This evening is warm and quiet; the labors of the day have worn me out. I sit here watching letters leave my fingers and find their way to the white screen in front, as if there is a story in my hands and it needs to escape.
When I was a boy I was fascinated by so many things, the world was there before me and all I had to do was reach out and take hold of a passing adventure. My father did not seem to share this fascination; he saw life only as a chore that was without end, or without promise. I have always felt sorry for that, but it did not alter how I chose to look at the world, and my role in it.
How different this world has become from what I had when I was young. Today parents have to protect their children to a far greater degree than my parents ever thought about. For example, when I was 14 they gave me a .22 caliber rifle, and trusted that I would not misuse it. Of course back then Boy Scouts had taught us about gun safety and how to properly handle firearms. I had taken another class to get a hunting permit so I could go with my uncle as he hunted for deer; the rifle was given as a gift to sharpen my skills. I wonder if they ever knew I would come home from school and head off into the woods near my home to practice shooting at an abandoned car? Can you imagine the uproar that would happen today if a 14 year old was found wandering around with a rifle? I went hunting with my uncle two years and never shot a thing, but to this day I have an appreciation for those who love to hunt. To be out, in the mountains, watching the sun as it crosses the sky, maintaining your silence as the does lead a buck your way.
Music was changing during these years. It was moving from the orchestration of a Big Band to small groups playing amplified guitars. There was a dramatic shift from what was to what is. I can remember my parents loved the Big Band singers and country music. I came to appreciate that music, but it has never been as special as the groups we heard. I wonder if all of us can trace back to what our favorite songs were? With my fascination of the military I can remember clearly listening to Johnny Horton as he sang, “Sink the Bismarck” and “Battle of New Orleans.” I was attending Violet Avenue Elementary School at the time and still remember running around the play ground during recess – singing for all I was worth, “Hit the decks a running boys, and spin those guns around, for when we find the Bismarck we’ve got to cut ‘er down.” There is one phrase in this song that has never made a lick of sense to me. Horton sings “on her decks were guns as big as steers and shells as big as trees.” The mental image of these words can be quite disturbing, with giant steers shitting out trees. Maybe he just couldn’t get anything to rime with trees?
I wonder what musical memories today’s kids will form to recall fondly in their future? I’m having a hard time seeing any songs from 50 cent, or Justin Bieber as the examples that will be remembered 50 years later.