Share This Episode
Our American Stories Lee Habeeb Logo

EP251: Growing Up Rural: A Tale About Stinky Boots, The Bigger the Bureaucracy, the Smaller the Customer and The Tone Deaf, Bad Poet Who Wrote The National Anthem

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
April 6, 2022 3:05 am

EP251: Growing Up Rural: A Tale About Stinky Boots, The Bigger the Bureaucracy, the Smaller the Customer and The Tone Deaf, Bad Poet Who Wrote The National Anthem

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

On-Demand Podcasts NEW!

This broadcaster has 1361 podcast archives available on-demand.

Broadcaster's Links

Keep up-to-date with this broadcaster on social media and their website.

April 6, 2022 3:05 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, Scott Jones, author of Growing Up Rural: Lessons Learned For a Lifetime, tells the story of the time he stunk up his classroom with hog manure covered boots...and how a gracious teacher really helped him out. Mike Leven shares his story as past President and Chief Operating Officer of Las Vegas Sands Corp. One of the great hoteliers of all time—a legend in his business. Marc Leepson, author of What So Proudly We Hailed: Francis Scott Key, A Life, brings us the story of Francis “Frank” Scott Key and how he came to write the National Anthem of the United States of America.

Support the show (

Time Codes:

00:00 - Growing Up Rural: A Tale About Stinky Boots

10:00 - The Bigger the Bureaucracy, the Smaller the Customer 

23:00 - The Tone Deaf, Bad Poet Who Wrote The National Anthem

Learn more about your ad-choices at

See for privacy information.


I'm always upgrading my car.

Not because I need to, because I want to. Today it's custom rims for my ride. Tomorrow, it might be a new driver's side seat cushion. And always has what I need.

They've got over 122 million car parts, all at the right price. That's perfect for me, because I'm a car guy. Are you still in the garage?

It's two in the morning. Almost done. Okay, I'm a car fanatic. eBay Motors. Let's ride. What up?

It's Dramos. You may know me from the recap on LATV. Now I've got my own podcast, Life as a Gringo, coming to you every Tuesday and Thursday. We'll be talking real and unapologetic about all things life, Latin culture, and everything in between from someone who's never quite fit in. Listen to Life as a Gringo on the iHeartRadio app or wherever you get your podcasts. Brought to you by State Farm.

Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there. Dramatic Pause. A Dramatic Pause says something without saying anything at all. Dramatic Pause is a go-to for podcasters, presidents, and radio voiceovers.

It makes you look really smart, even if you're not. Feet deserve a go-to like that. Like Heydoo shoes. Light. Comfy.

Good to go to. This is Lee Habib and this is Our American Stories, the show where America is the star and the American people. Up next, a story from Scott Jones. God is a pastor and the author of Growing Up Rural, Lessons Learned for a Lifetime. Today he shares with us a story about a childhood experience from that book entitled Thinky Boots.

Take it away, Scott. Transitioning from fourth to fifth grade for me was very difficult. Our school in Ziering, Iowa, consolidated with the neighboring town of McCallsburg and became known as Nesco or Northeast Story County. Since we lived out in the country, a school bus would pick us up early in the morning and we would be on the bus 30 to 45 minutes, stopping at other houses along the way to pick up other kids. We would be let out at the Ziering school building and then get on to another bus that would take us to McCallsburg, which was 10 minutes away after school.

We would go through the same procedure to arrive home. There were new kids in the class from McCallsburg whom I had never met. And our fifth grade teacher, she seemed to be very strict and uptight, which was much different than my fourth grade teacher. And to top it off, we had to learn something they called new math. And I got my very first failing grade the first nine weeks. Now, that did not sit well with my parents.

So mom and dad tried working with me on this new math and I limped along for the entire year. Now, sometimes in the morning before the school bus arrived to pick me up, I had to do chores. I had to feed the hogs as we did not have automatic feeders. The hog lot was a mixture of dirt, mud and hog manure. And depending on the time of the year, if it was dry or rainy, that would dictate the ground underneath my feet to feed those hogs. At any rate, I usually wore my buckle up rubber boots to keep my shoes clean. Now, this particular morning, I was running a little bit late in feeding the hogs before the bus came.

