Friday, March 07, 2008

Summer 1963

Oh the vagaries of life! I thought I'd write and write and then work and stuff gets in the way and next thing I know I'm getting yelled at by Carolyn in the office that I haven't written anything.
I've spoken in the past about the 4th of July in Wenonah but I've sort of left off how it was different then from now. The principal difference was the dancing. I know, you say what dancing. Well in 1963 and I would imagine for years before there was a dance band that performed on Mantua Avenue after the traditional Pitman Hobo Band concert in the park. The fire department would hose off the street in late afternoon and all us knuckleheads would go to get knocked down by the spray from the hoses. Then immediately following the concert a smart dance band playing all the hits of the fifties and early sixties would set up and every one in town would dance in the middle of town across from Margie's luncheonette and the park.
The sweet sounds of swing and Sinatra would waft across the night air and grown ups and kids would fill the street. This was both weird and cool. In 1963 I was in love with Diane Evans and wanted to dance with her with all my heart. I got my wish. Like some weird little wind up child I approached her and we danced and that might be the last time I ever spoke with her. The same night something stranger happened.
Young people from out of town tried to join the fun. A fight nearly erupted. An alarm spread through the celebrants. The tiny police department and the firemen and the town elect banded together to expel the intruders.
What the fuck?
We might have been in a tiny village in England in the Middle Ages. We might have been Miller's Men doing our spring dance for the Maidens. We repelled the invasion of alien peoples from our sacred precincts. I don't know if the kids were black or white, tough or stupid but they were sent packing. This was for our town...not for anyone else.
When people talk about racism and shit like that they forget that all of this was based on tiny little towns scared to death of strangers. Of the other. So when some kids came to our town to dance they were beaten back. Huh?
Meanwhile the strains of Glenn Miller filled the air. It was hot and wet all at once. I was dancing with Diane Evans. Life was as good as it might ever get.
The only other thing I truly remember about this is that I was small. There comes a time in a childs life when he is suddenly as tall as everyone else. This was not one of them. I came up to everyone's waist. That's how I saw the world. Maybe that's still how I see the world. Maybe that's how you see the world.
Next post... Mrs Myers and 6th Grade. Jack has his last shot at cool Stay tuned.

1 comment:

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