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Tag Archive: 60′s

Jul 10

Remembering summers past, a series Summer romances rarely survived until September


“What the heart has once owned and had, it shall never lose,”
- Henry Ward Beecher.

Summer romances, a cultural phenomenon, were big in the 50s and 60s.

I doubt if teens today truly understand what our summer romances were like– the giddiness, the misery, the sweetness, the inevitable parting.

Teen sweethearts do not part these days at summer’s end anyway. They simply text each other into infinity and blog unceasingly on Face Book.

We had one option and one only–write letters or hope they came. Usually we never saw or talked to our summer loves again.

For me, summer love meant Frank, and yes Pete, too.

I met Frank one summer at swim camp, and the next summer I met Pete while working out-of-state at a summer resort.

Both relationships lasted only for the summers in question. Letters were the way we stayed in touch at summer’s end as few people in those days had the technology to make long-distance phone calls. Traveling was out of the picture as well.

Eventually and predictably in the fall, the letters slowed and the romances faded.

When love went bad, girls and guys alike cried in our cherry phosphates while losing ourselves in movie and song.

It was a bittersweet, delicious time of life.

Once years later, just out of curiosity, I tried to find each of these dreamy guys.

I learned that Frank pursued a calling as a chaplain and likely died in Vietnam. Pete pursued a career as a hippy and might still be in Haight-Ashbury somewhere.

So life works out.

Yet, I still remember the songs about the heartbreak of summer when romances were sure to be fleeting and nearly always heartbreaking.

Remember the song “Summer Nights” from the blockbuster movie “Grease”. John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John sang “Summer Nights” about their rockin’ summer romance of 1959.

The lyrics of “See you in September” by The Happenings sounds like it was directed at lonely kids away from home for the summer, “I’ll be away each and every night/While I’m away don’t forget to write.”

While at summer camp, these teens often met their true love only to realize too late that their storybook romance would be fleeting. Or, they would worry if the boyfriend or girlfriend back home would wait for them and vice versa.

Gary Lewis and The Playboys sang, “Save your heart for me.”

Chad and Jeremy’s ballad “A Summer Song” admonished summer lovers to live in the moment because autumn would surely come.

The Beach Boys sang the upbeat “All Summer Long” while Brian Hyland crooned “Sealed with a Kiss” as he wrote letters to his sweetheart lest she forget him.

Do kids today have any idea what a summer romance was really like in the summers of our youth? Romantic. Unrequited. Unconsummated. I am guessing no.

At least we had the comfort of knowing that summer romance could live on in our hearts forever.

May 05

Goofy songs and girl groups were the thing

Nothing triggers a memory quite like a song, especially a song from the 1950’s or early 1960’s.

Back then, we heard lyrics that were unforgettable. How could we forget? The songs were colorful, delightful, and yes, goofy.

Songs like “Tutti Frutti”, “Mambo Italiano”, “Shangrila”, and “Lollipop” were the rage in the 50’s.

Sort of miss those tunes these days since much of the music I hear on the radio is completely incomprehensible to me. I think I prefer goofy.

Dorothy, Christine, and Phyllis McGuire sang “Sugar in the morning, sugar in the evening, sugar at suppertime. Be my little sugar and love me all the time.”

In fact, I was so crazy about Phyllis McGuire that I actually went to my mom one day and said, “I want to change my name to Phyllis.”

Since my mother would not call me Phyllis, there was nothing left to do but form a girl group and name it.

Pat, Priscilla, Sue and I decided to call ourselves “The Pastels”. I still wanted to be called Phyllis.

We made our own outfits since we were taking clothing construction in Home Economics class and because we had some 4-H sewing projects ‘under our belt’. One wore pink, one blue, one yellow, and one mint green. I cannot remember who wore what.

Sometimes we carried matching pastel parasols and sang “C’est si bon” because we had recently learned the song in French class. That was reason enough to sing it. Sometimes we sang, “How ya’ gonna keep ‘em down on the farm, after they’ve seen Paree? How ya’ gonna keep ‘em away from Broadway, shoutin’ I know and I wanna go?”

That one was close enough to French for us so we sang it everywhere we performed. School programs, county festivals, and street corners.

Actually, we did not really need a reason to sing any song.

Instead of starting a garage band like teenagers do today, we stood on the corner and sang. No piano. No guitar. Just harmonizing.

