EV 1623 (Setter’s Blog) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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EV 1623 (Setter’s Blog)


Bus Stop by Chalicea

Setter’s Blog

Extra letters from wordplay give THE WHOLE DANG BUS IS CHEERIN’ from the song Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree; A HUNDRED YELLOW RIBBONS appear around THE OLE OAK TREE.

This song was played at the cremation service of my sister-in-law, Sheena, in June. She was handicapped from her birth when her mother was working in the Manhattan Project (recently recalled in the film “Oppenheimer”). She loved the song and playing it was one of her few joys. Because of her handicap, her parents devoted themselves to improving the situation of the handicapped in Scotland and great strides were made in her name so that the “Goodbye” service was a celebration of what she has meant to so many people.

My crosswords are usually about engineering feats, literary figures or famous women, but I felt that this time, I could allow myself a little family celebration.

I know that the song sold those three million records in three weeks, as is recalled in this Wikipedia item.

“Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree”

The symbol became widely known in civilian life in the 1970s. It was the central theme of the popular song “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree“, Written by Irwin Levine and L. Russell Brown and recorded by Tony Orlando and Dawn (among many others), as the sign a released prisoner requested from his wife or lover to indicate that she would welcome him home.[4] He would be able to see it from the bus driving by their house and would stay on the bus in the absence of the ribbon. He turned out to be very welcome: There were a hundred yellow ribbons.

From the Library of Congress:

In October 1971, newspaper columnist Pete Hamill wrote a piece for the New York Post called “Going Home.” In it, college students on a bus trip to the beaches of Fort Lauderdale make friends with an ex-convict who is watching for a yellow handkerchief on a roadside oak. Hamill claimed to have heard this story in oral tradition.

In June 1972, nine months later, Reader’s Digest reprinted “Going Home.” Also in June 1972, ABC-TV aired a dramatized version of it in which James Earl Jones played the role of the returning ex-con. A month-and-a-half after that, Irwin Levine and L. Russell Brown registered for copyright a song they called “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree.” The authors said they heard the story while serving in the military. Pete Hamill was not convinced and filed suit for infringement.

One factor that may have influenced Hamill’s decision to do so was that, in May 1973, “Tie A Yellow Ribbon” sold 3 million records in three weeks. When the dust settled, BMI calculated that radio stations had played it 3 million times, or seventeen continuous years of airplay. Hamill dropped his suit after folklorists working for Levine and Brown turned up archival versions of the story that had been collected before “Going Home” had been written.[5]

The grid came together easily once I had the ‘hundred yellow ribbons round the ole oak tree’, though I had to abandon symmetry to fit two more lines of the song around the perimeter. ‘Damn’ appears in some versions of the song but I am aware of Telegraph restrictions and adopted the more acceptable ‘dang’ – which required those words ‘one version’ to be added to my preamble. Knowing how some solvers have a very limited supply of highlighters, my original tree was all green, but the editor felt it should have a brown trunk (apologies to anyone who struggled to find a brown highlighter – we agreed that marking would be generous!) Thanks to him for all his tweaks and to my two generous test solvers.


A full review of this puzzle can be seen over on fifteensquared.

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