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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