Thursday, July 10, 2014

Throwback Thursday: 1963 -- Big Bangs, Big Brows, Summer & a Mash of Music


Ah, summer in Southern California could not have been much sweeter. Clearly, from the pix, it was the time for big bangs, big brows and crop tops. (Oh, I long for all three of those things these days!) What made it even better was the wild mash of music that was happening all around me.

If you are a regular reader of my blog you know that music runs through my life in all styles and tempos. My love for it started young – I remember my dad playing the meanest boogie-woogie a la Jerry Lee Lewis on the old upright piano in my Auntie Mary’s dining room in the early 50s. (Lucky me; that piano soon found a new home in the living room of the house I grew up in and my dad and I played it every damn day!) My love for piano expanded over the years to include a wide variety of music played on a very long list of instruments. In this little collage from that summer, while you really can’t see it, I am resting my hands on the guitar my dad built for me that year. I gifted that guitar to my grandnephew several years ago but not to worry, I have another of my dad’s creations in a place of honor in my living room fifty-one years later. Fifty-one years? Crikey – that makes me an old granny as you kids would say.


Living in SoCal – the music of the day was radically changing. While rock and roll was still very popular and loved, The Beatles came on the scene that year and caused a giant shift in sound…of course, that was beyond great. I have so many fabulous and crazy memories centered around Beatles tunes! Folk music was stronger than ever, with Bob Dylan (still a favorite of mine with songs like his Talkin' World War III Blues), Peter, Paul and Mary, Pete Seeger and loads of local folk-style performers as well. Gosh, I just flashed on Tim Morgan, who used to play guitar and sing at The Prison of Socrates right next to the Balboa Pier. Anyone remember him? A lot of local surf bands became popular offering up great dance music like Pipeline by The Chantays and Wipeout by the Surfaris and, of course, The Beach Boys were all the rage, along with Jan and Dean. Honestly, when I hear those surf band songs today, I immediately have to dance! Place or time…not important…feet and body just have to move in that old surfer stomp kind of way! 


Saturday nights were spent dancing to and laughing with local bands and an occasional visiting pop star or group at the local Union Hall. Life was good – a day at the beach, hanging out with cute surfers from other towns and then home again to get ready to dance and flirt the night away – with both local and those oh-so-intriguing out-of-town boys. Too young to drive in those days, rides to the beach were bummed from my brother’s friends and great dads dropped us off and picked us up at the Union Hall.


Once again, I sit here and find myself feeling very grateful for having grown up in a time and place that seemed so safe and small. Pre-internet, digital, mobile – no ties. We left the house in the early morning and didn’t get back until the evening and no one felt compelled to touch base with parents or kids throughout the day. We had face-to-face conversations with our friends, sharing our heartfelt and deepest secrets without benefit of texting, emojis and selfies. We sat around with guitars and homemade skateboards, sang, laughed and simply enjoyed the friendships. Sounds geeky…well, I guess it was…but, no doubt about it, there was a lot of fun to be had!


I’m not saying that today is better or worse for all the changes – I see kids today, creating their own memories that someday will be as golden as mine…just different. While I honestly embrace change there is something comforting in being able to look back at a few captured moments and remember a time that somehow just seemed slower and a bit easier.