My dad worked in the radio business, and he brought home a lifesize plastic fake jukebox record player, a fabulous little space man who came to live with us. Its silver plastic chrome lit up bright red when I plugged it in next to the green couch, one speaker blaring.
I became a ten year-old D.J., like the ones I listened to on my transistor radio, San Francisco’s KYA and KEWB that played do-wop and Motown. KSAY, KSAN and KNEW, were okay. He worked for those stations so they were fine, mostly country music.
My father also brought home about a hundred albums with ‘promo’ stamped on the front covers because they didn’t get played on the air, like the trombone player with a big voice, Jerry Colonna. I especially loved Paul Anka’s ‘Diana’ and still know lyrics from that album. Our eclectic albums included, ‘The Great American Patriotic Songs,’ ‘Sing-Along Old Fashioned Melodies,’ ‘Beloved Irish Tunes,’ ‘Fantastic Polka Songs.’ Country singers, like Loretta Lynn, Lynn Anderson, Hank Williams, Buck Owens, Hank Thompson, Eddy Arnold, Tennessee Ernie Ford were the main part of our collection, but we also got a totally different sound, Henry Mancini soundtrack hits. I had my own Disney soundtracks of ‘Sleeping Beauty,’ ‘The Snow Queen,’ and ‘Mary Poppins,’ because they were happening at the time. I wanted to be Sleeping Beauty of course, and her lyrical songs made me beautiful, too.
That happy jukebox played during the summertime, especially every Saturday and Sunday. I sang every song on every album. I still know almost all the verses to military anthems, including four verses of ‘The Battle Hymn of the Republic,’ and ‘The Caisson Field Artillery’ song.
I can sing just about any Irish melody you want, and verses from ‘The Rose of Tralee’, to ‘Killarney’, ‘My Wild Irish Rose,’ ‘Danny Boy’ ‘Fields of Athenrye,’ and ‘Galway Bay.’ I imitate Bing Crosby.
I pushed long stainless steel vacuum cleaner tubes around the livingroom, using the hose brush as my microphone, singing harmony to its one note. I played LPs on that jukebox until it melted into blobs of plastic. I never knew what happened to it.