The Weirdest, Creepiest and Most Annoying Songs of the 70’s – Part – 7

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 1970s 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.

 

The Brady Bunch – Keep On Movin – 1973

Keep On Movin’ is a 1973 song that was sung by the Brady kids from the popular television sitcom The Brady Bunch.

The episode is title “Amateur Nite”. The kids appear on a television talent show to win $100 for Mike and Carol’s anniversary gift. This was the result of Jan’s misunderstanding the price for the engraving of a tray the kids had intended to give their parents (it was 85 cents per letter, not for the entire engraving).

Feel free to sing along… (I know you know the words!!)

I also included Time to Change, which is a song about puberty. (It appears Peter isn’t the only one who’s going through some changes in this video.) These songs are dreadful. I can’t imagine anyone who worked on this show ever thinking that the dreck they were producing was any good. But America loved this family. Even though this is not what America looked like in the early 70s. In real life, Barry Williams was banging Florence Henderson, Maureen McCormick was a coke head and poor Robert Reed, a Shakespearean actor who believed television was below his ability and sitcoms even worse later died from AIDS.

That’s the show I want to watch!

Even when this show was on the air, it was awful and dated. The only reason I watched it was, like many other boys back in the early 70s we loved hot Marsha. 

God, this music is awful!

Kill me now…

Tee Set – Ma Belle Amie – 1970

The song reached #5 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and #3 in Australia and Canada in 1970. In South Africa, it was a #1 hit. The song also reached the Top 10 across central Europe.

The original issue of the single in the Netherlands was released in 1969 on Tee Set Records (TS 1329), selling over 100,000 copies. There are available at least three studio-recorded versions of the song – the US hit on Colossus Records (CS107), released in 1969, a British issue on Major Minor Records (MM666), released in 1970, and a Black and White video featuring the band miming along a waterfront. This video version appears to be the same as the hit US rendering but for minor differences to the repeated chorus ending of the song. The British release is completely different, slower in tempo and starting in a lower key. The group also recorded an Italian language version of the song.

This song is just annoying. It feels like these guys are the inbred cousins of the Bay City Rollers. Every shot is either the band members in separate boxes, (which makes no sense) or a super uncomfortable close-up on the singer’s face.

Robin McNamara – Lay a Little Lovin’ On Me – 1970

Lay a Little Lovin’ on Me” is a 1970 song written by Jeff BarryRobin McNamara, and Jim Cretecos and recorded by Robin McNamara. The song reached #11 on the Billboard Hot 100, and was McNamara’s only hit. “Lay A Little Lovin’ On Me” also peaked at #6 (for 2 weeks) on Canada’s national RPM Top 100 singles chart in August of 1970 and at number 49 in Australia in 1970.

This guy is like Tommy Bolin, Robert Plant, and Tiny Tim had a kid. It’s not a terrible song, but bad enough to add to this list.

https://lpintop.tripod.com/robinmcnamara/

The Poppy Family – Which Way You Goin’ Billy? – 1970

Which Way You Goin’ Billy?” was a global, multi-million-selling hit single from the Canadian band The Poppy Family. The single, first released in 1969, was from the album of the same name and was a chart-topping hit in Canada and Ireland. It was also a significant hit in other parts of the world, reaching #2 on both the U.S. Cash Box and Billboard pop charts.

This song feels like the cross-eyed stepchild to Terry Jacks, Seasons in the Sun. Just a weird song. I remember hearing it on the radio in the early 70s and thinking… “Where’s Billy off to?”

Oh, wait… Terry Jacks was in this band!

The Sandpipers – Come Saturday Morning – 1970

Come Saturday Morning” is a popular song with music by Fred Karlin and lyrics by Dory Previn, published in 1970. It was first performed by The Sandpipers on the soundtrack of the 1969 film The Sterile Cuckoo starring Liza Minnelli. The Sandpipers also included the song on their 1970 album, Come Saturday Morning. In 1970, “Come Saturday Morning” was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song, losing to “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” from the film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

The sound of this song just makes me depressed. It feels like a rejected song from The Graduate. I almost want to watch the film The Sterile Cuckoo. How did they even pitch that picture?

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

I’m sure it’s trash.

The Piglets – Johnny Reggae – 1971

Johnny Reggae” is a 1971 novelty song credited to The Piglets. The single cover states that it was “conceived, created, produced and directed by Jonathan King“. It was released on Bell Records.

