Back The Tracks – Part 6 – The Pink Inferno

Philadelphia, PA – Mid 70s

My friend Michael and I were hanging out in one of our forts just chilling one afternoon. We’re just chatting and watching the trains roll by. We noticed some other kids who we didn’t know across on the other side playing around with matches. We figured just a couple of firebugs like us.

But stuff starting to catch a little bit and we decide to investigate. They were a little younger than we were, so we felt a bit of hierarchy there, (plus this was our territory, We had forts!) We crossed the tracks to go talk to them.

Growing all along that side of the tracks on the Cheltenham side were these pink colored weeds. We knew most of the plant life around the area because we had all come home at one time or another with poison ivy, poison oak, or poison sumac. Pretty, gross. I had it all over my arms once and not only does it burn and itch it creates these little pustules on your skin that burst into tiny yellow crusty sores. Yea, the woods are fun. We tell them to watch out for the pink weeds because they’re really flammable. We’d used them before to help get our little campfires going. But these idiots are just doing what they want and before we know it, the pink weeds start to burn.

Pink Muhly Grass | Naturehills.com

Normally the tribe just take off their jackets and beat down the flames. That usually worked for us, but it’s getting a little bigger. At one point somebody says, “Does anybody have to take a wicked piss?”

No one did, so that solution was struck down. Fire on dry weeds start to spread, and somebody had the brilliant idea to pick up this big slab of wood the size of a door and say: “This will put it out,” thinking that will crush and extinguish the flames. Normally that could work, but what it did as it fell, was create this burst of air that landed on the main fire, but blew the flames out all around it. Now the fire was 5 times bigger.

There’s a moment when boys realize they’ve lost control of a particular situation. At that point, there is only one solution. And that my friend, is to RUN like Hell.

Michael and I knew the fire was out of control and bigger than anything we’d ever seen. If we ran back across the tracks and headed home, neighbors would see the two of us, walking away or running away from a blazing fire and billows of grey smoke coming from where we just were. We’d totally be blamed because the other kids simply vanished at some point heading south.

So thinking quickly, Mike and I ran west across the old ball fields. They led to the woods we were very familiar with, and we just kept going. We ran through the woods in terror not looking back. We were so frightened and paranoid we’d go to jail for being framed for arson and burning down the woods, we just kept running. There was a path that ran along Tookany Creek. I told Micheal we shouldn’t take it because if they put together a search party, they’d look on the path, and what if they brought dogs? We were so just so scared. Our fear had hit hyperdrive. I came up with the idea that we should slide down the embankment on the creek edge, and follow the creek south as far as we could. No one could see us from the woods down there.

I remember back then we referred to Tookany Creek as, “The Crik.”

We made our way along the creek bank for about a half-mile, stepping on stones making our way along the creek out of sight. We got pretty far down until we came upon a small waterfall, so we knew where we were. We climbed up the embankment and got back on the path.

I remember, while down there making our way along the creek I found an old metal helmet. It was underwater, banged up, rusted, and looked pretty old. It was round with a wide brim and I knew it didn’t look like a modern army helmet I’d seen soldiers wearing in movies or Vietnam footage. We figured it was maybe from the Civil War. Our young minds conjured up battles fought a hundred years ago between the North and South. A helmet lost in combat right in the woods on the edge of our neighborhood.

But we’ll get back to that.

We walked up Levick street which was a huge hill. Not as high as Martin’s Mill road but a solid climb. We got to the bridge that went over the tracks and climbed under it. There was a cool space where you could sit under the overpass out of sight. Just a moment of repose to gather our thoughts and plan our next move. It’s funny when you’re a kid you think you find all of these cool hiding spots around your neighborhood. But, there’s always evidence somewhere to show you that you weren’t the first ones there. I’m sure kids had been hanging and drinking under that bridge for years.

Still scared to death, I said we should walk east on Levick street until we got to Rising Sun Avenue. We got to the corner of Levick and Rising Sun and headed north along the avenue. We strolled along, fanning our jackets trying to get the smoke smell out of them.

Once we got to our street, we turned left on Magee Avenue. We casually walked up to Oakley street and then down our block. This way, if anything was going on it would look like we were just two innocent little boys who were coming from the opposite direction to whatever destruction had occurred. As we approached my house we saw the white Cheltenham firetrucks sitting over by where the fire had been. There was smoke still billowing up from a very large section of the pink weeds that had been decimated by the fire.

We went into my house through the back door and I ran the old helmet up to my room. I came back downstairs and Michael and I peeked out the front porch side window at what was going on over there. Our parents would have skinned us alive and left us for dead in a ditch somewhere if they thought we had any part of something where the Cheltenham Fire Department had to come and put it out.

Michael and I never talked about what had happened that day for a long time, but later when we told the story it was always good for a laugh.

