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181203 December 3, 2018


Theme from A Summer Place

Music to Walk By
Tommy Towery
LHS '65
    Click on the song above and listen to it while you read about my memories.
    Normally, when the weather is cooperative, Sue and I will take a mile or a mile and a half walk around the neighborhood every day. Sometimes during inclimate weather I take advantage of the inside track at our church to do the same. Last week was one of those times, and while Sue was attending Bible study I headed for the track.

    Having no one to talk to during the walk, I decided to take advantage of the online music program Pandora and listed to one of my favorite Sixties music stations. For fun, I decided to keep a list of all the songs that were being played that day and see what memories each song brought to mind while I did so.

    I basically found I personally could classify each song into one of four categories, those being songs for listening, dancing, singing along with, and those which just bring back some memories I could identify with the song being played. I know many songs fit into multiple categories, but for each one I tried to apply just one classification to, and to remember why I would do so.

    Chain Gang by Sam Cooke was the first song which came up as I started my trips around the track. I eventually put it into the “sing along” category, based primarily on the “uhh-ahh” chant prevalent in the lyrics. However, the memory brought up by the song was about the artist Sam Cooke and not his Chain Gang recording but rather his version of Cupid. That is because of the time I went to visit Lewis Brewer when he was working at the Mugs Up Root Beer drive-in on South Parkway down by the Huntsville Times Building. Something had happened to the juke box there and Cupid was stuck in the cue, and it played repeatedly for the whole hour I visited.

    Stay by the Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs came next and I also placed it into the “sing along” category. Who has never drug out the word “staaaay” along with Maurice or try to hit the high notes of “Oh, want you stay, just a little bit longer?” as we sing along?

    Billy Boy was a song with which I am familiar but never associated with as a hit during the Sixties. It was then I reminded myself many songs back when we were teenagers were regional. American Bandstand was the closest we had to a national juke box shared by teens around the country, but on local stations sometimes songs were played for the locals that our fellow teens on the other side of the nation never heard. To me this was definitely just a “listening song.”

    Among My Souvenirs by Connie Francis definitely fits into the “dancing” category and more specifically into the “slow, low light, bodies held close” category. You can easily close your eyes and travel back to the early boy-girl record player parties and picture yourself in the arms of a member of the opposite sex, and many can just as easily relate to the words about a love interest gone bad.

    Georgia on My Mind by Ray Charles also falls into the “slow dance” category, but seems unique to me because no matter how romantic it seemed at the time, in 1979, the State of Georgia designated it the official state song. I had the good fortune to hear Ray Charles sing this one in person at a concert in Tunica several years ago. I laugh today listening to the songs being played on the radio and trying to picture any one of them becoming such a hit it inspires a group of politicians to designate it as a state song.

    Theme from A Summer Place by Percy Faith and his Orchestra falls into the “dancing” category, but for me personally, I can only picture myself holding hands with someone special as I traverse the roller rink at Carter’s Skateland with this song oozing from the speakers on the walls. I cannot recall the number of times I actually wanted to just close my eyes and skate to this romantic tune as I glided on my precision Chicago skates. It is still one of the most romantic songs of my youth. I have previously written about A Summer Place, the movie from which this theme emerged and the young love story it tells of the unwanted pregnancy of Sandra Dee and Troy Donahue. 

    Beyond the Sea, by Bobby Darin, to me is a “listening” song. I was intrigued by the variety of songs Bobby Darin released. In my mind back then he was too old to be a teen idol, even though he had some great songs we all loved. He was always more the showman artist and I could picture him in clubs in Las Vegas easier than standing on a stage with teenage girls screaming as he sang.

    Where or When by Dion and the Belmonts was released in January of 1960 and undoubtedly should be placed in the “dancing” category, and again high in the “slow dancing” group. In a dimly lit family room or dancing by the moonlight in Dianne Hughey’s back yard, it did not matter. This song was one of those “jump up and grab someone close” songs that made it imperative to get on your feet and hold someone close.

    Please Mr. Custard by Larry Verne would today be among those considered not politically correct but was a song we loved to listen to. The whooping Indians on the soundtrack seem to come directly from a John Ford’s John Wayne movie and added to the fun; not to mention the “Hey Charlie, duck your head…little bit late on that one Charlie” lyrics.

    The Big Hurt by Toni Fisher came out in in 1959 and also featured a background track reminding me of wild winds and the rushing by of a steam locomotive. I put this one in the “dancing” category, but qualify it as another song of my Carter’s Skateland period.

    My Home Town by Paul Anka came next and is another rare song of which I do not associate any teenage memories. It sounds like the “B-Side” of one of his hits. We can all remember that the 45 rpm records we bought were usually bought for the song on one side “the A-Side” and rarely even remember the song on the other side. I think back to the dances where we took our own records and one would get put on the record player with the wrong side playing and everyone would just stop and look at each other when it began wondering “What is that?” I do not think it became popular in Huntsville, but I may be wrong. It falls into my “listening” category, but I can relate to the words about someone’s home town and the memories of it.

    A Million to One by Jimmy Charles & The Revelletts (1960) tells the story of young love and the young lovers who have parents who do not approve of their dating. It is another nice “slow dancing” song, but does bring back memories of the pain some of us who endured the pain of not being approved by the parents of someone we care for.

    Cathy’s Clown by The Everly Brothers is a “dancing” song, but neither a fast nor a slow dance. It is the type of song you used your arms and hands making a lot of movements to the beat. It also tells of the pain of young love and being dumped by a steady. Anyone who ever felt the pain of rejection can related to the mourning lyrics of Don and Phil and how it felt to discarded by someone you felt so close to.

    Running Bear (1959) by Johnny Preston is a toss up between a “sing along” and a “listening to” song. It treats the Native Americans with a more positive attitude than Please Mr. Custard did, and again repeats the story of a love hampered by obstacles too great to overcome. It was an early version of several teenage tragic songs about love and death. Later many other songs repeated that topic. If I must, I put it into the “listening” category.

    And as the “ugah-ugah” lyrics of Running Bear ended, so did my laps around the track. One and a half miles during the trip down memory lane. Next week I may do the same unless I hear from some of you asking me not to. What else and I going to write about?

        Memphis, TN - It is December already and soon Christmas will be upon us. If any of you would like to share some Christmas memories about our high school days then send them in for others to enjoy.

    I received a strange Facetime call this week from Rick Markley who identifies with the Lee High Class of '66. Somehow Rick accidentally butt-dialed me and we had a nice talk. Rick lives in Oregon and moved in and out of Huntsville with his parents during the Sixties. He said he did not graduate from Lee, but when I asked he said he was with the '66 group. It was fun talking to him.


From Our Mailbox 


Subject:    Flora-Bama Photo

David Fulda

    I loved the picture of Generals reveling at the well known Flora-Bama.  It looked like a good time for all.  John’s wife (not pictured) I hope gets a good laugh out of it as Pauline is my wife and John’s wife is Mariah.  Best wishes to all you Generals.

(Editor's Note: My apologies Davie (and Pauline). That's what happens when folks send me pictures without identifying who is is them. It also happens when I do not know with which class year you identify. I was told John Fulda's wife was at the event and when I went to the directory to find a name, I got the wrong one.) 

Subject:    Flora-Bama
Skip Cook
LHS '64

    I really enjoyed this weeks issue and the great article by Collins Wynn.  I am somewhat embarrassed by the fact that I live in the panhandle of Florida and I have never been to the Flora-Bama Lounge.  After reading the article, a trip to the Flora-Bama is now on my bucket list.

Subject:    Lee's Traveller
Dennis Tribble

    Thanks for the memories you made my day again.



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