A typical winter day in 1958-59 usually found this high school junior and his peers dressed in button up Levis (riding very low), a cotton shirt with the collar turned up or more than likely a white tee shirt with a pack of Lucky Strikes tucked neatly in the sleeve. On our feet were white socks and penny loafers or wingtips; a few guys had white bucks or blue suede. We all had those horseshoe steel taps. The girls wore penny loafers or saddle oxfords, jeans or a skirt. Maybe it is my memory or maybe South Pott. County was different (please hold the comments) but the older I get the more popular those poodle skirts were. I really don’t remember many of them.
Our music was this new stuff called rock and roll; our primary source was static filled AM radio. Every radio was either tuned to KOMA 1520 or WKY 930, some had, in addition to the standard front speaker, an extra speaker installed in the rear package tray with a little switch allowing us to listen to front, rear or both. Stereo would become part of our vocabulary a few years later. At home or at parties 45s or those new 33 1/3 LP albums provided the music. At the local hangout, for us it was Ms Allen’s all night café at Pearson; we listened to the Juke Box. A dime would get you one song or you could hear three for a quarter.
Tuesday February 3, ’59 started like most other school days but by about 2nd hour the news was spreading. “Did you hear about Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens?” “They were killed in a plane crash last night.”
The three of them and some other performers had played The Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa. The Big Bopper was 28, Buddy was 22 and Ritchie was only 17. Those three and the pilot were the only people on the plane. It crashed on takeoff from Mason City, Iowa.
Buddy was the “rockabilly” kid out of Lubbock, Texas I have talked about in previous blog posts. He was my favorite guy then and he has remained my favorite.
I continued to listen to Buddy and when Sharyl and I became a couple we listened to him. I don’t know if I converted her or if she was already a big fan. His stuff kind of became “our music”. As we matured and the family came along we expanded our musical preferences and our time for music declined but Buddy was always there. We had moved from records to 8 tracks to cassettes and CDs; when I retired one of the personal items in my desk was a Buddy Holly CD; I also found a couple when I went through Sharyl’s things. I still have several of the LP albums we bought about 50 years ago. The pictures below are of one Sharyl bought before we were married, if you look at the close up you can see her name.
For the last fourteen months listening to Buddy Holly and some other guys from that era has again become part of my routine. I think I have used it as a way to relive and hang on to the memories of a happy and carefree time in my life or to be completely honest I should say our life. I think hanging on to those memories is good; I also think it is possible to use those memories as a crutch.
A couple days ago I visited the Surf Ballroom. I wish Sharyl could have been with me. If I’m going to wish I might as well wish that Buddy had been there too, we good have enjoyed a live performance together. Maybe he and Sharyl have gotten acquainted.
I think I placed myself in a venue that allowed me to “figure it out”; I think I can once again enjoy listening to some “Maybe Baby” or “Peggy Sue” and just cherish the memories. Another little bit of the healing process.
Please keep me in your prayers.
Good Night and God Bless.
PS: I am home from the trip. More on that in a few days.