Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Memory lane

Today I'm baking oatmeal-chocolate chip cookies. So I set my iPod to play songs of the 50s and 60s as I'm stirring the dough and putting cookie sheets in the oven.

I usually forget about this genre, so today I thought I'd listen to something I haven't played for awhile.

Oh, boy. A flood of memories with each song.

Isn't it funny how you can listen to a song from your teen days and be transported back in time with very specific memories? I think during that time your emotions are felt so acutely and they attach themselves to a song, either for the melody or the lyrics, and it stays with you. So hearing it again, you experience the same feelings - or at least, you remember the feelings.

Remember "Devil or Angel?"  Well, that was Mike's and my song.  Don't ask me why. I really don't remember. But my first date was with Mike. We went to the St. Paul Winter Carnival's torchlight parade and I had to be home by ten. I had just turned fourteen.

The St. Thomas Academy boys hung out at the local Strandy's bakery and restaurant, so we'd meet there after school. Mike was so handsome in his crisp St. Thomas uniform.

But I lost interest after awhile, and dated others. All the Everly Brothers songs spoke to me. "All I Have to Do is Dream" came along when a boy I had a crush on failed to so much as notice I existed. His name was John and I probably stalked him through my whole sophomore year.

Then when I was a junior, I met my first real love.  He was a year older and set to graduate; had enlisted in the US Army and was scheduled to leave for basic training shortly after graduation.  He had baby blue eyes, a curl in the middle of his forehead, and a sweet, irresistible face. He made my heart skip a beat. Make that several beats.

So when he was set to leave for Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, we adopted the song, "Sealed With A Kiss."  The words were perfect, written just for us.

Though we gotta say goodbye for the summer,
Darling, I promise you this,
I'll send you all my love
Every day in a letter,
Sealed with a kiss.

Not all golden oldies were about boys. Songs like I'm Sorry, Tears On My Pillow, Silhouettes, Lonesome Town, all elicited emotions. But there were fun ones, too, like How Much Is that Doggie in the Window? and Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavor on the Bedpost Overnight? and Who Put the Bop in the Bop-Shoo-Bob-Shoo-Bop (Who Put the Ram in the Rama Dama Ding-Dong)?

Then there were the dance tunes. The Twist, The Stroll, Bristol Stomp. We learned the dance moves from American Bandstand. Bob and Justine, Carmen Jiminez and her sister, Yvette. They taught us how.

Graduation, 1963
They were songs of innocent times.  Times when drugs were something you took if you were sick. Smoking a cigarette could get you expelled from school. Getting into trouble meant consequences. Hot-rodding through Tangletown, TP'ing a neighbor's tree or soaping Strandy's bakery window was about as much trouble as we dared do.

Most girls were Elvis fans.  I preferred Pat Boone, Ricky Nelson, or the Platters. Perhaps that tells you how wild and crazy I really was(n't)... I did get into my share of trouble, though, but we won't go into that.

Burgers at Sandy's, malts at Porky's, after school at Scotstop, dancing with Doug at Kathy's party...

There goes my timer. My cookies are done and the iPod has stopped playing.  I guess it's time to tuck away my old memories for today.

But the best thing about memories? They'll still be there another day. Thanks for reminiscing with me.

And, please... help yourself to a cookie.