King himself has explained in comments on his YouTube channel] and in his autobiography 65, My Life So Far that the vocalists were session singers “coached to sound like teenage scrubbers”, and that the lead vocalist was session singer Barbara Kay, who also recorded as Kay Barry for Embassy Records.

The lead vocals have been at various times been incorrectly attributed to Adrienne Posta or Wendy Richard.

This song makes me want to get a running start in an office building and plow through a plate glass window and plummet to my death 40 stories below.

Blue Swede – Hooked on a Feeling – 1974

“Hooked on a Feeling” is a 1968 pop song written by Mark James and originally performed by B.J. Thomas. Thomas’s version featured the sound of the electric sitar (played by Reggie Young) and reached No. 5 in 1969 on the Billboard Hot 100. It has been recorded by many other artists, including Blue Swede, whose version reached No. 1 in the United States in 1974. The Blue Swede version made singer Björn Skifs‘ “Ooga-Chaka-Ooga-Ooga” intro well known (and famous in Sweden at the time), although it had been used originally by British musician Jonathan King in his 1971 version of the song.

The original version of this song was fine. B.J. Thomas is a good writer. But why in the world would someone record that song with the “Ooga-Chaka-Ooga-Ooga” nonsense on the track to ruin it. But, I’m sure there are people out there who like this version. Just odd, so it makes my list.

 

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The Trellis – Part 2

Philadelphia, PA – Mid 70s

There was this guy named Rudy Falf who lived with his brother across the street. They were probably both in their early 40s back then. They were both weird guys. They kept to themselves and I have no idea how they supported themselves. I’m assuming their parents maybe left them the house across the street where they resided.

Now, when I say “weird guys” I don’t mean creepy, pedo-type guys. They were both really sweet people. But a little touched in the head. Rudy’s brother was really quiet and sort of furtive. We didn’t see much of him. But Rudy was always out. He had a cast in his one eye which made him look even weirder. Like, ‘one eye is looking at you, and the other one is running down to the shop to get a pack of smokes.’ But they were both sweet and harmless men. Rudy was really friendly to us kids, and would always give us comic books. I remember he would sit in his car and just run the motor and read his comic books. I didn’t know why, but I heard he did that to charge up the battery because I rarely saw him ever drive that car.

I remember one of our neighbors told her two daughters that they couldn’t go to the Falf house for trick or treat on Halloween because she figured the brothers would diddle her daughters. But that would never happen because they were two really nice people. Just a little touched in the head. It’s that kind of ignorant behavior that creates prejudice in people. Just because somebody is different or weird, doesn’t make them evil pedophiles. I wasn’t raised that way and never agreed with her behavior.

But we liked him because he was nice and always gave my friend RJ and I comic books when he was finished reading them. I probably still have a few left in my collection. Free comics are always welcome!

Oh, one last thing. Rudy had this crazy stutter. Certain words would just hang there and he’d just keep saying the prefix of a word over and over really fast until the rest of it came out of his mouth. It was odd, but as kids, we just saw it as the way he spoke. And could this guy talk. He could ramble on forever about the most simple of subjects.

Everybody in the neighborhood loved my mother. I mean, everybody. It was like she had a fan club. Back then all of the dads worked and the wives all stayed home and took care of the house and kids. The ladies would stop over and chat with her. My mom was such a good listener and very cordial, so people just gravitated to her. I think there were days where our neighbor, Mrs. Hanley would come over with a cup of coffee and her cigarettes and talk my mom’s ear off. But my mom was always nice and would host anyone who wanted to swing by out of boredom.

Of course, my mother would be at the market and always run into somebody in the neighborhood and they’d chat. But one of the people who was the most annoying was Rudy Falf. Not because he was nuts, but because he would walk her home from the market and literally chatter nonstop. Stuttering his way through some nonsensical tale. My mother would smile and listen respectfully.

But one day she runs into him in the market and she hears him going on and on about a theft at his house. He’s literally talking non-stop to anyone who will listen about this crime that’s been committed against him.

Of course, this gets the attention of my mother in the checkout line. I mean, you couldn’t escape this guy if he started waffling on about something. He just wouldn’t stop going on and on about the subject. But my mom, knowing she’s been cornered and will probably have to listen to him all the way home, smiles and listens to him.

