Monday, December 31, 2012

The Best Toys Ever!

By Paul Dugan, Groovy Reflections Team Member

Like many of you, I grew up without all the electronic gadgets of today. We made our own fun and if it was raining and we had to “stay in and watch TV”, it was like a punishment! Usually, I left the house right after wolfing down a bowl of cereal and didn’t come back till the street lights came on!

We didn’t need electronic gadgets to paint the picture for us. We had something even better; our imaginations! I remember one of the best toys I ever had. No one bought it for me; I went out in the woods and got it myself! It was a stick!

Sometimes my stick was a rifle as I rode the range out in the old West; sometimes it was the horse! It was a walking stick and a fancy cane and when I was done being a cowboy it made a neat baseball bat!

We played tag, 123 red light, red rover and the ever popular Simon says; no assembly required on any of those!

There were so many toys that required little or no money such as the coffee can for a spirited game of kick the can! You could usually get the whole neighborhood involved in that one, even the adults!

I would practice for hours with my 25 cent Duncan Yo Yo, “walkin’ the dog”, “rockin’ the baby in the cradle”, “loopin the loop” and of course “around the world”;  Didn’t even need friends to play that one.

Hop Scotch was pretty inexpensive, a piece of chalk and a flat rock and hours of fun and good exercise, don’t think I could get past two today!

Marbles could keep us occupied for hours or until someone said they were playing for “keeps” and then changed their mind after they lost.

I can remember playing “stoop ball” for hours on end, against an imaginary opponent! Still undefeated to this day and kind of amazing how that imaginary person never got tired of losing!

If you were fortunate enough to live near water, a rock was useful to throw into the water and then dive in and find it!

Tossing trading cards to see who could get closest to the wall was fun. Trading cards were inexpensive; you got four plus a stick of gum for just a nickel. They had baseball cards, football cards and I remember collecting the westerns cards! Gunslingers and all the cowboys from our favorite television westerns! Marshal Dillon from Gunsmoke, Wyatt Earp, Sugarfoot, you had to be careful and be sure you were tossing cards of equal value! Wouldn’t want to lose a Paladin to someone tossing a Chester from Gunsmoke!

The girls played a lot of jump rope as well as Jacks! No self respecting boy would be seen playing those! Unless of course there was no other boy around to see him, then it was okay and if you got caught “I’m baby sitting her” was usually a good out!

Kick ball was another good one that could be played inexpensively and even the younger kids could compete. Bases were usually things like a fence post, the neighbor’s car, a tree, or whatever was near where we needed a base!

In those crazy, exhausting, carefree summer days only two things could ruin our fun; rain and street lights!

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Friday, December 14, 2012

A Very Special Christmas!

By Pete Frecchio, Groovy Reflections Team Member

Originally published June 18, 2012...because now this one fits the holidays to a t!

I was lucky that Santa thought enough of me to bring me nearly everything I wanted. That’s just part of my fond memories of Christmas time during my youth. Reflecting on those Christmas memories today I now realize my parents had to make many sacrifices to make sure that my sister and I had a very special Christmas. 

A particularly special memory is from the Christmas of 1970. My mom, sister and I lived in Tempe, Arizona. At ten years old and no longer believing in Santa Claus, Christmas was still a very magical time of year for me. I was looking forward to seeing two big items I wanted by the tree on Christmas morning: My own stereo and a Sears multi-colored three-speed bike. My old bike was purchased at a police auction three years prior and my sister didn’t like it when I tried to use her mono RCA phonograph. 

My dream stereo, a gold General Electric record player with two attached speakers, was at the local TG&Y variety store. After school or when shopping with my mom I’d stop by the store to look at the grooviest music machine I had ever seen. I kept the issue of getting my own stereo on the front burner, though my mom never seemed too excited when l showed her the stereo. That worried me. 

And the 3-speed stingray bike I wanted? It was in the 1970 Sears Christmas Wish Book. It had a boss looking chrome gearshift and small front tire that made it look really cool!  The paint job was a combination of metallic yellow, orange and red! And to make it COMPLETELY cool, the bike had a black imitation leather banana seat and chrome sissy bar just like Peter Fonda’s chopper did in Easy Rider!

My folks were divorced; I knew that if my mom bought the stereo, I’d have to work on my Dad in Michigan to get me the “street machine.”  In my Christmas letter to dad I included the page from the Sears catalog featuring the bike. 

As the big day drew near I wasn’t completely convinced that I would get either of the items on my wish list, but the odds were more likely that my dad would come though with the bike.  Money was a bit tight and my mom had other financial obligations to think about. Would this be the best Christmas ever? Time would tell.

When Christmas morning 1970 came, I was not disappointed. 

