Friday, April 27, 2012

Of Knees And Things

By Paul Dugan, Groovy Reflections Team Member

Ever think about your knees? They are pretty fantastic mechanisms, and they've played a very big part in my life.

Sometimes you hurt them and that’s not good. I remember as a little boy scraping my knee and Mom was there with the cure, iodine. The purpose of this wonder drug was apparently to cause such severe burning pain; you forgot about whatever else was wrong! Then along came mercurochrome, looked like iodine and didn’t hurt as much; but also didn’t help as much.

Perhaps the best cure of all was the classic “Let Mommy kiss it and make it better”. Pretty sure this had no medicinal value whatsoever but amazingly it seemed to work; much like a placebo today.

Kissing and making it better apparently only works for mothers and not wives. In fact my wife even refuses to try the remedy on me. I cite the "Agonizing Zipper Event of 1984" as a prime example of this.

Knees are invaluable for praying. Standing prayers lack sincerity and supreme beings are all big on sincerity.

Ever try sitting without using your knees? Good luck and if you manage that feat, try standing back up again without knees!

Knees are really necessary for begging forgiveness. Like when she’s really made at you for something terrible that you did that you STILL can’t remember! Try telling her you’re begging her forgiveness while you are standing. “You can’t really mean it; you aren’t even on your knees.” “But I don’t have knees; they haven’t been invented yet.” “No excuse; if you loved me, you’d find a way!” Ya need knees!

There's one past incident involving knees I remember very clearly. High school, 1964, freshman geography class; the door opened and in walked the principal with a new student. She’d just moved here from another country, California, I think. Hey, I said I was in the class.  Didn’t say I’d passed it!

The principal introduced Holly to the class, or was it Molly, or whatever. What I do know was that she was wearing the shortest skirt ever seen by mankind! It was erotic; some might say obscene. Why, both her knees were exposed! Right there they were hanging out for all the world to see. That garment came right to the top of her knee, not well below like all the other girls. I’d have to check this California place out someday.

Every red blooded male remembers where he was when he saw his first knee and this was mine. I tell you it was more exciting than the lingerie section in the Sears catalog! On that day I felt like I had passed into manhood, I was no longer a kid, I had seen female knee.
The really amazing thing is the next day, okay maybe it was more gradual, but it sure seemed like the next day all the girls in my class were showing knee. It certainly made high school a lot more fun, I know that.

Another amazing fact is once a skirt is above the knee, it somehow continued to shrink until it became a mini skirt!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to get down on my wonderful knees and thank the Lord for Molly…or Holly… or whatever the heck her name was!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Remembering Dick Clark and American Bandstand

By Paul Dugan, Groovy Reflections Team Member

Growing up, I had a sister three years older and a brother 4 years older. They introduced me to Rock ‘n Roll at a young age. As I got a little older I appreciated the roots of Rock ‘n Roll and when they started watching Dick Clark’s American Bandstand, it stood to reason that I did too.

Dick Clark showed me the faces behind the music I had been listening to. People like Paul Anka, Bill Haley, Ritchie Valens, and Freddy “Boom Boom” Cannon. I saw Chuck Berry “Duckwalk” and Chubby Checker crush out cigarettes with his feet and towel his backside with a towel; at least that’s the way grown-ups described the Twist!

Then I discovered girls and Dick Clark had that covered as well. All those girls doing the latest dances on his show: The Twist, The Pony, The Mashed Potato, The Hand Jive, and my favorite, The Stroll. I remember hurrying home after school to watch the afternoon edition of American Bandstand! Rock ‘n roll singers, pretty girls all dressed up and showing me all the latest dances; it was great! How I imagined it was me showing off my moves with the girls. 

Okay, I didn’t have any moves, but thanks to Dick Clark, I could learn some.

Then of course there was “Rate a Record”. How frustrated I’d get when the kids didn’t rate a record as high as I did, I mean after all, “It had a good beat and was easy to dance too”; couldn’t they see that?

Perhaps the biggest thing Dick Clark did was bring Rock 'n Roll music into our living rooms and helped make it respectable to many of the critics. And for that I thank him. Well, that and the pretty dancing girls!