“What happened, Rudy?”

Rudy responds in his usual stutter, more manic than ever because he’s upset about the crime that’s committed against him.

“Somebody stole my ligga, ligga, ligga, ligga ligga, ligga, ligga, ladder!”

“Oh really? That’s awful. I’m so sorry to hear that.”

“Yea, it was lying right on the side of my house and somebody came along and stole it!”

“What did it look like?”

“It’s wooden and about this long! I’m going to call the police!”

The stark realization of what’s happened hits my mom like a freight train.

Rudy’s stolen ladder is resting against the wall of the garage in the garden of our yard.

She tells him how sorry she is for his misfortune and will keep an eye out for it. She never tells him!

Of course, my mother being the sweet woman she is, and an upstanding member of the community, is mortified. She immediately comes home and tells me the story she just heard.

I tell her I had no idea where Michael had gotten the ladder from and thought he had picked it out of someone’s trash. For once, I was telling the truth. My mom surprisingly believes me and tells me to figure out a way to get that ladder back to Rudy.

I concur with Michael. He tells me that he did indeed nick the ladder from the side of Rudy’s house but thought it was in the trash. The truth of what he does or doesn’t believe is a moot point at this juncture. We need to get that ladder back to Rudy’s house as soon as possible before we get in deep trouble.

So that night, Mike and I quietly crept over to Rudy’s house under that cloak of darkness. We gently placed the ladder back where Michael had found it. Then we did what all boys do when faced with adversity. We ran away!

So, in closing, no harm was done, and Rudy’s ladder miraculously reappeared safely back on his property. When I think about this whole incident now, I think it wasn’t so much about us climbing on my mom’s flower trellis. We just wanted a way to get up on the roof. My mother knew that if the trellis broke and we fell, we risked falling through a bunch of sticker bushes and possibly crashing down on one of the many large stones that surrounded her garden.

Parents don’t stop their kids from doing risky stuff to control them, but to try to keep them from killing themselves.

Or… one of us boys could have fallen off the roof and hit the concrete driveway below doing some serious damage to ourselves. Can you imagine falling 20 feet and landing headfirst onto cement as a kid? If you survived the injury you might end up talking like Rudy for the rest of your life.

And nobody wants that.

But, I got a good story out of it, so it was all worth it!

 

 

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The Trellis – Part 1

Philadelphia, PA – Late 60s, Early 70s

When we were kids we had this little pool in our backyard. It was actually set up in our carport, not our yard. My mom would put down a big blanket on the ground, and then haul the pool out of our garage. It wasn’t very big, but we had a good time playing in it. It was probably only 6 feet square and less than a foot deep. But it was a fun thing that we could play in to cool off and frolic about.

My mother would fill it up with water from the hose. She’d do this before lunchtime around 11am. By the time we were finished eating, the sun would have warmed the water and we could all go in.

Some of our friends would come over and we’d all have a grand old time on a warm spring day.

The Mitchell family down the street had acquired a large above-ground pool and that became the popular spot in the summer for the neighborhood. I didn’t ever go over there for that because to me it was too crowded and too deep. Not for me.

Besides, once school let out we’d be down the shore for the summer. Which was 1000 times better than any pool in our neighborhood.

Anyway, when we were done playing in our little pool, we’d obviously have to come in and get into some dry clothes. But for some reason, my sister and I would leave our wet bathing suits on our beds. I have no idea why we did this. We could have turned them into mom, or hung them on a doorknob or something. Who wants a wet bed?

But we did that a number of times and my mother was not pleased. She finally told us that if we did it again, we’d have to write: “I will not leave my wet bathing suit on the bed.” 50 times. Which when you’re a kid is a tedious and time-consuming process. I suppose because we didn’t listen to her initial request, this punishment would drill the idea into our thick heads.

So, it happened again and my older sister and I had to write. She was a good student and had mad school skills, so she blew out the punishment in an hour or so. But it took me forever. I finally got it done, and never left a wet bathing suit on my bed again. Effective punishment. It got the result my mom desired. She also figured a little exercise in penmanship never hurt anyone.

My mom had a wooden trellis bolted to the sidewall of the garage in our yard. That’s where all of her rose bushes were located. I remember we always had nice roses growing out there. My mother always liked nature and animals, so she was a natural green thumb out there in the garden.