There, in our living room, next to our aluminum Christmas tree, was a stereo and a “street machine.”  And, an added bonus, Meet The Beatles and Let It Be LPs!! 

I couldn’t wait to call my dad and tell him how groovy my new bike was. Being that we lived in a mild climate I was able to head out the front door immediately and show off my new bike to the neighborhood.

We can't promise everything on your wish lists, however, we do have some pretty darn GRoovy hand tie-dyed t-shirts! Also GRoove with us at our website, on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, and Pinterest

Sunday, December 9, 2012

My Life in Trees.

By Gerry Wendel, Groovy Reflections Founder and Team member

Not talking about swinging from limb to limb. We had a giant pine tree in the background however; the lowest branches were too high to even think about climbing in, thanks to my dad sawing off the lower branches! I did climb a tree a few times in a friend’s yard though.

We’re talking about Christmas trees!

I vaguely remember an artificial tree that was white when I was really young. It had lots of shiny ornaments on it in yellow and red, with a few green glass balls and lots of blue! 

And the blue theme continued outside; in the front yard the small pine tree (maybe about eight feet high) was adorned with big blue bulbs. Yes, only blue, and the larger bulbs that were seven watts each. Hey, electricity was cheap! To bring a little more punch, 2 red wreaths with a sole red bulb were hanging in the two bay windows in front of the house. 

Sure, most homes decorated with a lot more color than we did!

Our family later graduated to an artificial tree in green. It was fun putting it together with the color coding on the tip of the metal rods. First we’d sort them by color and then go to town putting them into the poll. That tree wound up moving with me a few times and I lost it during a move. I may have given it away too.

When I reached adulthood, I had to try out having a real tree. I was really bad at watering it and pine needles were everywhere! At the time I on a tinsel kick, however, I gave that up when I realized that my dog was pulling tinsel off the lower branches, eating it, and then gracefully throwing it up. Ick.

A few years later I started discovering all things mid-century modern. Never mind that my house was Victorian! I started buying color wheels at garage sales for around $3 each. My first aluminum tree was $1. It is three feet tall and was in the original box with thin paper tubes protecting most of the branches. I happily (and stupidly) strung lights on it the first couple years I used it until someone told me that was dangerous! 

Then I hit the mother lode; a six foot high aluminum tree for $15! It even came with swanky turquoise tassels with gold trim (which I have never used on the tree!). 

Each year they are taken out of the box and assembled more aluminum falls off. Both are looking a bit shabby nowadays and were last used in 2010. 

About ten years ago I bought a three foot high light green tree; pre lit. That one goes into use as an accent tree nowadays, usually in the dining room.

2011 called for a change. Found a website where trees come in all colors and sizes! Debating on a color was hard; my brain kept saying “be practical and go for green or white”. While really digging the purple, then thinking that was too extreme, I settled on orange and haven’t looked back. 

Three pieces, pre-lit, (even the wiring is orange to match) ten minutes and it is up! Lots of colors look terrific on it! So there you have it; a new tradition.

Next year? Who knows? Maybe I’ll drag out the aluminum trees once again. Stay tuned.

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Monday, December 3, 2012

Oh! Christmas Tree!

By Paul Dugan, Groovy Reflections Team Member                         

The Christmas Tree: Green, pretty lights, Santa puts gifts under them, pretty simple; you’d think, see one you’ve seen them all. Wrong!

Growing up we always had a fairly traditional tree, tall, spaces between the branches for hanging ornaments with the old 5 watt bulb lights. Mother used to put aluminum foil around the base of the bulb so it wouldn’t touch the tree and possibly start a fire.

Of course there’s the tree topper: Angel or star? Tough decision; it was always star growing up but since starting my own family it’s been both depending on my wife’s mood.

Mother would spend some time at the Christmas tree place to pick out just the right tree, no bare spots, and must reach to almost the ceiling! Then when it was set up and the lights strung we kids would get to help decorate; mother would hand us the ornaments and help direct us as to where to put them.

Then came those aluminum trees with the color wheels. Some of the trees were even different colors, like pink or orange etc, lots of folks seemed to like them. I did not! Got to have a traditional green tree with multi colored lights.

In 1967 I was working part time after school, making a dollar an hour bagging groceries, and one day Mom said she wanted an artificial tree. All I could think of was those silver aluminum ones! So I said okay, but I’ll pick it out! She said, if you pick it out, you pay for it. That’s how one July day in 1967 we went to a Christmas store and I spent $120 on an artificial tree. That was a lot of money but it looked great, just a real hassle to assemble; each branch is color coded and you insert them one at a time from the bottom up!

