Summer, WLS, and Shelley Fabares

THE WRITER

 

While working on a home improvement project I realized I needed a tape measure sitting on the front seat of our car. It was one of those perfect summer afternoons marked by a gentle breeze and a few wispy clouds dotting the sky. The car was parked in the shade of a tree and as I walked toward it I began to experience a wonderful case of Deja vu. I opened the car door, sat down in the driver’s seat and suddenly everything changed. I sat back, closed my eyes, and found myself transported back 54 years to the summer of 1963. 

It was beautiful. I was no longer a graying 66 year old with more than a few aches and pains but a 13 year old with my whole life in front of me. I was no longer at the home we had recently purchased for our “semi” retirement but in the yard outside the two-story farmhouse at Rural Route 2, Walnut, Illinois. It was no longer our Chrysler van I was sitting in but my dad’s two-toned brown 1958 Ford Fairlane. The radio was tuned to WLS in Chicago, much as it has been all my life, but it was longer Rush Limbaugh blaring but beautiful, beautiful rock and roll songs tied together by the antics of “disc jockeys” like Larry Lujack, Ron Riley, Clark Weber who kept me company day and night. 

Unlike 1963, however, I had work to do. My time to sit and soak in the sweet summer’s breeze and the even sweeter music flowing from the AM radio was brief. The memories were instant and endless, however. In my mind I heard the strains of “Easier Said Than Done” by the Essex, “Sukiyaki” by the immortal Kyu Sakamoto, “Surf City” by Jan & Dean, and one of my very favorites, “Blue on Blue” by Bobby Vinton. Most of all I was waiting; waiting to hear television actress and “sort of” singer Shelley Fabares coo “Ronnie Call Me When You Get a Chance”. OK. I confess. It’s a rotten song but I was in love with Shelley Fabares and she was singing my name. Can you blame me? 

Music—and life—was about to change. In a few short months President John F. Kennedy would be dead, the victim of an assassin’s bullet and the country went into a funk. The Viet Nam war was just beginning to ramp up and the country would soon be torn in two by our involvement. The Beatles would soon hit the shores of America and rock music would never be the same again. A cultural shift led by he sexual revolution was taking place and I would watch and listen and experience it as a wide-eyed teenager. 

Most of all I would simply grow up. I would grow to experience life in all its glory and its pain. I would marry my childhood sweetheart and together we would raise 5 terrific sons and experience all the struggles, heartaches, and—most of all—joys of parenting. We would somehow survive life and, hopefully, leave some kind of mark on the world. We would grow old. 

But that was future. Sitting in the car under that shade tree the summer of 1963 was all that mattered to me at the moment. Summer. WLS. And of course, Shelley Fabares.

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