Oh, and that helmet I found…

When my mom saw the rusty helmet in my bedroom, I told her I found it in the creek. (Not a lie, even though it was connected to a two-alarm blaze!) She knew my friends and I were a bunch of trash pickers so she never raised an eyebrow. It looked worthless like many of the things we found.

I sprayed it gloss black, and painted a German Iron Cross on it. I just thought it looked cool like that. It sat on the radiator of my bedroom for years until I agreed to lend it to my sister for some play she and her classmates were putting on. I told her I wanted it back when they were finished their little show, but I never saw it again after that. I think some little weasel absconded my helmet. I was a little salty that my cool helmet was gone. Had someone realized it was an authentic relic from the Civil War and sold it for a bunch of money?  But, I was so busy in my life by then I pretty much forgot about that.

Turns out it was only a doughboy style, early World War II Civil Defense Helmet.  Sounds like an impressive collectible, but you can buy helmets like the one I found today that are in better shape for about $40 on eBay.

ORIGINAL EARLY WWII CIVIL DEFENSE HELMET - OD DOUGHBOY STYLE

So, no harm done Sis.

Tune in next Tuesday for, Wildlife and Evil Pets

And Thursday for,  Back the TracksThe Journey to Metamorphosis

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

How Do I Date in My 60s?

That’s actress Morgan Fairchild. She’s over 60 and hot as hell!
It’s a myth that men and women over 60 are no longer interested in physical intimacy and relationships.

Sure, they may experience some different dating challenges than they did when they were younger, but every year countless singles over 60 seek love, find it, and get married. You can, too.

Read on to discover how to navigate this new chapter of your life.

1. Join a Senior Dating Site

The number one venue where you can easily find other attractive and eligible singles in their 60s is a senior dating site. Everyone else on the site is in your age demographic and, by creating a profile, has indicated their interest in dating and relationships.

Here are two of my favorite options:

Match.com

★★★★★
4.9/5.0

Match.com

Match.com Dating Website

Relationships: Friends, Dates, and Relationships

Match System: Browse by zip, age, appearance, more

Our Experts Say: “Match.com has more “over 50” members than any other dating site, and it has a simple matching process that is responsible for millions of romantic connections…” Full Review »

Match is one of the most established names in the online and mobile dating space, and you can create a free profile within five minutes. It’s also free to browse for matches, receive matches based on the site’s algorithm, send flirts, and finding listings for local Match events.

EliteSingles

★★★★★
4.7/5.0

EliteSingles

EliteSingles.com Dating Website

Relationships: Serious Relationships

Match System: Search, Receive Partner Suggestions

Our Experts Say: “EliteSingles caters to highly educated single men and women, and it uses an advanced Fraud Detection System to make sure everyone is who they say they are…” Full Review »

EliteSingles is great for seniors who value education as almost 100% of its members have earned a bachelor’s, master’s, and/or doctorate degree. You also shouldn’t have any problem finding someone for a relationship on EliteSingles because almost 100% of its members are commitment-oriented.

The thing I love most about dating sites is that they aren’t anything like meeting people at bars, which often cater to a much younger crowd. Senior dating sites provide a perfect replacement for that need in your life.

2. Consider Having a Makeover

Once you get to be over 45, every time you re-enter the dating world, whether it’s after a breakup, divorce, or the death of a spouse, you should consider sprucing up your image.

Photo of a woman putting on makeup

If you need some inspiration, do a web search on some of your favorite mature celebrities. Or go to the makeup or personal care counter at your favorite department store and ask for help. Or hire a personal shopper who can do all the work for you. Or ask a family member or friend to go shopping with you or rummage through your closet with a discerning eye. You get the idea.

Your new image will put a smile on your face, and that will help you be your most confident self.

3. Attend Local Events, Groups, Classes & Activities

One of the inadvertent benefits of working is you’re actively interacting with people every day. For example, that place you get your coffee en route to the office gives you the opportunity to meet new people and interact with them.

Photo of seniors working out

Typically, by the time you’re in your 60s, you’re retired, semi-retired, or rapidly winding down your full-time job. You need to replace some of that interaction. Local events are great for that, and you can find them by checking bulletin boards or visiting Meetup.comEventbrite, or Facebook Events.

4. Figure Out Your Dating Pace

Some senior singles may want to go on dates every week, while some may prefer to go on dates every other week. Figure out what works best for you and your lifestyle.

I recommend going on numerous dates and dating more than one person at a time until you’ve got a routine down that you’re comfortable with.

5. Stay Motivated

Whatever your goal may be, whether it’s sex, friendship, personal growth, companionship, dates, or love, you need to make some concerted efforts to achieve that goal. Let your goal be your driving force.

Photo of a note that says I can

Write down your goal (or goals) in a journal and reflect on it weekly. As you do so, you’ll fuel your self-motivation.

