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March Madness

Helen, Donna, and Nee-Cie

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"You can't just sit there and wait for people to give you that golden dream.  You've got to get out there and make it happen for yourself." 
-- Diana Ross

It's March.  Women's History Month.  I typically acknowledge this special month. . . even though I have a problem with women's history having to be assigned a month.  I know.  I know.  I've struggled with this over the years, and I've just decided to go with it.  A month is better than no month at all. 

So.  Women's History Month.  A time to celebrate the legacy of women.  This year, I've decided to acknowledge and honor those women who've had role in my life; women who've contributed to who I am today.

The other day, I started thinking about . . . music.  As you've probably figured out, I always have a song running through my head.  I listen to music in my car.  When I work at my computer.  In my kitchen.  When I work out.  Heck, I even work for music organizations!  And I wondered where this came from. . . when did that Soundtrack of My Life begin? 

My sister is like this, too.  Some of my best memories of our earlier times are of the two of us, huddled around some radio or another, waiting to hear one of our favorite songs.  (Procol Harem, Di?)  My sister even had one of those rare and coveted part-time jobs in high school -- working for the local record store. . . spinning vinyl. . . every day!

So, where did this come from?  Not our parents.  No.  The influence of music started early. . . and came from other sources.

Hit it, Supremes. . .

 

When we were little girls, my sister and I had two sisters as our babysitters:  Helen and Donna. I used to get pretty excited when Helen or Donna came over to babysit us (although Di hated for our Mom to go anywhere; she wasn't happy about babysitters) . . . because they were nice.  And cool.  It would have been the mid-sixties when Helen came; later in the sixties when Donna came.  They had bubble-flip hairdos.  They wore paisley dresses.  Donna had real go-go boots.  When you see the screaming girls who loved the Beatles or the Stones. . . well, that could've been Helen or Donna.

Helen used to come over and tune in the radio.  She loved Motown.  Diana Ross and the Supremes.  The Temptations.  Martha Reeves and the Vandellas.  The Four Tops.  She listened.  We listened.  I loved it!

I remember that Donna was more outgoing than Helen.  Very bubbly and giggly.  She was our sitter one summer, when my mom had just gone back to work part time.  She would come over and tune the radio to Larrrrry Luuuuuujack, a DJ in Chicago.  She loved Freda Payne's "Band of Gold."  She would listen for it all day on the radio, and then we'd all dance around the house whenever it played.  Donna had a little '45 record carrying case, and she would bring her carefully-organized record collection to our house sometimes to play on my little record player.  Donna taught me to dance.  The Twist.  The Freddie.  The Monkey.  The Pony.  She was awesome!

Donna and Helen provided my introduction to "rock-n-roll".  So different from the music of my parents!  So cool!  So hip!  They introduced me to Motown and Top 40 and popular radio stations. . . so much a part of my own love of rock-n-roll and pop music.  The very beginnings of . . . the Soundtrack of My Life!

And, then. . . there was Nee-Cie!

 

"Nee-Cie" (short for Denise) was the youngest daughter of some friends of my parents.  Nee-Cie was probably about 3 or 4 years older than me -- and I felt so lucky to be able to spend time with her.   She was So. Cool.  Nee-Cie would invite me into her room. . . her teen-ager room. . . her cool-beyond-belief teen-ager room! . . . and let me catch a glimpse of her totally-groovy 13-year-old existence in 1968.  I remember just . . . breathing in her coolness. Posters on her wall!  Make-up carefully arranged on a dressing table!  SEVENTEEN magazine!  A pink fuzzy rug!  It was like . . . having face-time . . . with Marcia Brady!!! 

Nee-Cie was far beyond a '45 record collection.  She played entire record albums for me!  Nee-Cie introduced me to the Stones.  Jefferson Airplane.  The Doors.  But, mostly, she shared her love of the Beatles.  I remember sitting on the floor in her room - on the pink fuzzy rug - as she carefully instructed me in all things Beatles.  She filled me full of Beatle-lore, showed me pictures, relayed stories, played me songs, wrote out lyrics . . . and then quizzed me on all of it.  Just to make sure I really understood.

And me?  I just sat there, playing with her Spirograph, taking it all in -- thrilled, feeling pretty cool,  and adding to the Soundtrack of my Life.

Easter circa 1970

And so today, all these many years later, I acknowledge the Legacy left me by Helen, Donna, and Nee-Cie:  A love of pop music and a constant awareness of . . .what's playing on the radio!

 

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