Not many days go by where I don’t spend at a few minutes reminiscing/ reflecting about something from my home town. I have not called Rock Valley home since 1969. Yet it remains of utmost importance in many facets of my life, nearly a half century later. I suppose this midwest town can easily be summed up as one of thousands of small rural, farming communities. The heartland of America. With a twist of course.
At the time I certainly didn’t think there was anything unusual about my town. It was just a normal little community. We had town kids (I was one and didn’t know what a soybean looked like-or cared) but many of my classmates grew up in the country-outside of our little shopping Mecca/swimming pool/park/school. They lived on farms with their parents, growing the best corn crops/cattle/hogs on earth. No, I didn’t realize that either until I grew up. Crops-bushels per acre/prices of beef and pork weren’t part of my vocabulary. Going to Sioux Falls (45 miles west) to shop, eat, see a movie, and be part of big city life, even for a short time was important. And I’ve yet not gotten to the oddity of RV.
Really shouldn’t single out Rock Valley here either. Because some of the same size small towns surrounding us were eerily similar. Instead of having a quirk, it was probably more like a county wide issue. As in Sioux County, # 84 of 99 counties in Iowa. For some reason, when Rock Valley was being founded in the late 1800’s, folks of Dutch descent flocked here. Growing up, I never gave that a thought.
That’s not to say the whole town (in the 1950’s & ’60’s, maybe 1,600 to 1,800 including all those fabulous-out-of-city-limit-farmers) were Dutch. But the vast majority were. If I click off churches that I remember, I come up with 8. One Methodist, 1 Catholic Church, and 2 Lutheran (one was several miles south of town). Add to that one Calvin Christian Reformed, the First Reformed, one Christian Reformed and the Netherlands Reformed. See what I’m saying? Goes a long way when assuming over half our town was Dutch. At least. Me included.
All 8 churches had various services on Sunday morning. I believe most began around 9:30. With Rock Valley’s one stoplight (the very reason I chose the name for my blog) directing some of the traffic flow, an extra stop sign was erected at Main Street & 16th Street to help folks arrive at their destination on time. Never a problem for the Gerritson’s small band of misfits heading short 4 blocks away. Dad would drive 1-1/2 blocks west to the stop sign. His head swiveled south, watching a string of constant traffic heading north on Main. Every church with a ‘reformed’ in their name was north of us. Weird huh? He could have easily turned north a half block from our house, then west, thus landing at the temporary stop sign and making it much easier than waiting for an opening from the traffic light. Yet Dad did not. We always arrived at church a half hour before the preacher perched on his pulpit. Our pew choice might not have been assigned formally, yet somehow we always sat in exactly the same spot. From the back of the Narthex, left aisle, approximately one third from the back. I went in first, then Mom, with Dad pulling up the rear and sitting on the end. Quite often he had to get out for some reason, help serve communion or a baptism. Dad was elected as an elder of the church (thus placing this brat on notice to behave and not embarrass him) many times. So I guess it was important to arrive early, get to our non-assigned-assigned seat, watching other folks file in. And what they were wearing. Who had on new church clothes. Just saying.
One other small detail about the 8 churches I remember. The 4 with the word Reformed in them-had second services on Sunday nights too. Sigh. You don’t know how much this little known fact affected every facet of my life from that day forward. My own fault. I forced my parents to switch churches right before I started junior high. Already did a blog or 2 about that touchy subject. But I did little when researching other venues of worship. I was just a little sheep trying to join a herd with familiar sheep faces. Did I not notice that all the churches west or south of me did not engage in that extra Sunday night service ritual? I did not. I was ecstatic having friends in my new congregation. I was an outsider and outcast at Calvin. The only kid not attending Christian school. Being a loner, I don’t know why this bothered me so much, but it did. I was happy to belong to a big group of my school peers, although probably about as many friends attended the Methodist church. Maybe in the back of my mind, I knew Mom and Dad could never be coerced into the Methodist ideology. (Dad was a firm believer in predestination). Was I really that clever? Doubtful. Either way, I made a huge deal, cried hysterically, pleaded, whined, begged, was thoroughly aggawase, Dutch word for stubborn or pig-headed and zhanicked Dutch word meaning begged, pleaded & whined for months to convince them switch to a church with kids I knew and ran around with at school. I really, really needed this after we lost Larry and they acquiesced. While I feel bad about being an all around jerk, I’m not thoroughly convinced a church change wasn’t good for Mom and Dad at that time too.