6. Turn to Your Friends & Family for Support

Identify those friends and family members who will be supportive and expectant of weekly dating updates from you. Share your dating news with them only. Avoid those who always say things like “It’s hard to find love at your age, “All the good women are taken,” etc.

Photo of senior friends

Until you’re in a relationship and calling each other boyfriend or girlfriend, I recommend keeping things under wraps confiding only with your circle of trust.

If you can’t think of anyone like this in your life, working with a coach who specializes in senior dating, like me, can really help. You have someone who is rooting for you and in your corner; someone to email and share your ups and downs and challenges with.

7. Keep With Traditional Dating Behavior

Leaning back on gentlemanly and ladylike behavior will always stand you in good stead when you’re dating in your 60s. The etiquette of your first handful of dates with any new potential mate should be a bit traditional.

A first date should be something quick and casual like going for coffee, drinks, or drinks and appetizers, and you two should meet at the chosen venue. For the second date, the man should pick the woman up at her place, and he should pick up the tab.

Ladies, allow the man to suggest a few places to meet that fit his budget. Don’t suggest meeting at a bar for cocktails that start at $20 each. Guys, it’s OK to suggest an interesting venue with some conversation-prompting ambiance. Maybe not the dive bar, but the cool, locally owned Italian restaurant could be good.

8. Do the Personal Growth Work

After 60, you’ve likely been through a divorce or two, or you’re widowed like I am. Before you fully launch yourself into the world of dating, please do some personal growth work with a good therapist. Aim for working with him or her for three to six months just to exfoliate any of the emotional scars and learn some new healthy communication strategies and relationship skills.

You could also read books about personal growth or attend some workshops and seminars.

You don’t have to have a diploma in dating and relationships, but starting the personal growth work will help you attract people into your life.

9. Be Prepared to Openly Talk About Intimacy

The expectations and timing for intimacy and sex are different when you’re over 60. I’ve found that both senior men and women prefer waiting a bit longer. However, around the fourth date, the subject will probably come up.

Photo of mature couple in bed

Men, if you’re having some erectile dysfunction issues, you may want to at least start the conversation with your primary care physician and get a prescription prepared. Or you can go the holistic route and ask the folks in the supplements section of your health food store what they would recommend.

Ladies, now is not the time to look at yourself naked in the mirror and start tearing apart how you look. When you’re in bed with your man, you will be the only lady there, and he will be delighted.

Dating in Your 60s Does Take Effort, But It’s Worth It

Many things are different when you’re dating in your 60s. It does require a strategic approach and some concerted effort, but remember it’s worth it — and you’re worth it. Sharing all of you with another person is worth it. If you want to find love, you can. I’m cheering you on. You can do it. Let your heart be your compass!

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Cycles of Life

Philadelphia, PA – Late 60s – Early 70’s

The first childhood vehicle I ever had was a little metal pedal car. I don’t remember much about it, but I had heard from my father that I didn’t like it. It was a beautiful little car.  Odd, you’d think I would love something like that but he told me I didn’t have much interest in being inside it.

Pin on A Few of My Favorite Things!

The next was a little kid’s bicycle. It was a red Schwinn Pixie boys bike with training wheels. My father liked Schwinn bicycles. I can’t blame him. Schwinn made bikes that were durable and virtually indestructible. I remember them being heavy bicycles when many were lighter in weight back then. I don’t even think you could put air in the tires of the Pixie. They were solid rubber.

Schwinn Pixie kids bike. | Kids bike, Schwinn, Bike

I loved that little bike. My older sister had a blue Schwinn bike but I can’t remember the name of it. It may have been called a Bantam. The cooler girl’s bike made by Schwinn was the sportier, Lil Chick.

VINTAGE 1977 CHICAGO Built Schwinn Bantam Convertible 20" Girls/Boys Bicycle Org - $125.00 | PicClick

All the while my little sister rode around on a tricycle.

I was happy on my little Pixie bike, but one begins to notice some of the other kids in the neighborhood beginning to ride bikes without training wheels. It was a natural progression for all children to want to grow up and have more freedom. But there’s always the fear factor of trying new things.

My father would be out in front of our house with us teaching us how to ride without training wheels. It became an ongoing story in our family’s history of my dad teaching me how to ride. He knew that once I got it I’d be fine and that it was all a matter of confidence, speed, and balance. But the story was that he’d be running along, holding onto the back of my seat and me being terrified.

“Dad! I’m going to fall!”

“I’m not going to let you fall. I’m your father!”

It’s funny now, but I remember thinking back then, “I get that, dad, but what if you trip and fall? It could happen. Then I’ll careen into the bushes!”

I suppose it was just my early anxiety about doing anything different or new, but he kept at it. Me nearly in tears, pedaling like my life depended upon it, and him holding on and running behind me.

