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It is part of every boy’s maturation to realize that his dad has feet of clay, and is prone to the same faults and vanities as everyone else in the world.

I learned that some time ago … I don’t remember when exactly, which suggests the process was gradual and without trauma. And now, I can relate to his shortcomings just as well as I relate to anybody else’s.

This week, we — mayyyyyybe — catch my dad engaging in a little self-serving stretching of the truth.

To which I say:

“Well played, Slick.”

June 1, 1961. The Yankees, on their way to a 109-win season and a World Series title, are surprisingly stuck in third place.

June 1, 1961. The Yankees, on their way to a 109-win season and a World Series title, are surprisingly stuck in third place. There are no Mets.

Even in his high school days, my dad was a working semipro musician, playing piano and saxophone in a variety of settings. We wrote about one of his gigs, at a high school prom, just a week or two ago.

As a result of that, there is a steady stream of “JOB” notations on the calendars of 1961-62. (Occasionally, there is also a “NO JOB” note in my grandpa’s writing — usually following two straight nights of gigs. Enough was enough, I guess.)

A few years ago, my dad admitted to me that not all those “JOB” listings were quite what they appeared.

See, the Blumenau family only had one car in my dad’s high school years. And, like most high schoolers, my dad liked getting the keys for a night of cruising the town — or crossing the state line to New York, where the beering age was 18.

So from time to time, my dad would log a phantom “JOB” on the calendar as a means of claiming dibs on the family car.

He couldn’t do it too often, of course. For one thing, phantom jobs didn’t pay. For another, my grandparents would only let him out so often — so if he took too many fake jobs, he might have to turn down a real one.

But, on a limited basis, it was an ingenious way to get out of the house with four wheels at one’s disposal, and no one the wiser.

I have no way of knowing whether this week’s calendar listing is a phantom gig or a real one.

I sorta suspect it might have been real, because it happened on a Thursday night at 6:30, and there’s nothin’ shakin’ but the leaves on the trees at 6:30 on a weeknight.

On the other hand, this particular calendar listing is devoid of all detail save for time. No location, no mention of a leader for the gig.

So, who knows? Maybe my dad threw his saxophone in the trunk right after dinner, and spent the evening of June 1, 1961, drinking cans of warm Rheingold with his high-school buddies.

To which I say, again:

Well played, Slick.

After a long, trying, arctic winter and a fitfully rainy spring, it’s finally here, effective 6:51 a.m. Eastern time on Saturday.

Nothing looks more promising when it’s coming, or fades faster when it goes away, than summer.

I wonder who the two guys were who came by to scrape off the white paint. With a few strokes of his pencil, my grandpa conferred upon them both immortality and anonymity.

They dwell forever on the furthest periphery of the Blumenau family saga, like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, their motivations and machinations known only to each other.

But, anyway.

It’s the start of summer. A time when all but the most cellar-dwelling baseball teams have a chance, every tree looks climbable, every teenage love affair looms as something epic, and every day seems — to the winter-hardened soul — to last forever and ever and ever.

Most of summer’s promises don’t come true, I’m fairly sure. Ask any schoolboy about his summer, the night before he embarks for school, and he’ll tell you what he didn’t manage to get to.

(Maybe that’s why I usually prefer fall and winter, which underpromise and overdeliver by comparison.)

We still relish the arrival of every summer, though.

It’s the brightest and breeziest season, and the most leisurely, and the one where the unpredictable breaks of life seem most likely to bounce our way.

The summer of 1973 would be an eventful one for the Blumenaus of Hope Street.

Between the summer solstice and the autumnal equinox, they would welcome their second grandson; see their daughter married (as per the “ordered invites” note on this week’s calendar entry); say goodbye to my grandmother’s closest friend; and ride out a particularly vicious heat wave.

I don’t know if there was anything special they left undone at summer’s end. Seems to me they packed plenty in.

Let us all hope this coming summer goes as well — successful, but salted with enough bittersweet to remind us we are human. That seems like a worthy and realistic prayer, no matter our station in life.

Whatever summer has for us, good or bad, we’ll know soon enough.

Because — after a long, trying, arctic winter and a fitfully rainy spring — it’s finally here.

Hooray for promises.

The time period many of us think of as “the Sixties” — for now, we’ll place it at roughly 1963 to 1974 — is reaching its 50th anniversary.

This will doubtless produce a flood of think-pieces, retrospectives, grasps at clarity and, from time to time, outright revisionist spin, as the still-lively Baby Boom generation continues to tangle with its legacy.

