Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Red Rubber Ball and the Summer of '66



In the summer of '66 many afternoons were spent at the bakery just down the street from my parent's cafe. The pinball machine was in the corner by one of the front windows and the jukebox in the other. We'd spin on stools of gaudy red plastic which sat in a row in front of the counter while penny candy lined the shelves on the other side. We must have driven the baker half mad as we slowly made our choices, but what I remember is his infinite patience. I was 13 that summer and knew good girls didn't buy candy cigarettes. I was not, however, adverse to bumming one off a friend. Jimmy J, the reigning pinball wizard, tried in vain to help me develop my timing, polish my wrist action, but I kept wandering over to the jukebox, the place where the secrets to life were kept, each one revealed in less than three minutes. Many songs had to have been played that summer but for the life of me I can recall only one: "Red Rubber Ball."







Note: "Red Rubber Ball" was co-written by Paul Simon.




Copyrighted image courtesy of Cletis Stump.


33 comments:

  1. Now I'll have an earworm of Red Rubber Ball stuck in my head all afternoon!

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  2. OH MY GOSH!!! This song brings back such memories! I haven't heard it in years. My sisters and I used to play this song endlessly on our little recored player. Thank you for posting this today. You have no idea how perfect the word and the memories are for me today.
    Your memories sound so sweet. I remeber penny candy, but was never good at pinball : )

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    1. Cat! I'm so glad to hear that this speaks to you today.

      My pinball skills never improved.

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  3. You brought back a similar scene for me with a slight variation. I was a kid with his father at a local watering hole. The stools were red, but at the bar. The pinball machine was an old electric bowling machine, and the song that keeps running through my head is Trailer for Sale or Rent.
    The memory is fond not judgmental. I survived intact and swiveling myself dizzy.

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    1. You not only survived intact, but with some good stories to tell and a wonderful way of telling them. How cool is that?

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  4. Now how could I have forgotten Red Rubber Ball? Well, I did, but when I clicked on the video and heard those first few notes I had to click right off of it. Ha. I was 18 that summer and actually got to be pretty good at pin ball for awhile there.

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    1. So, I have to ask: was it too late? :)

      Darn earworms....

      I did manage to develop some skills around Foosball at about 19. College will do that to you.

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  5. Yea, the worst is over now . . . I was just going into my junior year of high school, we'd play this on the car radio, driving around in my friend's car, acting goofy. How did I not know Paul Simon wrote this?

    Love the image, Teresa. Love the post.

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    1. Aren't those great words to hear? :)

      Acting goofy. Those were the days, my friend (I typed fiend and had to correct). :)

      Thanks, Penny! I thought that image was perfect.

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  6. An absolute gem of a post - it says so much and creates so many images is so few words.

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  7. Teresa, I agree with Alan. You convey a great deal in a very few words. I believe it is called genius. I, by the way, was a damn god pinball player

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    1. I bet you were... "ain't seen nothin' like him in any amusement hall..."

      Thank ye, Mr. Stump.

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  8. I was 14 the summer of '66...my BFF & I wore out that 45 on her little record player as we danced our asses off hiding in her bedroom ... that summer began our "freedom" ... we both became LEGAL drivers & hung up our bikes ... we played lots of pinball at the Dairy Queen when we weren't at the local swimming pool eyeing the guys!!!! What a summer that was --- thanks for stirring those cherished memories!

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    1. Thank you for sharing yours! What fun!

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    2. Yes it was !!! Oh, to be young again & know what I know now ... ahhhh ummm ... :)))

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  9. The only other Top 100 Hit from 1966 with the word 'Red' in it was 'Lil' Red Riding Hood' by Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs. I once had an acquaintance who owned a music store in downtown Dallas and was a good friend of Domingo Zamudio, whose stage name was 'Sam the Sham'.

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    1. I Love the memories you bring to my music posts. A great story. I did not follow that songs advice, but have been "walking in these spooky old woods alone...."

