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#11 BEACH MUSIC: A time of tans, blonds and hot pants

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IT WAS A TIME OF TANS, BLONDS AND HOT PANTS, WHEN THE ENDLESS SUMMER WAS JUST A SHORT WALK DOWN A HOT SIDEWALK
Beach Music, an On the Street Where I Livestories is really a tale of two cities; San Juan, Puerto Rico and Santa Monica, California. It was originally published in the LA Times Sunday Magazine.


Beach Music We came to California from Canada, with a detour to Puerto Rico that lasted one endless summer of a year. A year in which I turned 15, and my hair turned blond from living in the sun. “Psst,” the boys and men would call after me in the blue-cobbled streets of San Juan. “Psst! Hey, blondie. Psst! Hey, cutie pie.” I was devastated when my parents said we had to go, that it was time to leave the island so that my older brother, Russell, could get a first rate education. The plan was to drive cross country from Miami and settle in San Francisco so that my brother could finish high school before going on to UC Berkeley. But, once we got there in the fall of 1968, we found that …

There's no H in Satisfaction


Growing up in the sixties means many of my adolescent memories revolve around the British Invasion. Gyrating in the kitchen and gleefully belting "I can't get no satisfaction" making my horrified mother sputter as she did the dishes.
"You naughty girl! Stop that!"          
It was 1965. I'd just turned twelve; no way I was going to stop that.

You thought that was naughty, mum? Just wait until the Stones hit the airwaves with "Let's Spend the Night Together" a couple of years from now. You won't know what hit you.

I sang that song all summer long, not having a clue as to what fueled my mother's outrage, but loving to see her riled up, nostrils flaring. I sang that song while she drove Trixie and me out to swim at the Duff or Chippewa or the pool at the Cyanamid chemical plant, self-conscious in my new pale pink two piece, worried that my freshly sprouted tufts of pubic hair would show through when my swimsuit got wet.


I sang that song while my mother worked outside in a pair of cotton short shorts and an old shirt of my dad's tied at the waist, showing off curves I was sure I'd never have. Sang it while she watered the flowers she'd planted along the border of our driveway, and worked in the rock garden she was making in the backyard. I sang that song while I helped her with the washing, pouring the 'blue-ing' in the washing machine, carefully threading the sheets through the ringer, terrified my fingers would get mangled in the works.

I sang "Satisfaction" all through the long hot, humid July, stopping only when Herman's Hermits finally knocked the Rolling Stones off their number one spot with "Hen-ery the Eighth" in August. That's when my mother got me back, belting it out:
"I'm En-ery the Eighth I am, En-ery the eighth I am, I am
I got married to the widow next door, she's been married seven times before.
And every one was an En-ery" 
"EN-ERY!" my dad would join in if he was around.
"Never had a Willy or a Sam."
"OR A SAM!" 
 "I'm En-ery the Eighth I am. I am. En-ery the Eighth I am" 
It turned out that the newest number one hit was some old British music hall song that both my British parents knew by heart. "That old thing?" they laughed, putting a damper on my summertime singing career, especially as both my parents had beautiful singing voices while I couldn't exactly carry a tune. Not that 'Hen-ery the Eighth' required a beautiful singing voice. I can see my parents even now, my mother still radiant at forty, my father, ten years her senior, laughing in the kitchen, singing that song, exaggerating that cockney Aich. I can hear them singing still.

The H was silent in Hen-ery the Eighth, a song that flips the real story of Henry VIII on its end. I've been following that story as told by Hillary Mantel in Wolf Hall on my book-to-movie site, Chapter1-Take1. Come visit?

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