According to a bio I’m reading, Jerry Lee Lewis was a hot commodity, a musical star on the rise, on pace to supplant the Rock and Roll king, Elvis Presley, when at 23 he married his 13-year-old cousin and his flame burned down to ashes. Elvis, the bio said, had been drafted into the army, and Lewis was tagged as the white singer to fill the space.
Before I go on, I’m no fan of the guy’s music. I looked at a list of his best songs and I don’t know one of them. I’m not saying that to hurt the gentleman’s feelings. I happen to not know one Rihanna song either, and I’ve heard that she is the hottest musical artist today. Wait, I just Googled Rihanna to see if there’s anything there, and actually there is one song of hers that I’ve heard, a song called “Umbrella”. I don’t see anything special in “Umbrella”. I remember that one of the girls in the Channel Five karaoke contest sang it, and though she did a good job, no one caught me humming about any ‘brella the next day.
At the time Jerry Lewis took a lee gyal for a bride, it couldn’t have been much of a story in the USA, because Elvis was dating a 14-year-old, the famous Priscilla, who would later become his wife. Well, I’m not going to throw stones at love, but yes, if that Jerry Lee guy and Elvis had come to Belize in this modern time they would have both been jailed.
Ahem, this Priscilla I mentioned, she is the mother of Lisa Marie Presley, who married Michael Jackson. I’ve drifted into the topic of Mr. Michael Jackson…look, America for the Americans. I think Jackson’s music is okay, but what fits into this piece is that he had the habit of walking around town with a big silk handkerchief over his face. The reports are that Jackson was afraid of catching germs from sneezy people — wait, I apologize for saying his music is just okay; I shouldn’t be hard on a fellow because he doesn’t sing bruk down, punta, reggae, or calypso.
At the time Lewis was dating his young cousin, the girl, Myra Gale Brown, 13, was indeed a little too young for sex in America. We are British, yes we are (either they’re like us, or we’re like them): you don’t live in a village; thirteen is way too young to get married in our culture. The story goes in this bio, which can be found at the website allthatsinteresting.com, that Lewis went on tour in England, and he was advised to leave his child-bride at home, but he didn’t go along with that.
He spread it to the press in England that his bride was 15, but he forgot to tell her his fib, and when they interviewed her — the fair sex doesn’t lie — she told the truth, and down went Jerry Lee Lewis’s music career. The honorable British press called him a “cradle robber” and a “baby snatcher,” and the decent British public hounded him out of town. For marrying a lee gyal, mostly, the man’s career fizzled; he no longer commanded top price for his musical shows. But shed no tears for his musical career, because this story is not about him, or Mr. MJ, or Mr., Mrs. or Miss Presley: it’s about Mrs. Myra Gale Brown Lewis.
Mrs. Lewis had two children (one who died in childhood) with Jerry Lee before they had an amicable break-up, a divorce in 1970.
Speaking on her marriage after the divorce, Myra said she had “felt ready for marriage.” She said: “My generation was taught to hide under our desk when the bomb came, so you always had in the back of your mind that any minute, any day, life could come to an end…. What I wanted was a baby in my arms, a home, a husband, a kitchen to cook in, a yard to raise roses. My little brother was born because I begged my parents for a baby at ten years old.”
I find Jerry Lee Lewis’s woman’s comments too important to ignore. There are a number of stories there, and one of them is how what goes on in our world affects the young ones without us noticing, unless they start exhibiting strange behaviors. I don’t recall ever ducking under desks for fear of bombs, but it is for sure that Belizean (British Honduran) children who lived during WWI and WWII knew real fear, and it must have greatly affected their lives.
There were scary things in my world when I was growing up, but nothing that could scar me and my generation like the horrible violence that has stricken our once peaceful nation. We are sometimes surprised about the decisions young people make, but if we knew about the things that impact(ed) their lives we mightn’t be.
I expect that most of the young men who live in Belize City don’t believe they’ll reach the three score and ten, and most of the young women who live in Belize City expect that they won’t be spending the rest of their lives with the man with whom they are presently living.
These days of COVID-19, how are they affecting the minds of our children? If ducking under desks was part of the training in Myra’s life, even though there is only one instance when they were bombed in WWII, what was life like for the children in Great Britain, a country that took a pounding, sometimes nightly, when the Nazis were making their big push to conquer them?
Belizean octogenarians and nonagenarians lived through a cholera epidemic, and they experienced a number of horrific hurricanes. It is for sure that those experiences helped form their outlook on life.
We adults, we’re all fearful, but maybe we should make sure to talk with our young people at this time, so that they don’t forget that there is a good chance that they will get that three score and ten blessing¯so that they plan for the long haul¯so that they make sober decisions¯so that our barely-turned-teen daughters don’t run off with baby snatchers.
Dr. Ron Hyde posts on fb about COVID-19
“Being infected with COVID-19 is a misfortune but no SHAME. For goodness sakes, ANYONE can be unlucky. But CONTROL requires complete transparency and vigilance. That is why all the famous people (in the USA) are openly sharing their diagnosis.”
That bit is a response to my post on fb that our authorities are worried about the stigma surrounding COVID-19, but it isn’t practical in the fight against this disease. I also applauded American heroes who are making their diagnosis known. I think some people in authority are thinking about the stigma attached to the coronavirus, and for that reason they have chosen to conceal the identities of the three cases we have, but another concern they have is the safety of persons who are infected. I don’t see why providing the necessary protection would be difficult. For goodness’ sake, such security is ABC to arrange.
It is wise for us to act, live, as though we are infected with the virus. The implications are serious if the health personnel who do the mapping aren’t 100% accurate. People do have memory lapses. The safety net would be wider and it would have less holes if we were transparent.
Correction: Mime Martinez sang “Piti-Pat”
In my column on Tuesday I credited Mohobub Flores with singing the song about the infernal love Belizean women have for piti-pat, but I am told that it is Mime Martinez who sang it. Both are tremendous artists whom we will be looking to for inspiration to get us through these difficult times, and guidance as we remake ourselves so that we can survive and thrive. But that one belongs to the great Mime.