But then one day… off I went. Like magic. I pedaled and kept the bike going, thinking my dad was still holding on to the back of my seat and thinking how is he doing this? But when I hit the brakes and stopped, I turned around and he was thirty feet behind me standing on the sidewalk, hands in the air, smiling ear to ear.

They say, ‘it’s as easy as riding a bike’, and it’s true. It is easy. Once you can do it, you never forget it. You simply feel your center, maintain your balance, and move forward. I think that principle can be applied throughout your life.

Learning to ride a bike is your first step to independent freedom away from your parents.

Mid 70s

Eventually, my older sister got a bigger girl’s bike. It was green. It was a solid conservative ladies’ bicycle. It was classy, just like her.

So my parents gave me her old blue girl’s bike. But at the local bike shop, they bought a bar for it that ran from the seat to the handlebars so that it was now distinguished as a ‘boys bike’. Funny how you had to add something to a bicycle to give it a gender. But it originally was based on design, structure, and stability. The only reason girls’ bikes didn’t have it was because many years ago, women’s bicycles were designed without a bar to accommodate their long dresses.

So with the bar, it was now a boy’s bike. But based on some of the newer designs in bicycles I was seeing around the neighborhood, I wanted to trick out this blue Schwinn Bantam.

My friends and I had become literal whizzes when it came to bicycle mechanics. With a set of tools, we could completely take a bike apart and put it back together again. So I wanted to take this former girl’s bike and ‘Frankenstein’ it into something cool. The first thing I did was spray paint it gloss black.

My mother took me down to Morie’s Cycle Shop on Rising Sun Avenue, just beyond Levick street. I remember the bike shop always had a distinctive smell. It was that fresh vulcanized rubber smell. Our sense of smell is our most primitive sense, and the memories it provides are always extremely vivid. If I walked in that place today it would take me right back to that day.

It may have been my birthday. My mom let me pick out a black banana seat with silver sparkles, a tall sissy bar, big fancy handlebars, and a fat rear tire that was called a slick. I also found an old bike in the trash and sawed off the forks in the front and added them to my bike to create a look that resembled a chopper.

chopper is a type of custom motorcycle that emerged in California in the late 1950s. The chopper is perhaps the most extreme of all custom styles, often using radically modified steering angles and lengthened forks for a stretched-out appearance. They can be built from an original motorcycle that is modified (“chopped”) or built from scratch. Some of the characteristic features of choppers are long front ends with extended forks often coupled with an increased rake angle, hardtail frames (frames without rear suspension), very tall “ape hanger” or very short “drag” handlebars, lengthened or stretched frames, and larger than stock front wheels. The “sissy bar”, a set of tubes that connect the rear fender with the frame, and which are often extended several feet high, is a signature feature on many choppers.

sissy bar also called a “sister bar” or “passenger backrest” is an addition to the rear of a bicycle or motorcycle that allows the rider or passenger to recline against it while riding. Alternatively, it can serve as an anchor point or support for mounting luggage or equipment that’s not part of the bike.

Perhaps the best-known choppers are the two customized Harley-Davidsons, the “Captain America” and “Billy Bike”, seen in the 1969 film Easy Rider.

So, it went from this…

VINTAGE 1977 CHICAGO Built Schwinn Bantam Convertible 20" Girls/Boys Bicycle Org - $125.00 | PicClick

To something like this…

VINTAGE 70'S CHOPPER 20" Muscle Bike Banana Seat Bicycle ! Beautiful Purple! - $175.50 | PicClick

Except my sissy bar was tall and rose three feet off the seat, so you could lean back on it and pop wheelies. If you didn’t have a back fender when you rode through a puddle, you got a line of wet mud up the back of your shirt!

So, now the bike was cool. What was better than speeding down the street and then suddenly slamming on the breaks and hearing your back wheel scream as you left a long skid mark on the asphalt?

Another thing we used to do that all boys had done probably since the 50s was to clip a playing card or a baseball card to the back frame with a clothespin. The card protruded into the back spokes of the wheel. This way, when you rode along, the card flicking against the spokes at high speed would create the sound of a motor. It was cool for a while but the clothespins always broke or the card wore out, and it just became a pain to keep putting a new one back on your bike. It sounded too thin anyway and I wasn’t much of a fan. Also, if anybody can do it… it stops being cool.

So we came up with a better idea. If you could get your hands on a balloon, like the kind they gave out at Weiss’s Kiddie Shop, you could make something better.

You blow the balloon up, but only partially. You push the air inside toward the center of the balloon. This way, there’s still plenty of uninflated balloon on each end. You tie each end to the back frame of your bike so that the inflated part of the balloon is facing towards the spokes of your back wheel. You can do this same process with a regular round balloon, but if you can get a long balloon, it’s a little more durable for the beating it’s about to take.

Make Your Bike Roar Like a Motorcycle : 5 Steps - Instructables

It blows away the sound a little baseball card clipped to your frame sounds. A balloon sounds like the real deal. Me pulling up on my chopper bike, with a balloon hitting the back spokes is amazing. It’s about as close as you can get to the sound of a real motorcycle. I kid you not.