It was early winter and snow was on the ground, but the hog lot had not frozen over. So it was still quite soft and gooey, thus sticking to my boots. Upon finishing up, I ran to the house to get my school supplies and catch the bus as I saw it coming down the road. In my hurriedness, I did not clean off my boots.

I thought, it'll be all right. I will clean them off at recess in the snow. So upon arriving at school, I went directly to my classroom. Our classroom had a type of walk in closet behind the teacher's desk where we would hang our coats and put our boots.

Also, our school was heated by those big metal water heater radiators. There were a couple in the classroom and a smaller one in the coat closet. As class began, everything was going fine until about halfway through the morning. All of a sudden, our teacher lifted her head and turned as though something was annoying her. She started into teaching again and stopped a second time, looking back toward the closet. She placed her teaching material down and got up and went back into the closet.

It seemed like she was in there a long time. She finally appeared with a pair of boots in her hand. Something brown and ugly was dripping off those black boots and the smell, well, it was horrendous and permeating the classroom. She was not happy. She asked, whose boots are these?

No one answered. I shrunk down in my seat at my desk. She asked a second time, whose boots are these? My classmates all started to look over at me as I sheepishly raised my hand and confessed my crime of bringing stinky hog lot manure covered boots to school, only to bring a new type of unacceptable perfume to our fifth grade classroom.

I thought, oh boy, now what? Well, she was very gracious to me as I was sure she saw my worrisome expression and even a hint of shame before my classmates. She stated to everyone in the class and didn't just pinpoint me.

Please, for those of you who live and work on the farm, clean your boots off at home before coming to school. She then asked me if I would please take my boots and place them outside the door of the school building and leave them there until it was time to go home. But what took the edge off the incident was the way she looked at me as she handed me the boots. It was as if her expression toward me was Scott, it's OK and I understand that gave me the courage to come back to class unashamed.

And no one ever said anything to me about those boots. Maybe the fact that she knew my parents pretty well as my mom also was an elementary teacher, played a part in her response. Whatever the case, I had a newfound respect for her and she became one of my favorite teachers. Well, through this incident, I learned a number of life lessons. The old saying is true, as in this case, never judge a book by its cover. When I said that my teacher always seemed uptight about something, that was because her husband was very sick and she was the breadwinner as well as her husband's caregiver.

She had a lot on her plate. I also learned not to shame people when they make mistakes, especially in front of their peers. This can be devastating, especially in those formative years. My fifth grade teacher was not only wise, but she was sensitive to 11 to 12 year old kids as she had been teaching for many years. I also learned the lesson, clean your boots off before going to school. And a terrific job on the production by Monty Montgomery and a special thanks to Scott Jones for his story, Stinky Boots.

And by the way, he learned a lot about his teacher, that she was a wise, sensitive person who was herself going through a lot of things. Stinky Boots by Scott Jones here on Our American Stories. Folks, if you love the great American stories we tell and love America like we do, we're asking you to become a part of the Our American Stories family. If you agree that America is a good and great country, please make a donation.

A monthly gift of seventeen dollars and seventy six cents is fast becoming a favorite option for supporters. Go to our American stories dot com now and go to the donate button and help us keep the great American stories coming. That's our American stories dot com.

And we continue with our American stories. And up next, Mike Levin, who was the president and chief operating officer of Las Vegas Sands and an all around hotel superstar, one of the great hoteliers of all time, more important, a personal friend and a wise man. And wisdom, my goodness, in short supply these days. And he transfers his wisdom through story. A Jewish guy who loves storytelling like almost nobody else.

Take it away, Mike. What I learned about the franchise business really started at days in and it's really made an amazing impact on me. But you have to understand that my culture of customer orientation was really exacerbated by the franchise business, because what happens in franchising is you put people in business for themselves, but not by themselves. And the interesting thing about it is it multiplies the entrepreneurial spirit of a free, capitalistic type of system.

