Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Tia Fina, Elvis, and me by Carmen Santiago

I remember it well. It was June, in the summer of 1972. I was 16 years old, in high school and living in New York City. I had just gotten home from school and my mother said to me, "Tia Fina has a surprise for you." Tia Fina was my beautiful aunt. I looked at my mom and wondered, what could it be? I began to think and I remembered that Elvis was in town. Suddenly I realized what the surprise was. I knew I was going to see Elvis Presley at Madison Square Garden. My aunt had bought tickets. That was the kind of woman my aunt was. Always wanting to make others happy. Well I jumped so high and with so much enthusiasm that I landed in the next room.

I became an Elvis fan at a very young age. The first song I ever heard him sing was "Kissin Cousins". I was 9 years old and I was in love. Well, I was right. Seeing Elvis in New York City was destined to be the grooviest thing ever.

The day came, Saturday, June 10th, 1972. As I boarded the D train in the Bronx to meet my aunt at  the 59th street station, I looked at my watch and it was later than I thought. I began to worry that we would not arrive in time. My heart started beating faster in anticipation. I knew it was only a short time before I would see Elvis.

I met my aunt and we soon arrived together at Madison Square Garden. It was so exciting. I had never been there before. Elvis' name was flashing in big lights at the entrance. There was so many people! We rode the escalator to the very top and we went in. I looked down at the stage and there he was. As big as life. We had arrived late and missed the opening act, but who cared? We didn't. We just wanted to see Elvis and we did arrive just in time to see his entire performance.

He was wearing a white beaded jumpsuit with a long gold scarf around his neck. The music began to play and he began to sing, "That's Alright Mama." I felt as if I was floating. It was a dream come true. I could not hear anything other than the music and his voice. He sang so many songs that night, "Polk Salad Annie", "You Don't Have To Say You Love Me", "Proud Mary". He was so handsome and so talented. I spent the rest of the evening with a smile on my face, just enjoying this great man and his wonderful music. It is one of those very fond memories I have of growing up. I will never forget where I was or what I was doing on Saturday, June 10, 1972.

Thank you Tia Fina, for all you did not just for me, but for everyone. Love is an action word and you were full of action. I miss you so much. Thank you Elvis for your music and your films and your smile. I miss you too very much . The world is a better place because of the both of you!

Written by Carmen Santiago, Guest Groovy Reflections Blogger

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Song Remembers

By Paul Dugan, Groovy Reflections Team Member

Music is so much a part of our lives that when we hear a certain song it takes us back in time, sometimes to a happier time, sometimes a sadder time, but through it all, the music is still there.

For me, Van Morrison's Brown Eyed Girl always brings me back to my high school girlfriend and those carefree days when we couldn't wait to graduate and make our mark on the world. And Gary Lewis and the Playboys remind me of summer days at the lakeside camp that had been my Grandfather's.

When you turn that radio on, you just never know what memories going to come out of those speakers.

One of my strongest memories from when I was younger was an annual event for several years running. I'd give my mother a list of seven or eight record albums that I'd like for Christmas and I'd always find three or four under the tree, so Christmas comes to mind when I hear groups like Herman's Hermits, The Lovin’ Spoonful, Gerry and the Pacemakers, Simon and Garfunkel and many others, Most of those albums I still own to this day.

The wish list thing would change year after year. As my taste in music progressed and got further caught up in the 60's, I discovered the protest song!  Of course my wish list reflected this.

I didn't actually see the incident, but in my mind I can clearly envision it as if I were there.  Mother went to a music chain store called Krey's Disc, much like FYE of today. A helpful clerk asked if he might help her locate anything. She replied “Yes, I'm looking for ‘Pleasures of the Harbor’ by The Philharmonic Orchestra”. The clerk's eyes widened and, to his credit, without a trace of a smile said “Excuse me”? Mom said “See, here on the list” and she showed him my list, and there at the top was “Pleasures of the Harbor” by Phil Ochs. The clerk politely explained that was not an abbreviation and got her a copy of the correct album.

Mother bought it, left the store, and to the best of my knowledge, never went back. She said she just knew they were laughing as she left (and she was probably right). I know I did when she told me!

That was the last record album Mom ever bought me; she meant what she said when she said she'd rather just give me the money and let me buy whatever I wanted myself!

I still have that album but we lost Mom a few years ago and now whenever I hear Phil Ochs sing the “Draft Dodger Rag” or “I Ain't Marching Anymore” I smile and remember Mom and Christmas's past.

Written by Paul Dugan, Guest Groovy Reflections Blogger