After getting married and having children of my own, we’ve had lots of different types of trees. For a long time we had to have a natural tree, in October we’d go “tag” a tree at the Christmas tree farm, then go back and cut it down the day after Thanksgiving. We had some ornaments from my family and hers along with new ones purchased over the years. One year we even had the “country” tree complete with popcorn and cranberries strung as garland, and hand made ornaments from the kids.

Now we have an artificial tree. It comes in three sections, is pre-lit, and takes all of ten minutes to set it up. Not the natural tree that I’d prefer but I must admit to having gotten older, and I like the easier part and at least it looks real!

Growing up, we put ours up one week before Christmas and it stayed up until January 2nd. Now I like to start the season early and begin feeling the Christmas spirit so it goes up the day after Thanksgiving and it comes down sometime around New Years. The advantage of the artificial tree; they last longer!

My wife does the tree trimming. She is into the whole Victorian look, to match our home, and I must admit she does a great job! And that 1967 tree? I set that up on the front porch and it still looks great!

Real or artificial; green or silver; star or angel; blinking lights or not; set up early or close to the day! Makes no difference. one of the great things about traditions, everyone has their own and there is no right or wrong.

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Monday, November 19, 2012

Shopping for Vinyl at Joe’s Garage.

Joe's garage wasn't as nice as this one!
By Gerry Wendel, Groovy Reflections Founder and Team Member

If you’re thinking that this post is about a Frank Zappa song, well, it’s not.

It’s about a man who lived in a small town that years later I would also be living in. His name is Joe. When I met him he was retired. Don't recall his age but it was likely around 70. He was a reformed alcoholic who had no qualms telling me that Lou’s Bar was his former watering hole. I’ve never been in Lou’s Bar but we all know of those establishments where a chosen few were permanent fixtures on the stools, providing the main source of income for the proprietor. "Luckily", Lou's Bar was in easy walking distance of Joe’s home.

However, this isn’t about Joe’s past fondness for spirits. It’s about his establishment simply known as Hillsdale Record Treasures. It wasn’t even a legal business but the town didn’t seem to mind. The “store” was a early 1900's one car concrete block constructed garage crammed with records. Some were alphabetized and at table height while "just-in" platters were ready to browse through in boxes on the floor. 

The knees of my jeans wore out from all the floor crawling I had to do to satisfy my vinyl cravings. The denim also served as a cleaning device of sorts since the dust was practically up to my ankles. The floor I knelt on consisted of dried out rotting wood sporting threadbare rugs to cover the decay. 

More than three people in the small space proved challenging. I always went alone to Joe's and sometimes there would be a nerdy guy there with a serious look on his face. I never saw the same nerdy guy twice. And other females…fuggetaboutit! A GIRL collecting records was not the norm!

Joe was always perched on a bar stool next to the record player. There were always a few ashes on it, flicked there by the always present round of cigarettes he would consume. I’ve never been a smoker and found the smell of cigarettes offensive but for the good cause of record collecting I’d put up with it.

Joe and I had some great conversations. While Joe wasn’t a record collector himself (he was seeking money to live on) he did have a familiarity with much of the inventory. He was easy to talk to, possessed an upbeat, pleasant attitude, and wore the thickest coke bottle glasses I’d ever seen that rivaled the pair I shed at age 18 when graduating to contact lenses.

My biggest miss happened when a nerdy shopper pulled an album by The Knickerbockers out of a "just in" box. Joe had it marked it $4. Sold to the guy in with the sweater vest! It irks me to this day, however, I scored so many great 45s and LPs at Joe's Garage so who am I to complain? 

When I look through my 45s nowadays, I still see shades of Joe; he would write the artist and title on the sleeve (not the picture sleeves!) and the price too. Most 45s were $1; a tidy sum for a used three minute platter in the late 70’s / early 80’s before CDs became the new format.

I don’t remember why I stopped going to Joe’s Garage. Perhaps it was because of a new beau who wasn't a vinyl junkie or some personal struggles going on in my life. And eventually I moved away from the area. I've never stopped collecting records though the hunting and gathering slows to a trickle from time to time. And, yes, I did embrace CDs around 1987 despite balking at the cost compared to buying a new LP. 

Joe, I thank you for entertaining this young gal during those “in between boyfriend” periods. I thank you for providing a place to go on Friday nights where I could have a good time scoring treasures and conversing about a subject I love. You were truly a friend.

Friday, November 2, 2012

They’re Everywhere!

By Paul Dugan, Groovy Reflections Team Member

Peanut M&M’s are my favorite candy and when my daughter was really little, she had a quarter and wanted to buy Daddy something for Christmas “with her own money”. She bought a bag of Peanut M&M’s. 

I was properly touched and I guess she remembered it because the following year, sure enough, another bag of peanut M&M’s was under the tree. And so the tradition continued.