But because many smaller people, small people in terms of financial capability, don't have the funds to be able to be in business for themselves at a larger scale. What franchising does is allow them to do that because the franchise provides them the ability to finance their growth. So they're playing off the name of the big franchise or while being in business for themselves. So it really fits America perfectly.

Now it's international, but it was basically American. It's basically, if you look at the franchise model in Asia, the franchise model in Europe, it usually was a large company buying somebody's brand. But in America, it was small people, individual people doing it. So you had doctors and accountants and lawyers and small people buying franchises. And even individuals buying subway franchises where they're really making the sub sandwiches themselves. It puts them in for themselves, but not by themselves.

So the whole concept is very American in its nature. But the reality is, when I first got into the franchise business and when I learned from my Americana days in the franchise business, where I wasn't treated very well by the franchisor, that there was a lot of angst, a lot of aggravation going on. And then when I got to days in, what I learned that if you can treat the franchisee as your customer. They would just grow their businesses for you. And so you don't you don't have to use your capital to grow their businesses.

They use their capital and their energy to grow. And you take the money off the top, which has very high margin of profitability for you. Because the incremental nature of an extra franchise doesn't require that much cost.

But you have to be honest and forthright with the money you're taking in for marketing and things like that. So it really was an absolutely perfect situation for me because it met all of my instincts in terms of the customer relationship. And consequently, when I got to days in, I learned that not only could you sell lots of franchises, but the ability to keep your franchisee happily built in enormous growth opportunities for you because they just wanted more. And if you treated them well, if you built relationships with key franchisees, then they they grew your business for you.

You didn't have to grow it. All you had to do was to do it right from the franchisor perspective. And there are many abuses in franchising because franchisors get greedy and they start ordering people. They build bureaucracies and they order franchisees to do things that they can't afford.

They put financial stress on them without thinking about them. And when I finally had my own company, I did a franchise agreement that actually represented those values to its nth degree, where I had clauses like you couldn't do a renovation or add an extra cost without two thirds of a vote of the franchise community. You couldn't do encroachment that I gave them area protections with every franchise I sold.

So you couldn't encroach on their capability. So I built a franchise agreement that everybody agreed was the best in the business from the customer perspective. The end user is the customer of the franchisee. They are your customer, the franchisee. The franchisee is going to help make you successful by being successful themselves. And you have to reciprocate by helping them to be successful.

So Days In opened up my eyes to a whole different world of franchising. What happens when you start a business, you spend a tremendous amount of time making sure your customers are happy. Because if they're not happy, you're out of business.

As the business grows and you build more corporate overhead and more bureaucracies, everybody wants to manage the business. And so they forget sometimes who the customer is. And you who started the business with your first customer, you're very close.

When you have 50 customers, you're very close. When you have 500 customers, you don't know the last 400. Who does know them? Your corporate bureaucrats know them. It's no different than the U.S. government. When the U.S. government was small in 1782 or whatever it was, everybody knew who their congressman was.

Everybody knew who everybody was. Now you've got, you know, 3,000 people in the FDA. You've got, you know, this kind of, they don't know who's their customers. When the FDA says, well, I think you should close the schools, who are their customers? Their customers are not the drug companies. Their customers, their end user is the United States citizen.

Are they thinking about them? Well, they think they are, but some bureaucrats making the decision that's going to make a decision may not be right for their customers. So at the end of the day, I think the best example you might be able to find about government and bureaucracy in general is the bigger your bureaucracy, the further away you're going to get from the customer.

And so they don't understand. You know, I had a situation in Holiday Inn where the marketing director, there was a guy named Ray Lewis at the time, wanted to clean up the company because we had some old and tired hotels. And he was, anytime somebody would fail an exam, he'd want to throw them out so he could get a new hotel built. Well, the reality is the people who were building the new hotels were the same people that he was throwing out, of course, if you look at it that way. So we had a situation where we had a hotel at O'Hare Airport and they were having trouble with their quality levels because it was getting older. And they couldn't get any money, they didn't have any money. So the marketing guy said, well, we should throw them out.