Rest in Peace, Dick Clark.

Danny and the Juniors, American Bandstand, 1958:

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Over at Jody’s House

By Gerry Wendel, Groovy Reflections Founder and Team Member

The house was early 1900’s and painted white, just like the one I grew up in. Well, not exactly; Jody’s house was about three times the size of the humble dwelling I grew up in. And her house had TWO staircases, though we rarely used the one near the front door of the house. Nor were we ever hanging out in the living room.

Well, we did hang out there. Once. Jody and I sat at the piano one wintery afternoon and while she pounded out Eleanor Rigby on the ivories, we sang the song over and over in our best renditions of pitchy falsetto.  Ouch.

Our usual indoor hangout was on the other side of the house from the living room; the “rec room”. It had several chairs to hang out in, a shiny wood floor, a fireplace, a TV, a stereo, a table to play games and no wood paneling (my home had plenty of that though!).  A floor to ceiling window at the back of the room allowed us to look out on the expansive two acre property.

Sometimes Jody’s Dad would hang out in the rec room in the recliner with his newspaper and pipe. This is where I first heard “Reach out in the Darkness” by Friend and Lover and “Up With People”; both LPs owned by Jody’s older sisters.

The kitchen was expansive yet cozy, with an antique table gracing it. Jody’s mom would lemon oil it quite often and the oil had a strange smell. I don’t recall actually eating anything there.

The backyard boasted a small storage building that we cleaned out and made our playhouse. Despite the “cleaning” that consisted of removing some junk and running a broom down the walls and across the floors it was dusty in there, but so what? Now we could mark up the walls with chalk and have tea parties in our own little house!

On sunny days, there were so many options. We played with our Disneykins on the patio off the kitchen. I had several of them from the Top Cat series, including Benny.

If that wasn’t exciting enough for us, we’d walk over to the nearby ancient cemetery. Most of the graves there were late 1800’s into the early 1900’s, with almost unreadable words on the limestone ones, washed away by decades of rain. A few were broken. Many of the family plots had low metal poles secured by concrete structures in the corners.

Those metal rods were perfect to jump up and down on; a few of them had a good spring to them and served as a decent alternative to a trampoline. Hide and seek was a good game to play there as well since several of the stones were a few feet tall.

Perhaps the most exhilerating event was in the summer when we got to sit in the back of the Le Mans convertible as Jody’s mom drove us to the field club they belonged to. The windy ride was more fun than the gigantic pool that we splashed in. "How Can I Be Sure" blasted on the radio and I thought the song was so exotic!

Jody and I attended elementary and middle school together. Sometime early on in our high school years, she switched over to a private school and I lost track of her. Over the years, we did have some contact, mostly through my calling her and asking if I could drop by.

Today, I understand she lives about two hours south from where we grew up and does not have a computer. I did pass along my phone number to her sister, but I’m not hopeful that she’ll contact me.  It’s okay; I’ll concentrate on the great memories I have of Jody and I growing up.

Note: Jody is not her real name.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Eddie and the Radio Skaters

By Joe Haller, Groovy Reflections Team Member

Remember the days before global warming? Long, long time ago, back in the 1960’s it would actually be cold in December. It seemed every second year even brought us a “White Christmas”. By the way, I grew up in Rockland County, NY, about 30 miles northwest of the big city. My parents were Rockland County natives, as were two other sets of parents in our neighborhood.

The rest of the neighborhood consisted of New York City cops. The moms were the kind of stay-at-home moms that sent us outside to play while they watched soap operas and/or “kawfee klatched”. I had one brother, Eddie. He passed away in 1976, but that’s not what this story is about. It’s about a time when we could go out all day and our parents didn’t have to worry about us. We respected each other’s parents because we knew if we didn’t, our own parents would kill us.

AM radio ruled in those days. Everybody had transistor radios, the ones that took the rectangular 9 volt batteries. You knew you had a good battery if it jolted your tongue before you put it in the radio…the battery, not your tongue. We had two great AM radio stations. 77WABC had a powerful signal and great DJ’s. 57WMCA had “The Good Guys” as DJ’s but a much weaker signal in the suburbs. There was fierce competition between the two stations over us baby boomers. 77-W-A-Beatle-C!!!, they would call themselves.