You had to be careful out there by the rose bushes because as lovely and fragrant roses are, they all have thorns. Much like the women I would meet later in my life.

But when boys see a trellis bolted to a wall, they don’t see a structure to support the flora and fauna of mom’s garden. They see a ladder. What do you do with a ladder? Yep. You have to climb it.

The only reason we climbed the trellis was to get up on the garage roof. Kids love climbing and exploring new spaces. It’s fun to get up on top of things when you’re small. There’s a feeling of power and safety at that height. The garage rood instantly became a cool hiding spot and hang-out spot.

When I think back on the construction of that trellis I’m amazed it never broke under our weight. It was just thin slats of wood nailed together. It was meant to support the vines of plants, not the bodies of young boys. But we climbed up there all of the time.

My mother caught sight of this, and told me if I didn’t stop climbing her trellis, I’d have to write as I did after the wet bathing suit incident.

I may have stayed off it for a week, but in no time we were back up there. Sure enough, I was caught, prosecuted, and sentenced to writing the same sentence over and over. “I will not climb the trellis.” I had to write it 100 times. Not just once… but this time, for a week straight.

That seemed a cruel and unusual punishment for such a simple infraction, but it wasn’t about climbing the trellis, it was the fact that she’d told me not to and I willfully disobeyed her and did it anyway. That sort of repugnant behavior was always met with swift justice in our house. That, or a good smack!

So, each day I would write the same sentence over and over after lunch. It was horrible. After a while, the words you write mean nothing to you. It’s just the same thing over and over. Sometimes I would write the same letter or word over and over down the page and then go on to the next one. Anything to change up the sheer monotony of the task.

I think by the fourth or fifth day, she lightened my sentence and I only had to crack off 50 sentences. Did my handwriting improve? Not in the slightest bit, but it kept me off my mom’s trellis for good!

But I missed going up on the garage roof and hanging with my friend Mike. That was our little throne up there. But what to do?

A year or so passes.

One day Mike comes over and tells me he found an old wooden ladder in the trash somewhere. Back then we were always picking things out of people’s trash and making stuff out of it. But this was a big ladder. Sturdy too!

So Micheal brings it over and we carefully place it in the garden and lean it up against the edge of the garage. It fits perfectly! It was just the right height to get us safely back up on the garage roof. We left it there and it became the way up and down to our little clubhouse. We’d sit up there and chat, and eat peanuts, tossing the shells everywhere. We didn’t care about the mess. The shells were organic material and anything we left up there couldn’t be seen from the ground so who cares?

The most important person who didn’t care was my mother. She never said anything about the old wooden ladder leaning against our garage. I suppose as long as we weren’t on her trellis, we were fine.

To be continued tomorrow!

 

 

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Aerosmith – Part 3

Philadelphia, PA – 1977

The first time I heard a little bit of this album was over at my friend RJ’s house. I knew at that moment… I had to own it as soon as possible.

I think I bought this next record at Sam Goody records at the Roosevelt Mall in Philly before I went down the shore that year. I had the first album thanks to my older sister, I heard the second album thanks to my friend Mike, I owned Toys in the Attic, and now to collect the final piece of the Aerosmith catalog. This brings me to this masterpiece.

Aerosmith – Rocks – 1976

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rocks_(Aerosmith_album)

Toys in the Attic is to A New Hope, as Rocks is to The Empire Strikes Back.

This is my first choice for desert island records. There are obviously others, but this is the album I’d reach for first if the ship was sinking and I was going to be stranded on a desert island. To me, this the finest work by the band. They have reached their creative zenith and playing. They are one of the certified platinum hard rock acts of the decade. This is what they’ve been building to. A rough house rock album, fueled by rage and drugs. Just an amazing watershed moment in the band’s history. This is the quintessential Aerosmith original recording.

Or as I used to call it… The Soundtrack to My Life.

I listened to this album every day for two years straight. I literally played it so much it lost some of its fidelity because the stylus was dragged through the delicious grooves on the vinyl created by this glorious band. This record is the crown jewel to the soundtrack of my young teenage life. There is no other recording at the time that makes me feel the way this record made me feel in the summer of 1977. It felt as though Aerosmith had recorded every song just for me as a thank you for my loyalty.