Then, when she was older and earning money at a part-time job, the package under the tree was much larger. When I opened this one there was a large yellow M&M dude sitting in a recliner! Open the chair in the back and press the recline lever and the sweet treats were magically dispensed! I had received my first M&M collectible.

The following year, another dispenser: This time Red & Yellow at a 3-D movie with a bowl of popcorn between them, where the candies were dispensed. The collection began to grow. More Christmas’s and more dispensers; now I too was on the hunt for dispensers I didn’t have.

Somewhere along the way the collection expanded, although dispensers were and still are the focal point of my collection; I branched into other M&M collectibles, radios, telephones, electric lights, and a cuckoo clock were a few of the electronic collectibles that were added. I also added cookie jars; pose able figurines, and stuffed characters and an M&M Monopoly game.

Every year the collection continues to grow and I continue to add shelves in my computer room to accommodate more and more of my ever evolving group of colorful characters.

What’s really neat is seeing the looks of wonder and amazement when my grandchildren visit; they stare up at the shelves that go nearly to the ceiling, all filled with Red, Yellow, Blue, Green, Orange, Brown and soon Purple figures all engaged in various activities. They are playing all sorts of sports, driving different vehicles, and participating in a multitude of activities to keep a young minds imagination in awe for hours on end.

Some of the collectibles talk when a certain button is pushed; for example, Blue says “Hey, Who turned out the light” on a desk lamp. This always cracks the little ones up.  They laugh with glee from the comic things Yellow says as he hangs upside down as the pendulum on a cuckoo clock and boy do they just love the things Red says when he come out of the alarm clock to wake you up! Actually, this is so darned annoying I can’t imagine using it to wake up; but the young ones really get a kick out of it.

Of course the little ones never leave Papa’s House without having sampled a few candy coated chocolate treats!

I’m really glad they enjoy it because someday it will all be theirs to pass down to their children and grandchildren; and all this happiness because one little girl wanted to buy Daddy a Christmas present!

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Friday, October 26, 2012

A Dream About the Rolling Stones

By Guy Sharwood, Groovy Reflections Team Member

It could have been real life, I guess. I was only twelve and it was a typical overcast winter Saturday morning on my street, bicycling back and forth and around. But of course it was a dream since Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones were strolling down my street. 

The band actually had performed in my hometown a year and a half prior at our Ratcliffe Stadium, in fact just shortly before Satisfaction, soon to become their signature song, was released. 

But in my dream Mick and Keith are just nonchalantly strolling along down Terrace Avenue for whatever reason. So of course I cycled up to just chat with them.

Another thing indicating it had to be a dream was there wasn't a mass of teenage girls rushing out of their homes with scissors, cameras and autograph books, elbowing me away from their idols. And it's a safe bet they would have if this were real life. Long haired rock bands were "it" with the girls in my neighborhood, as they were with teen girls everywhere. The Stones were far from being an exception.

So in the dream I just chat with the two guys like I'd known them for years and they were old buds. No "Gosh, I idolize you guys, wish I were old enough to be in your band, your songs are the bomb." None of that. Mostly it was Mick and me talking. Keith just kind of kept his eyes on the sidewalk, lost in thought. 

I made some kind of suggestion to Mick about something the Stones could try in the near future. Mick thinks about it, but just as I'm articulating the suggestion, I realize it's kind of a dumb idea. But Mick decides that he likes it.

So for the remainder of the dream I'm trying to talk him out of it, but the more I try to discourage Mick, the more enthusiastic he gets about it. "Yeah, your idea's really good. I think we'll give it a go." I must have eventually thought; whatever. This is all I remember of the dream, but it's stuck in my mind for years.

For the life of me I can't even imagine what the idea even was. But the bottom line is that the Stones have managed for decades without it!

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Taking a Time Warp to the Cleaners

By Gerry Wendel, Groovy Reflections Founder and Team Member

Have you ever thought something was cool looking and you don’t exactly know why? Yeah, me too. 

Traveling through all the small towns, one on top of each other, sitting in the backseat of the Chevy or the Olds wagon and sometimes sitting backwards facing the rear of the car I got my little view of the world around me. Trees, houses ranging from Victorian through mid-century modern, wide green lawns, gas stations, an occasional school, and little downtowns made up my local world. 

Willow Run nursery, 1960's postcard
I loved driving past Willow Run because I knew they’d have a great Christmas display when the holidays rolled around. 

And it’s odd sometimes on what a young mind would get fixated on. In particular, I recall a dry cleaner we’d go past sometimes and I would be drawn to the images on the signs inside the store.

Yet I had never been inside. Until now. 

On a visit recently “to the homeland” I drove past and saw those signs yet again. Oh yeah! I had places to go but swung back that way a few hours later. I parked across the street and took a few exterior shots of the building.

