Life is a precious gift from God, examine it carefully, shake it a little, unwrap it slowly, take it out of the box and enjoy it for as long as you can. Don’t ever take it for granted.
In the wink of an eye, river of time flows by…. J S
Last Friday was my 63rd birthday. Woo Hoo! Yep, another year older and that much closer to the grave. A few years ago when I hit my 60’s a friend of the family told me I’d reached a milestone in my life. Yeah right, I don’t see that reaching my sixties is a damn milestone, all it does is gets me that much closer to a headstone. Sorry, I don’t mean to be so morose, but let’s face it, it’s true. At 63 I’m on the south side of life. Happy birthday to me.
Friday morning, like most birthday mornings I was thinking about the incredible life journey God has allowed me to experience, the good as well as the bad. Yes in spite of the occasional obstacles He’s placed in my path throughout the years which I eventually realized were just a way of testing my resolve, my life has truly been blessed.
How well I remember 63 – 1963 that is. How can I ever forget it. For a young boy of 12, 1963 was quite a memorable year. I suppose it was my first coming of age year, a year of tears and a year of cheers. It was the first time I heard and understood about the war in Viet Nam and its implications for young American males. In the South the civil rights movement exploded with speeches, marches, hatred and violence. Then in November 63 the nation was rocked when President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas Texas. I remember my family and I were glued to the television all weekend long and were watching live on Sunday morning when suspected assassin Lee Harvey Oswald was killed while being transported from the Dallas jail. Unbelievable! That was followed by the week long coverage of JFK’s funeral and little John John’s famous salute. Truly a time of great sadness for our nation.
Here in L.A. Angelinos were ecstatic as the boys in blue won the World Series defeating the dreaded New York Yankees in four straight! It was incredible particularly for me since I had had the chance to meet the great Sandy Kofax, Don Drysdale, Maury Wills, Johnny Roseboro, Tommy and Willie Davis and Ron Fairly at a baseball workshop held at Valleydale Parks that summer. What a thrill!
1963 was also the year of the Beatles for me. That’s right, the summer of 63 was the first time I ever heard the four mop tops! Oh I know, people say that 1964 was the year of the Beatles but they’d be wrong. 64 was the year the Beatles first came to the US and made their legendary appearances on the Ed Sullivan. And 64 was all about Beatlemania and the British Invasion, but it was in 1963 that their music began making its way across the Atlantic and finding its way onto local pop radio stations. The top radio stations back then were 1110 KRLA , 93 KHJ (Boss Radio) and 98KFWB. That right, what people have known as the “all news” radio network for the last 45 years, the “give us 22 minutes and we’ll give you the world” station, was once the most popular top forties station in So Cal.
Now I couldn’t tell you which of the three stations I was listening to when I first heard the Beatles but I know it was sometime in June and the song was “She Loves You.” Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, I know you probably think I’m crazy but I’m telling you it’s true and I heard it a few more times over the summer. It wasn’t in regular rotation or anything like that but every now and then a Dee Jay would play it. The song was very different from what was on the radio and very catchy.
Here in So Cal surf music ruled and our own local Beach Boys were the boys of summer and king of the airwaves! “She Loves You” was not about to derail them, but I thought the Beatles were pretty good! Actually I had no idea how big they’d become, I really thought they might be just another one hit wonder, there were plenty of those. Boy was I wrong!Then about a week after the Kennedy assassination “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” was officially released and the hoopla began! After the devastating loss of our president it was just the kind of diversion the U.S. needed to move on.
Okay, I know you’re probably asking yourself what a 12 year old kid could possible know about music? Well let me tell you I grew up with music. My mom had loads of albums she listened to all the time my favorite was Ritchie Valens especially the song “Donna.” And if it wasn’t albums it was the radio. My mom loved to listen to the radio too. She also used to sing a lot. She had an incredible voice. I remember my friends thought she was a professional singer or even an opera singer. Besides that I used to watch Dick Clark’s American Bandstand with her most afternoons and heard lots of music there. Remember their ‘rate a record’ segment? “Well Dick its got a great beat and you can dance to it. I give it an 87.”
Then there was my Aunt Gracie. She was a few years older than me and had an incredible collection of 45’s. When we went over to my Grandpa’s house my younger sister and I used to go into her room and listen to singles. In fact it was after one of these visits in the summer of 63 that I bought my first 45 at Savon. ‘Hey Paula” by Paul & Paula. By the time I was 13 I was a full fledged member of the Columbia Record Club. Remember those clubs? 12 records for a penny buy 6 more over two years. Yep I was on my way!
Well I’m not sure where all that came from. I quickly went from my birthday to back in the day! God it’s fun to reminisce! At least at 63 my long term memory seems to be intact. Short term still seems to be working well too, although I must confess I do have a senior moment every now and again. So as Sheriff John used to sing “put another candle on my birthday cake I’m another year old today…”
Just a Thought….