the crowd's excitement. Quartets from all over the United States had come to sing. The students from the Stamps Music School would open the show until the broadcasting went on the air.

   Suddenly, the emcee comes out, announcing, "We are broadcasting live on air from the Sport Auditorium in Dallas, Texas, for the All Night Singing." Everyone was whistling and cheering, even me. The emcee gets back on the microphone and says, "And let's put our hands together and give a warm welcome to the ole man himself, Mr. Stamps and the Stamps Quartet." In walk four men and the piano player all in black suits and white collars. They were all very handsome and distinguished looking. Each singer had a big smile and a wonderful voice. The crowd was up on its feet, everyone clapping as hard as they could.

   So many wonderful songs were sung and the crowd did not want them to stop; but, suddenly they did. The tenor started talking about the people they had once sang with and said, "We see someone we know out in the audience, and I bet if we give her a round of applause we could get her up here!" The crowd got silent, everyone looking around to see if they could find that person. Then, all of a sudden, the tenor said, "Grace, would you come up here and sing with us?"

   "Oh my gosh!" I thought, "That's my mom!"

   The crowd clapped and cheered her on. My mother did not expect this, nor did I.

   My mind was wondering... how did those men know my mom? Now, as I think back, I was afraid of my mom leaving me in the seats alone. I requested, "Mom, don't leave me." But the lady sitting next to us said, "I'll watch your daughter; she'll be ok, now you get up there and sing."

   Watching my mother walk on stage, she looked so pretty. That night it made me realize how humble my mother was. She never told anyone she could sing like that. I was so proud of her, and very surprised. As she approached the microphone, they introduced her. "This is Grace from Ardmore, Okla., and she has been singing as a student with the Stamps Music School for several years."

   Then the piano player started up. The first song they sang was, "I'm winging my way back home." Then they sang, "Jesus hold my hand," in which she sang the alto part. Her voice was beauti­fully complimented by the quartet. Mom had a great big smile and you could tell she was really enjoying herself. The way she performed that night was like she had done it all her life. After two songs she came back to sit with me. Many people in the crowd shook her hand and said, "We enjoyed your singing."

   As we were leaving I had so many questions to ask my mom. Talking to her, I asked, "How did you get started." Mom's reply was, "I started singing at Stamps Music School several years ago." She said her teachers were Vidat Polk for reading music and Bill Stamps for voice. She had classes everyday from 9 a.m. to noon and then after lunch from 1 to 3 p.m. Mom was living with our cousin, Ella, at the time, which made it more convenient to make it to her classes. She told me how she would take a street bus that only cost a nickel to ride. The Stamps Music School started many years ago in Dallas on Oak Cliff Street. Many of the great quartets started there.

   What an awesome surprise, I thought, now I know my mom's wonderful secret.

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           Contributed photo
This article and others came from the Choctaw Nation Biskinik. To see more history please refer to the following sites.
Sounds of Choctaw - Social Greeting
Sounds of Choctaw - Weather
Lesson of the Day