A Summer Place
by Tommy Towery
Sue and I just returned from a week at Myrtle Beach and one of our side trips while visiting there was to a place called Pawley’s Island. It is a tiny, private island (off the coast of South Carolina and not Maine) filled with beach houses and very few other things. As we drove along looking at the houses the island reminded me of a movie I saw as a teenager. It was “A Summer Place” and though the movie was set in Maine (but filmed in California) there were some familiar similarities, which made me think about the movie, even though none of the houses were even remotely similar.
The year was 1959, and I had just turned 13 and hormones were raging for the new teenage boy. There was no movie rating system back then, but sometimes we knew a movie was intended to be viewed by persons older than we were. That was what made us want to see them. Up until then, my movie taste had been Westerns and monster films, with an occasional Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis or Bud Abbot and Lou Costello comedy thrown in. When I saw the trailer for “A Summer Place” I felt a little naughty, but I saw the subject matter and for a curious new teenager who was trying to learn about the birds and the bees, it became a must-see movie, kind of like "Peyton Place."
A Summer Place is a 1959 romantic drama film based on Sloan Wilson's 1958 novel of the same name, about teenage lovers from different social classes who get back together twenty years later, and then must deal with the passionate love affair of their own teenage children by previous marriages. It stars Richard Egan and Dorothy McGuire as the middle-aged lovers, and Troy Donahue and Sandra Dee as their children. The film contains a memorable instrumental theme composed by Max Steiner, which spent nine weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in 1960.
I will be the first (but I know not the only) one to admit that Sandra Dee was the hottest thing since Annette Funicello. Annette was the girl-next-door goodie-goodie, but the previews of “A Summer Place” showed Sandra Dee had a naughty sex-appeal no one would ever accuse Annette of possessing. Even in the later Beach Movies of Annette’s, she was always the wholesome girl with the one piece bathing suit who never even hinted at anything sexual.
And then there was Troy Donahue. Even as a male, I saw something in him that everyone wanted to possess. I even ended up with a nylon red “Troy Donahue jacket" that I wore most of my Lee High School days. Put Troy and Sandra together and they made the perfect teenage couple in many of our eyes.
Despite the sexual overtones of the movie and the teenage love plot, it impacted me move than any shoot-em-up cowboy movie, and gave my hormones a rush, and I am sure I even blushed a bit in the darkness of the theater. I cannot imagine sitting there with my mother or grandmother watching the same film. I am sure I went alone and was even embarrassed when I walked up to buy the ticket. Even the dialog got the heart pounding in moments like when Sandra Dee's mother tells her to "take off every stitch you've got on and let him examine you".Here are some highlights of what I am writing about:
One final note about the movie, and that is about how “sexual” even the soundtrack was, and still is for that matter. “The Theme from a Summer Place” became one of my favorite slow dance songs and remains so today. I cannot say how much of that feeling is influenced by the genre of the film, but it will always remain my favorite Percy Faith instrumental. I also associate it to my skating dates at Carter's Skateland and gliding around the rink with my young love.
Click the link below; close your eyes; listen to the soundtrack; and think back about who you danced with to this song in your teenage days, and how you felt as you danced to it. It has to bring back some sweet memories.
Memphis, TN - Sue and I spent a week on Hilton Head Island and then drove up to Myrtle Beach for an additional week. It was our first time at Myrtle Beach and I can only image what that place must look like during Spring Break. We had a good time, took a flight in a helicopter, I played golf three days, and we walked the beach looking for shark teeth. We have never had any luck finding teeth at Hilton Head, but came home with a plastic bag full from Myrtle Beach.
The Father of Jeffrey Fussell
William C. Fussell, Jr.
June 8, 1922 - March 2, 2016
Bill was born June 8, 1922 to William C. and Mary Fussell in Dickson County, Tennessee. He is survived by his wife Alma and three sons, Jeffrey (Karen), Stephen, and John; eight grandchildren, Mark (Silke), Kristen, Robin, Scott (Raven), Patrick, Katie, Brian, and William; eight great-grandchildren, and his brother Hugh. He was preceded in death by his parents, and sisters Billie Riddle and Betty Clark.
He proudly served his country in World War II in the US Army Air Corps as flight engineer of a B-24 Liberator in the South Pacific. He retired from SCI Systems in 1987. He was a Mason and Shriner having traveled east in 1953. Bill and Alma are members of the Epworth United Methodist Church.
Berryhill Funeral Home is assisting the family. No funeral services are planned. A memorial will be scheduled for a later date.
From Our Mailbox
Subject: Safety Patrol
Don't you think the role of safety patrol lends itself to developing a sense of leadership for the future? I did safety patrol during 5th and 6th grades, performed as a crossing guard for class outings, plus raised and lowered the flag at the Alabama Avenue School, Sheffield, AL I started at Lee in the Fall of 1962 as a junior to be in the first graduating class at Lee, 1964.