It was a half a million dollar royalty a year plus a customer who had many other Holiday Ins. And they called me because they heard he was going to get thrown out. And I said, well, why can't you get this fixed up? He said, we can't get the money.

I need six months to finance it. I said, okay, I'll give you another six months. Then the six months came, he didn't have it yet. He said, I need another 30 days. The marketing guy was knocking on my door to knock them out.

I said, let's wait. Thirty days later, they had the money. They rehabbed the hotel. Hotel then paid a half a million dollars of royalty plus for the rest of the term and it helped them. So after that, you know, they were in the system.

And so that's what you have to think about. And so, but the further away you are, the ease of it is that you forget the customers. And you see it all the time in every business. I had a situation here where my insurance was being held by a company in Atlanta, my home insurance for here and Atlanta, for Florida and Atlanta. And I don't hear from the guy every year, the price goes up and everything.

And finally, I got an advertisement for insurance here from a competitive insurance broker. So I called up and I said, can you give me a quote? I said, yeah, yeah. I said, when can you come over? He said, well, when do you need me?

I said, well, are you available Sunday morning? Oh, yeah. Guy shows up in my office Sunday morning, makes me a proposal, better than the one in Atlanta that I never heard from.

Same quality of insurance, same everything. He got the business. You know, even this evening, look, we have bureaucracy here in the St. Andrews Club in Florida. You know, this morning I get a note. I own a condominium in Atlanta and I get a note from the board that they're cutting down trees.

They got permission from Atlanta to cut down trees. I also get a note from a resident saying, why are you doing that? Why did you tell us in advance? Who's the customer? Who's the who's the board's customer in the condominium? The owner. The other owners.

Why wouldn't you communicate and say, by the way, we're talking about cutting down. Do you have any opinion? No. And you've been listening to Mike Levin tell the story of Well of Life. And you can go to Our American Stories and click Mike Levin and get so much wisdom through storytelling. By the way, this American invention franchising 20 percent of all American businesses are franchises. And this cuts from hotels to cleaning services, oil changes, restaurants, gyms, plumbing, extermination, car repairs.

And from this system, franchising has created tremendous wealth, tremendous job opportunities and a tremendous tax base. The story of so much. A wise man, Mike Levin, all here on Our American Stories. I Heart Radio and the Black Effect podcast network are sponsored by BetterHelp online therapy, BetterHelp online therapy, a more convenient, affordable and accessible way to try therapy.

I'm Debbie Brown, host of the Dropping Gems podcast, a podcast about the depth and potential of personal growth and the human spirit, all in service to our liberation and internal peace. Go to forward slash black effect for 10 percent off your first month. Soon millions will make Medicare coverage decisions for next year, and UnitedHealthcare can help you feel confident about your choices for those eligible. Medicare annual enrollment runs from October 15th through December 7th. If you're working past age 65, you might be able to delay Medicare enrollment depending on your employer coverage.

It can seem confusing, but it doesn't have to be. Visit to learn more. UnitedHealthcare, helping people live healthier lives. I know everything there is to know about running a coffee shop, but for small business insurance, I need my State Farm agent. They make sure my business stays piping hot, and I stay cool and confident. See, they're small business owners too, so they know how to help you best. State Farm is in your corner and on it. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.

Call your local State Farm agent for a quote today. This is Our American Stories, and as you know, we love to tell stories about everything here on this show, particularly history. And all of our history stories are brought to us by the great folks at Hillsdale College. For the last century, Americans have honored our country by singing words that were written by a tone-deaf lawyer to the tune of a British social club song. Francis Frank Scott Key was not someone you would have picked to write our national anthem. Here's Mark Leibson, author of a biography on Key, what so proudly we hailed, to tell us more about the unlikely events that brought us. Our national anthem.

