It’s June 23, 1962.
Ray Charles’ “I Can’t Stop Loving You” and David Rose’s “The Stripper” are fighting for the most spins on New York’s bossest radio station, WABC-AM. The fledgling New York Mets erupt for 13 runs — the most they will score in any game their first year — to beat Houston at the Polo Grounds. English jazz instrumentalist Tubby Hayes is in New York too, cutting an album with an all-star band that includes James Moody and a sax player still known simply as Roland Kirk.
And in the Connecticut suburbs of The City, the usually sedate Blumenau family is celebrating summer by pitching a wang dang doodle:
Since the calendar entries continue after June 23, 1962, I gather that the roof stayed on the house and the walls stayed in one piece. Sounds like it was a near thing, though.
But seriously … a couple of observations (or semi-educated guesses) about this calendar entry:
* Clambakes are not a Blumenau family tradition as far as I know. (Of course, it’s never too late to start.) Still, for the sake of argument, I’ll assume my grandfolks actually did cook and serve a bunch of bivalves that day. It was summer; they lived in New England; and there were other big doings that day. Sure, why not?
* My great-grandmother, who will get an entry all to herself one of these days, was a piano teacher for many years. I’m guessing that the “piano blast” was someone’s droll description of a piano recital — one of those interminable events where legions of students take turns traipsing up to the piano and abusing “Fur Elise.”
* “Clam,” incidentally, is long-standing musicians’ slang for a wrong note. (An interesting discussion of the term’s origin can be found here.) I doubt my family had that connection in mind when they scheduled a clambake on the same day as a student piano recital. But when you put the two things together, it’s a wonderfully subtle in-joke.
* I’m not convinced the party description is in my grandfather’s handwriting — it doesn’t lean forward the same way. Compare it to some of the other calendar entries we’ve seen so far, and tell me if you don’t agree.
It’s definitely not my dad’s writing either (the words “Rod-Job-Stu” are in his hand), nor that of my grandma or great-grandma.
So my guess is that my Aunt Elaine contributed this calendar entry, perhaps elaborating ever so slightly on the size and scope of the par-tay. I could be wrong: The musical notes suggest a certain puckishness I associate with my grandfather.
* I’m guessing that the beer — if beer was indeed served — would have been one of the great New York-area brands of the day, like Ballantine or Rheingold. I would have enjoyed the chance to taste either one while they were still made to their classic recipes.
At any rate:
While Memorial Day weekend is a time for reflection, it’s also a time to get together and relax with family and friends.
Here’s hoping all my readers are enjoying the weekend that traditionally serves as the gateway to summer.
And here’s hoping your summer is long, warm, and full of clambakes and piano blasts.