Check it out!

How great is that? Totally badass. Even on a little kid’s bike! When we all rode up with balloons in our spokes on our choppers, it was like being Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper. We went from a group of boys on their bikes to a full-fledged, motorcycle gang.

I’m telling you, back in the 70s life was way more fun out in the real world than sitting around today in your house playing a bunch of video games.

We even formed a little bicycle gang called The Raiders. I think this inspired my sister and her friends to start a girl cycle gang called The Jewel Thieves. (If I’m wrong about this, my sister is free to correct me.)

Another thing we loved doing was going on what we called journeys. We would ride our bikes really far from our homes. Miles and miles away from our neighborhood. It was amazing to have that first taste of absolute freedom from your block and your parents. We were a little group of outlaws traveling to parts unknown.

The euphoria of the sudden drop at the top of Martins Mill Road. That long black ribbon that was the steepest hill in town. Like some dark dragon, you had to conquer. You wanted to feel the excitement and speed as you descended that incredible slope. But the fear rode right along with you, knowing that if you weren’t ready to hit the breaks in a split second, it could end in tragedy. All of this energy coursing through your body as cars sped by alongside you, all the way down.

You knew that if you returned home on this same road, the climb would be nearly insurmountable. It became steeper the higher you climbed. Your young heart pounding, your lungs burning as your legs pushed on. You could see the top. But could you make it?

You couldn’t give up in front of your friends and get off and walk your bike back up the hill. You had to show everyone you were strong enough to make it. A simple right of passage.

We would mostly follow roads that led west into Cheltenham and Burholme Park. I loved going on bicycle journeys. You could go anywhere you wanted back then and your parents had no idea where you were. As long as you appeared again at your home before dinner, you were fine.

No internet. No GPS. No cell phones. Nothing. Just you and the road. No leash. No helmets or pads of any kind were worn by any child in the neighborhood.

Which in hindsight, would probably have been a good idea back then based on the way we rode.

Evel Knievel was a national treasure back in the 70s and we all loved him. He was a guy who would get on his motorcycle and do these crazy jumps over cars. He was a mad daredevil who had broken every bone in his body.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evel_Knievel

So being a bunch of 12-year-old boys we were compelled to emulate him on our bikes. Not jumping over cars, but we would set up these little ramps with planks of wood and stacked bricks. We would speed up to the ramp and fly off it. Thinking back on it now, it wasn’t that bad, but we were always crashing on our bikes.

70's bike jump ramp inspired by Evel Knievel | Bike, Bmx, Bmx bikes

Not us, but you get the point.

Ramps made out of two stacked pieces of wood...the kid whose Dad was least likely to throw it out was the one who… | Free range parenting, Childhood, Funny pictures

Not wearing any safety gear, there were plenty of injuries. Kids were always crashing their bikes because we were on them all of the time. We would go everywhere on them. You had no money so it was your only means of transportation away from your parents. Plus, if you decide to start trying stunts there are sure to be some banged-up kids.

But we never lost anybody. None of us ever got hit by a car or anything. The only injury I can remember was on a bike I owned in I think 6th or 7th grade. It was a beautiful brand new red ten-speed that were all the rage as we got a little older.

Red Tenspeed Bike Stock Photo - Download Image Now - iStock

I loved that bike and rode it everywhere. One afternoon I was stupidly racing another boy down Rising Sun avenue and my tire got stuck in the trolley track. I went flying face-first to the asphalt and cobblestones. My glasses broke, and the left side of my face was really torn up. I remember getting up off the ground and just feeling the searing pain in my face.

Amazingly, a man stopped in his car, put my bike in his trunk, and drove me home from the accident. It was a miracle of kindness. I can’t remember his face or his car. My mother was shocked at how bad my face looked. She said she never even got the man’s name to thank him. Just a kind-hearted person who did the right thing. (So whoever you are sir… Thank you!)

My left eyebrow had several large X shaped cuts, and my whole cheek had road rash. I’m surprised my injuries weren’t worse. My left eye was black and blue and swollen shut. It looked like someone had beaten my face really badly. My mom kept me home for a few days, but I recovered. I wish I had a picture of how bad it looked but I don’t think any exist.

But, other than that, we always enjoyed our bikes. I remember even when I was later married in the 90s, we’d be at the shore in Avalon. I’d get up early and rent a bicycle and just ride around town. All the way down to Stone Harbor and back. It was a welcome early morning repose away from my wife and my inlaws.

Even into his 80s, my father always loved riding his bike. He told me he just loved hopping on it and sailing along down the street to run his errands.

There’s something about just jumping on your bike and taking a ride. In a car, it all moves too fast and it’s like watching a movie. It’s as if it’s all happening on TV through the windshield.

