This was fun. When it began, i queried the Facebook group, “If you grew up in Lebanon (Tennessee) you remember…” about verifying the name of the “Tasty Shop.” i’ve had about thirty comments with tales of the Tasty Shop and other memories shared about growing up there in the 1950’s. Thanks to all of you, and especially Susan Smithwick Felts who recalled the “suicide” cokes.
It was 1958 at the Tasty Shop when i first heard this song.
You can listen if you want by going to this link:
It was the spring of my eighth grade year at Lebanon Junior High, the old high school building on the corner of High Street and North Cumberland (US 231 North). i’m pretty sure i had been to a Saturday matinee, an oater of course, with a cartoon and a serial (Rocket Man or Lash Larue?) and, as usual, wandered in the Tasty Shop next to the Capitol Theater and, if i had another dime, fruitlessly try to win a game at the pinball machine. It was a high cost to fail considering the movie ticket was a quarter and the theater coke was a nickel and the popcorn was a dime.
It was then i heard that song…and i dreamed.
i had been in pre-teen love since being in Mrs. Major’s fourth grade class on the second floor of the new wing addition to McClain School on West Main Street between Tarver and South Hatton (where Townley Johnson, Bill Cowan, Henry Harding, several others, and i would go to the boy’s restroom and see if we could pee a stream the length of the urinal).
When the Everly’s put this dream song on vinyl, i was in the throes of my angst created by pubescence, testosterone building like a Pontiac-Star-Chief-three-two-barrel-carburetor-engine-pumping lovelorn heartache (and perhaps losing at the urinal peeing game), and then someone plunked a nickel in one of the table jukebox machines with the Formica top and the red faux leather benches while i drank a “suicide” fountain coke, thinking i was a cool dude, and that nickel machine feeder picked the Everly’s new top forty hit. The lilt of the Everly’s harmony ignited all of my angst, making that suicide coke do strange things to my innards.
But that was long ago, and almost everything in this story is gone. But still, all i have to do is dream.
i often dream of a small town in Tennessee with a square at the center of town life (which is now beginning to stir to life again with renovation, i hear) where you didn’t lock your car anywhere anytime; and you didn’t lock your house except when you went to bed; and the children walked to and from school from the first grade on until high school; and autumns were crisp and golden and rust-red, brown, and yellow; and you could smell the wind; and the girls wore skirts and blouses or dresses and black and white saddle oxfords and were put on a pedestal by the boys; and many of the town-folk went to the stadium down the hill on Friday nights to watch the football team in the chill of the autumn evening; and the next day, many folks went up another hill on the “western border;” and the military marching band on that hill played Sousa songs while their team clashed on the field Saturday afternoons; and the cadets handed out autumn mums to those beautiful young women; and worship was every Sunday and several other days; and almost everyone went to church, sometimes all day Sunday; and the churches rang with organ and hymns (except for some churches who didn’t believe in that instrument music thing) when the cadets marched in the streets on those Sundays in their starched and pressed uniforms in formation to those churches to sit in their section and march back to that hill again while the other church goers would go out to Winfree’s Restaurant, which was later turned into a pub and had a shuffleboard table but they didn’t call it a pub, out where West Main turned into the Nashville Pike, and other restaurants; or they would go home to a big Sunday dinner where the normal biscuits of the other days would give way to dinner rolls; and a gelatin salad would replace the lettuce and sliced tomato; and ham was a treat, but it was baked, not salt-cured country ham (that was for weeknights cause no decent human could have Tennessee country ham without biscuits and red-eye gravy) and, of course, some incredible dessert like banana pudding or chocolate pie with a meringue frosting; and all was served on fine china, the special heirloom silverware, and crystal in the dining room with other family members joining; and all of the women would contribute to the cooking; and the young-un’s old enough would wash, dry, and put away the dishes while the adults sat around and told the stories of the town, and it all paled to those young sirens calling me, or rather me dreaming again of them calling me; and making “All I Have To Do Is Dream” my anthem.
But even then, that world was a dream. The youths of then were shielded from the realities i will not speak of here because my dream was real, and i will not allow it to be sullied by the world as it was/is.
Because all i have to do is dream my world of then has the possibility of becoming a reality in the future.
But not now. No, not now.