And here's the story of how Francis Scott Key, the big Washington, D.C. lawyer, the pious patriot, wrote the words that will become our national anthem, what will become known as the Star-Spangled Banner. This story starts during the War of 1812 with the Battle of Bladensburg, Bladensburg, Maryland, just outside of Washington, D.C. This is one of the most embarrassing defeats in U.S. military history. The British, who, you know, changed the complexion of the War of 1812 after defeating Napoleon in 1814 and sent thousands of crack troops over here. They were raiding up the Chesapeake Bay. They came to the outskirts of Washington and they overran just a pathetic group of last-minute, thrown-together militia men on August 26th. Overran them and came into Washington and most people remember that they burned the White House, the Treasury Department, and other public buildings.

An embarrassing defeat, not so much in the terms of how many were killed, there weren't many because the British just moved right through. So after the Battle of Bladensburg, the British left Washington, they went back to the Chesapeake Bay, and they got on their ships and they headed toward Baltimore, which people didn't know at the time. But when they did, they took prisoner a man named Dr. William Beanes, who owned a farm in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, which was on the way out east of Washington, D.C. And he made the mistake of taking a couple of British stragglers prisoner.

When the Brits saw them, they were not very happy about it. And so they took Dr. Beanes prisoner. He was an older man. He was in his 60s. They took him away and they headed up to Baltimore, which was, like I said, not known at the time. Prisoner releases and prisoner exchanges were common during the War of 1812.

It happened all the time. And the man who was chosen to argue for Dr. Beanes release was a man named Francis Scott Key. He was a big lawyer in Washington, D.C. He was born and raised in Maryland in what was then Frederick County, north of the city of Frederick. He went to law school. He read the law at St. John's College in Annapolis, and he had a thriving practice in Washington, D.C. He was known for his eloquence in front of juries. He could talk people into things. He was asked by the family of Dr. Beanes to arrange his release. He was a member of a prominent family in Washington. Francis Scott Key was. By the way, they called him Frank, so everybody called him Frank, so we'll call him Frank for the rest of the story. Frank Key was asked by the Beanes family to arrange the release.

He got permission from President Madison. And on September 2, 1814, he got on his horse and he rode up to Baltimore. When he got to Baltimore, he met up with a U.S. Army lieutenant colonel named John Skinner.

Now, Skinner's job was to arrange prisoner releases and prisoner exchanges, so Key met up with Skinner. They got on a small American ship and they went out and looked for the British fleet and they found them. And they were welcomed on board the flagship of the British fleet. They made their case.

They did it over lunch or dinner. Wine was consumed and Frank used his powers of persuasion and the British agreed. One of the things that helped his cause was that before they left Washington, before he left Washington, Key picked up a packet of letters. Letters from British prisoners who had been taken prisoner during the Battle of Bladensburg and the sacking of Washington, D.C. And they testified to the fact that they were being treated very well by the Americans. So that convinced the Brits and they said, we'll let Dr. Beanes go.

However, we have some work to do. We are going to destroy the city of Baltimore. Now, the British purposely did not burn any private homes in Washington. They only went after public buildings, but not so in Baltimore. Why did they want to destroy Baltimore?

Well, you know, we may forget. But as in the case of most of our wars, before we got into the War of 1812, it was a very controversial thing. Basically, it was a North-South split with Southerners generally in favor of going to war and Northerners against it. Francis Scott Key was born in the North and grew up there, but you really have to categorize him as a Southerner in outlook.

You know, Maryland was a state in which slavery was legal. His family owned slaves. He grew up on a plantation and he did have a conservative Southern outlook. But he was against the Americans going into the War of 1812.

But Key's views changed on the war when the Brits started invading up the Chesapeake Bay. He actually joined a Georgetown militia unit. He went out to the Chesapeake, served as a quartermaster officer. He did not serve very long, just about a week, and he got tired of the war.

So he quit and he went back to Georgetown. But he did support the war after that. And why were the Brits so intent on destroying Baltimore? Well, the country was divided, but not in Baltimore. The people of Baltimore were very war hawkish in the War of 1812. And, you know, the U.S. was not prepared militarily to go into this war, especially with the Navy. So the call went out to private ship owners if they wanted to let their ships be used in the cause against the Brits.

