Originally published March 12, 2012
I was going through some of my old record albums today – and came across a box that had a bunch of 45 RPM’s that I hadn’t seen in years. And as I sat on the floor, going through each one, I found myself thinking about things I hadn’t thought about for many years.
I don’t know if I am the only person in the world that connects old songs to events from the past – but certain songs can really ‘pull your heartstrings,’ by remembering a particular time, place or person, you’d almost forgotten.
I could write a story for each of these old songs – but for now, I would like to remember one song – from the early ’60s. I am listening to it now as I write this story. The song is less than three minutes long – as most songs were back then – but it doesn’t matter because I’ll keep playing it over and over.
In those days, you seldom bought record albums (LPs) because singles (45s) were better values for the money. And besides, record albums usually only had one or two good songs (notable exceptions to this rule include: Elvis, Ronnie Dove, Everly Brothers, Roy Orbison, Beach Boys, and of course, The Beatles).
We didn’t have stereo record players (or stereo records) back then – usually just a small player that played 33 1/3 RPM’s, 45 RPM’s, and 78 RPM’s records. Early Rock ‘n Roll records were all on 78 RPMs – but things changed in the early ’60s to LPs and Singles. The record player that we had wasn’t automatic – you had to turn it on, and manually put the arm thingy (stylus/needle) at the start of the record. When the song finished playing, the turntable would continue rotating until you picked up the arm and either put it on the cradle or back on the record. Later, players were automatic – which meant you could replay a recording continuously.
For many summers, I took swimming lessons at Camp Samac – which led to me attaining the Bronze Level (medal and certificate) – which was a requirement to be a lifeguard. A few summers later, I got my first summer job as a lifeguard at Geneva Park, on Ritson Road, in north Oshawa. It was one of the best gigs I’ve ever had.
Geneva Park had lots of amenities, including two twin swimming pools and a dance hall (hut) with a killer jukebox that played music crazy loud and non-stop.
Outside the dance hall, there were barbells – and there’d usually be a crowd watching the muscle guys trying to outdo each other.
As a lifeguard, I worked three, fifteen-minute shifts and had one shift off each hour. I’d spend my breaks near the pool – drinking Cokes and listening to music. It was the first time in my life that I felt “popular.” And although that sounds vain, being a lifeguard helped me in the “chick department.” For some reason, girls seemed to like lifeguards – which was great because I was skinny and not very muscular.
Anyway, there was one song that played almost continuously – Palisades Park by Freddy Cannon. When I heard it this afternoon – for the first time in ages – it brought back all of the great times that I had that summer. I’ve played it a few hundred times today. If you aren’t familiar with the song – check it out at the end of this story; I’m sure you’ll love it, too!
Maybe, I’ll buy a Speedo thong and see if I can get a lifeguard job at the local senior citizens’ center. I’ll bring the record and be sure to play it loud. Hopefully, they’ll have a pool.
Dedicated to lifeguards