The Sounds Of A ’60s Summer

There was the ever-present throb of fans, because no one had air conditioning.  Square fan units that fit into the bottom of a window that you could yell into and have your voice emerge, chopped and distorted, on the other side.  Rotating fans that whirred from side to side, with streamers tied to their wire covers blowing in the breeze.  Standing fans in the corner that sent air circling around the room.  They didn’t make the air any cooler, but they helped the “circulation.”

Screen doors creaking open and slamming shut with a bang as kids came and went and exasperated Moms said:  “In or out?”  Baseball cards attached to bicycle frames with a clothes pin that were strummed by the spokes of the rear wheel and made a bike sound like a motorcycle.  The hum of riding lawnmowers, as the neighborhood Dads cut the grass on their acre-sized lots.  The fat from cheeseburgers sizzling on hot charcoal.

And, as the evening arrived and shadows grew long, boxy Zenith and RCA radio units were turned on.  The sounds of ’60s music floated out the open windows through the screens into the humid summer nights as the adults gathered on patios and kids ran around, waving sparklers or catching lightning bugs or playing flashlight tag.  Martha Reeve and the Vandellas and Dancing in the Street.  Frank Sinatra and Strangers in the Night.  The early Beatles, the Beach Boys, and the Four Seasons.  Dionne Warwick and Petula Clark.  And, most of all, Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, whose music perfectly captured the ’60s summer mood.  Happy, bopping music, light and upbeat, infused with optimism, as the adults talked quietly and laughed about last night’s Tonight Show or reenacted one of the bits from the latest great Bill Cosby or Bob Newhart comedy album.

When bedtime came, the beat of fans was still there, accompanied by the chirping of crickets and the buzz insects in the sultry air.

Pool Music

We are down in the Bahamas visiting our good (and generous) friends Chuck and Laura Pisciotta. They are graciously hosting us at their lovely second home near Freeport, and we have had a wonderful time.

Yesterday we were sitting out by the pool on a bright sunny day and were listening to the trusty Ipod played over our portable speaker set-up. I chose my Orlando Ave. playlist, which features songs from the 1950s and early 1960s, up to the cusp of the British invasion. I have to say it is just about perfect pool music — the Four Seasons, the “girl groups” of the early 1960s, the Coasters, Connie Francis, and so on, with some Chuck Berry, Elvis, and Jerry Lee Lewis sprinkled in. The songs tend to be light and bouncy in tone and short in duration, and before you know it you are on to the next one. I never thought Dominique by the Singing Nun would appeal to Chuck’s musical tastes, but in that setting it did.