(Play this video. It's the soundtrack to this story)
Hope your Holidays Bring Back That Perfect Memory!
While we all share the memory of great popular music performances, there are some musical memories that are private. Like a smell or a taste, a song can bring back a special moment in time, a moment when life seemed so simple, a perfect place where time stood still, and everything seemed right with the world.
Growing up in the 1960’s if I wanted to escape from the family as they watched the latest cop show on our only TV, and not having computers or video games, I would read Marvel Comics. This guy, Stan Lee, and his artists, had started all these new characters that seemed more adult and ahead of their time. I used to dream of seeing them in their own movies some day, but there was no way the special effects could show Galactus the way Jack Kirby did!
Adults knew nothing of these characters. It was our own special club back then, the Merry Marvel Marching Society, and the books were not easy to find! This was a decade before the first comic book store. Kid stuff like this was relegated to spinning-racks in 7-11’s and drug stores. I would have to ride my bike all over Levittown to find all the ones I wanted. I supported my habit myself, as my parents didn’t know what to make of these “Funny Books”.
Then, I discovered a mail-order place you could send away for old comics you needed! The only problem was they were a little more expensive than the ones on the newsstand. It had to be done! Christmas was coming, so I had to get the nerve to ask my mother. We had 5 kids in our family, so we had learned to be happy with what we got, and we always were! Well, my mother told me, “Comic Books are not a Christmas Present”.
Christmas came that year with about 6 inches of bright sparkling snow. I turned on my 52” radio and listened to the Four Tops on WFIL. My brother and sister dragged me downstairs to open presents, when I spotted the package with my name. From the size and weight, it could only be one thing! When it came my turn to open a present, I went right for that one. I ripped it open and there they were, a large stack of Tales to Astonish and Tales of Suspense starring the Incredible Hulk, the Sub-Mariner, Captain America and Iron Man.
After the presents were open, we rushed outside to go sledding. The new-fallen snow glittered as I stepped outside!!
20 years later I was listening to an Oldies station and this song, “The Rain, the Park and Other Things”, when suddenly a strong memory came to me. I was sledding down Hearth Rd, I came inside, grabbed some of Mom’s Christmas cookies, and went upstairs to read the box of comics. I could hear the Cowsills song telling the story of the encounter with the Flower Girl and her random act of kindness. And I realized that the song must have been playing in my room on that perfect day.
Who was the Flower Girl, and how did she make me so happy? Then it came to me. She was my Mom.
“The History Of Popular Music In One Easy Lesson According To Tom Orr”,
The Off-Broadstreet Theatre, Hopewell NJ, October 25, 2010.