Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Imaginary Jukebox

9 to 5? Work deadlines? Doctor bills? Mortgage payment? Taxes?

Those are all burdens that we adults have to endure. Just for a second, wouldn’t it be nice to be a kid again? How would that feel?

Of course, it wasn’t a painless experience, but when I remember how carefree I felt at particular times during my childhood, especially during my teenage years, circa 1972, and most especially when I was hanging out on my beach towel at the swimming pool in Thornville, Ohio, on lazy summer afternoons, a big smile comes to my face.

Part of that pleasure was retiring to the pool for a swim. Another part was ogling the young ladies.  But just as important was hearing the music blasting away from the pool jukebox, that oversized, coin-operated phonograph that kept the pool crowd swinging.

A quick Google search shows that the “juke” in jukebox derives from “juke joint,” the often rowdy drinking and dancing establishments that catered to workers on plantations in the southern states of the US in the early 20th Century. (The word “juke” is apparently from the Gullah (Georgian Sea Island) word “joog,” meaning wicked.)  By the middle of the 1940s, 75% of all the records produced in America – and that was millions of records -- found their home in a jukebox.

The jukebox at the Thornville Pool stood right at the front of the concession stand, opposite the wading pool. For a quarter (25 cents), you could choose 3 songs from the 100 or so titles that were presented on a menu within the display case top. Some of my friends would probably spend 50 cents every time they visited the pool, enough for 6 songs. If a guy had a buck and a half, he could line up 18 songs --- and if my memory of 1972 serves me correctly, they might have included anything from War’s recent release “Cisco Kid” to the oldie but goodie “Under the Boardwalk” by The Drifters. Of course, there were also hits by hugely popular groups such as The Doors and Chicago and by cool singers like Cher and Marvin Gaye.

For some of us though, it was about more than music; the jukebox at the pool was where we learned so much about hipness, about style. Listen to the words and catch the vibe from songs like the “Theme from Shaft” by Isaac Hayes and Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” to see what I mean.

Tune in to Daddy Peet Expresso on on Saturday night August 20/21 midnight and Sunday morning at 11am for this program.


Rohan Rajiv said...

Nice one, Brad. Thank you! Took me down memory lane for a bit!

Anonymous said...

Hope you realize that Weldon's Ice Cream in Millersport still has a jukebox with all the oldies!!!
Sounds like a rendezvous next year when you get back to Ohio will be required!!!
Cousin Annie