The year was 1958. The first of the series.
"Purple People Eater"- 1958
Song link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X9H_cI_WCnE
In 1958 we were living on Love....Love Avenue in Albuquerque, New Mexico that is. It was an ordinary tract house, a three bedroom stucco number with a front and back yard, formal living room and a formal dining room. Eat in kitchens were not in fashion, nor were dens or family rooms, at least on the salary of an Air Force Captain. It was the first time I remember not living on a military base, so because of that it was very "neato". My two brothers always had to share a bedroom, I lucked out being the only girl. I remember my bedroom was facing the street, but in those days we didn't worry about such things.
I specifically remember that summer. It was the year we had a family portrait taken, all five of us all dressed up, my brothers in their sports coats and little bow ties, hair side-parted and slicked down, spitting images of my father's suited and Brylcreem'd perfection. I sported my freckles, a blue and white sailor-style dress and a pixie haircut, while mom looked every bit the well put together officer's wife, a blouse, straight skirt and perfectly coiffed hair.
Doing the dishes were no longer a chore in our house this summer, nope, daddy had given mother a dishwasher this year for her birthday! Was my mother spoiled? Perhaps. I know it didn't save me much of a chore, as I was taught how to load it. Next to emptying the coffee-grounds and washing out the percolator coffeepot it was my second most dreaded chore, but only slightly ahead of folding the clothes after they were dry. All I wanted to do was be outside playing with my brothers and our hula-hoops!
On the occasion of my tenth birthday I remember my mother baking me a birthday cake, actually two of them, each in the shape of a numeral to make the number 10. I dressed up for my photo, taken in the front yard, me holding proudly the number ten in white cake (my favorite) with white icing and ten candles. The big present I got that year was a transistor radio, a slick silver and black number, which I carried everywhere.
The song I most remember that year was "The Flying Purple People Eater", mostly because in no time at all the three of us children along with my parents were singing the words to it in the car.
I was learning just how important music would be in my life, with such catchy tunes as "Witch Doctor", "Lollipop", "Tom Dooley", "Rockin Robin", "Bird Dog", "Splish -Splash", and of course the wonderful "Volare".
These were the times when we memorized words because they were played over and over on AM radio. At ten I was just learning about puppy love through the simple lyrics of such songs as "Sweet Little Sixteen". Oh how I could barely wait to become a teenager, a grown up.
This was also the year I became aware of death, through three distinct events. The first was when I caught a glimpse of the movie "The Mummy" one night. I was crying and afraid to go to sleep. Our babysitter tried to comfort me, feeling guilty that I was upset by her choice in movies. It wasn't her fault, I was supposed to be asleep, but instead had snuck out of bed and sat in the doorway to the living room, the silent observer.
The second awareness was the same summer. I had been left to visit with my grandfather, and we had to attend a funeral, my first. It was extremely traumatic to view the body of this heretofore unknown relative in the coffin, and I wailed so hard and long we skipped the graveside ceremony.
The third happened in the fall, when my dad had gone deer hunting with the boys. Four days later he drove up in our turquoise and white Chevy station wagon with a dead deer strapped to the roof.
I think it was the beginning of the end of my innocence.