1967 was a very good year for Sinatra. I was a junior in college and at the top of my undergrad game. I was still young enough to rock and roll. I was a drummer in a band that had gone from garage to bar to cover to dance. Everybody on campus knew me. I had a beautiful, blonde girlfriend. We were in love…Oh How Happy she had made me.
Viet Nam and LBJ were concerns but the shitstorm that was 1968 was still obscured by clouds over the horizon. I attended summer school, mostly to play in the band. The beginning of the summer sessions were fun because that’s when reunions were going on. I remember one reunion in particular; a 50 year reunion. I couldn’t believe what a bunch of old, out of it fogies were in attendance. Right then and there, I hoped I’d die before I got old.
They had no idea how to party so aside from freaking out, I avoided involvement with them.
I never bothered to subtract the 50 years so I didn’t realize that these were folks who graduated in 19freakin17. When these folks were my age, they were raggin’ out to Darktown Strutter’s Ball, Tiger Rag and the most popular recording artists of the year The American Quartet who had made the charts consistently with numbers like Oh Johnny, Oh Johnny, Oh….Goodbye Broadway Hello France….Sailin’ Away on the Henry Clay and the number one song of the year…. Over There.
If they were 21 when they graduated, that meant that these old farts were born in the nineteenth century…right at the turn when, according to BeeGee rumor everything was happening.
I failed to realize that these folks had lived through the first selective service draft and had lost friends and relatives in WWI. They had lived through, among other things,Prohibition, Depression, Two World Wars, the Korean War and were now living through the Viet Nam “conflict” They didn’t show a lot of empathy towards the long hairs and filthy hippies who were as usual trying to do the impossible and “shocked” when the impossible failed to be realized. All we were sayin’ was “give peace a chance”.
Unlike the fogies, most of us had no real concept of war but we knew it wasn’t righteous, manbrotherTo me, the 50 year reunion folks seemed to be more about remembering the dead than celebrating life.
I attended a keg party. The highlight of the party was a piano player who hammered out the traditional, fraternity drinking songs like Show Me the Way to Go Home, The Sheik of Araby, Give My Regards to Broadway, Rock a Bye Your Baby With a Dixie Melody etc. To me these songs were the height of camp….it’s taken me all these years to realize that to the fifty year fogies, these were the anthems of their lives.
We might have connected but we chose to dis, aloof as we were.
I didn’t want to imagine my fiftieth reunion. First of all, as a rock and roller, I didn’t want to live that long and as a fool, I never wanted to be uncool.
A few months later, 1968 arrived. I sold my drums. I started my career. I got blindsided by a buddy who stole my girl. I earned the blues the hard way, I suffered for them. I was starting to grow up. The draft was devouring boys/men of my age. I didn' want to die. Most of my cool disappeared replaced by anxiety, beer, cynicism, incapability and the ferocious shadow of going over there.