WMCA would get Beatle records from London before they were released in the USA and play them first. 77WABC would play songs AFTER they were proven sellers in NY area record stores. The exceptions were of course The Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Supremes, Herman’s Hermits and other major acts.

WMCA would take chances and play The Young Rascals, The Critters, The Turtles, or The Byrds before anybody ever heard of them. 77WABC had Cousin Brucie. WMCA had Harry Harrison, until he went to WABC in 1968. 77WABC had the great Dan Ingram. WMCA had Dandy Dan Daniel.

WMCA’s Good Guys “toured” together, wearing matching suits and haircuts like the early Beatles. You were REALLY cool if you managed to win one of their “Good Guy” sweatshirts. I never did. 77WABC lasted as a pop/rock music station from 1960 until 1982 while WMCA was only around from 1960 to 1970 as a music station.

So, WMCA was a bit hipper than 77WABC.

However, 77WABC did one thing that WMCA didn’t do. Beginning in 1964 they had a top 100 songs of the year list you could send away for. The last week of every year they would play only songs off that list in random order. That week was of course part of Christmas vacation as it was called back then.

The un-named pond behind Kreider’s house was always frozen. We would spend that week ice skating around with our transistor radios, trying to fill in the Top 100 list because we didn’t want to wait until mid-January for it to arrive in the mail. There was always one song that they didn’t seem to play, like #91 or #96 or one of those. If we finally heard it, there would be a huge celebration that we completed the list.

One other thing happened every year during the week between Christmas and New Year’s.

The pond wouldn’t freeze over where the stream came in. You know how still waters run deep, and freeze? Well flowing waters don’t freeze unless it gets extremely cold. So there would be a half circle of open water at the mouth of the pond with thinner ice blending into thicker, safe ice.

My brother Eddie would always have to test the limits. Every year he would skate out closer and closer to the water. Every year he would break through the ice. Fortunately, the pond wasn’t deep and he always got out alive. My mother would threaten to kill him each time he walked home soaking wet and freezing cold, but she never did.

It’s my favorite memory of my brother Eddie….dripping wet, cold, and in trouble again! If I had the whole Top 100 it was a perfect day!!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Did I Say That?!

By Paul Dugan, Groovy Reflections Team Member

Sometimes the things we say can be hurtful, even though we don’t intend them that way.
Nowadays people hit send on their email and then try to claw through the monitor to get it back, because they sent it to the wrong person, or realize too late that cussing out the boss wasn’t such a good idea!

In the old days it was like that, only it was SPOKEN words we wanted to take back.
Back in college I was on a couple of sports teams. I was by no means a star athlete or anything but good enough to be on the teams and that was enough for me. Problem: Sports team schedules don’t always follow the academic calendar; often times I would be stuck all alone in my dorm room, while my roommates and friends were off on a long weekend. This, unfortunately, included any possible female companionship.

One weekend I was alone when a team mate, Bill, came by and asked me if I’d double date with him. I explained the dilemma of all the young ladies I knew were gone! Bill said, no problem, he’d have his girl, Daphne fix me up with someone. Now why do those words, even now, send a chill up my spine? I said “Sure, Why not?”

So that night we went to the girl’s dorm to pick up Daphne and my “blind date”, Jane. There’s that chill again! And it wasn’t that bad; she had a great personality and was not at all unattractive. Maybe not the kind of girl I would normally date but certainly a nice girl. We had an enjoyable evening at the drive in. Not what you think! In those days you could go to a drive in and pay by the carload (lots cheaper than the movies) and we had a good time. We dropped the girls off at the end of the evening and that was that!

 Or was it?

Some months later a similar situation occurred. A different friend, Ron, offered to have his girlfriend, Jacquelyn fix me up. We arrived at the dorm to pick up Jacquelyn and my “blind date”. Gotta do something about the draft in here; feeling a chill again. I proceeded to do the gentlemanly thing by introducing myself. Then she said “Of course I know you; we met before.”

