Remember autograph books? I still have mine — it’s got the “Love Is…” characters on it. Clare got one at one point — maybe she was in middle school. She had friends and teachers sign it. I just found it during our Great Knee Wall Purge of 2023.
One night I was planning on taking her to go see my favorite singer/songwriter, Dan Bern. Clare was unable to go with me — maybe she was sick. Anyway, I went on my own. We decided that maybe I could have Dan write his autograph her new autograph book.
I got to the venue (Iota Club & Cafe in Arlington, VA) early, saved a seat for myself and grabbed dinner from next door. After eating I sat and listened to the sound check and chatted with my friend Marc (may he rest in peace). I mentioned to Marc that I was going to bring my daughter, but she couldn’t make it but she wanted Dan’s autograph. He immediately beckoned me to approach the stage and ask Dan now instead of later. Dan said he was happy to sign her book and asked what her name was.
I expected him to sign his name, and maybe write a quick note. I sat back down while he was writing — it seemed to take a while and I wondered if he didn’t know what to say and started getting embarrassed. Minutes later he handed me the book and said he hoped it was okay with Clare that he used more than one page. I was dumfounded when I looked at what he wrote. And drew.
What he did was so kind and selfless. I remember thinking that he’d be a great dad someday. And he is! His daughter Lulu is probably about the age Clare was when Dan wrote this for Clare.
For the past few decades I’ve been in the market for an affordable record player that was capable of playing 78s because I had a pile of Little Golden Records from my childhood that I wanted to hear again. I remembered playing some of these records over and over again and even wrote about them in a memoir essay for a college class. I felt sure that I was going to be suddenly transported back to that pink room on Mountain Street.
A few months ago I pulled out the records and looked at the titles. I figured I probably didn’t need to play them again because I assumed I could find them on the Internet. While I did find some, I could not find all of the recordings. But it didn’t matter because I realized that my memories of the records were somewhat false. For instance, I was sure that Walt Disney himself was singing “Bibbity Boppity Boop!” on one of the records but it turned out to be Mitch Miller and the Sandpipers.
Not long after I’d decided I should just toss the Little Golden Records in the trash, I found a great deal on a small portable record player capable of playing 78s. It was about the size of my childhood record player. I bought it and when it arrived I immediately plugged it in and played one of the records. No feeling of nostalgia. I tried another. Same thing. Nothing. Looking at the titles, I don’t think that any of these records will give me that warm, slightly bittersweet feeling of longing for the simpler days of being a kid that I was hoping for, expecting.
I sit here wondering why these circles of yellow plastic don’t bring back fond memories. Is it that I am so old that I’ve forgotten actually playing them? Is it because I don’t need to feel nostalgic about these songs? Is it because I’ve got lots of better memories than being 5 years old listening to records in my bedroom? I don’t know, and I think I should stop wasting my time on wondering.
These, warped and scratched up as they are and worthless, will go in the trash today. Also, they smell bad.
Here’s a video that someone with an unscratched record posted on YouTube. It’s the only record with a singer other than Mitch Miller and his orchestra plus the Sandpipers.
I don’t much like modern pop music. I’d never actually heard a Katy Perry song until today when I watched a video that Walt Whitman High School students put together (that’s the school my two kids attended). The video is for a contest through Good Morning America who teamed with Ms Perry and asked high schools to put together a video to her song “Roar”. The school not only put the video together in 7 days, it featured most, if not all, of the student body and many faculty members. In addition to the song, the school featured last year’s campaign in which they raised $91,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. In the video several students and faculty members hold signs that read, “I beat cancer”. I love the whole video, but of course my favorite bit is the small wrestling segment featuring Harriet, a former teammate of my son. (:36 – :39 or so in the video — also to the right of the Viking in the cover shot)
I hope you enjoy this as much as I did. Even if they don’t win the contest (and of course I think they should) they should be very proud of themselves.