Sheet music of the week: It’s STILL Cherry Blossom Time Edition

"Cherry blossom time in Washington." Lyric and music by Irma Von Lackey. Washington, D.C.: Irma Von Lackey, 1926.

The following is a guest post by Sharon McKinley, Senior Music Cataloger.

The blossoms themselves have been gone for weeks already; it was one of the earliest seasons ever. But the Centennial of the National Cherry Blossom Festival is still going strong, all the way through April 27, and we thought we’d help keep the festivities vibrant by sharing this wonderful little song published right here in the neighborhood.

“Cherry blossom time in Washington” was penned by Irma von Lackey and submitted for copyright in 1926. The song is a cute little self-published ditty in a typical late 20s style. Note the lovely cover picture of the Tidal Basin ringed with gloriously blooming trees, with the Washington Monument piercing the sky for extra effect.

We have plenty of cherry blossom works in our collections, from various time periods and in a variety of styles. A few of the musical examples make fun of the Japanese or are sung in offensive dialect, but most are unabashed love songs. How could the girl of your dreams not react to the invocation of fragrant blossoms in romantic settings?! You can check out cherry-themed music, sound recordings, visual materials and much more right here on our site; see the resource list below.

For me, this post turned into more than just a quest for cherry blossom songs. I enjoy finding anecdotal information about obscure composers, and Irma von Lackey led me on a merry chase (this was MUCH more important than having lunch!). According to the copyright registrations for two items she published, she lived variously in Washington DC and Arlington, VA. And that’s all we know about her. I spent that lunchtime tracking her down via the US Census. The just-released Census of 1940 was key in identifying her residence with her sister and brother-in-law. She’d moved from a boarding house filled with single female US Government employees in the 1920 census, to a more diverse residential hotel in the 1930 census…to live with family by 1940. Keep going back, and you get to her father, a composer and music teacher in Ohio. Which might explain in part why she was writing music in Washington in 1926. Somewhere out there is the Allen family, who may or may not remember Aunt Irma Lackey from the 1940s and beyond. In the meantime, she’s left us with a song to enjoy.

Library of Congress resources:

Shows from the  database,  It’s Showtime! Sheet Music from Stage and Screen!

Individual songs:

More:

Digitized items:

And from the National Jukebox:


 

6 Comments

  1. Marie from Connecticut
    April 18, 2012 at 11:55 pm

    Happy Cherry Blossom Festival! I love the additional links, and I hope the Allen family does remember their Aunt Irma.

  2. Katherine
    April 19, 2012 at 7:09 am

    Great post Sharon, thanks! Perhaps Berryman was aware of the song with the same title as this editorial cartoon…
    //www.loc.gov/pictures/item/acd1996001050/PP/

  3. kiyohisa Tanada
    April 19, 2012 at 7:44 am

    I thought, only a Japanese “loved the cherry tree in particular”.
    I feel, the American “loves cherry trees” when I watch this blog.

  4. kari
    May 3, 2012 at 10:37 am

    Charming and delightful! Thank you Aunt Irma and Sharon.:)

  5. Judy Allen Shelly
    November 6, 2015 at 2:48 pm

    Yes! I do remember our Great Aunt Irma, my father’s aunt. She was a character, so her visits were a lot of fun. She remained single until her 50’s, when she married Eddie Carmody and moved to West Palm Beach, Florida. Her other composition was “I Heard a Redbird Singing.” Somewhere in my stuff I have copies of both. The “von” in her name was self-chosen to sound sophisticated. My grandmother was her sister, Collis Lackey Allen, who was a church musician in Ohio and Virginia. She also had another sister, Dorothy Lackey Gammack and a brother, Mozart Otto Lackey of Hampton, VA. I did not know that my great grand father, Bamsel Lackey, was a musician. Do you have any more information about him?

  6. Judy Allen Shelly
    November 6, 2015 at 3:08 pm

    Oops! Bamsel Lackey was Irma’s grandfather. Her father was Charles Atkinson Lackey.

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