They could. And Baltimore led the country in lending private ships. They were called Baltimore Clippers.

They were very fast ships. And they gave the Brits a lot of trouble on the seas, and the Brits did not like this. One British newspaper writer referred to Baltimore as a nest of thieves. So, Francis Scott Key, Dr. Beanes, and Skinner were taken back to their American ship. Sometimes you hear that they were held prisoner during the Battle of Baltimore.

That was not quite true. They couldn't leave, but it wasn't like they were below decks, you know, on bread and water. They were on the deck, and they had a bird's eye view of what became the largest sustained bombing in military history to that time. The Brits had 19 ships out there in Baltimore Harbor. Four of them were bomb ships. These were squat ships with giant 250-pound cannons firing away. On that night of December 13th, 14th, some 1,500 bombs, mortars, and rockets were fired onto the city of Baltimore. Rockets, you know, this was only the second time in the history of war that rockets were used. They were called Congreve rockets.

They looked like what we know rockets look like, long and cylindrical with fins on the bottom, but they didn't have any guidance system. The rockets read glare, and bombs were bursting in air, but they weren't aimed very well, and there was very, very... Well, there was no loss of life in Baltimore or at Fort McHenry, which fired back with plenty of cannon on its own. Although the people in Baltimore were terrified because the houses were shaking. I mean, that's how terrifying the bombardment was. Plus, there was a giant storm that night. A thunderstorm could have been a tornado, could have been a hurricane.

We don't really know. But it was an amazing night of 1,500 bombs, rockets going off, thunder, lightning. And there also was a land component to the Battle of Baltimore, which we don't have to get into very much here, but just to know that the Brits tried, under the cover of that bombing, to attack, and they got pretty close to the city, but their leading general was shot and killed off of his horse, and that sort of took the steam out of the land component. Plus, Baltimore was fortified much better than Washington was, you know. The people in Baltimore could see the fires of Washington burning on August 26th, so they were prepared. And we're listening to Mark Leipsohn tell an important chapter of American history, the War of 1812.

The Revolutionary War was continuing. This was chapter two. And great storytelling by Mark Leipsohn on the life of Francis Scott Key. When we come back, more of Mark Leipsohn. His book, by the way, What So Proudly We Hailed.

Pick it up at Amazon for the usual suspects. When we come back, more of this remarkable American story, the story of our national anthem here on Our American Stories. I Heart Radio and the Black Effect podcast network are sponsored by BetterHelp Online Therapy. BetterHelp Online Therapy, a more convenient, affordable and accessible way to try therapy.

I'm Debbie Brown, host of the Dropping Gems podcast, a podcast about the depth and potential of personal growth and the human spirit, all in service to our liberation and internal peace. Go to forward slash black effect for 10 percent off your first month. Soon, millions will make Medicare coverage decisions for next year, and UnitedHealthcare can help you feel confident about your choices. For those eligible, Medicare annual enrollment runs from October 15th through December 7th. If you're working past age 65, you might be able to delay Medicare enrollment depending on your employer coverage.

It can seem confusing, but it doesn't have to be. Visit to learn more. UnitedHealthcare, helping people live healthier lives.

I know everything there is to know about running a coffee shop. But for small business insurance, I need my State Farm agent. They make sure my business stays piping hot and I stay cool and confident. See, they're small business owners, too, so they know how to help you best. State Farm is in your corner and on it. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.

Call your local State Farm agent for a quote today. And we continue with our American stories and the story of our national anthem, which of course means telling the story of Francis Scott Key. Let's return to author Mark Leipsohn. It lasted 25 straight hours, but then in the middle of the night at about 3 o'clock in the morning, everything stopped. And Francis Scott Key and Beans and Skinner, who were pacing the deck, didn't know what happened. It was dark. It was foggy, rainy, and all they knew that was the battle was over.

So they were pacing the deck and they waited until the dawn's early light. And Key looked out of his glass and he could see that Fort McHenry had a flag flying over it. But, you know, those flags were big. They were made of wool.

