Chapter 7: Stacy, 1974

It’s 1974, and Mary is getting married again (happily) to a fellow teacher. Evelyn and Don are upset about the marriage: Evelyn has issues because Mary’s fiancé is black; Don has, well, just issues. (Some of them originating in a bottle.) Matt and Stacy have secrets: Stacy’s aware of Matt’s since it’s hiding in plain sight, but nobody knows why Stacy is so depressed following her freshman year at college.

The worst part for Stacy is that her usual haven and salvation, music, is not working. In fact, she’s refusing the play her guitar or listen to much of anything.  So when Tommy shows up for the wedding with a gift for her (tapes of the underground New York rock scene), she’s not sure she wants to hear them.

If you look at the Top 100 Billboard songs of 1974, it’s not surprising that Stacy doesn’t find much comfort there. The charts were dominated by novelty songs (“The Streak,” Ray Stevens; “Billy Don’t Be a Hero,” Bo Donaldson & the Heywoods; “Wildwood Weed,” Jim Stafford; “The  Night Chicago Died,” Paper Lace); overwrought pop (“Seasons in the Sun,” Terry Jacks; “You’re Having My Baby,” Paul Anka; “I Honestly Love You,” Olivia Newton-John);  and cheesy covers (“You’re Sixteen,” Ringo Starr; “The Loco-Motion,” Grand Funk Railroad). Of course, it wasn’t all bad. Not much rock’n’roll, although a couple of classics made their debuts in 1974: “Radar Love” by Golden Earring and “Smokin’ in the Boys’ Room” by Brownsville Station.  Stevie Wonder was in the middle of a very productive phase and charted with the wonderful “Living for the City,” and Chaka Khan told us something good. California folk-rock stars like Linda Ronstadt, the Eagles, and Jackson Browne, were becoming popular. (Stacy alludes to making a “detour” into this type of music that didn’t go well.) Bowie was in his Diamond Dogs phase, and some of the glitter from glam rock was still lying around on the floor. Stacy does find herself somewhat interested in the vast musical knowledge of her brother-in-law-to-be, JC, who introduces her to Gil Scott-Heron and Stanley Clark. She knows there’s a lot more words and music out there but doesn’t trust herself to know how to find and appreciate it anymore than she trusts herself to function beyond the confines of Arboria Park without making another terrible mistake.

But Tommy has struck gold in the dives and dumps of Manhattan, with glam of the New York Dolls edging toward the punk of the Dictators. He’s also recorded poets like Patti Smith and Jim Carroll, recognized the talent of a pre-Blondie Debbie Harry, and caught the beginnings of bands like Television. This music draws Stacy’s attention and brings her to a place she hasn’t been able to find for a while (except when secretly popping pills). And after an argument (and a subsequent heart-to-heart conversation) with none other than Don, she gets back on track to resurrect a rock’n’roll dream.

The nation as a whole was dealing with secrets, lies, sneaking around, and untrustworthy people. It was the height of the Watergate scandals; President Nixon would resign just a few weeks after Mary’s wedding. The world was divided into people like Evelyn, who resists any kind of change; Tommy, who charges ahead to find anything new and different; Don, who wants to move on but can’t; and Matt, who just wants to be himself without being judged. The ’60s are over, the ’70s are looking both manic and grim. Stacy needs a shot of courage, and just knowing there are people writing and singing about the problems she sees around her provides one.

 

Summer of ’69

Laurie, 1969

The moon landing and Woodstock make for an unforgettable summer for Laurie Willis and her friends and family.

  1. Moon over Arboria

I’m lying on the base of our old slide reading America Conquers Space, which I got at the school book fair in the spring. In just a couple of days, men will be walking on the moon! I figure it’s important to know as much as I can about it.

The slide is the most comfortable place to read outside. I’m trying to ignore my little brother, Teddy, and his friend Ricky Nimowicz who are playing army on the other side of the yard. They have two tents set up, a cheap plastic one from the dime store and a bigger one my dad bought for camping. Flags left over from our Fourth of July barbecue are set up around them, along with a “Fort Maple” sign.

The boys quiet down for a second, but I can hear them rustling around the larger tent. Then Ricky yells, “Reveille!” and Teddy bursts out, trying to play it on his trumpet. Horribly.

