Okay, so I'm sitting here listening to Clarke Davis on The Big Show on Rock-it Radio, and he's playing the Cash Box Top 100 from 1963, the week of January 5 to be precise. Listening to Little Esther Phillips belt out "Release Me," I started thinking about what I must have been doing then and went into a veritable frenzy of nostalgia (to quote a comedian who was popular in those days).
I was a senior in college, and it was near the end of the Christmas break, so I was about to go back to Austin from my final semester. Later that semester, I'd be going in for job interviews. I had only a couple, and when I was offered a teaching job in Corsicana, Texas, I jumped at it. Corsicana was only 30 miles from my hometown, and only 50 miles from the town where Judy Stutts lived. It was the second figure that was more important.
A couple of years earlier I had a history teacher named (I'm not making this up) John Quincy Adams. I'm not sure if he was rich or just a clothes horse, but he wore a different sport coat to every class meeting of the semester. He was a wild-eyed liberal, so far out that he'd created a sensation one semester when the John Birch Society had students take tape recorders into his class and secretly record him to prove to the world that he was a commie. The thing he said that I'll always remember was this: "The government is lying to you about a place called Viet Nam. There are already more American troops there than they're telling you, and this is going to be the worst thing that ever happened to this country." He said this around 1961, and in 1963 I still couldn't have located Viet Nam on a map.
One thing I remember about that final semester is moving my roommate to the Presbyterian seminary where he was going to continue his education. Some big hit by the Crystals (probably "Da Do Ron Ron") was playing on the radio when we drove over there. He's a retired minister now, living in West Virginia. He calls now and then, and we still like to talk.
I remember moving my stuff out of the dorm for the last time that May. I put everything I owned in to my 1953 Ford Tudor and drove out of town. I never thought I'd be back. Little did I know I would later return to work on my Ph.D.
John F. Kennedy was president. Little did I know how that would end, either.
Brook Benton's singing now. "Hotel Happiness." I remember all these songs all too well. Sometimes I think I'm still living in January, 1963. Sometimes I think it wouldn't be so bad if I were.