It had rained all night. The flag was just hanging there. He couldn't tell what it was. That flag was taken down. Another flag was put up.

There was a little bit of a breeze. And what did he see? He saw that our flag was still there. And this inspired him to write the words that would become the national anthem. You know, Francis Scott Key, Frank Key was a amateur poet.

He wasn't a good amateur poet, but his poetry was never meant to be shown beyond family and friends. Which makes it even more ironic that the words that he wrote that day, you know, hundreds of millions of Americans know those words. The other thing that people might not know about the Battle of Baltimore is that it was a turning point in the War of 1812. There were peace talks going on, but after the British slunk out of Baltimore, you know, Key realized when he saw the Stars and Stripes, our flag was still there. The British ships were gone. We had won. The peace talks continued.

The Treaty of Ghent was signed in January of 1815. But Frank knew that Baltimore was saved. He had a letter in his pocket. Now, people often say that he wrote the words on an envelope. Well, you know, technically there were no envelopes back then.

There were no envelopes. It wasn't technically, but letters themselves were the envelope. So on the back of the letter, Frank scrawled a few verses.

Tea and Skinner and beans were released. He went back to Baltimore to a hotel and finished the four stanzas in the hotel. Now, what happened next, there are a lot of question marks about. We don't know the details. One reason is because even though Francis Scott Key lived for 30 more years, he spoke in public about it just once, did not mention the flag and all the letters that he wrote that have been uncovered. Well, he mentions it only once in a letter to a friend in early October. And then he writes about that night.

But he doesn't again mention writing the words that will become national anthem. He talks about how brave the Americans were and how much he didn't like the British officers. But we know about what happened next was from a book that came out in the 1850s. And it was written by Key's brother-in-law, Roger Brooke Taney, who was married to Frank Key's only sister.

They were very close, the two families. And we know Roger Brooke Taney as chief justice of the United States. He claims that this is what Frank told him what happened. Now, we can corroborate a lot of this with good primary source evidence, such as newspaper stories and some journals and diaries.

So here's what we think happened after that. Somebody could have been Taney, could have been another one of Key's brother-in-laws, took what Frank wrote to a printer, because we do know that the next day those verses appeared on a broadsheet and they were plastered all over Baltimore. In fact, people, the defenders of Fort McHenry had them. The title was not The Star-Spangled Banner.

The title was Defense of Fort McHenry. And it said on there to be sung to the tune of An Acreon in Heaven. So what is An Acreon in Heaven?

An Acreon in Heaven is a song that was the theme song of a British men's club called the Anacryontic Society. And these men would meet at taverns for dinner and for drinks. They would play their song. They would drink.

They would discuss issues of the day. You often hear that the national anthem is sung to the tune of a British drinking song. Not quite true.

It's not in the category of 99 bottles of beer on the wall. It was a little more high minded than that, but it was the theme song of a kind of like a highfalutin men's book club that that met in taverns. So there's a little bit of truth to that. Now, it was not uncommon for the words of songs to be put to tunes that people knew in the early 19th century.

And that's exactly what happened with this one. And there were the people who know this stuff have counted something like 75, 50 to 75 songs that were put to An Acreon in Heaven, including Adams and Liberty, which was a very popular patriotic song. We do know that in November of 1814, the song was printed on sheet music by Carr's Music Store in Baltimore, and the title was changed to The Star Spangled Banner. And, you know, there's been controversy or just, you know, historians have not agreed until relatively recently whether or not Francis Scott Key had in mind the fact that he was writing a song that night. Until relatively recently, historians believe that he wasn't because he wasn't a songwriter. He did write two hymns. He was a very religious man. He almost went into the Episcopal priesthood. There's a letter that he wrote to the Bishop of Baltimore in which the bishop had asked him to join the priesthood.

And Frank said he really wanted to. But, you know, he had a family and he needed to feed his family. He didn't have the he needed to make money as a lawyer. He had he wound up having 11 children. He was very active in his church.

