Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC — VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.
This is Doug Johnson. On our program today we:
play some songs by Waylon Jennings ...
answer a question about five-and-dime stores ...
and report about something called a palindrome.
Do you know what a “palindrome” is? The word comes from the Greek word, “palindromos,” which means “running back again.” A palindrome is any word, sentence, poem or number which reads the same backwards as it does forwards. Sarah Long tells us more.
One of the best known palindromes in the English language is the sentence, “Madam, I’m Adam.” If you write it on a piece of paper, it reads the same from the end to the beginning as from the beginning to the end.
The country and western singing group “Riders In The Sky” recorded a song about a man who speaks only in palindromes. Let’s listen to some of it:
((CUT 1: "THE BALLAD OF PALINDROME"))
This palindrome was written one-hundred years ago to honor American President Theodore Roosevelt: “A man, a plan, a canal: Panama!” Here is another palindrome: “Rise to vote, sir.”
There are other simple palindromes. For example, the name of a popular Swedish rock and roll group was ABBA, spelled A-B-B-A. Some names are palindromes. For example, Ava, spelled A-V-A and Hannah, spelled H-A-N-N-A-H.
This year, Two-Thousand-Two, is a palindromic year. The experts say that a palindromic year usually happens only about every one-hundred-ten years. However, the last one happened in Nineteen-Ninety-One. Experts also noted a historic moment in palindromic time that took place recently, at two minutes after eight o’clock at night on February twentieth. That is when time on a twenty-four hour clock read as a palindrome. The time was twenty hours two minutes, on the twentieth day of the second month, in the year Two-Thousand-Two. So it was written Two-Oh-Oh-Two, Two-Oh-Oh-Two, Two-Oh-Oh-Two.
Five and Dimes
Our V-O-A listener question this week comes from Russia. Alexey Mozgovenko wants to know about five-and-ten-cent stores, also called five-and-dime stores or dime stores.
A dime is an American coin worth ten cents. The idea for five-and-dime stores came from Frank Winfield Woolworth. He was born in Rodman, New York in Eighteen-Fifty-Two. He worked at the local village store as a young man. Later, he accepted a position with a business in Watertown, New York. It was there that Mister Woolworth proposed his idea.
He suggested that the company cut the price of goods it had trouble selling. Mister Woolworth proposed selling those goods for just five cents. Company officials agreed to try his idea. It was a huge success. The campaign was so successful that it was expanded to include new goods.
In Eighteen-Seventy-Nine, Woolworth opened the first five-and-ten-cent stores in Utica, New York and Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The company quickly expanded. Six groups of stores resulted from the five-cent experiment. They were united in Nineteen-Twelve to form the F.W. Woolworth Company.
Mister Woolworth became a rich man. In Nineteen-Thirteen, he built the Woolworth building in New York City. At the time, it was the tallest building in the world. Frank Woolworth died in Nineteen-Nineteen. At the time of his death, his company operated more than one-thousand stores.
Most American towns in the twentieth century had a Woolworth’s store. The stores offered low cost clothing and products for the home. Many also offered hot meals.
As recently as forty years ago, the United States had thousands of these five-and- dime stores. Other businesses attempted to copy Mister Woolworth’s idea. They had names like Ben Franklin, Grants, Kresge’s and G.C. Murphy’s.
However, few have survived today. Experts say the dime stores were unable to react to changes in the American economy. Larger stores began to offer the same products and more choices at lower prices.
Five years ago, the Woolworth Company closed all its general product stores in the United States. It had become clear that the stores could no longer compete with larger companies. Yet many Americans still have happy memories of shopping at the local five-and-dime.
Country music singer Waylon Jennings died last month. He had recorded more than sixty record albums and had sixteen country music hit songs. Shep O’Neal has more.
Waylon Jennings was known in the music business for refusing to take orders from country music officials. He played a kind of country music that was a mix of western, blues and rock and roll. He once said the three kinds of music were almost the same.
Waylon Jennings was born in the state of Texas in Nineteen-Thirty-Seven. He worked in small bands and on radio programs as a child. He later played in the band of one of the most famous of the early rock and roll musicians, Buddy Holly.
Waylon Jennings often recorded with friends like Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson. He and Willie Nelson won a Grammy Award in Nineteen-Seventy-Eight for this song, “Mammas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys.”
((CUT ONE: "MAMMAS, DON’T LET YOUR BABIES GROW UP TO BE COWBOYS"))
Many Americans remember Waylon Jennings best for singing the song from a hit television program in the Nineteen-Eighties. His record of that song sold more than one-million copies. It is called “The Dukes of Hazzard.”
((CUT TWO: "DUKES OF HAZZARD" THEME))
Waylon Jennings became a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame last October. We leave you now with one of the songs responsible for that honor, his biggest hit, ”Luckenbach, (LUKE-en-bock) Texas.”
((CUT THREE: “LUCKENBACH, TEXAS"))
This is Doug Johnson . I hope you enjoyed our program today. And I hope you will join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC — VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.
This AMERICAN MOSAIC program was written by George Grow, Nancy Steinbach and Paul Thompson. Our studio engineer was Tom Verba. And our producer was Paul Thompson.