But on your bike… you’re always in the movie.

That youthful freedom. The wind in your face as you made your way to your next destination.

A talent once learned as a child that could never be lost.

Unlike our youth.

Always fleeting with each turn of the pedals beneath our feet.

 

Tune in this Thursday for the next installment of, Back The Tracks – Part 5 – Refrigerator Box!

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Back The Tracks – Part 4 – Railroad Detective

One afternoon I was with my friend Paul, and we were walking around the woods and the train tracks. Whenever a freight train went past we’d always throw stones at the boxcars just to see if we could hit them and watch them bounce off. That one boxcar is 30 tons. That’s 60,000 pounds. A rock hitting that is like a fly bouncing off a car door. I’ve touched a boxcar close up. It feels like a stone wall.

We had entered the tracks by way of Passmore street. Passmore was a little street that had a steep incline that ended in a roundabout at the bottom. Beyond the end of the street was a stone wall. You could climb over the wall to the right next to where a fence began. Once over the wall, you could see the railroad tracks. But if you looked to your left there was an embankment that led down to some sort of water drainage area. The water was shallow and full of rocks. There was a stone tunnel that went under the tracks and led off to a large, round stone pit. You’d see the occasional rat running around back there in the rocks. Beyond that was the woods that led through to Tookany Creek.

After doing a little bit of research, I found out that the word “Tookany” is actually derived from “Tacony,” which is derived from the term “Towacawonick,” which means “uninhabited place” or “woods” in the language of the Lenni Lenape American Indians (Unami Language) The place we all played was once inhabited by people that had been here for a long time before our ancestors ever arrived here. I always wondered what those kids were like.

Think of this sort of tunnel but with shallow water running through it.

Bridgehunter.com | BO - Tunnel No. 6

None of us knew why it was there. I’m assuming that maybe because Passmore street ended in a steep hill, it was once used for drainage and sewage removal many years ago.

There were all sorts of graffiti on the walls and bits of detritus everywhere. My all-time favorite bit of graffiti sprayed on that wall was the following joke:

“Dick Hertz was here.”

“Who’s Dick Hertz?”

“Mine does.”

I’d seen graffiti before but I always liked that someone took the time to write something funny that would give boys a chuckle whenever they came through the area.

I remember one night, Buddy Drew, (I’m pretty sure he lived on Passmore street) came running up to us and told us to come and see something wonderful happening on his street. My friend Michael and I walked over there in the rain. Parked on the corner of Passmore and Newtown Avenue was a long black limousine. I looked in through the tinted window and could see an 8 track tape of Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti in the player. We peeked through the bushes of the house where Buddy told us the magic was happening. I could see the celebrity through the window chatting with his cousin, (or, sister?)Miss Tallerico.

It was Steven Tyler.

Anyway… back to the story.

So we’re throwing rocks and just doing the things boys do. But one of the unspoken rules was that no one I knew would ever throw a rock at a passenger train. We just didn’t do it for obvious reasons.

I remember my mother telling me once she was sitting on the train one day headed into the city when she suddenly heard a loud bang, and when she looked down her whole lap was covered in tiny bits of broken glass. Passenger train windows are like automobile windows in that respect. They don’t shatter creating big pieces because they’re a piece of transparent tough flexible plastic inside the window. So if it breaks it busts into little nonlethal bits and the window technically doesn’t break a hole in it. Some idiot obviously threw a rock and that was the outcome. So stone-throwing at passenger trains was a big no-no in my neighborhood. It just wasn’t a cool thing to do because somebody could get hurt.

So, later we returned back to the treehouse at the end of the lot near my house. We just sat there doing our thing. Paul had to go home so he ended up climbing down and headed out.

A little while later I decided it was time to go home a well. So I started walking up the lot toward Hasbrook Avenue. When this black car slowly pulled up out of Newtown avenue and into the lot, blocking my path. A man got out and wasn’t wearing a uniform or anything.

I had heard of railroad detectives through local schoolboy lore. But I didn’t think they were real. Well, apparently they were and still are. But there was a part of me that thought this guy might be a pervert that molests kids. We knew about the whole stranger danger thing even back then. I also wondered why this guy showed up now. It had been hours later, and I was now alone.

Chuck Malloy Railroad Detective on the Streamliner by McClusky, Thorp: Fair Hardcover (1938) 1st Edition | Frank Hofmann

He started asking about me and my friend throwing rocks at trains. So he must have seen us when we were all the way down by Passmore street. I was pretty nervous about the whole situation and explained that we would never throw rocks at passenger trains and were just doing a little target practice. I don’t know if this guy was just doing his job, or being a dick, or indeed a pervert.

But he pulls out this pad and pen and starts asking me questions. He asked my name and my address and my phone number and a bunch of other standard questions, but I remember him asking me other stuff like did I go to church and stuff of that source. That’s what seemed weird about the whole thing.