He was a lay minister and he was very religious as the words The Star Spangled Banner indicate. So why is he writing a song or not? Historians have changed their mind in the last four or five years, and the people who studied this now believe that he did have the song in mind, even though he wasn't a musical man.

There are several reasons for this. One is that he wound up writing these words in rhyme and meter that fit exactly the song. And also that, you know, a few years earlier, there was a dinner given in Washington, D.C. for Stephen Decatur, the hero of the Tripolitan Wars. And a song was written for that and played that night by Francis Scott Key.

There's an article in the newspaper in Georgetown that describes it and it includes the words. And in those words are the words Star Spangled Banner. So putting that all together, historians do believe that Frank had in mind that he was writing a song, even though he was just a poet, an amateur poet that night. The Star Spangled Banner did not become the national anthem until officially until 1931. The United States did not have a national anthem until 1931. But it was one of the songs that was played at patriotic gatherings such as Fourth of July within a few years after he wrote it.

All throughout the 19th century and into the 20th century became more and more popular. But still, it was only one of many songs that were played, including Yankee Doodle Dandy and others. And it wasn't until 1931 that Congress enacted a resolution that made the Star Spangled Banner the national anthem. It was controversial.

There were hearings on Capitol Hill. People argued against it, saying it was hard to sing, which people still argue today. They said it was written by a Brit, the tune, and, you know, others said a glorified war. The proponents of it brought in a soprano to sing it on Capitol Hill during the hearings. And that sort of turned the tide. And the Star Spangled Banner became the national anthem in 1931, even though it was written in 1814.

And one last thing, talking about a little bit of irony here. I told you that Francis Scott Key was not a good poet. And if you don't believe me, just read his poetry.

You can read it online. But he also was, you know, unmusical. There was an article that I found when I was doing research for my book, What So Proudly We Hailed, the biography of Francis Scott Key. It was an interview with a Philadelphia newspaper man with one of Francis Scott Key's granddaughters.

And, you know, they always would ask, you know, tell us about your grandfather, tell us about your father. Did he play an instrument, et cetera, et cetera? And the woman said, no, as a matter of fact, he was unmusical.

And then she told an anecdote, which may or may not be true. She said that he was in Alabama in 1833. He was doing some legal work for President Andrew Jackson. And he was at some kind of gathering. And as would happen, a band was there and they played the Star Spangled Banner. And so Francis Scott Key was sitting with some people. The band was playing. And after it was over, the granddaughter told this newspaper reporter, my grandfather turned to the woman next to him and said that was a beautiful air, a beautiful tune.

What's the name of it? So, you know, it's probably apocryphal, but it does go to show that that man who wrote that song, the man who wrote the song that so many hundreds of millions Americans know the first verse of was a bad poet. And he most likely was tone deaf. And beautiful work on that piece by Robbie, as always, and a special thanks to Mark Leipsohn, author of What So Proudly We Hailed. A tone deaf bad poet ends up writing our national anthem. As always, our stories, our history stories are brought to us by the great folks at Hillsdale College.

The story of the tone deaf bad poet who wrote the national anthem, Francis Scott Key's story, Frank Key's story, here on Our American Stories. After the last two years of being at home a lot, no one wants to spend the day inside doing laundry. That's why all free clear mega packs are bigger with twice the cleaning ingredients compared to a regular pack to give you a confident clean. All free clear mega packs are 100 percent free of dyes and perfumes and they're gentle on skin, even while they're tough on stains. Conquer the laundry and get on with your day.

Purchase all free clear mega packs today. That's unconventional thinking from T-Mobile for Business. Soon millions will make Medicare coverage decisions for next year, and UnitedHealthcare can help you feel confident about your choices. For those eligible, Medicare annual enrollment runs from October 15th through December 7th. If you're working past age 65, you might be able to delay Medicare enrollment depending on your employer coverage.

It can seem confusing, but it doesn't have to be. Visit to learn more. UnitedHealthcare. Helping people live healthier lives.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-15 09:07:24 / 2023-02-15 09:23:48 / 16

Get The Truth Mobile App and Listen to your Favorite Station Anytime