We are losing an art and that’s the art of whistling.
People used to whistle and they practiced whistling. Two of the best whistlers I ever knew were my daddy and Wilson Patterson. When Daddy was puttering around the house, chances were he was whistling. Anytime we were working with the Boy Scouts or
in the mill, Mr. Patterson was always whistling. I remember when the song “Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White” came out and without Mr. Patterson knowing it, I would listen to him whistle this song.
Elmo Tanner put out the record “Heartaches” and he whistles the song. It became a very big hit.
As we were growing up, girls and boys at one time or another tried to learn how to whistle. They would pucker their lips, work and work trying to get a whistling noise to come out It was a big day when that first whistle came out.
One of my big wants in this world was to be able to stick two fingers in my mouth, push my tongue back just right and let out a whistle loud enough a taxi would stop or to be at a ballgame and put those two fingers in my mouth and call for a drink or popcorn. I got pretty good but not great and it was never as good as some others whistling came so easy to.
One man told me as he grew up, he had some teeth missing and he could whistle really well. Later in life he had to have dentures and when we talked he told me that he couldn’t whistle anymore. Something about the dentures took his ability to whistle away.
One of the songs people like to whistle is “Dixie.” I guess more people have whistled “Dixie” than any other song. As a matter of fact, one of the more famous sayings is “you ain’t whistling ‘Dixie.’” “Moon River” is another song. “Whistle While You Work” from the Disney movie “Snow White,” “White Christmas,” a Bing Cosby song, “The Fishing Hole” (the theme song to the “Andy Griffith Show”), and last, “Dock of the Bay,” an Otis Redding song.
When I was a boy, just about all the boys tried to blow their fist. This gives a low, echoing-type sound and it was every boy’s dream to be able to blow their fist.
I just don’t see these things happening anymore. I looked up whistling on the computer kand they had drawn diagrams of how to place your fingers to get a shrill whistle. I was more confused reading it than I was before I started. I think the best thing to do is practice until you get it right.
You very seldom ever see a western movie with Indians in it in which they don’t signal one another by using whistling sounds like birds and other animals. They used to listen and mimic the sounds they heard around them.
One of my favorite birds is the purple martin. They don’t have a whistling sound. There’s more a chirping, fussing sound but I look forward to getting up in the morning to the sound of those purple martins in the pasture, working on their gourd nest and fussing. If you ever hear a man whistling, chances are he is happy. My daddy, as I told you at the first of the article, would putter around fixing lures and jigs, thinking about his next fishing trip and he would be whistling the song “Crazy,” made famous by Patsy Cline.
Why don’t you whistle a tune? I think you will enjoy it.
Every boy needs to know how to give a wolf whistle when a pretty girl walks by. Start working on it today.
Ronald Brantley is a Tallassee native and longtime columnist for The Tribune.