Then I thought: What the heck; I’ll go inside and take some photos of those signs! I asked the woman inside if that would be okay. She said "Fine, go ahead" and gave me a bewildered look. At the time, only one was lit. Didn’t matter. I happily snapped away.

I love everything about those signs: The cartoon-like, cheerful graphics, the fonts, and the declarations of all the wonderful things this dry cleaner could do for a customer through modern chemicals! The graphics are on a heavy, textured hard plastic material set in metal box frames that are rather deep for holding all the electrical for lighting them up. They are quite large; my best guess is they're each six or seven feet across.

Got back to where I was staying and couldn't load those photos onto my computer fast enough!

Unfortunately I was devastated to see that every single photo had a mysterious black line running through them! Huh? This had never happened to me before with this camera and I've taken thousands of pics with it over the last year and a half or so.

Well, this only meant one thing. I had to go back!

Fast forward three days later. I returned. Again, I asked permission to take photos. This time, the employee (a different one) said she would get the manager. I explained to him why I was there. He smiled and said “Would you like me to put all the lights on?”

We had a wonderful conversation as I happily snapped away. The manager also happened to be the current owner. He told me that he was part of the original family that started the cleaners back in 1954. The family comes from Austria and his accent was thick, suggesting that he was born there. The signs also date from 1954 and are in amazingly great condition for their age. He said that a few years back he asked the clientele if they thought he should change the signs and not one thought that was a good idea!

Some things never change.

Dutch Cleaners, I salute you for being the wonderful time warp you are. Though I’ve never brought my cleaning to you, being in business for 58 years suggests that you provide excellent services. Here’s to at least 58 more!

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Monday, October 8, 2012

Witch Way You Going, Joey?

By Joe Haller, Groovy Reflections Team Member

I grew up in the suburbs of NYC. Not Lawn Guy Land. Rockland County, NY bordering Bergen County, New Jersey. To get from Monsey, NY to Pearl River, NY it was easiest to cut through Montvale, New Jersey along Summit Avenue. Really nice area, but one house stood out. There was no fine-trimmed lawn like all the rest. It was a jungle of brush, small trees, and weeds. The house itself looked haunted. It needed paint. The shutters were hanging off. The driveway was dirt. But the place was occupied. 

Rumor had it that a witch lived there. It was 1971. Dark Shadows had just gone off the air. But we half believed in ghosts, witches, séances, parallel time…..all that stuff.

The Sunday News had an article that summer, about a witch in Montvale, New Jersey. She called herself Witch Hazel. Her photograph was stunning. She was a fox, in the vernacular of the day. Too old for me, however. I was only 19 and she had to be old, like 33 or 34.

Fast forward to the summer of 1972. We figured out that the “haunted house” on Summit Avenue had to be Witch Hazel’s house. I filled up my 1971 Duster with friends and my brother Eddie. We were going to meet Hazel. I parked at the corner of Summit and Terkuile, just down the road from Hazel’s house. The five of us walked up Summit and started up Hazel’s dirt driveway. The “haunted house” was pretty far off the road. About halfway back, we heard sirens…..saw flashing lights. 

The cops were there! We split up and ran through the jungle, back to the Duster. No good….it was boxed in by police cars. They made me follow them to the station. Witch Hazel was going to press charges for trespassing. She was fed up with gawkers and gapers. We were going to be an example, according to the fuzz.

After about a half-hour of cooling our heels in some waiting room (at least we weren’t behind bars) Hazel showed up at the police station in full witch regalia. All dressed in black, a flowing cape, a black hat but not a pointy one. Since the Duster was mine, I was the driver and ring leader. How was I going to get us out of this mess?

Hazel ranted about how she just wanted to live her life without “unannounced visitors”. She asked me “Why were you there? What did you hope to gain?” I told her I had seen her picture in the paper and was hoping to get a date with her. Then I said “You are even more beautiful in person”. She really was breathtaking, and I meant what I said.

She turned to the police. “Let them go” she said. It wasn’t quite that easy. Otis, Louie, and Bruce could only be released to their parents. So three unhappy parents had to come and get their sons. When the cop called my mother she played the widow card so he released my brother in my custody. End of story? Not quite.

The Montvale police station wasn’t far from Friendly’s in Park Ridge. Hazel said to me “Follow me to Friendly’s. I am going to buy sundaes for you and Eddie.” We followed her, and walked inside with her, She was a stunning sight! A beautiful woman dressed like a witch. She WAS a witch!! EVERY eye in that place was on her, and us. We sat and talked for an hour, enjoying our ice cream. She gave me a ring with a glass enclosed spider. She also said “That was your date. I hope you enjoyed it”. I said “Hazel, I surely did. Let me leave the tip”. 

