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!!

1 comment:

Amanda Bard said...

Fun! I remember spending that week ice skating too...although it would have been more like 1972-1975. My sister fell through the ice one year, but she survived as well.