But I think the history of that period is a little too hazy and complex to produce many clear-cut conclusions, even now.

This week we drop in on a late-’60s college commencement, where some of the decade’s big questions get grappled with in public:

June 7, 1969.

June 7, 1969. The Mets are eight games behind the streaking Chicago Cubs; the Yanks are coughing along in fifth place.

I’ve written at some length about my Aunt Elaine’s tumultuous two years of grad school at Boston University.

I’ve only occasionally mentioned, though, that she earned an undergraduate degree from what was then Southern Connecticut State College (now University) before going on to BU. June 7, 1969, found my grandparents and great-grandmother headed up to New Haven to attend her commencement.

It just so happens that the 1969 edition of the Laurel, the Southern Connecticut State yearbook, is online.

You have to pay to see all the pages in full detail, but a page summing up that year’s commencement can be easily read. I’ll reproduce the relevant passage here.

(I’m not sure if there’s a copyright issue in reproducing this chunk of text. But if the copyright belongs to anybody, it ain’t the people who are trying to make me pay to read it. So I’m gonna go ahead and copy the text. I believe the Class of ’69 referred to this as “sticking it to The Man.”)

Anyway, here’s part of what was said that day:

ln a departure from tradition a member of the graduating class, Frank Wargo, delivered the Commencement address. He called today’s college student protesters “a distinct minority who do not represent the feeling of 98 per cent of the students across the country.” “That 98 per cent,” Wargo said, “is the ‘Other Voice,’ and somehow it must be heard above the protesters.”

In his address Wargo said, “At 6:30 every evening when Americans sit down in front of their television sets or pick up their newspapers to see and hear what is going on in our country, they always seem to hear about that two per cent. It is no wonder, then, why the American public is being turned on by the younger generation.

“The rest, the overwhelming majority,” Wargo said, “are rarely seen or heard. But they’re there. They go into industry, business or teaching, they enroll in graduate school or join the Peace Corps or go into the service.”

“These are the people who help keep our country strong, these are the people who go unnoticed, but who are always there. Ask the two per cent what they want or where they are going and most of them won’t be able to give you an answer.”

Wargo conceded change was both healthy and necessary, but that it must be accomplished in a non-violent manner because “violence begets violence.”

“Somehow,” he concluded, “the voice of the 98 per cent must be heard above the protesters so that at 6:30 when Americans pick up their newspapers or turn on their television sets and see our colleges and universities in the hands of that small minority and throw their hands in the air and ask what is wrong with our younger generation, they will hear that ‘Other Voice’ saying: ‘We are here, we are trying hard, won’t you please give us a chance?”

Young Mr. Wargo went on to make the “Other Voice” proud. He earned a master’s degree in city and regional planning, worked for 30 years, served on several town government boards and commissions, and has been active in community organizations.

It’s not my intent to pick his speech apart with the hindsight of 45 years. In any event, I imagine my grandparents pretty well agreed with him as they sat in the crowd and heard him speak.

Still, his address raises some challenging questions in retrospect.

- Just how big was the “two percent”? Of course the real hardcore radicals made up a small minority of the student population in 1969 — probably less, even, than 2 percent.

But what of all the kids, like my aunt, who never threw a rock or burned a draft card, but attended demonstrations and came to oppose the war?

What percentage of young America really did have significant concerns with the way the country was being run? How many of them discerned in the Nixon administration a hostility and dishonesty that turned out to be very much real?

I suspect the opinions and positions of college-age America covered every stop on the spectrum, with plenty of gray in between, and summing it up was much more complicated than a simple 2-percent-vs.-98-percent breakdown. I’m not sure historians will ever get a firm handle on it, at any rate.

- What did they want? The assertion that the radical wing of American youth didn’t know what it wanted or where it was going seems doubtful. Were the Weathermen truly that vague about their ideals?

I would imagine that a pretty big swath of the 98 percent were the ones who didn’t know what they wanted or where they were going. They were the ones who sat in late-night dorm-room bull sessions asking questions like:

- “Should I go to Vietnam, or go to Canada?”
– “Should I go to work for a company that makes materials used to fight the war?”
– “Do I want to work for a nonprofit in the inner city and make a difference, or get a corporate job and set myself up with some money?”
– “This country seems pretty well broken. Do we need some kind of revolution to make this society work the way it was designed to?”

