Cumberland Times-News

August 24, 2013

At times, you want to stay in the jungle

Maude McDaniel, Columnist
Cumberland Times-News

— And while I’m drumming away in 2013, here’s a column from 2010:

Funny how the memory works. The other day I was putzing around watching a kind neighbor snowblow my driveway. (Thank you, Steve). In the very midst of the storm, while I was checking the progress of a 2-yard icicle hanging from my roof (gorgeous!), these words gradually filtered into my consciousness:

Bingo, bango, bongo,

I don’t wanna leave the Congo,

Oh no no no no no.

Bingo, bangle, bungle,

I’m so happy in the jungle,

I refuse to go.

This might not impress you as deathless poetry. Indeed, in the sad world we live in, some might snicker coarsely at the words. In the 40s, however, it was just for fun. Furthermore, it originally came complete, I might add, with a very catchy tune, which I will happily sing for you on request.

Anybody recognize it? I haven’t thought of it myself for years, over 60, I think. I didn’t really remember when it was popular, so I looked it up on the Internet. (This proves that computers are good for something besides the imminent destruction of the world as we know it. )

I found out that it was written by Hilliard and Syme, and sung, to great public appreciation, by the Andrews Sisters, and also Danny Kaye, in 1947.

Yes, now I remember. It was all over the radio in those days, although that was the year I went off to college, and barely listened to the radio for the next four years. Honest! I was too busy! Anyway, I haven’t heard it since, and I still have no idea why it suddenly popped into my head last week. Unfortunately, it’s just the kind of thing to stick in your brain, hidden away under more recent additions. (Obviously, there was nothing else going on in there to keep it out.)

And, as usual in such cases, now I can’t get rid of it.

This may be an example of the brain’s ability to make real connections on its own that one would never consciously think of. All by itself, my brain decided that “Bingo, Bango, Bongo” applies to life in the 2000s even more than in the 1940s. That’s because it’s a tribute to the simple life, and a definite shot at modern civilization.

I’m implying a state of mind here, not culture, or race, or anything like that. “The jungle” stands for getting away from it all. As I see it, going camping is “the jungle.” Turning off the TV is “the jungle.” Reading a book in the bathtub for two hours is “the jungle.”

It is a lovely place.

I refuse to leave it.

Hey, at my age, even thinking about the 1940s is “the jungle,” because it’s about as far away from the 2000s as you can get. Want to know what else popped into my mind when I thought of the ‘40s? Hats, that’s what!

Those were close to the days when women were expected to wear hats when they went out of the house, although, by my time, it was mostly only to church. There, they were still important, for some reason. Now, of course, I’m not talking the knitted-caps-for-winter-kind-of-hats, but the fancy-dressy-frilly-kind-of-church-hats we all wore then. It wasn’t that I enjoyed wearing them so much; what I enjoyed was buying them. I still have several from those days — including a lovely big navy-blue-straw picture hat, for instance, that made a big hit one Easter. And a summer hat with a veil that simply arched over the head like a half-halo, only close to the hair.

But the bizarre one, now that I look back at it, was the simple veil, with no hat involved at all. It was about four inches wide and you just wore it over your eyes and tied it at the back of your head, looking a lot like Ms. Raccoon. (With glasses on yet!) Still, in college, we thought this was very stylish, sort of implying a hat without having to fuss with the inconvenience of actually wearing one. And it was great for summer — your hair didn’t wilt under it.

Of course, in those days, you not only wore hats when you went to church. You wore stockings, separate ones, mind you, not joined as pantyhose. Then of course, you had to wear a girdle with garters on it to hold them up. I should mention that I hated girdles, and the first time I cast mine off and went forth boldly without it, it was like Star Trek, a whole new world of freedom. It was exhilarating!

Now, they’re trying to do it again! They’re calling them shapers, skimmers, slimmers, but, be warned, my female reader, they’re trying to bring back girdles! Resist the temptation! Don’t let them turn you into a pasty-skinned lump of dough, like so many generations of women in the past!!

Bingo, bangle, bungle,

I don’t want to leave the jungle,

Oh, no no no no no.

Maude McDaniel is a Cumberland freelance writer. Her column appears in the Times-News on alternate Sundays.