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Buttermilk skies bring harmony to Election Day


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Monday evening, I rolled over in the darkness and whispered to my husband, “I’m a little anxious about the election results, are you?”

“Yes,” he answered, “but we voted, and it’s out of our hands now.” (Which, I think could also be translated as: “Goodnight woman, I’m exhausted and have to get up at 5 to run my business.”)

Earlier that day, after finishing a work project, I dropped off some Hoagy Carmichael lyrics that my dad had requested. A woman at one of his Greenwood senior-living facility gigs, where he plays music and sings, had requested Carmichael’s “Ole Buttermilk Sky.”

He knew most of the lyrics but wanted to get them all correct so he could play her favorite song. “Buttermilk Sky,” highlighted in the 1946 film “Canyon Passage,” was nominated for an Academy Award for best original song. And I know you are all curious to know what Carmichael meant by his song “Buttermilk Sky” — it refers to a sky covered with rows of small, fleecy, cirrocumulus or altocumulus clouds. Or fluffs of curdled, cultured milk.

A buttermilk sky is often an indicator of atmospheric moisture and instability and can foreshadow thunderstorm development — but doesn’t always mean that rain or a storm is inherent. Sometimes high clouds or a buttermilk sky is present after a storm has gone by.

Anyway, I’ve always enjoyed Carmichael’s music. His songs are upbeat, positive and encouraging. But I never knew that he wrote many of the songs I heard. I grew up listening to my dad play Carmichael’s 1930 “Lazy River,” but he sang it more in the Mills Brothers style (mid-1930s and beyond).

On Election Day on Tuesday, I avoided the radio and television while I finished more work projects. But early in the morning while talking briefly to my dad, I asked him what he does when he’s anxious: “I work more, go for a walk or listen to music, sometimes old tapes of my own music.”

By noon on Election Day, my daughter Aly, who was voting on her way to IUPUI and her college internship, called. I could only hear her say, “Mom, you stole my vote.”

“What?” thinking it was some humorous joke.

She explained that when I had voted last week, I had somehow not taken proper care to make sure that I signed in where my name went and not hers ... blah, blah, blah.

Aly explained to the nice poll workers that we have the same address, last name, even look a lot alike. Somehow they straightened it out quickly and correctly, and she got to vote.

But after explaining to me on the phone what happened, she then asked, “What’s that music in the background. It sounds like Grandpa Frank?”

“What?” I responded. “I can’t hear you; I’m jamming to the Mills Brothers!”

Janet Hommel Mangas, the third of seven children, grew up on the east side of Greenwood. The Center Grove area resident and her husband are the parents of three daughters. Send comments to letters@dailyjournal.net.

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