We had?! Okay, you could see this coming but I didn’t; it was of course the girl I’d gone out with months before. Jane!

Before I could stop it my mouth started talking! I said (and I am not at all proud of this), “I remember! You’re the girl I went out with the last time I couldn’t get anyone else!”

No wait! Can I have those words back, please?

Jane burst into tears and went running back upstairs. Jacquelyn shot Ron and I a very evil look and ran after Jane. Ron looked like he wanted to cause me serious pain. Me? I was trying to see if I could hide under the carpet.
I never got the opportunity to apologize to Jane, so if you’re reading this, please forgive me; I never meant it the way it came out. Ron never talked to me again either.
I guess if there’s a moral to this story it’s think before you speak or hit send. I don’t have a lot of regrets in my life but as insignificant as it may be in the grand scheme of things, this was one.

Note: Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Day Color Television Came Into My Life

By Pete Frecchio, Groovy Reflections Team Member

September 17, 1973. A very important day in my life. That’s when my family got our first color television set. No more watching favorite shows and cartoons in black and white!

Prior to this historic date, viewing of color TV programs was limited to what I saw at friend’s homes or catching a glimpse of my favorite shows when visiting relatives. And even then, I was never in control of the channel selector.

Most importantly, after years of living in a TV world void of the greenest greens and the goldest golds, I would finally get to watch my beloved Green Bay Packers in COLOR!  That evening, the Packers would be hosting Joe Namath with his kelly green and white clad New York Jets on Monday Night Football. It didn't get any better than this!

And, come Easter time, I would finally get to see CBS’s annual showing of Wizard of Oz in color! Having to watch the Munchkins in black and white had left my heart yearning for a world wrapped in the hues of a rainbow. Saturday mornings would never be the same; all of my favorite super heroes would now save the world in a bold dash of color. On weeknights, the Bunkers, Waltons and the Bradys would all look as groovy as my color filled world!

The school day could not go fast enough for me. I was bored silly listening to my teachers ramble on about history, algebra and science. By 5 o'clock a Zenith 19 inch color TV would find a loving home in my living room!

Sure enough, just after 5 o'clock, my mom pulled into the driveway. There in the back seat of our cherry red 1973 Dodge Charger SE was my new beloved color TV! It was like Santa Claus coming down the chimney and leaving the best present ever at my feet. In a matter of minutes the cable was clipped on to the back of the TV and a rainbow of colors appeared!

Unlike today's high definition flat screen multi-purpose TVs you didn't need to read much of the instruction manual to get the TV working. Of course, I double checked channel 11, where my beloved Packers would soon be playing, to make sure all was well.

Our new Zenith was a very heavy "portable" TV with a metal cabinet painted to look like simulated wood grain. It had a directional antenna mounted on the back, but since we had cable, that didn't matter. Being in a somewhat rural area, the UHF channel selector would not come into play either. Our city owned cable company offered 12 channels for four dollars a month, in today’s dollars that’s just shy of $21. The TV was set on a stand with wheels so the position could be changed to avoid the glare during bright, sunny days.

I was so excited I barely ate any supper. Nervously, I sat through the local newscast and ABC World News, counting down the minutes until I would hear Howard, Dandy Don and Frank talking about my Packers. Finally the moment I had been waiting for was here; the only thing that would make this night any better was a Packer win.

It would be a battle between two quarterbacks who had played for the University of Alabama: Second year signal caller Scott Hunter against the legendary "Broadway Joe" Namath! Scott threw touchdown passes to Carroll Dale and Len Garrett and Chester Marcol booted three field goals as the Green Bay Packers defeated the mighty Joe Namath and his New York Jets 23 -7!

My life was now complete.

The next day at school, it was all I could talk about. My friends got tired of me going on and on about the "newest member" of my family, but I didn't care!
Many color television sets have come and gone from my home since that day, but I will never forget that  day in 1973 when the wonderful world of color TV came into my humble home in the tiny town of Norway, Michigan and changed the life of one young Packers fan forever.