Rocks is a love letter to me to tell me that I will survive puberty and will be okay. “We know how you’re feeling, Chaz. We know it feels weird, and it hurts. We know you want everything now. So do we. Let’s get there together through these songs. Take this metal medicine every day, and you’ll get better. Life will get better for you. We’ll never hurt you. We’ll never betray you. We’ll never give you a hangover. We’ll never cheat on you or break up with you. We’ll never scold or hit you. We’re your band. We’re the boys from Boston. We’re Aerosmith, and we belong to you.

I’ll tell you what… I’m not going to do this one track by track. I don’t need to. This record is their finest work, and no matter what anyone says, it is.

This album makes a singular statement. “Aerosmith. Rocks.”

And rock they do, sir.

Oh, and of course I had to buy this belt buckle and wear it every day!

If you can see it, it says 1977 on it so you know it’s legit!

Here’s a pic of my older sister and me. As you can clearly see from this old photo, I’m wearing not only an Aerosmith t-shirt, I’m wearing the very belt buckle I just showed you!

Okay, let’s move on.

Wildwood, NJ – 1977

Things had changed for the better for me. The nightmare of Fels Junior High was over and I was heading down the shore for the summer. Things were looking up for me.

I was on the boardwalk one day. I was probably just wandering around with my next-door neighbor. There was a cool store that was down by Marine Pier called The Fun Shop.

The Fun Shop was probably one of the most unique stores on the boardwalk. It had magic tricks, T-shirts, jewelry, music, and other cool junk for sale. Think Hot Topic before there was a Hot Topic. We were in there looking at some cool black and white prints of celebrities and bands. I was deeply in love with the actress from Charlie’s Angels, Farrah Fawcett, and of course all things Aerosmith.

What I didn’t realize at the time was probably all of their merch and memorabilia was bootleg stuff. The word “bootleg” originates from the practice of smuggling illicit items in the legs of tall boots, particularly the smuggling of alcohol during the American Prohibition era. The word, over time, has come to refer to any illegal or illicit product.

boot·leg
/ˈbo͞otˌleɡ/
adjective
  1. (especially of liquor, computer software, or recordings) made, distributed, or sold illegally.
    “bootleg cassettes”
noun
  1. 1.
    an illegal musical recording, especially one made at a concert.
    The only access we had to celebrities back then was television, movies, and magazines. That’s it. No internet and no social media. Celebrities and rockstars lived on an exclusive planet in our galaxy that we mere mortals could only look upon in limited places. I bought a few photos of Farrah to hang on my wall and a cool photo of Aerosmith.
    But I saw a rack of record albums by artists I was familiar with but not the albums. A two album set by Led Zeppelin called Moby Dick. A Rolling Stones record called Garden State, and the album pictured below.

Aerosmith – Look Homeward Angel – 1976

If you look closely it’s obvious it’s a bootleg. It’s not released by the band. It’s a concert recorded at Madison Square Garden in NYC. It’s on Fantasy Discos, not their label which was clearly Columbia at the time. Luis Martinez is not Jack Douglas.  Aerosmith isn’t recording any albums in Guatemala City. This product is a rip-off made by somebody to make money off the band. They wouldn’t see one cent from the sales of this record. All of the songs are from the 1975 tour to support Toys in the Attic. Because even though their next album was already out, there are no songs from that new record. This is a pure bootleg, through and through.

But to me, anything Aerosmith was something I had to own. The album was only five bucks. I didn’t really know what bootlegging and piracy was back then. I just wanted more rock by a band I loved. So I bought it and took it home.

To be honest, I loved this album. It’s not a bad recording and I got to hear Aerosmith play live for the first time. It was exciting and new to me. I played the hell out of this album and liked it as much as all of their albums. The second side is what really struck me about this record. The live rendition of Train Kept a Rollin’ is spectacular. It’s a furious explosion of hard rock live magic being performed by a great band. On a live recording, you’re lucky if you get those little improvisational extras you can’t get on a studio recording. Near the end of Train, Joe Perry just starts jamming the theme from Batman, the 1966 TV show. I went bananas. I loved that show as a child, and to hear my idol Joe Perry start playing Batman during one of their songs live was just sweet heaven. They close out the song and then burst into Toys in the Attic, which blows away the studio track. It’s so incendiary that it makes the original sound tame.

So even though at 14 years old I’m guilty of buying a bootleg record of Aerosmith, I loved it and it brought me hours of aural joy for many years.

I found this recently on YouTube. This to me really captures the band I fell in love with over 45 years ago. Just glorious!