I never saw her again. Took Eddie home, and got screamed at by my mother for being a bad influence on him. He had a blast that night, and saw ME in trouble. A perfect night for Eddie, and a damned good one for me.

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Monday, October 1, 2012

Did She See Me?

By Paul Dugan, Groovy Reflections Team Member

I grew up as part of the first television generation and I consider myself very lucky. It was such a magical time. We didn't take it for granted and our parents didn't use it as a baby sitter. It wasn’t a substitute for outdoors but rather a supplement, I can remember being so disappointed when Mom said it was raining so I couldn't go out to play, why not go watch TV.

An early TV memory for me was the Howdy Doody Show. How I loved Howdy, Buffalo Bob, Phineas T Bluster, Princess Summerfall Winterspring and my favorite one of all, Flub-a-Dub! I didn’t know he was a combination of eight animals: a duck's bill, a cat's whiskers, a spaniel's ears, a giraffe's neck, a dachshund's body, a seal's flippers, a pig's tail and an elephant's memory! Heck, I didn’t even know he was a puppet!

All I knew was I wanted one! Mom compromised and got me a cat, which I promptly named Flub-a-Dub! I so wanted to be on the show and sit in the Peanut Gallery, it looked like such fun! All those kids seemed to be really enjoying themselves.

In the mornings before I began going to school there was Miss Jean in Romper Room. (It was a franchised show and each city had their own Miss________). I always tried very hard to be a Good Do Bee, although I often failed. Perhaps that’s why she never saw me in her magic mirror, I couldn’t understand why? There I was right in front of her, waving my arms; maybe she needed glasses!

In different areas of the country there was local kids programming. In the Boston area, we had The Major Mudd Show. He was a space commander, always on the lookout for his Lost Battalion. There were always local kids on the show and they got neat prizes! 

Another show I didn’t get to be on. Sigh. At least it was fun to watch; they had cartoons and sometimes the Three Stooges shorts would be on and the Major always had his classic sign off: I.B.B.Y. which meant I’ll Be Blasting You. I still use this expression today. 

It wouldn’t be kid’s TV in Boston without remembering Rex Trailer’s Boom, Boom, Boomtown! Rex was a real singing cowboy; he could do riding tricks, rope tricks and lots more! I knew I could do the same if I just had a horse. There were the cartoons like Popeye and Davey and Goliath, but most of all I wanted to be a Cowboy and Rex epitomized that!

One of the last of the kid’s shows I remember watching was Salty’s Shack out of Rhode Island. This show was geared toward older kids and while it featured the obligatory cartoons, it also had a segment featuring Salty Brine himself teaching you how to draw. As I look back now I realize it was very educational, but as a kid I just thought it was fun! Salty, the old sea captain would set up an easel and take you step by step on how to draw a picture, maybe a boat one day, a sailor the next, or a tree maybe, I actually got fairly good at it.

I don’t watch a lot of television anymore, except maybe for some sports, but I sure wish I could go back to being a little kid and my biggest worry was whether Miss Jean would see me being a Don’t Bee!

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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

An Idea for Closed Down Gas Stations

By Guy Sharwood, Groovy Reflections Team Member

First off I want to thank a good buddy I'll call "Alvin" for inspiring this yesterday.

Alvin and I were on the bus going southward, just gabbing and updating each other. I mentioned something about a Shell station--one of two I'm aware of--which has been closed down and fenced off for several years. Really disheartening to see them just sitting there wasting space. Alvin said something about likening them to museums.

I remembered the first gas station I ever saw go belly up and close. I was 15 and this was right at the end of the '60s when gas guzzling cars reigned supreme and one could pretty much see a station on each corner of a busy intersection--and some that weren't so busy. These days, not just because of the recession, but for a variety of reasons, it's an all too typical occurrence to see them fold and either be plowed down or changed into something else. The one I refer to has been a hamburger joint, Chinese restaurant and a thrift store over the years. It's a cigarette store currently. 

But in 1969, it was just a weird thing to see a gas station simply go out of business and close down. That corner now is completely devoid of stations.

Alvin got me to thinking of how great it would be if one of these vacant stations could be converted into some kind of museum devoted to gasoline and service stations and how they've changed over the years. 

I remember hearing a lot of chuckles when I first saw the original Back to the Future movie, where Marty is back in 1955 and saw four attendants, in full dress regalia, bouncing out to a single car to service it. Of course that would be a laugh riot in 1985, especially for those who weren't around back then. But I was a year old, and the producers weren't too far off. There was a lot more accuracy than we would see on shows like Happy Days and Laverne and Shirley, which just took too many liberties with that period. Even more so, perhaps, than the movie Grease.

