. . . It’s not sad, but it is true. It’s about a place that I once knew.
And I’ll bet the summer stories of your youth share some of the same accompaniment. Let’s cruise through the scenes these other opening lines bring back:
All my bags are packed, I’m ready to go . . .
I’m so young and you’re so old . . .
Each time we have a quarrel, it almost breaks my heart . . .
You can dance every dance with the guy who gives you the eye, let him hold you tight . . .
Tonight you’re mine, completely . . .
All the leaves are brown . . .
As I walk along, I wonder a-what went wrong . . .
Though we gotta say goodbye for the summer . . .
If you miss the train I’m on, you will know that I have gone . . .
While I’m far away from you my baby . . .
Oh-oh, yes I’m the great pretender . . .
And they called it puppy love . . .
Yeah, they still make me want to slow-dance, too. Under the stars or in the rec hall, listening to sometimes-scratchy 45’s over a P.A. system loudspeaker, overcoming shyness and feeling like . . . well, like a teenager in love.
We grew up in important ways at those Friday night “socials,” dressed in cuffed slacks and button-down shirts, party skirts and white blouses worn an hour or two earlier for Sabbath candle-lighting and a Sholem Aleichem story that was read aloud. The pop music, the summer breeze, the moon-lit lawn, the fireflies, the Brylcream and Vitalis, the Tabu and Shalimar . . . it was a romantic setting, all right. An Archie and Veronica vignette, come to life.
Too real is this feeling of make-believe
Too real when I feel what my heart can’t conceal
Oh sure, we twisted with Chubby Checker and jitterbugged to Chuck Berry, Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis, but the real mood-makers of our mountain hit parade were the doo-wop, pop ballads and folk sounds of The Everleys, The Four Seasons, Dion, Fabian, Frankie Avalon, Brenda Lee, The Platters, The Coasters, The Shirelles, The Drifters, Richie Valens, Ben E. King, Peter, Paul and Mary, The Kingston Trio, The Drifters, Del Shannon, The Mamas & The Papas, Paul Akna and a bunch of Bobbys Vee, Vinton, Rydell, Darin, Sherman.
Ultimately, inescapably, we held hands to the Fab Four. But before they began changing the world, we played and replayed songs that spoke of our new stirrings and explorations, our embrace of night activities beyond scavenger hunts and marshmallow roasts.
Put your lips next to mine, dear
Won’t you kiss me once, baby
Just a kiss goodnight, maybe
You and I will fall in love
And so we did, or imagined we did, if only for a few warm and precious weeks.
Is this a lasting treasure
Or just a moment’s pleasure?
Calls, letters and maybe a few early fall reunions in the city would follow . . . before distance, schoolwork, new classmates, the lack of a car or driver’s license and other realities forced summer crushes to the background. Faded, but not forgotten . . . Ruthie Eisenberg, wherever you are.
I’ll see you in the sunlight
I’ll hear your voice everywhere
I’ll run to tenderly hold you
But darling, you won’t be there
The magic of the night reached pre-teen campers, listening or watching from bunkhouses after “lights out” as siblings and others partied. “I remember trying to fall asleep at night in my room in the Main House that faced the Rec Hall when the older kids were having a dance,” Linda Hanauer recalled in an e-mail from Manhattan. “The loudspeaker was just outside my room, so instead of going to sleep I would watch the older kids dance to Put Your Head on My Shoulder.”
Whisper in my ear, baby
Words I want to hear
Flashbacks like these can send one to the shelf of vinyl, where scenes of summers past live in the grooves of thick black platters. They’re evocative, all right, but not quite the same as when they were played under clear, starry skies when life stretched before us as an exciting, endless set of possibilities.
Tell all the stars above
This is dedicated to the one I love