It was February 1964 and this chick had just turned 13. Something big was about to happen, literally changing the world. Alas I was totally left out. And it was a very big deal. The Beatles were going to be on TV. It was almost as good as seeing them in person. (Yeah, a small black and white TV, snowy features, no remote or surround sound). Ed Sullivan had booked The Beatles for 3 weeks in a row!! They were going to sing I Want to Hold Your Haaaannnnndddd. All four of them wearing those cool Beatle boots. Was I glued to the TV like the estimated 70 million lucky folks watching across America? Screaming, crying, fainting or swooning? No. I was in church. All 3 Sunday nights. Every Sunday night. Every. Sunday. Night. Cruel world out there Neese. You think it would have been permissible to watch The Beatles one of the Sundays. Just once. Nope. Television was off limits-period on Sundays. And we didn’t miss church. Ever. No You-Tube, Google or even a VCR tape to covet back in the day. I had to wait until I got to school on Monday morning to be filled with dark green/leaning towards black envy at the lucky ducks who got to sin on Sunday nights while I was being preached to for the second time that day. Fourth if you count Sunday school and RCYF (hmmm, not sure, Reformed Church Youth Fellowship maybe). RCYF was held in First Reformed church’s basement before the evening service and and I really did like it. Our fellowship meeting ended just as the preacher upstairs was gearing up for his second sermon of the day. We were required to file up the stairs, (guards were not posted, though a couple dads disguised as ushers were mulling around but trying not to watch us as the doors were now chained from the inside anyway. I jest) and sit in the new addition together during worship. There was no doubt, every single parent went through the mass of kid’s heads until they lit on their own, now safely ensconced to hear more of God’s word before we were allowed to ride around the loop of RV for a couple of hours. Yup, this was my life.
So I missed a lot. For this girl, there would never be a do-over. I missed watching the British Invasion at its inception. Over one third of the United States watched The Beatles on that first of three Sunday’s on the Ed Sullivan show. However, not me. Oh I still enjoyed the music of The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Dave Clark Five, Monkees, Animals, Kinks, Zombies, and Herman’s Hermits. But I could never say I watched The Beatles when they were first on American TV. A sin and a regret. Should have faked an illness. I was a good liar. Great even. Could have, should have pulled it off.
By the time The Beatles broke up in 1970, I was expecting Shannon. Too busy learning about the ins and outs of marriage, figuring ways to pay our numerous bills, find something suitable and affordable besides Starkist Tuna (sorry Charlie) to eat every day rather than mourn the loss of my number one rock band. Plus the upcoming overwhelming job of motherhood. That one had me all twitchy. There was a lot on my plate besides music. But new music and news about about my favorite groups did invade my world at times nonetheless. Hubs brother Arly sent us all The Beatles and The Doors music (reel to reel) while he was in the Navy for safe keeping, which we played continuously. So, compounded with the loss of my favorite group, add to that the death of Jim Morrison (lead singer and lead hottie) of The Doors in 1971. Both hit me hard. I just didn’t have time to dwell on these minor tragedies that quite honestly didn’t affect my real life. I did feel bad though.
|Shannon rocked her poncho, 1972…|
I listened to a lot of music in the 70’s while raising our kids. But when homework and school activities added to the mix, the music of the 80’s didn’t get much of my attention. Until my kids really started listening to music. Which is way different than the kids of today. Much like my love of contemporary music when I became a teen, my kids didn’t listen much to the radio/tv/boom box until their early teens that I recall. By the time Shannon was in high school and Joshua in junior high did I realize I did not like most of their music when we were in the car together. If I wanted to listen to music, I now required ‘an oldies station’ much to their dismay. All my great music from the mid-60’s to around 1980. The aforementioned bands plus CCR, and still number one in my heart, Neil Diamond. It would be almost 2 decades before I started listening to new pop music again. New playlists to keep my feet and fat ass moving when I walked daily. Pitbull, JLo, Maroon 5, Enrique Iglesias, P!nk, Lady ga-ga, Black eyed Peas, Kelly Clarkson, David Guetta and Kylie Minogue. I know, I’ve lost my mind.
