November 9, 2008

My First Connection With Music

"Goodbye to you my trusted friend.
We've known each other since we were 9 or 10.
Together we climbed hills and trees.
Learned of love and ABCs,
Skinned our our hearts and skinned our knees.

Goodbye my friend it's hard to die.
When all the birds are singing in the sky.
Now that spring is in the air,
Pretty girls are everywhere.
Think of me and I'll be there."

Some of the lyrics of Terry Jacks' "Seasons In The Sun", a song I first heard on a little Mickey Mouse shaped radio my stepfather Harry had given me in 1973 for my 6th birthday/Christmas, soon after mom moved us in with him.

They had met through a personal ad, and the first time I met him she had invited him to our apartment in Philly for dinner. I remember liking him right away. He moved us out to the country (New Hope PA) where he had a home and a sign shop. It was the first place I remember liking as a kid. In many ways it was the first time my brother and I actually got to BE kids. Mom couldn't demand my brother and I be perfect polite little gentlemen with Harry now there to stand up for us with his "Let them be kids!", his pool, his love of taking us to do things we never had done before- like going to the races at Flemmington Speedway, his snow sleds we got to ride down neighborhood hills, OUR FIRST DOG- his Collie named Poohbear (among several other scary dogs that were kept outside in a pen). Harry loved us as his own kids- as much as mom let him. (Remember Cher's movie Mermaid? That was our story except two boys instead of girls, and mom made false teeth instead of finger food). I remember the first time walking into his house, I spotted two little cars displayed on a ledge in the dining room- I went for them right away, mom yelled at me to put them back, Harry said "Let him play, he can't hurt them." These were my first two Hot Wheels. A purple VW bug and bus a friend had given to him because he himself had a custom purple VW bug. I have a few memories as 'scenes' from before this time- but this was the first period I remember.

I first heard Seasons In The Sun when I got Chicken Pox and was quarantined to my bed with Mickey under my pillow. It's my first memory of music and being conscious of it. I remember crying my eyes out! Of course at 6 I thought the singer was really dying and saying goodbye to his friend, pop and girlfriend. I still tear up if I hear it. It made me aware of death and I often had dreams of being buried alive. I would get in trouble for something, and while standing in a corner I would cry because I would think about dying (not because I got in trouble as mom thought). And I still have an irrational fear of being buried alive. I didn't know my father, I'll always remember how Harry took us into his home and heart and let us be kids. He and mom split a few years later after we moved to Florida- which yielded to a seriously miserable period of my childhood. They reconnected 4 years later for another good few years, not long after I left home at 17 they had split for good. I later stayed with him for a while before moving in with my first partner. We remain close, we actually live in the same apartment building now- he's on the 3rd floor, I'm on the 11th. He's now 78.

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