Frankie - ~1If!IiSIi _-'__...

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Unformatted text preview: ~1If!IiSIi _-'__ ~~~_~,_-;;..~~:-;:;..~~i:__.,":'_',- J H N R S E NTH A L he den of our house in Great Neck, LongIsland, where my family lived in the early 1950S,con- tained more of our real lives than any other room. The living room, with its light green sofa and baby-grandpiano, itscut-glassdecanters and porcelain figurines, was mainly for company. And the dining room, with its glittering chandelier above the glis- tening, dark mahogany table, was simplystUffy.The den, on the other hand, was where my family would gather in front of the television set on Sunday nights to eat pastrami and corned-beef sandwichesfromcollapsible TV traysandwatch Ed Sullivan's Toast of the Town. My father's 78-rpm record albums were shelved in the den- two rows' worth of Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, Bix BeiJerbecke, and Benny .,... TII'" ~fIf... II''''.''' """"'1"\ Frankie and Perry and Patt i and Dean------ . . i:i '2 1>: Goodman- along with an odd assonme.nt of books whose authors I assumed were the bestWestern civilization had to offer: Joseph Conrad, Charles Dickens, C~rl Sandburg, and John Gunther. One object in our den stands out the most in my memory, for it retains the luminous glow with which my young eyes used to surround the special things of this world: my red-and-gold Motorola record player. It sat on the card table like a plump little household god, its shon, thick spindle jutting up from the center of the turmable, capable of stacking eight 4s-rpm records. When I listened to the shrill music emanating from its tiny speakers, 1 was trans- formed from an ordinary, lackadaisical boy imo a fierce idolater whose heart overflowedwith devotion. Dangerous passions coursed through me, and 1 understood that life, DO :; "" Ii ~ ... 5 . JUNE 1999 ; THE SUN 15------ which was getting ready to spring at me, its heart apparently bursting with song, was something altogether different from what I had imagined. B efore there was sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll, there was Perry Como and Eddie Fisher. In the early fifties, at least in my memory, these two balladeers would com- pete each Saturday morning to have the number-one song on Martin Bloch's Make-Believe Ballroom. Most likely, the reason I remember the rivalry between the two singers (and no doubt exaggerate its importance) is because my brother and I had a rivalry based on them. Brian, who was five years older than I, likeJ Eddie~her better than Perry Como, whereas I liked Perry more, though not by much- after all, Eddie had sung "Oh! My Papa" and "Lady of Spain," songs that, respectively,brought tears to myeyes and sent shivers of Latin passion upand down myspine. Yet when Perrysang "Don't Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes," I felt as if he were singing to my sou\.The summer before I turned twelve, my family had moved from Westchester to Long Island, thirty miles away, forcing me to abandon my first girlfriend, Dorothy Ewing.Bymycalculations, I wouldn't see her again until I got my driver's license- in six years. She might asin six years....
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Frankie - ~1If!IiSIi _-'__...

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