He ended up letting me go and didn’t do anything to me, but I was just scared that he’d call or come around my house and tell my parents. I just didn’t need one more thing for my dad to knock me around.

But that memory always stuck with me, and I never heard of it happening to any other boys I knew at the time. Just a weird day in the life of a kid.

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

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The Weirdest, Creepiest and Most Annoying Songs of the 70’s – Part 2

If you were like me in the 1970’s you listened to top 40 radio most of the time. You heard a lot of great songs and instant classics. But among them were many unforgettable songs that were just weird or strange. I’ve tried from memory to remember the ones that stand out in my mind.

For weird reasons they became hits. They either made no sense or having any musical merit. Just a bizarre era of story songs.

Of course, this stuff is all pretty subjective but I did have a few criteria for what should be here. I decided to include a song if it:

    • made me sick without even listening to it again
    • made me want to break my radio
    • made my stomach turn
    • brought out violent thoughts of hatred, revenge, etc.
    • reminded me how lame the radio and record companies are
    • could make me want to break my stereo
    • would make me leave a bar or club if they started playing it
    • would make me boo a band who started playing it
    • suspended my belief in a divine force that governs the universe
I’m not saying that there weren’t ANY good songs during the 70s but there was just a truck-load of waste back then. If anybody’s stupid enough to think that ALL disco sucks, remember that it’s just a bastard son of rhythm & blues just like rock’n’roll is- so they’re related, see? Also, the 1970’s definitely didn’t have a monopoly on shitty music- there was tons of crap unleashed on us in the decade before and after and now also (there’s a future article there somewhere). Clothes-pin anyone?

The 70’s was an interesting time for music. There was a lot of experimentation and creativity from that decade, but there was also plenty of crap as well. Here is my list of the worst and most irritating songs of the 70’s.

 

Torn Between Two Lovers – Mary Macgregor – 1977

This is a song written by Peter Yarrow (of the folk music trio Peter, Paul & Mary) and Phillip Jarrell. The song describes a love triangle and laments that “loving both of you is breaking all the rules”. Mary MacGregor recorded it at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in 1976. The song became the title track of her first album.

“Torn Between Two Lovers” reached No. 1 on both the U.S. pop chart in February 1977 as well as the Easy Listening chart in the final week of 1976 and the first week of 1977. It also reached No. 1 on the Canadian charts. The song also peaked at No. 3 on the country charts of both nations. In March 1977, the song peaked at No. 4 in the United Kingdom.

I think the use of the word, “torn” is what always bothered me about this song. I’m not alone here. I had a girlfriend in the 80’s who felt the same way. That title conjured up some sort of DP coupling between the singer and two dudes. However, I like the idea of someone being in love with two different people for different reasons. I’ve been there several times myself, but it’s just an odd song.

If you really listen to this song and read the lyrics, this chick is obviously married, and she’s already cheated on her husband. She decides to tell him, and it feels a bit too graphic. This other guy knows he can’t own her, but he can fill a place that’s been empty for a while and only he can fill it. So the sex and romance have definitely dropped off in her current relationship. She doesn’t love her husband any less but this other dude is delivering the D on the reg, and she’s digging it. She should have just left well alone and rode it out, but what do I know? It’s a sweet song about cheating and adultery. Nice.

A  sad song that’s a little gross.

Sing a Song – The Carpenters – 1973

is a 1971 song written by Joe Raposo for the children’s television show Sesame Street as its signature song. In 1973, it gained popularity when performed by the Carpenters, who made it a #3 hit on the Billboard Hot 100.

Raposo was one of the staff songwriters on Sesame Street, and the song became one of the most popular on the program, sung in English, Spanish, and sign language. In its initial appearance, it was sung by adult human cast members of the show (the most frequent lead singer was Bob McGrath) and Muppets, including Big Bird.

I will say this. I love the sound of Karen Carpenter’s voice. That low, contralto is like honey to me.

But this song is pure drivel. Then again, this seemed to be the decade for such saccharine-laden happy-happy songs—see the previous selections plus “Candy Man” by Sammy Davis Jr., and “Playground in My Mind” by Clint Holmes (“My name is Michael/I got a nickel…”)

When I hear this song, I want to drive knitting needles into my ears. It doesn’t make me want to throw up because we all know what can happen if you do that all of the time.

Sorry, Karen.

You’re Sixteen – Ringo Starr – 1974

Is that a kazoo I hear in this song? Really, dude? You’re sixteen, you’re beautiful, and the 33-year-old guy singing this to you is a pervert. Nuff said.

Couldn’t you have picked any other song in the world, Ringo? I can imagine back in the 60s when you’d approach the other Beatles with a song you had composed. They’d congratulate you and then stick it to the refrigerator to show how proud of you they were. Then they’d get back to cranking out the greatest songs ever written.

