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This Week with The Chicowitz — November 13, 2017

Memories of the Sock Hop

OK, I admit it; right up front... I am not much of a dancer. But I love the music, so I always participated in the sock hops.

They were called sock hops, of course, because they were usually held in the gymnasium, where shoes would mess up the floor. So we had to take our shoes off and... dance in our socks.

 HMC then Each week our Boomer-in-Charge, Hershel Chicowitz, has something to say about life, society, or what’s going on... from the perspective of a baby boomer. This is what’s on his mind the week of November 13, 2017.  HMC now

Back at Byron Junior High, they played records in the girls’ gym during the lunch periods. (Periods four and five were lunch.) The girls, and a few guys, went to the girls’ gym, took their shoes off, and danced to the new sound of rock and roll. Not I. I kept my shoes on.

But when I write “they” played records, I really mean “we” played records. In seventh grade during lunch, I would take my sandwich, milk, and Oreo cookies into the little office next to the gym and talk to my friend Roger Pryor while he played the records. When Roger graduated in June, I was a natural to take his place the next year. (That’s Roger, over there on the right, in a highly atypical pose.) Roger had to be the role model for the Fonz; he was just too cool. Roger had taught me to start with a song with a strong beat, but not too fast a song... something like “Quarter to Three,” by Gary U.S. Bonds. After that, I could go with a slightly faster one, but then I should slow the tempo down. Every third or fourth song should be a slow one... “Theme From a Summer Place” by Percy Faith or “A Summer Song” by Chad and Jeremy:
        swayin’ in the summer breeze
        Showin’ off their silver leaves
        As we walked by....
        kisses on a summer’s day
        Laughing all our cares away
        Just you and I.

Oh, how I love those slow songs! We had a collection of about 200 45s, and we played them over and over and over again. There were no warning labels, no offensive lyrics... it was just good, clean fun. Everyone had a good time.

I played songs from the room next to the girl’s gym for two more years. Then I handed the reigns over to another would-be DJ. High school awaited me. At Shaker Heights High School, I polished up my diction as a public address announcer; I did the morning announcements twice a week, and worked behind the scenes the other three days. In the meantime I “talked up” the songs to the radio in my mother’s car.

In college I worked at the campus radio station, WAMU, in Washington, D.C. (That’s me, on the right.) Yep, it’s the same station that Willard Scott and his buddy Eddie Walker – the Joy Boys – (on the left) had started a decade earlier. (“We are the Joy Boys of radio; we chase electrons to and fro.”)

What a blast! I still would love to be a DJ at an oldies radio station. There just cannot be a better job on earth!

Unfortunately, the DJs don’t get the girls; my days in the office playing records instead of dancing to them retarded my ability to get the girl. That is a weakness that has hung over me like a dark cloud for my entire life.

I still have some “air checks” – radio tapes – of my disk jock days in college. I generally play them on a first date – which may explain why I seldom get a second date. But that’s another story.

I can still see a row of hundreds of shoes lined up against the wall of the gym. What great memories!

Another moment in time... gone forever.

A couple years later, Roger took me for a ride on his motorcycle, and I was hooked. One ride was all it took. I got a paper route and woke up at 5:30 in the morning seven days a week for two years to earn enough money to buy a motorcycle when I turned 16. My parents were dead-set against it, of course. But they offered a compromise: a scooter, not a cycle. And no leather jacket.


Thanks, Roger!

So, decades later, when I think back, I remember most fondly... my motor scooter, the music, and the sock hops.

Next time you’re at a sock hop, look for me... I’ll be in the adjoining room... playing the 45s... with my shoes on.

        But don’t you know, that it hurts me so
        To say goodbye to you-u
        Wish you didn’t have to go
        No no no no...

        And when the rain         Beats against my window pane
        I’ll think of summer days again
        And dream of you
        And dream of you.

A BBHQ Pop Quiz: Sonny & Cher. We admit; we have no idea what Cher’s last name is. But Sonny... we all remember that, don’t we? What was it?

Your final answer is....

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