Tag Archives: The Sixties

Oldies But Goodies

 

There’s nothing like music to make you remember the details of your youth.  Every song has a moment attached to it.  You remember where you were when you heard it and who you were with.  Then of course, there were the  moments when you realized with your girlfriend or boyfriend that this was “our song”.  It doesn’t take more than a millisecond for our brains to see ourselves  back in time.  It’s like Google has nothing on your musical memory.  These are the sweetest moments.  Even the break-up songs bring a smile(well, maybe that’s an overexaggeration).

My FHB found a new “oldies” station that transmits from Long Island and we listen  to songs on his cell phone through our bluetooth speaker  . Pretty romantic, huh?  Tonight over dinner we listened to John Denver’s “Sunshine on my Shoulder” and we talked about back in the day, what the song meant and how young we were.  We weren’t together then, as he is a bit older (by four years, which in music memories is a whole high school or college history difference).  We had other relationships, which I just see as rehearsals for now, and the music evokes summers and concerts and the other reality, that many of the folks whose songs came over the airways, never got older.  They will be forever young.  We can all name the  actors, singers and songwriters who tempted the fates, through driving too fast , living too hard, and whose rise to fame might have been too much to handle.  The belief that we all had that we were untouchable and that life was right in front of us, to grab onto.  We were appropriately shocked and sad when they left.  Then we grow older and here we are.

The strange thing about “oldies” (the music, not the people) is that each generation has their music and their memories.  My parents grew up to the sounds of the Big Bands and their relationship with the music of the thirties and forties made its impact on their lives, through the prewar years, during the war, and post war  times.  We had Vietnam and the music of change, in knowing who we were, and who we weren’t. We were that generation that questioned the  values and motives of the generation before us.  There were those of us who wanted peace and equality and the music played to bring us together and raise our voices for freedom and injustice.  I write now and I remember then.  I hear the harmony of the Mamas and the Papas and the gravelly voice of Janis.  I can bring it to my head and to my heart and sigh.  I don’t feel older when I hear the voices and the songs.  It takes being transported back to the sixties and seventies when I sang along with John Denver and felt the beat of the Doors.  It’s not even melancholy despite the passage of so many years.  I don’t remember a lot of stuff that I probably should, and never was good at remembering the artists and sometimes the lyrics.  But I can hum along and Google the lyrics and sing the songs of my growing up.  I can sing in the car with my FHB, and we both  recall the songs   we didn’t have together the first time around,  but are grateful to  have it now.  Moving and grooving.  It’s nice to go back in that time machine, but knowing what I know now, that I didn’t know then, I’m happy to be where I’m at and who I’m with.  So for those of you who knew the lingo…..Get your groove on, don’t freak out and always remember to say “Goodnight, John-Boy”.

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Eddie and Mary

 

So, this isn’t the revealing of a scandal of any sort.  This is just about two people, who didn’t know one another, born fifteen years apart, on two different continents, whose paths never crossed but who, when I think back, were part of my growing up. One (the man on the left) is my father, born Edgar Braun, know as Eddie, to family and friends, and Ed to business acquaintances and colleagues.  The other(on the right), Mary Tyler Moore, was known to millions, as a woman who was admired and watched on television, bringing laughter and substance, as well as the realization, that being a woman in a man’s world and industry, was more than a possibility.

Eddie, would have been ninety-five today.  Mary reached eighty, last month.  They probably would have gotten along, because he enjoyed good conversation and although he didn’t easily watch much comedy on television, he might have admired her career, as he worked in business, and in an industry (insurance) that was male dominated.  He worked alongside women, who supported the work in clerical and some managerial positions, and he treated them with respect and regard.  He was part of the “Greatest Generation” and worked in Manhattan during the “Mad Men” years  but didn’t participate in the so call “hijinks” behaviors that characterized the 1960s.  He worked hard and was well educated, and almost completed his PhD in Economics.  He faced some prejudice in the workplace, as the only observant Jewish employee, in an office that was primarily staffed by non-Jews who were white males.  It required him to learn how to get along, and fit in, in order to move up the corporate ladder without making the differences matter in an obvious way.  He worked long hours and was able to retire at age 62 and do the things that he and my mother enjoyed, including lots of travel, fishing (for him) and researching our roots.  His job was his employment, not his life and he knew the difference and he talked the talk as well as walked the walk.  As a teenager, I sometimes went to work with him on Saturdays if he had some things to catch up on.  We would take the elevated train from Queens, the No. 7, Flushing line, into Grand Central and walk to the office.  It was always quiet, and as he turned on the lights, I remember the offices, and cubicles and switchboard  becoming bright, and I walked around with a reverie that this might be a place for me some day.  Some weeks in the summer, as I got older, I was asked to fill in for his secretaries while they were on vacation and I learned the switchboard, and how to answer a phone properly “Mr. Braun’s office, may I help you?”  I remember thinking what could I do in the corporate world.  The switchboard perhaps, or being an “executive secretary”?  In time I knew I had a different career path in mind but my relationships and observations of office life and decorum, and how formal it seemed and how prescribed it appeared, left its mark on my memory.

Mary Tyler Moore was someone whose life and character as “Mary Richards” became someone who I decided I liked. I adored her apartment and thought she had a pretty good life, with friends and colleagues.  I never thought of her as someone who needed a partner in life to be complete.  It was pretty revolutionary to imagine a woman, independent and happy, and most of all, successful in a world that was created by men, for men.  I was finishing up high school as the show began and saw that she was more than a character, she had dimension and her challenges were those that were going on with many women around me.  I just was one of those people who hoped that things worked out for her, both on television and in life.  She demonstrated hard work and fortitude. It transcended television.

It seems a funny coupling, Eddie and Mary, but when I thought of today and them, it made sense to remember both, as one real to me and palpable as my parent, and other as real in the sense of a role model “woman of substance”.  I admire both. I miss my father for his intellect and wit and reassurance at times.  I was an adult when he died and he left me with an understanding of how systems worked in the world and how to guide others in fairness and kindness.  Mary’s lessons were absorbed through her ability to show another way in which life was full of possibilities.  It’s nice to remember people who guide us.  It keeps them with us and I always believe that one’s death is a moment in a lifetime, but it is not the measure of a life.

Miss you, Daddy.