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I can’t get ’em up! A History of Heart’s Bugles

Every morning, Heart girls rise and shine to the lilting tune of Zippity Doo Da! But it hasn’t always been so. How did these bugles, so unique to Heart O’ the Hills, come to be?

Once upon a time, military bugles kept us on schedule

“The Heart” became a camp in 1953, just a few years after the end of World War II. Everyone across the USA was quite familiar by that time with the military bugle calls: Reveille, Taps, and everything in between. Most, if not all, camps had adopted those same ditties too.

You could bank on hearing the record scratches before and after each tune.

“I can’t get ’em up, I can’t get ’em up, I can’t get ’em up in the morning”, “soupy, soupy, soupy, come and-a get your chow” and “day is done, gone the sun…” were words that everybody sang. The trumpet calls played over the public address system with a 78 RPM record over an open mic at the office.

You could bank on hearing the record scratches before and after each tune.

In the summer of 1978, we had an epic flood that came into the office (before it was in its present spot), and destroyed that old 78 record. So we began trying to locate a new recording of the old bugles.

Why the same old same old?

Then it dawned on us—why the same old same old? Our friend Steve Pettit was a professional trumpet player, and Camp Stewart got Steve to record some camp tunes for us to use instead. Steve recorded many Stewart favorites, including “Hello Dolly” as the call to meals (Stewart’s dining hall has long been known as “Dolly’s Diner”), but kept the Call to Colors and Taps. We borrowed many of the same.

About a decade later, in my early years as director, Steve offered to record some Heart-specific tunes just for us. I can recall driving down the roads of Texas, on my way to camper parties here and there, singing into a cassette recorder: “Peppiest Girls”, “Friends We Are”, “Johnny Appleseed”, “Memorial Hymn” and others. The next summer, these tunes became our very own bugles.

In those years, we have gone from vinyl to cassette to CD to digital and we can certainly sing along! But most importantly, these bugles are recorded on our hearts.

About the Author

Jane Ragsdale

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Jane Ragsdale (Mrs. Dick Howell) is the director of Heart O’ the Hills. She was a Heart camper and counselor, and served as program director from 1978-87. She has been one of the owners since 1976, and director since 1988.

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