Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Evening Of September 21st 1973

Jim Croce "I've Got A Name & Five Short Minutes" Intro By Keith Moon

About the time most kids should be doing their homework my buddy David (nope, not the Dave of the11thhour), and I would hop on our bikes and ride around in the evening. How we managed to ride at break neck speeds down unlit streets without killing ourselves is a testament to youthful eyesight, and stupidity. We'd locate a favorite hang out, and smoke a few cigarettes, and then ride back to his house and listen to the radio for awhile.

David had three beautiful older sisters, which made it a pleasure to hang out with him. Susan whom I had a crush on a mile wide, was about a year and a half older than me, but two grades higher. The boys that she was dating were older than her, and she was always going out on dates. She was as pretty as could be, and seemed so sophisticated.

The way Susan took drags off of her cigarettes, and the way she exhaled. The fact that she was allowed to smoke in front of her parents! Her cute smile, and incredible eyes. Those blue jeans tugging perfectly at every curve. Despite her flirting I had no chance. Me on my bike, versus a never ending flock of eighteen year old boyfriends picking her up in their muscle cars. Still my heart pounded just to be near her.

Jeannie was the next older sister, and she was a beautiful blue eyed blond like Susan. She also had a more sympathetic nature toward me. I call it sympathy now, but at that time I hoped it was more. She was three years older than me, and those three years were like an ocean that made any idea of going out with her laughable. Still she smiled at me, and looked me in the eyes, and joked with me. But the truth was I was her little brother's best friend, and even if she thought I was cute it was probably more puppy dog cute than anything else.

The eldest sister rarely hung out with us. She wasn't the beauty her younger sisters were, and she was headed to college. She spent more time with her parents, and so I never really had the chance to know her well. There was always that eldest child that was far out ahead in the world - those who experienced the 1960s in the baby boomer kind of way. This girl wasn't one of them, she would have been part of the group that came immediately after.

David had a younger blue eyed blond sister also as pretty as could be, but too young for us to really want to hang out with - in fact we'd tease her regularly, but all in good fun. We considered her more a security risk than anything else - what if she found out we smoked? She'd tell our parents. There were always those younger kids who came immediately after us in age, and you'd have to watch out - because aspiring Tweens get ratted out.

Finally there was the baby brother, Joey, who was just a few years old. Not much to say here, but David, and everyone else in this family treated him with love. He was the family mascot, the last of the clan.

Quite a family. Back then it was pretty much the norm for parents to have four, five, and even six kids. Many family had quite a few more. I was raised to feel that only children were to be pitied - and so I did.

David was very much a middle child - like myself.

Before we entered the teen world of pot smoking, and drinking we would score a pack of cigarettes out of a vending machine, and think of ourselves as cool for doing so.

We even shared a girlfriend. Those days were innocent. When I say girlfriend, I mean smooching, holding hands, and hugging - which at that age would send my heart soaring. And while thoughts of racing to second, third, and even forth base filled my head it was not to be - at least with that girl.

On the evening of September 21th, 1973 I had zipped on my bike down the dark canopied street to hang out with David in his house. That night I recall that we were in his bed room. The floor was finished pine. Dave sat at one end of the room, and I the other on the floor. His room had little in the way of furniture, but it was cooler that way as it made the room much bigger, and the ceiling much higher.

We had hung out in David's bedroom many times while reading his collection of Ripley's Believe Or Not books, Mad Magazines, and old comic books while listening to rock and roll hits on WCVS.

I expected a similar night of just hanging out, but when I arrived I noticed that David was totally bummed out. His back was against one wall, with the radio playing next to him. I finally asked him what was wrong, and he told me that folk musician Jim Croce had been killed in a plane crash the night before. Not long after sharing this news with me some of Jim Croce's songs played on the radio - it was I guess a tribute.

David handed me a clipping from the State Register about the plane crash. As I read the article I was stunned. How could someone so young, so cool, so talented die? We both sat there listening to the radio not saying much. David was bummed out, and so was I so I didn't stay long.

It's funny how memory works. Maybe that's how tragedy always works? I'm not certain, but I'll always remember the night I discovered that Jim Croce died. The bike ride home in the dark must have seemed a bit darker that night.
. .
Bad Bad Leroy Brown
by Jim Croce

Well the south side of chicago
Is the baddest part of town
And if you go down there
You better just beware
Of a man named leroy brown

Now leroy more than trouble
You see he stand bout six foot four
All the downtown ladies call him treetop lover
All the mens just call him sir

And its bad, bad leroy brown
The baddest man in the whole damn town
Badder than old king kong
And meaner than a junkyard dog

Now leroy he a gambler
And he like his fancy clothes
And he like to wave his diamond rings
In front of everybodys nose
He got a custom continental
He got an eldorado too
He got a 32 gun in his pocket for fun
He got a razor in his shoe

And its bad, bad leroy brown
The baddest man in the whole damn town
Badder than old king kong
And meaner than a junkyard dog

Well friday bout a week ago
Leroy shootin dice
And at the edge of the bar
Sat a girl named doris
And ooh that girl looked nice
Well he cast his eyes upon her
And the trouble soon began
And leroy brown learned a lesson
bout messin with the wife of a jealous man

And its bad, bad leroy brown
The baddest man in the whole damned town
Badder than old king kong
And meaner than a junkyard dog,

Well the two men took to fightin
And when they pulled them from the floor
Leroy looked like a jigsaw puzzle
With a couple of pieces gone

And its bad, bad leroy brown
The baddest man in the whole damn town
Badder than old king kong
And meaner than a junkyard dog

1 comment:

Dave said...

Why in the world would Keith Moon be introing this? That's a story unto itself.

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