by Ken Shel
The birth of Rock 'n Roll
|A work in progress:
A road cut through a hillock to make a near-vertical slope on the eastern side. The bottom of the cliff determined the property line of the house on the hill. A narrow ditch—an open storm sewer— ran between the road and the cliff, carrying rainwater and septic tank leakage north to a flood control ditch the size of a canal.
Erosion from the front yard and its precipice sometimes clogged the ditch, resulting in its overflow onto the road. Once a year the property owner, Martin Scott, received a letter from the county demanding that he perform some unspecified action to clean up the mess and to prevent future overflows. Once a year Martin took a shovel and a wheelbarrow to the street to shovel out the ditch, wheel it up a long, gravel driveway, and dump the contents onto the ground under a rosebush in the front yard—the only decorative feature there.
A tiny concrete stoop occupied the space in front of the door to the house. There, Martin’s two sons held a transistor radio between them to listen to the only station that played music suitable for children on the cusp of adolescence. There, on that concrete platform, next to that rose bush, at the top of the roadside cliff, Rock ‘n Roll was born.