Sean of the South: ‘Tis of Thee


Sean Dietrich 150x150By Sean Dietrich

“Dear Sean, how can we save this country?” the email began.

The writer lives in Hartford, Connecticut. His name is Michael. I have no idea why Michael thinks a hayseed like me is qualified to answer this loaded question. I’m not a smart guy.

Blondes tell jokes about me.

Still, I have an idea.

The way to save this country is to eat together. We don’t eat together anymore. We don’t eat supper at the same table. When did that stop?

A recent study found that only 29 percent of Americans sit to eat supper with family each day. Fifty years ago, the statistic was nearly 99 percent.

On average about 50 percent of millennials admit to cooking their own suppers. Whereas the number was around 80 percent with baby boomers.

Something else. We need to put the Wurlitzer organ back in Major League Baseball.

I don’t know if you’re aware, but baseball has undergone many changes since we were kids. Even the rules have changed. There is a pitch clock. No more cigar smoke.

But the biggest disappointment was losing the organ. I attended a game recently and all I heard was Lady Gaga blasting overhead.

This is an affront.

In 1941, organist Ray Nelson debuted at Wrigley Field. It was the first time organ music was heard in baseball. He played before 18,678 Cubs fans. He played “When the Midnight Choo-Choo Leaves for T-U-L-S-A.”

A half century ago, each American ballpark had an organist. Today, there are only seven.

Another way to save this country is to bring back piano lessons. Five decades ago, 81 percent of American kids took piano lessons. Do you know what the percentage is now? Eight percent.

That’s not enough Americans to form a Rotary Club.

I took piano lessons. My teacher was Miss Betty, who smelled like bath powder and Icy Hot.

She said if I played “Savior Like a Shepherd Lead Thee” without mistakes, she would give me fudge. I gained nine pounds.

We need dinner on the grounds. Once upon a time, rural churches had outdoor dinners on the lawn. Often around Decoration Day. We did.

Our whole congregation would gather on the grass, eat copious amounts of sugar and cholesterol. Whereupon we would all sing “Bringing in the Sheaves” while receiving insulin injections from our neighbors.

This country needs Lawrence Welk, Roy Clark, and Buck Owens. We need Thomas and Richard Smothers. Bing Crosby. Nat Cole. Satchmo.

Our music sucks. We once had hit tunes like “Georgia,” “String of Pearls,” and “Hey Good Lookin’.” Now we have—these are actual song hit titles—“Me & Ur Ghost,” “Knockin’ the Boots,” and “ABCDEFU.”

More Andy Taylor; less Taylor Swift bashing. More Ray Charles, less Justin Bieber. More Clark Kent, less Beavis and Butthead.

More rope swings on muddy creeks. More young men opening doors for females. More Norman Rockwell. More John Wayne. More Fred McFeely Rogers.

No, I don’t know how to save this country. I don’t know much about anything

But I know family dinners ain’t a bad place to start.