Thank you, Gods of Rock!

 

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Toy Boat

Philadelphia, PA – Early 1970s

Toy boat.

Say it out loud three times fast.

Not that easy right?

When we were kids, we had toys. We all had plenty of toys. But we also liked to build things. We had access to our father’s toolboxes. If you could get your hands on a hammer and some nails, you could build something.

We’d find bits of wood in the trash and back the lot at the end of our street. We’d cut them with saws and nail them together to make little boats. They were only about a foot long in length.

Mine was made out of bits of old paneling that I cut and stacked to make the hull, and some smaller pieces to make a little cabin on top. I even nailed a little plastic army man to the deck. Every boat needs a captain!

My friend Michael made something similar but he attached a piece of styrofoam to the bottom of the hull of his boat. This made his ship what he described as “unsinkable.” Genius!

Designing and building boats in my basement was only the beginning of the fun. You came up with your own ideas and made it up as you went along. Gluing or nailing whatever you could find to make a little boat that you hoped would float. The cool thing was, we had these two big old washtubs in the front of our basement next to the washer. I’m assuming they were there to clean clothes maybe before people had washing machines?

We would fill them with water and place our finished works into the water to see if they’d float. If things looked weird or didn’t seem buoyant enough, we’d make the necessary modifications to our ships until they did.

We weren’t sitting in front of a television set. There was no such thing as video games. They weren’t invented yet. We built things with our hands. Created our own little toys and then engineered them to float. We had both read that it didn’t matter what the boat weighed, as long as it weighed less than the space it filled in any given body of water. Then it would float. It’s just science. Yea, we were a sharp couple of little boys!

We’d take our boats back the lot and across the railroad tracks into Cheltenham. We’d cross the ball fields and head off into the woods.

That led us down to Tookany Creek. We walked north along the footpath. We wanted to get as far upstream as we could so that once we launched our boats we could follow them all the way down the creek. We decided that we’d see how far and how long they would last on the journey down the “river.”

There was a footbridge that went across the creek, and we figured we’d release them just above there. It was probably the best place to start because the water was calm and we could see how they did before the creek really got going.

Tookany Creek Park, Cheltenham Township, Pennsylvania

We’d place our boats in the water and off they’d go. We walked along the path and watch them float downstream. Normally, that would be the experience. Build the boats, launch them into a body of water, and watch them do what boats do.

But we were young boys. We crave action and adventure. To let these boats just float along was boring. How do we remedy this situation? We could just continue talking, laughing, and walking along the path to see where they went. Or, we could throw rocks at them to make it like a sea battle.

The latter seemed like such a better idea.

We didn’t go crazy and try to destroy them, but we simply pelted them so it appeared that our ships were under siege. Now we had a show!

The idea to throw rocks at the boats didn’t come from enjoying the notion of destroying things. Sometimes the boats would get stuck on big stones or broken branches in the water. So we sort of had to free our boats with what limited tools we had on hand.

But after a while, it was just fun to bomb the hell out of them. They were pretty sturdy and we knew they could withstand a beating. It’s not like these were expensive, elegant ships gifted to us by our parents. They were manufactured out of bits of trash. If they got destroyed, we’d have the opportunity to make more.

We were always taught to take care of our toys and put them away when we were finished playing with them. But we made these toys out of junk. If we chose to massacre our boats, by god we were going to do it.

But all the while we’re laughing and talking. Sometimes singing songs we knew from the radio. Light my Fire, Hotel California, or American Pie. I think the favorite song I would always hear Michael sing was Michael Row Your Boat. I wasn’t familiar with the song, but he would sometimes just hum it. Or sing it to himself when he was working on something.

Just simple things.

A pair of lone warriors separated briefly from our tribe, out on an explore. Walking along the path by the creek under the canopy of trees in the forest. The golden rays of sunshine shone down through the foliage. Breathing in the fresh air. Hearing the birds chirp and woodland creatures scurry about as the creek bubbled and sang along with our joy.

By tossing rocks at our boats we were improving our hand and eye coordination. This was a solid activity for a couple of boys on a warm afternoon. You don’t realize it at the time, but you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be in the world.