But there are a lot of possibilities that would come to mind. Someone could refurbish an old gas pump from the '30s or '40s and make it look brand new. Have a docent dressed up like an attendant and pretend it's an earlier period. Old news clippings could be posted on the wall. Magazine advertisements. A soda pop machine. Possibly an HD television displaying videos of old gasoline commercials. Cans of oil stacked against one wall. Old photographs. 

It would be a nice thing to see. Of course many practical reasons exist why this wouldn't be feasible, but it would be so much better than the way these stations are now, just sitting there forever doing nothing.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Larry Tate's Porch

By Tim Armstrong, Groovy Reflections Team Member

When I was in the fifth grade in 1970 I had a lot of friends who I would also run into at the mall on weekends while our parents shopped for school clothes and such. I started to notice that they were wearing cool shoes and clothes that my mom always told me were too expensive for her to get for me (I had a younger brother and sister as well). 

When I insisted that she buy me a certain pair of really cool shoes, she gave me the dreaded ultimatum “If you want to wear the things that your friends are wearing, you’ll need to find a way to pay for them”.

I wasn’t making enough money mowing lawns in the neighborhood to buy shoes, or any clothes for that matter, so I had to come up with a plan. I contacted our local newspaper and sure enough, they were looking for delivery carriers. It was early morning delivery, about a half mile away in our North Hollywood California neighborhood. After a talk with the district manager and my parents, I started my carrier route on my green Schwinn.

I had to get up at 4:30 or 5:00 am to fold and rubber band the papers and put them in my carrier bags which I had wrapped around the handlebars. After consulting my route list, I rode off to deliver the daily news. It was a new world for me, dark with little traffic in the residential neighborhoods, and soon I could get my route done in about an hour and a half.

My mom had noticed that an address on my route was that of a friend of hers from church, and I was instructed to put the newspaper on her porch every morning. So, every morning after throwing a paper onto the driveway of the next door house, I would get off of my bike and walk up to my mom’s friend’s door and place a paper there.

One early morning I was startled, when after placing a paper at the door of my mom’s friend, a voice called out “Excuse me”. I turned and found myself looking at “Larry Tate” from Bewitched! 

Turned out he lived at the house next door and wanted to know why I was putting a paper on his neighbor’s porch and not his. I explained to him that the paper on the porch was for my mom’s friend. He said, “I’ll make you a deal. If you would be my friend, would you also put the newspaper on my porch?”  

We shook hands and even though the only time we talked after that is when I would go collect, “Larry Tate” aka David White received his paper on his porch every day that I had that route.

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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Dumb Question?

By Paul Dugan, Groovy Reflections Team Member

Someone far wiser than I once said “The only dumb question is the one you don’t ask.” In most cases this is true, but alas oh wise one; Not always!  Looking back on things there has been a lot of dumb questions and answers in my life.

For example, parents: They try to be wise and impart their knowledge to their children but it doesn’t always work that way. Have you ever heard a parent ask a child “Would you like a spanking”? Think about it! How many answers to that are there? “Golly Gee Mom, that’d be just swell! And after that could I maybe go sit in a corner?” Of course the correct answer is “no”, but you knew that already, so why do we ask it?
A couple of other classics are, “How Many Times do I have to tell you?” Well obviously, at least once more! And of course there’s “Do you know how many hungry kids in China would love to have those vegetables?” Cool, can we mail them to them?

Of course there comes that day in every person that has a child’s life, when they realize they have become their parents! “Do I have to stop this car?” OMG! I’m Dad!  Exactly when did this happen?!

Of course you needn’t be a parent to ask a dumb question, there’s always the classic, “I’m going to Joe Public’s funeral today.” “Did he die?” No, we just thought it would be fun to bury him!

Other dumb questions fall into the category “Don’t Ask the Question If You Don’t Want the Answer!” It’s amazing how many people will go ahead and ask a question that has two possible answers and one of them has the potential to be devastating, the other is the one the person wants to hear. If you aren’t positive which one you’re going to get you probably shouldn’t ask. Please note this also falls into the dumb answer category!

“Does this dress make my butt look big?” The correct answer here is “Of course not dear!” Though do try to remember not to add, “It does that all by itself”!

Another example: During Olivia Newton-John’s peak of popularity my wife turned to me and said “I know you tease me a lot about Olivia, but if you had the chance to make love to her and you were still married to me, would you do it?”

Now, I’m not dumb. I knew what the correct answer was, but apparently I am stupid, because that isn’t the one I gave! What I said was “Yes Dear. Right there on the floor in front of you! Wouldn’t bother me a bit; in fact, I’d probably ask you to take pictures!”

Gotta admit it was the quietest couple of weeks this house has ever seen! In my defense, okay, I got no defense except: She Asked!