This re-found pleasure in popular music appears to be the reason I started attending crazy concerts during the last decade. I don’t think I’m trying to rediscover my sad sack youth or assume I’m trying to stay relevant in any way-shape-or-form. But the concerts have been a hoot.
|P!nk soaring in Auburn Hills, 2013…|
Which brings me to my latest adventure (and most expensive). First, the expense. I just can’t let this major gripe go on without pitching-a-bitch. I’ve never been a huge sporting event, concert person, so this weird (isn’t it illegal) phenomenon hit me hard between the eyes about 15 years ago. The Cubs were playing the Tigers in Detroit. We were buying tickets for the entire family (though not all were baseball fans-yes it breaks my heart). For some reason it was hard to buy tickets. I was used to going to Chicago Cubs, picking out the section and price I was willing to part with, pushing ‘purchase’ and have them send me my tickets. That ship sailed. It’s now required to go to Stub Hub, Ticket Master, Vivid Seats, or some other scalper and buy your $90 dollar ticket for $225. What the hell? I am in total disbelief that any ‘star’ or ‘team’ allows this to happen. Or our government. I thought if you got caught near a sporting event scalping tickets you were arrested. Now that seems to be the only way to get tickets for anything. And it seems to be legal. Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Five minutes later, you’re connected to one of these blood-sucking sites and the ticket prices have tripled. A crying shame and pisses me off so bad. OK I’m done. And exhausted. Bastards. Rotten bastards.
Six months ago I noticed Paul McCartney was going on tour and Detroit was on his list of stops. About an hour from us. Wow. I already had tickets for Neil Diamond in June. Could this old gal ‘do’ 2 concerts in one calendar year? And would we have to resort to 6 months of nothing but Starkist if we bought tickets? Pretty close call. If not for Erica, my wonderful daughter-in-law who knew a guy (isn’t that always the way things get done) Her friend’s name is Jeff and he had a suite, tickets (also sweet) which didn’t cost me a dime for Diamond. Very sweet. So I took the plunge. Told the Hubs I wanted to see Paul before one of us died (Paul or me). And I wanted good seats. Paul’s concert was one of the first in our brand-spanking Little Caesars Arena, downtown Detroit. New home for the Pistons and Red Wings. Two-$150. tickets cost us $552. bucks. Bastards. Seems like Aswin (appropriate first name) Hartono bought my tickets before I could and deemed it necessary to add $252. in fees in addition to the already exorbitant prices of $150 each, thus allowing Paul to sing for Neese. I’m just not gonna say bastards again. But it’s so wrong. Just wrong.
The concert was fantastic. No changing of sets or clothes for Paul. At 75 years young he came on stage and sang for almost 3 hours. Started out with A Hard Day’s Night (he probably knew it was gonna be). He told story tidbits, dedicated a song tribute for his late wife Linda. For John Lennon, A Day in the Life and “all we are saying, is give peace a chance.” For George Harrison it was, Hey Jude. The sold out crowd helped Paul by singing, “nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, hey Jude for 5 minutes. (I might have lost track of some ‘nahs’ there, but you get my drift). Paul’s voice was a bit wobbly by the end, but he came out for 2 curtain calls. The last one was ‘Yesterday’ on an acoustic guitar with a Red Wings sticker on it. The crowd went nuts.
So glad we went. Well worth it. Parking 1/2 block away was 40 bucks, my Paul t-shirt another $45. We’re been pretty content with tuna casserole for a month of Sundays. About the blog post title. I’ve always been somewhat different in my choice of favorite songs of a band as opposed to everyone else’s favorite song by the same group or individual. Three songs from The Beatles or Paul with Wings remain on most of my playlists for walking.
1. Ob la Di
2. Ballad of John & Yoko
3. Mull of Kintyre (by Wings)…