Then there’s the movie theme from “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” – a most memorable whistling tune.
Even TV has whistling commercials. Anybody who has heard the TriViGo (hotel finder) commercial knows what a catchy whistling tune it is.
Whistling used to be more common than it is today, however – why, is not clear.
But Ressa Kelley is not a dwarf, nor is she some character in a spaghetti western, nor is she auditioning for a commercial.
She is the Giant Shrimp Lady.
Kelley, who is a resident of Swinney Switch, is marking her fifth year selling giant shrimp in the area. She is licensed through the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
Courthouse officials, morticians, oil field workers, hoteliers, restaurateurs, pharmacists, storage place owners, title company staff, newspaper staff and hospital staff (to name a few) all hear her coming before they see her when she brings her scrumptious super giant shrimp.
Kelley is a whistler.
“My oldest daughter used to get embarrassed by it. She’s OK with it now,” Kelley said.
“I don’t really realize I’m doing it (whistling) half the time,” she said.
Kelley added that an acquaintance told her when she gets angry, she whistles louder.
“It can be any tune. I can whistle “Dixie.” It gets bad when in the middle of July I start whistling Christmas songs. I have to tell myself to stop,” she said.
But Kelley recognizes that she’ll burst into “Delta Dawn” at times.
Kelley said whistling is contagious.
“Every once in awhile, I will meet somebody who whistles in a grocery store. They will start whistling back when they hear me,” she said.
Kelley, who was born in Victoria, said she used to be a bartender in Houston.
“The guy working with my husband was selling shrimp on the side. He said I’d be great at it,” she said.
Kelley was no stranger to sales jobs. She has sold cars, cell phones when they came in bags, industrial products, advertising for a bilingual newspaper, lingerie and she had her own wine company for a while.
“The wine company was sort of like a Tupperware party,” she said.
Then her husband Jay was transferred to Corpus Christi.
Kelley’s parents, who live in Beeville, wanted them closer, so they found them a house in Swinney Switch, six years ago.
“My parents found a house on the Nueces River,” she said.
Now Jay works for Murphy Oil in Karnes City as an operator.
Kelley said she has three children: Athena, 27 (Houston); T.J., 15; and Alyssa, 14.
But her children aren’t all of her family. She has others she calls her “babies” – four dogs, three cats, two geese and three ducks.
Her newest dog is Harley because he likes to ride on the family’s Harley.
Her geese, Hooter and Honker, love Kelley.
“When I go to the river and lay on a float, I can put my hand on each of the geese – one on each side – and they will pull me around,” she said.
“And I don’t eat what I meet,” she said. “I will eat their eggs.”
And when the geese and ducks lay eggs, she will sell them, too.
Another side to Kelley and her husband is the generous side.
They do lots of benefits.
The latest benefit was in Gruene at the Oma Gruene’s Secret Garten.
“It was a benefit for the Pink Heart Fund. It’s similar to Locks of Love, but they give away their wigs for free,” she said.
“We boiled 100 pounds of shrimp and sold it. All the profits went to the cause,” she added.
Kelley also participates in the Ronald McDonald cookoff.
“We sell shrimp and oysters.” she said. “And for every auction, we donate five pounds of shrimp.”
She also participates in the Go Texan gumbo cookoff.
“It was at Grunts Texas Cantina in Sandia. We donate shrimp for the auction,” she said.
Another benefit is for HALO-flight. The cookoff is at the Lagarto Store in Mathis.
“We donate every year for the auction,” she said.
“We have done many benefits over the years. If somebody asks, I always donate,” she said.
And, of course, she whistles all the while.
“I think whistling is wonderful,” she said.
“I like people to smile, and laughter is the best medicine of all.”