I Just Want To Stop – Gino Vanelli – 1978

This is a song by Canadian singer/songwriter Gino Vannelli. Released as a single in August 1978, the song is his biggest hit single to date, reaching number one in his native Canada and number four on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. It appears on his sixth album, Brother to Brother. The song was produced by the three brothers Gino, Joe, and Ross Vannelli, and written by Ross.

“I Just Want to Stop” by Gino Vanelli. It probably doesn’t deserve to be on this list (he barely eeked out masterpieces by Peaches and Herb, and Sean Cassidy), but I have a visceral reaction to this song: every time it comes on, I want to crash my car through the guardrail and plunge 3,000 feet to my death.

Precious and Few – Climax – 1972

This is a song recorded by the American group Climax which became a major North American hit in early 1972. Written by the band’s guitarist, Walter D. Nims, it spent three weeks at number three on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and hit number one on the Cash Box Top 100. It also reached number six on Canada’s RPM 100.

Lead vocals were provided by Sonny Geraci, who also sang lead on “Time Won’t Let Me” by his previous band, The Outsiders. Nims had also been a member of The Outsiders.

“Precious and Few” was released on Carousel Records in 1971. The song featured The Ron Hicklin Singers as backing vocalists, a piano, drums, strings, and a horn section.

Climax was mostly Sonny Geraci with some backing musicians to create this sappy, syrupy ballad. I also get tired of trying to explain that this song has nothing to do with the Climax Blues Band (aka Climax Chicago).

Kill me now.

Let ‘ Em In – Wings  – 1976

This one is bad. From its annoying opening to its simply awful baseline (one can practically feel the musicians falling asleep) to its trombone solo (trombone solo!) to its stupid flute riff to its inane lyrics, this song absolutely takes the cake. Side note: Why does everyone love McCartney? More than half of his hits are silly little love songs. (What’s wrong with that? Everything.) Hard to believe this turd fell from the mind of a Beatle.

Go ahead, have a listen. See if you disagree.

Dancing Queen – Abba – 1976

Musically, “Dancing Queen” is a Europop version of American disco music. As disco music dominated the US charts, the group decided to follow the trend, replicating Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound arrangements. The song alternates between “languid yet seductive verses” and a “dramatic chorus that ascends to heart-tugging high notes.” It features keyboard lines by Andersson, which accentuate the melody’s sophistication and classical complexity, while Ulvaeus and Andersson interlace many instrumental hooks in and out of the mix. Anni-Frid Lyngstad and Agnetha Fältskog’s layered vocals have been noted for their dynamism, “[negotiating] the Abba’s many turns flawlessly.”Lyrically, the song concerns a visit to the discotheque but approaches the subject from the joy of dancing itself. The music video on YouTube has over 456 million views as of November 2020 and has become ABBA’s most recognizable and popular song.

I hate this song and everything this singing group ever created. Not because my dad brought this music into our house one day. Because I just hate the way this music sounds. My dad first heard the song at a party where some woman who was employed at the bank where he worked was dancing to it. He liked what he heard and saw, and bought the record. He later carried on an affair with her, which was his usual MO during the 70s and early 80s. He told my sister that he liked the song because it made him think of her when she was dancing. Which was a bald-faced lie. I also hated that he liked the song, “I Am The Tiger from the album Arrival. I know for a fact he thought he was the living persona of that shitty song too, so more hate for Abba.

When I heard this horribly cold, processed music coming from his apartment I wanted to jump out a window and plummet to my death on the concrete below. This music is terrible, but the world loves them. At one point I remember reading that this band generated more revenue than Volvo.

I hate this music and I think my dad was a prick for lying to my sister and for all of his lascivious affairs while he was married to my mom.

So there you have it. Enjoy!

HATE!

Wildwood Weed – Jim Stafford – 1974

After my rage fest in regard to Abba, let’s close with this little ditty.

This is a 1974 hit song written by Don Bowman and recorded by Jim Stafford. It was the fourth of four U.S. Top 40 singles from his eponymous debut album. Musically, the song takes its inspiration from The Carter Family’s instrumental recording “Wildwood Flower”. The lyrics in the verses are spoken, rather than sung.

The song is a story about farmers who take a sudden interest in a common wildflower on their farm and soon discover and enjoy its hallucinogenic and mind-altering properties after one of them begins to chew on one. They begin to cultivate the plant in earnest; however, federal agents raid their property and destroy their crops. Nevertheless, the men are undeterred by the destruction of their plants, as they have saved a supply of seeds, overlooked by the agents.

“Wildwood Weed” reached number seven on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, number five on Cash Box, and number three on the Canadian pop singles chart. It was a crossover hit onto the Adult Contemporary charts of both nations (reaching number two in Canada),] as well as the U.S. Country chart.

However, some AM radio stations banned the song because of its reference to marijuana. Funny and cute by today’s standards!

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

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