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  10. I was 18 on a bus to california to live the life..I remember all those songs, my name is Mary do you remember Along Came Mary by the Association..good tunes, even better times for most of the nation..the 60's were a blast one got a lot for their money. I did not make much money went to college but in california it was nearly free only books, now it is impossible to go to school in most 4 years, penny candy lived on it, hamburgers, fries, cherry cokes lets see about $1.95 and it was susbstantial, of course I worked for the Navy and many went to Vietnam never to return, that was horrible, the whole city of san diego ran on the Navy, now the places I worked are gone, no more Naval Training Center and lots gone from North Island too..those days were wonderful, thanks for a blast from the past..too bad the youth of today doesn't get to enjoy what most baby boomers just took for granted, we actually got to buy shoes that lasted, clothes that were reasonable, one could marry, enjoy a home on one salary and most people only had one income in their marriages, now it takes 3 incomes if at the least, no kids and work like hell for corporations which are greedy and think most men don't need jobs anymore! strange strange and unhappy world we are living in indeed!

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    1. Mary! Yes, I do remember that song. I loved many songs by that group. "Happy Together," is a favorite.

      These are very different times for young people. Despite the Vietnam war, or maybe because of it (it drew us together in many ways), we lived in a golden time.

      Another song comes to mind: "It's a very strange world we live in, Master Jack."

      I'm so glad you stopped by and left such a wonderful comment.

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  11. Yes I remember that song and a hundred more. I think you could buy a 45 record for 50 cents. We had stacks of them. We discovered that if you propped up two of the pinball legs with flat rocks it made it easier to rack-up free games. So we would rack-up 10 games and then "sell" the games to some kid with a bunch of quarters in his pocket. It was my first lesson in "trickle down economics."

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    1. Steven, You scoundrel, you. All done to the tune of "Everyday Housewife," I presume? :)

      Up until a few years ago, I still had many 45's. "Secret Agent Man," a favorite among them.

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  12. This is Mary, I hummed along came Mary all day at work, the people did not know what the hell I was humming..Oh, for those days, I only made $1.61 an hour at a dept. store and free food and about $1.25 at a sweet cafe, if the person did not tip us gals working like hell to get thru college, the owner politely asked them not to come back, his daughter my friend got a big kick out of that, today people don't even tip at all where we live, shameful cause the servers, busboys, dishwashers have to pool their tips, oh, my God what is that about, I always leave $5.00 and on up no matter if we just have coffee, afterall one has to pay for gasoline now & tuition for college here even for junior college is horrible, how is one to get thru school with most men losing jobs faster than a witch in a broom factory?!!!!! Not to mention women not being paid anything, they have not come a long way baby, cause a lot of women are not doctors, lawyers, accountants, teachers don't make much here, they have to buy all their supplies for kids sent to school with no lunches (here) and just the clothes on our back, the life of the 60's is so very different for young and old now, just the memories of the songs makes a person feel great, but not everyone shares the american dream very sadly, love your blog read it daily you are an amazing writer so creative and intuitive too! happy holidays!

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    1. Annie, Thanks for sharing more of your story. I remember the job just before leaving for college in the summer of '72 that paid 1.25 an hour. Rollin' in the dough.... LOL

      Thanks for your kind words about my blog. So glad you read it. Happy Holidays to You!

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    2. My apologies for the name confusion, Mary. :)

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  13. I loved this song!! I was 15 that summer of '66. What fun to hear this again. I didn't know about Paul Simon co-writing this. Cool! (Love Paul.) I just had to google!! My favorites were Wild Thing, Little Red Riding Hood, Summer In the City, I Am A Rock, Paint It Black, Don't Bring Me Down, and Oh How Happy!! Now I have a lot of earworms in my head--LOL! :)

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    1. Oh, those are some great songs you've included. I Love Paint it Black.

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  14. Slightly too *young* to remember the song but I do remember the candy cigarettes. And I didn't get the memo on good girls not buying them...

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    1. Well, I had already tried my first real one, and gotten sick, but in public, even pretending was frowned upon by the powers that be, i.e. parents.... :)

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  15. Although though there were not any pinball machines within miles of where I lived in 1966 at age 15 I remember the music vibe well. I loved the song Red Rubber Ball. My favorite song from that year was "For What It's Worth" by Buffalo Springfield, others include "When a Man Loves a Woman" by Percy Sledge, and "Eight Miles High" by the Byrds. I was kind of a shy kid in those days, hanging around the fringes, waiting for a chance to find myself. Although music was not my salvation it sure helped me get through the teenage years. Didn't hit my stride until I was about 20. Thanks for this, it brought back some memories!

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    1. "For what It's Worth has always been a favorite of mine. "Waiting for a chance to find myself," is an apt description of my own life at that time.

      Thanks, Bill.

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