We’d follow them along the creek and toss rocks at them occasionally for thrills or to free them from a snag. It was a fun way to spend the day. Life was slower back then. There’s something to be said about time running slowly when you’re a kid. Everything takes forever when you’re young. You’re always so impatient and waiting for things to happen. Waiting for Halloween, Christmas, or the last day of school to come.

Don’t you wish you appreciated how slowly time moved when you were a child now? Wouldn’t you like those sort of pleasurable moments in your adult life now to move at a slower pace? I think we all would as we watch the years roll by with great rapidity as we age. These simple childhood memories are to be cherished. To be wrapped up in our memories forever. Because that’s all we have. You could lose everything you own, and any memories you have from your youth still belong to you forever. You can’t say that about many things in our lives now. Even we are on a finite run on this planet. But I hope that by writing these stories they can live beyond my existence on the internet and in my books forever. Because tomorrow belongs to our sons and daughters, and their kids. Tomorrow’s a place for them. Sadly, it’s a place we can never go.

The best part of watching your boats float down the creek was knowing what was coming a bit farther “downriver.” After the rapids and much air fire from us, the creek would become calm. There was a section about 50 feet long that was like green glass. Just the occasional splash from a minnow or an insect.

Beyond the calm was the waterfall. It was the only place where you could see a waterfall. But it wasn’t like the traditional kind where it’s massive and dangerous. It was only about three feet high. But, it would still be a formidable opponent to a couple of little wooden boats.

We’d wait in anticipation to see what was going to happen next. We’d stake out the best spot to watch our boats go over the falls. Would they be destroyed in the pounding brine? Would they vanish forever beneath the waves into the abyss? These were all pressing questions running through our young minds.

There would be that moment just before they went over and we’d yell and shout with delight. “Here we go!”

The boats would tumble over the falls and what would happen was anybody’s guess. The boats would roll around at the bottom where the falling water struck the creek. We would be sure at this point we’d never see our little ships again. But somehow they would suddenly pop back up and right themselves. We would cheer as if we somehow had a part in their survival!

We followed them further down the creek. Under the Levick Street bridge and beyond.

We had gone so far that we didn’t realize that we had somehow stumbled upon the base of the Melrose Country Club. We were all the way down by the creek bank, but we could see the giant hills covered with the fine green grass of the golf course. We had only seen it in the winter when it was covered in snow, but we knew where we were.

TTF welcomes the Bike Coalition to the Tacony Creek Park Trail! - TTF Watershed

We could see our boats had come to rest on the bank. We were about to climb down retrieve them when a security guard rolled up on a golf cart. He asked us what we were doing there, and we told him our toy boats had drifted all the way down there. He told us we were trespassing on private property and that we had to leave.

“Can we just get our boats?”

“No. This is private property and you’re both trespassing and you’re going to get in a lot of trouble if you don’t get out of here now.”

“But…”

“Git!”

So we turned and walked away, north of the golf course. When we got to Levick Street we trudged up the steep hill and made it to the top. We weren’t happy about what had happened and didn’t think we’d done anything wrong. We didn’t go to Melrose with the intention of trespassing or destroying property or anything. We just stumbled upon it. It just didn’t seem fair. This was a sad ending to what began as a fun-filled day of adventure.

Our boats weren’t lost to the creek. We had been banished!

We followed Hasbrook Avenue back to our neighborhood.

As we approached Michael’s house, we saw his father was outside mowing the lawn. Mike immediately told him what had happened. Jim Mitchell Sr. listened intently as Mike and I explained our plight. He nodded as he put on his mirrored aviator sunglasses.

“Let’s take a little ride in the car, boys.”

Within minutes, we pulled up to the edge of the country club. Mr. Mitchell stepped from the car with us following him not far behind.

The same guard rolled up on his golf cart and stopped us.

“Hey… you can’t…”

I watched as his face suddenly changed from authority to apprehension as Micheal’s father approached him.

Mr. Mitchell was a Police Officer with the Philadelphia Highway Patrol. He was not a man to be trifled with.

“Let them get their boats.”

“Yea, but…”

“What did I just say?”

The guard looked down at the ground and back again. He then sheepishly waved us on never taking his eyes from the officer in his presence.

Even I felt the man’s fear.

We scampered down the hill and retrieved our little boats from the creek bank. We didn’t even see the security guard on the way back to the car.

It had been quite a day.

When all else fails. Go get your father. He’ll know what to do. He’s a grown-up.

But it helps if your dad’s a cop.

 

 

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