Valid enough questions, one and all; and all confounding to future historians trying to get any sort of unified handle on the generation. They wanted any number of things, and the paths to most of them were winding and unclear.

- Who won? The commencement speech — at least, the quoted part — asks that the older generation recognize the efforts of the kids who stayed on the straight and narrow, because they’re the ones who “keep this country strong.” (There’s an implication there that dissent is un-American and leads to weakness, but we’ll let it lay.)

We know the real hardcore revolutionaries of the ’60s didn’t achieve what they wanted. I wonder how many of the 98-percenters did.

Most of them, I suspect, joined The System and worked for 30 or 40 years to make the trains run on time … at the end of which, the country was still broken in a whole bunch of ways.

Most of them tried, as the speech said they would; I imagine only a small minority (2 percent, perhaps?) set forth to line their pockets and the hell with everything else.

And America, like the Class of ’69, is far too complex for an easy answer. No one could really expect one generation to sort out all its problems and challenges.

Still, when historians look back 50 or 100 or 200 years later and try to summarize what that generation truly achieved, I wonder how the lot of them — the bomb-throwers and the teachers and the ditch-diggers and the Peace Corpsmen — will be judged. How much of their diverse vision were they able to make real?

It will be interesting to see how much of that judgment the Baby Boomers will be able to guide or stamp before they fade away. History hasn’t passed from their hands yet, but it will, as it does to every generation.

I don’t pretend to know the answer myself. My area of historical specialty is the Blumenau family of Stamford, Connecticut; the big-picture stuff is going to have to come from someone smarter and better-versed.

So we’ll leave off with the image of a lawn full of capped-and-gowned graduates, their motivation clear and their ideals high, beseeching their older generation for their chance.

They got it, anyway.

High school prom season’s pretty well over, at least where I live. It looks like the local newspapers have squeezed out their very last prom photo galleries.

(I used to work for a chain of weekly papers in Massachusetts that considered local proms to be a big annual rite of passage and a must-cover. I escaped having to cover my town’s prom by the simple method of getting married and going on my honeymoon at the right time. Worked like a charm. I could only play that card once, of course … but by the following May, I’d gotten another job. That worked too.)

I don’t mind writing about proms, if I don’t actually have to go stand around and ask teenagers mushmouthed questions.

So this week, I’ll finally write about a prom … but from a different angle than I would have taken as a journalist.

This week, the story’s not about the kids. It’s about the grown-ups who pick up a couple bucks making their big night special.

June 2, 1962. Appropriately, this photo is No. 622 in its batch.

June 2, 1962. Yanks cruise to a win; Mets stumble to two losses.

Just a year removed from high school himself, my dad got hired to play the Darien High School prom, Darien being the town just to the east of Stamford.

The concept of live musicians at a high school prom seems alien to me. In my youth, the soundtrack to prom was provided by a DJ spinning the hits of the fortnight, just as they were heard on the radio.

(The local morning-radio jock who spun at Penfield High’s proms a quarter-century ago is apparently still on Top 40 radio in Rochester. Wonder how many proms he’s been to.)

My dad says the musical menu at Darien High was a mix of swing tunes (i.e., “Satin Doll”), standard ballads and waltzes (think “Blue Moon” or “I’m In The Mood For Love”); a few of what he calls “ethnic” Italian and Polish tunes (I’m guessing the Tarantella, but I might be wrong); and a couple of rock n’ roll instrumentals.

Now, the members of the Darien High Class of ’62 probably didn’t spend a lot of time listening to “I’m In The Mood For Love” of their own accord.

But swing and standards were seen as posh, and well-suited to a big occasion. In my dad’s words:

It doesn’t surprise me that the Darien prom committee chose standard swing and old dance music for their prom.  That was normal; although we listened to rock ’n roll 24/7 and loved it, many high school proms featured big bands covering the swing music of the 30’s – somehow that was “special.”  It does surprise me that Darien, being a good bit tonier than Stamford/Hope Street, would hire the Joe Denicola Quintet for their prom.

So who was the Joe Denicola Quintet, you might be asking?

Apparently they worked regularly around the Stamford area back in the early ’60s. The band was usually a quartet, but sometimes hired my dad when they needed a sax player.

My dad playing saxophone on TV, early 1961.

My dad playing saxophone on TV, early 1961.

