Maybe you’ve heard that ukuleles are coming back into vogue. I’m thinking of getting one. I used to play one.

My first real job, one that paid me money, was teaching swimming at Sherman Municipal Pool. It wasn’t enormously rewarding, monetarily, but it was a fairly easy buck.

Easy mostly because it rained almost every day that summer. And with the rain came lightning. And when the lightning appeared, we closed the pool.

I got the job after years of swimming and swimming lessons, which began when I was 6 or 7 years old and culminated with a water safety instructor class, which I completed at camp at Lake Murray in Oklahoma.

There we spent all day, every day out in the sun, in the water or on cute little boats. We spent every evening square dancing. It was an adventure.

When I got off the bus from camp, my mother didn’t recognize me.

So I got the summer job, and along with it, the friendship of two brothers who were lifeguards, and good musicians.

One played the guitar. The other was talented on a mandolin. That’s got a sound I love. You hear them best, along with banjos, when you listen to bluegrass music.

So, I got music for my ukulele, which was pretty nice, but not a really expensive model. At least it was not plastic, as many were.

The main reason for the popularity of the uke at that time was the popularity of Arthur Godfrey, who played a ukulele and sang semi-Hawaiian songs on the radio and, later, on television.

He had an equally popular Hawaiian singer named Haleloke (I had to look that one up).

Included in the cast were the McGuire sisters and Julius LaRosa, famous for being fired during a performance of the show.

Godfrey had everybody and his brother playing the ukulele, and the stores were full of them.

Down at the municipal pool, I brought the song book of ukulele music that had pictures of where your fingers went for all the chords.

Tuning the thing was a piece of cake. You sang “My Dog Has Fleas.” If you have ever played a uke, you know just how to do that.

If you could play a combination of three chords, you could sing any song you could think of.

I’m surely tempted to order one off the internet. My problem would be, isolated from the virus, I’d have nobody to join my little string band.

Guess I’ll have to give up that plan.

Cathy Gillentine is a Daily News columnist. She may be reached at


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(2) comments

John Campbell

Galveston Ukulele Society. Robert Krout is our esteemed leader. You would be a great member.

Bailey Jones

Plenty of people online to play with. Get your uke, download a youtube video and play along.

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