If there are no more questions, I’m gonna go work on my answers!

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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Beatles, Birthdays, Record Players

By Pete Frecchio, Groovy Reflections Team Member

It was July 1968 and I was counting down the days until my eighth birthday. Among the things I was hoping to get were accessories for my G.I. Joe and Johnny West action figure collections, a new baseball bat and glove and my very own record player. 

I was just starting to get into rock and roll music and was tired of sharing a record player with my big sister.  To her credit though she was kind enough to share her records with me. 

My record collection was pretty thin; it consisted mostly of kid’s songs and novelty records. I figured I would work on getting a record player first, and then focus on get my rock and roll music collection going.

When the big day came, July 23, I was not disappointed. My mom threw a party for me and several of my good friends came over to share cake, ice cream and games. I do remember we played a few games of pin the tail on the donkey!  

Sure enough, when it came time to open the presents, I found I had a new General Electric Walt Disney record player, turquoise with white stripes and a big picture of Mickey Mouse on the inside of the cover. After my friends left the party I plugged it in and went in search of some 45’s to play.  To my surprise, my sister handed me a stack of her 45’s and said I could keep them. The creation of what is now a rather large record collection had begun.

Two of the 45’s she gave me come to mind, both by the Beatles: Please Please Me and From Me to You. I think that one of the reasons I remember those 45’s was the groovy record label they were on. Although most Beatle records would be released on Capitol Records, these early recordings were released on the small Chicago based label known as V-J Records. The labels were black with silver lettering and had a rainbow around the edge of the label similar to what Capitol Records was using on their albums at the time.

While I thought the labels were cool, the music simply blew me away. I heard my sister play the Beatles many times before and also heard the Beatles played often on Phoenix, Arizona radio stations KRIZ and KRUZ but this was different; they were now playing on MY very own record player! I was hooked!  

I had to have more Beatles records; I had to have ALL kinds of rock and roll records! In years to come, allowance money, birthday money, paper route money and part-time job money went towards feeding my Beatles habit.  I had a “Ringo” on my back and I didn’t care.

Well, that small collection of records I received from my sister grew into well over a thousand albums and 45’s. In addition to that, my home is filled with all kinds of rock and roll memorabilia with the focus being on the Fab Four.

After all these years, I still look back on my eighth birthday and think YEAH! YEAH! YEAH! What a great day that was!!

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Friday, August 24, 2012

The Party.

By Gerry Wendel, Groovy Reflections Founder and Team Member

I was just barely out of my teens and had a whole house to myself. Living alone in the early 1900’s home I grew up in - neato! 

When I was really young the house had a 1940’s kitchen with metal cabinets. In the late sixties, a new kitchen went in with a micro-ray oven, a Formica table top and a curious curved bench seat in the corner. I later learned that the formica covered seating with an "M" inscribed on it had previously belonged to a diner. 

The house also received a fresh treatment in the living room with a generous amount of wall paneling and orange carpeting. Wall paneling was already sprinkled liberally in the bedrooms, so why not have even more? 
Not THE house but one from that period.

This was the house my dad had pretty much abandoned because he had moved about eight hundred miles away. Twice a year he’d visit with a small trailer (that he built himself) for hauling away more furniture. The place was looking pretty sparse each time after my dad set up temporary camp. When he wasn’t around, I shipped off the utility bills to him every month.  


I had a paltry job for a publishing company, and by night, I enjoyed hanging with friends at restaurants and bars or going to the movies. Nothing terribly exciting.

Oh, and going to parties. That was a fun pastime. And heck, it was MY turn to have a party.  All I needed was a keg, right? And my boyfriend would take care of that. Food? Snacks? Eh, fuggedaboutit! But I did have plenty of good tunes to put on the record player. 

Now, I grew up on an acre of property, about half of which was driveway. Probably enough space for ten cars, but no easy way to get out or turn around a vehicle. Plus, my house was on a main street with no room on the sides for stashing a car. The last thing on my mind was where my friends were going to park. Who needs details?

Then the big night arrived. And friends started showing up. They were coming in packs. Friends were bringing their friends.  And the house was getting mighty crowded and loud with conversations swirling, and platters (uh, records) spinning. It was noisy but under control; just a bunch of people having a good time! I was in the kitchen when suddenly someone came in from the side door and bellowed very loudly, “there’s a cop directing traffic outside!”
The church parking lot.


I ran outside to take a peek. There was the friend of one of my brothers, Don*. Don, a cop in town, was standing in the middle of the street with his arms waving around. He was directing the cars to the church parking lot across the street!

And that’s the only thing I remember about the party. I can’t tell you who was there, how much beer was consumed, or when the party finally broke up. 

Thank you Don.
* not his real name.

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