Jack Madani wrote an essay titled “Pop and Rock Music in the 60’s, A Brief History” on Spectropop.com in which he talked about girl groups a lot like ours.

In the early 60’s, there were four main pockets of pop music, according to Madani—the East Coast DooWop and urban girl groups, the R&B and Soul scene, the California crowd such as The Beach Boys and studio groups in the east like Burt Bacharach, and last but not least, Motown recording artists.

One of those four categories caught our attention. The girl groups.

Yes, we did indeed stand on the street corner and sing a cappella.

Some of the girl groups made it big, too.

In the early 60’s, The Chiffons harmonized to “Sweet Talkin’ Guy”, and The Shangri-las sang “Leader of the Pack”. The Shirelles hit it big on the Billboard Hot 100 chart with “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” and “Dedicated to the One I Love”.

The Chiffons. The Shangri-las. The Shirelles.

The Pastels?

Well, maybe not The Pastels but we did succeed with the name. If you were going to form a girl group in those days, you had to name yourselves with a one-word title.

Yes, goofy songs and girl groups were ‘the thing’.

To clear this up for the under 40 crowd, that would be ‘the bomb’.

Mar 31

Butch and Sundance still have their swagger

Nothing is more sobering than the realization that time simply disappears and entire decades pass “quicker than a wink”.

What brought me to this latest revelation about time passing by so rapidly was a story I noticed a few months ago. It concerned Paul Newman and Robert Redford’s 1969 movie “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”.

I saw the article last year while surfing the web, printed it out, and slipped it into a bright orange file folder marked “Ideas.” There it sat all this time until the other night when the two of them decided to appear in an otherwise uninteresting dream.

I had been talking to my brother before I went to bed that night, and I am quite sure they popped into my dream because we were discussing their famous western film and this article just before I went to sleep.

Well, there in my dream as youthful and strong as you please were these two legendary stars. They were confidently displaying their trademark, irresistible braggadocio and swagger. We fans adored them for it back then not to mention their striking blue eyes, all of which they still have by the way.

In my dream, they looked just like they did nearly four decades ago!

Since I happened to remember this particular dream, probably because of their drop-dead gorgeous good looks, I went searching for the aforementioned article post haste.

Sure enough, there it was long forgotten in the orange folder.

The story’s title caught my attention immediately, “Crutch Cassidy and the Sunset Kid!”

Clemmie Moodie was the web author on a site originating in the UK.

She wrote about the fact that Sundance (Robert Redford) now looks more like Sunset than Sundance. She assumed that the 80-something Paul Newman probably needed a crutch because he had to lean on Redford at the 25th anniversary (in 2006) of the Sundance Institute.

I must admit that the title of the article “Crutch Cassidy and the Sunset Kid” was indeed humorous.

Moodie argued “even Hollywood superstars, of course, are not immune to the ravages of time.”

Paul Newman says that is not so bad.

Moodie quoted him as saying, “I’m not vain and insecure like many of my fellow actors and actresses. Quite frankly, I like the way I look. I’m not jumping on the Hollywood bandwagon and turning the clock back with a facelift. So what if my face is falling apart? I don’t give a damn. Everyone thinks they can stay pretty for ever, but some come out of Beverly Hills surgeries looking scary to me. Everyone in Tinseltown is getting pinched, lifted and pulled. For many, it has become a sick obsession. They lose some of their soul when they go under the knife and end up looking body-snatched.”

See, “Crutch” still has his strut! And as for “Sunset”, he doesn’t admit in the web story to any facelifts either. He says he just splashes cold water on his face to tighten his facial muscles.

In my dream, 38 years after the movie’s unveiling, I could still see one memorable scene as though it was yesterday. Butch and Sundance were about to jump off a cliff into a raging mountain river in a desperate attempt to escape the relentless pursuit of a posse.

I called my brother the morning after the dream to help me reconstruct that scene since he had committed their parts to memory nearly 40 years earlier.

Just as I expected, he didn’t miss a line.

Butch Cassidy to Sundance when he refused to jump off the cliff: “What’s the matter with you?”

Sundance Kid: “I can’t swim.”

Butch Cassidy: “Are you crazy? The fall will probably kill you.”

And with that, they jumped from who knows how high, maybe 75 feet, and survived.

Crutch and Sunset? Phooey. On film or in my dreams, Butch and Sundance will never lose their swagger.

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