kls_eloise (kls_eloise) wrote,
kls_eloise
kls_eloise

Music of my Childhood

Okay, confession time. I’ve been listening to the oldies station lately (although I *really* don’t think Dire Straits should be considered “oldies.” Is that how you know that you’re getting old? When you say “Damn it, [band name here] isn’t oldies!”). I’m bored with country and pop at the moment, so I guess I’m regressing or something, because I’m enjoying the occasional blast from the seventies – i.e. my childhood. This morning I was treated to “(Hey, Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song” by B.J. Thomas, which always makes me think of snowstorms.

The year was either 1975 or 1976, and we were driving out to visit my grandparents for either Christmas or Easter. I can’t remember which it was. Hey, I was only six or seven – cut me some slack. For us, going to see the family was fairly involved, as we lived in upstate New York a little east of Syracuse, and they lived in St. Paul Minnesota. This was a twenty-ish hour drive out of NY, across the bottom of Lake Erie through Pennsylvania and Ohio (one year we broke down in Toledo. I don’t recommend it, but that’s another story.), through a bit of Indiana and Illinois across the bottom of Lake Michigan, and then up through Wisconsin and into Minnesota. It’s a lot of driving – remember, the interstate system was there, but it’s not what we’re accustomed to now. We would do it in one shot: mom and dad would drive/sleep in shifts, and my brother and I slept or kept each other amused. I date my inclination to fall asleep in cars that I am not actually driving to these years. It’s not the most scenic route unless you are seriously into alfalfa, and trying to read in a moving vehicle makes me nauseous, so I spent a lot of it napping. Mom would pack a cooler with drinks, snacks, and sandwiches, and Bruce and I would pass things forward as requested. I knew that the car only stopped if it needed gas or if *dad* needed to use the bathroom, so I always went light on the liquids. I remember that the first time I rode to Pennsic with Bob, he was shocked that I never requested a bathroom break. I’m well trained.

That trip we hit weather on the way out, in the form of a blinding snowstorm. In hindsight, that storm must have qualified as a bone fide blizzard. I don’t know what those highways are like now, but back in the seventies, especially at night, they were pretty lonely. As you can intuit from my father’s views vis a vis bathroom breaks, the likelihood of him pulling off the highway and getting a room until the weather blew over (and possibly getting stuck wherever we were) was in the “slim” and “none” categories. *Now* I know what it means that they were “closing the highway behind us,” but at the time I was too young to understand. The weather had gotten severe enough that the highway crews were giving up on keeping ahead of it, and they were closing the highway to traffic until the storm broke and they could clean up. As an adult, I now understand what my parents must have been debating traveling in a killing storm in a Mercury station wagon with two kids: do we pull off the highway and hope that we can find a place to stay (where we might be stuck for days), or do we keep rolling and hope that we can keep ahead of the situation until we can drive out of it? The saving grace I suppose is that we were all familiar with that sort of weather and what it can do – offset of course by my father’s sheer bloody-minded stubbornness.

Because of the storm, dad had the radio on constantly to monitor the weather and highway reports. You know how if you listen to one station long enough you can pick up the loop as they hit the end of the play list and start over? Either they had a very short loop, or they were terribly overplaying a handful of singles. Literally. Five, to be precise. After a while we noticed enough to talk about it. To this day, any of these songs make me remember that trip. I don’t remember the visit at all, and I no longer have any images from the drive, but I clearly recall the gestalt of the trip, the weather, and the radio.

* (Hey, Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song, B.J. Thomas;
* Rhinestone Cowboy, Glenn Campbell;
* Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover, Paul Simon;
* Love Will Keep Us Together, The Captain and Tennille;
* Wildfire, Michael Murphey

Obviously we arrived, visited, and drove home, but I don’t remember any of that. I’m sure I must have talked incessantly about the trip to grandma and grandpa and my cousins, but it’s all lost in time. All that I remember now is the snow and the wind and the music.


Tags: reminiscences
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  • I suppose it's a qualified success...

    On so many fronts. This year I tried to clean up/establish a garden in a controllable area. I cleaned up everything, but focused my attention on one…

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