Their roster, as my dad recalls it:

– Joe on bass. Joe was 2 years ahead of me at Stamford High, and we played in the jazz band together one year.  And because of my natural ear I could fit in with his band pretty readily, there being no music, ever!
        – “Shaves” on drums (perhaps he was a barber?  Dunno).  He was a very good, tasty, natural drummer who swung and kept great time.
        – A solid trombonist whose name escapes me.  He was a cobbler (shoemaker and fixer) by trade, who played basic stuff and played it well.  Iron trombone chops; great tone and endurance!
        – Rudy on amplified accordion (!!!).  Rudy was a little headstrong but did what he did well.  And sometimes played too loud.  But then again, “audible” is too loud for an accordion!

None of these guys ever went to college.  But they had played together for quite a while and did what they did well.  None of them sang; they may have hired a vocalist for a bigger gig.

I can just about see these guys in my mind — Shaves the Drummer, in particular. What a great nickname. That guy deserves a larger chapter in the history of American music than has thus far been granted him.

Also, I wonder whether any American accordionist of the past 25 years has gigged on prom night. Now that’s an anachronism, even more so than the idea of swing music and standards on prom night. It would take a prom committee with cojones of iron to hire an accordionist in the Age of Auto-Tune.

Anyway, my dad’s memory suggests that the Joe Denicola Quintet might only have been an intermission band. He thinks Darien High hired a singer and full orchestra to provide the bulk of the music, and hired these local guys just to fill in the breaks. (In his words: Smart money would say that the Joe Denicola Quintet was NOT the headliner at the prom.)

That seems to me like quite a length to go to. But Darien was (and is) a pretty well-heeled place, and if they wanted two bands at prom, they could probably have afforded it.

(I also find it droll to think my dad entertained those hardcore few who refused to stop dancing just because the orchestra wanted a break. “Not done shaking ass, kids? Here comes the Joe Denicola Quintet. No parking on the dancefloor!”)

My dad doesn’t seem to remember anything unusual, regrettable or embarrassing about the gig.

So I’m guessing the Darien High ’62 prom went as intended; the kids got all the music they could hold; and Shaves the Drummer picked up a little extra beer money.

As it should be.

For years now, I’ve been passing along my grandpa’s weather-related reportage to you, the readers.

From the snow and floods of early 1962 to the torrid final week of August 1973, and even to storms that never showed up, I’ve shared my grandfather’s detailed records of temperature and precipitation to bring back long-ago events. He was clearly fascinated by the weather, and he took copious notes about it.

This week I’m here to say that … well, you know all those numbers?

They might not have been 100 percent accurate.

May 29, 1968.

May 29, 1968. The Mets and Yankees are both six games out of first. Neither will play today, for reasons explained directly above.

Four-and-a-half inches of rain is a metric arseload of rain for one day.

That’s wet-basement potential, flash-flood potential, turn-around-don’t-drown potential. (Especially if the preceding days have also been wet, though it doesn’t look like they were in this case.)

It looks like late May and early June of 1968 were pretty crappy, weather-wise, all over the U.S. According to FEMA, flooding and tornado disasters were declared on May 29 in Oklahoma, Arkansas and Iowa, with additional declarations a week later in Illinois and Ohio.

Just last year, the New York Times declared May 29, 1968, still the all-time rainiest May day ever recorded in the five boroughs …

… with a rain total of 3.99 inches.

It’s possible that Stamford, up the coast from New York, somehow got a half-inch more rain than the big city did. (I haven’t been able to find a trustworthy online source for Stamford-specific weather information.)

But they’re not that far apart geographically, and the Times is a pretty authoritative source. Which makes me wonder how and where my grandpa got the weather info he put on his calendars every day.

I’m pretty confident he didn’t just make it up.

And I’m also pretty sure he didn’t have a weather station in his backyard to personally track the temperature and rainfall. Even if he did, he was still working in 1968, and not home all the time so he could keep an eye on it.

If I had to guess, I’d say his weather reports were taken from either the Stamford Advocate or WSTC, the local radio station. The Tri-State area is large enough that the New York papers and stations might not be counted on to give Stamford-specific info.

Wherever he got it from, I’m now suspecting that it might have been an inch off here, a couple of degrees off there — sometimes on the high side, sometimes on the low.

It doesn’t really matter in the long run. Everything I write about is locked safely away in the past. And no one’s looking to my grandpa’s calendar entries as any kind of accurate historical record.

But I always assumed they were accurate to one-tenth of an inch, so I’m a little put off.

Ah, well. It is an important step in all of our personal development to learn that our elders are flawed, and don’t always have the right answers.

Some of us just take longer to learn than others.