Mom opens the back door and leans out. “Theodore! You are NOT to bring that trumpet outside. We’re just renting it, and if you get dirt in it before school even starts…”

Teddy sighs and brings the trumpet over to Mom.

Mom shuts the door and Ricky goes, “THEODORE! ALVIN!”

“Shut up!” Teddy yells, then chases Ricky around, “firing” his toy rifle.

I look over to the Andersons’ driveway next door. The car is back, so Jane and Ellen must be home from their dentist appointment. I take my book inside and leave it on the dishwasher so Mom can see I’m being responsible.

I knock on the Andersons’ back door and someone yells, “Come on in, Laurie!” because they know it has to be me. Jane’s and Ellen’s older sister, Connie, is sitting at the sewing machine in the dining room, cutting out a skirt pattern on some bright, flowery fabric. Mrs. Anderson is leaning over helping her. “Now remember to leave a couple of extra inches. You’re not going to wear it as short as the one in the picture!” She looks up at me. “Jane’s in her room.”

As I walk down the hallway, Jane comes out of the bathroom. “Didja have any cavities?” I ask her. She shrugs. “One. I have to go back.”

“I didn’t have any!” Ellen yells from their shared room. Ellen’s a year older than me, going into eighth grade, and Jane’s a year younger. We three have played together for years; Barbie dolls (though not so much anymore) and kickball and Swing the Statue. Lately, though, Ellen has started thinking she’s Miss It. She bosses us around and sometimes goes off to try to hang around some older girls down the street. The good part about her acting like a teen queen, though, is her parents gave her a record player, and she also buys magazines like Tiger Beat with Bobby Sherman’s picture in them and stuff. We used to have to raid Connie’s room for magazines like that but now Connie reads things that don’t have as many Bobby Sherman stories.

“Wanna go outside?” Jane asks.

“Only if it’s out front. Teddy and Ricky are making too much noise. Or we could go watch TV at my house.”

Jane nods and we head out. Ellen must not have anything better to do because she tags along.

Mrs. Anderson looks up. “Laurie, tell your mom I’ve come up with something new for the moon party. It’s…”

“Green cheese dip!” Connie yells.

“Cream cheese with green onions and some food dye. And Fred needs to know if one bushel of clams is enough, or two?”

“I’ll ask her,” I say. “She found a recipe for something called Lunar Punch, and she’s going to get out her punch bowl.”

Our parents are holding a big neighborhood party to celebrate the moon landing. The Andersons and us don’t have fences, so it’s like one big yard, and in the summer we’re always having something: a Fourth of July cookout, or Mr. Anderson’s annual birthday bash where the adults all drink too much and act goofy. Or my dad picks up a couple of farm-stand watermelons and we kids (and sometimes the adults) spit seeds at each other. Sometimes it’s just our two families, or maybe the Nimowiczes too, but other times it’s practically the whole block. Mr. Anderson will get clams and steam them on his barbecue grill, or we’ll buy a whole car trunk full of corn on the cob and eat it with potato chips for dinner. This moon party, though, is going to be really huge. Like Mr. Anderson’s birthday and Fourth of July all rolled into one.

***

The day of the party, there are four barbecue grills set up in our backyard. Mr. Hayes has wheeled his across the street, and Mr. Nimowicz brings a Hibachi. Our moms are setting out bags of hot dog and hamburger rolls and bowls of chips and pretzels and stuff. We’re not supposed to eat anything until everybody’s officially here but Teddy and Ricky are snatching pretzels when they think no one’s looking and eyeing the big box of cupcakes Ricky’s mom brought. My mom takes the cupcakes in the house so they won’t get flies on them.

Lots of people show up, bringing potato salad and Jello molds and desserts. We actually run out of plastic cups and Mrs. Hayes goes to get more. All the kids start making the empty clamshells into spaceships.

There’s also lots of beer, and people keep bringing more. I can tell Mom’s had a few because she’s totally ignoring us scarfing up all of Mrs. Rosen’s brownies and drinking more sodas and sugary Lunar Punch than we’re supposed to have. Our dog, Ringo, tips over a can of Budweiser and laps it up off the ground. Mr. Hayes thinks that’s funny and gives him some more until Mom finally notices and says, “Put the dog inside for now.”

Ellen’s abandoned our spaceship-making and is hanging around with Dean Sullivan, who lives over on Elm Street. He came with his parents and was rolling his eyes and Ellen was rolling hers and I guess they decided to roll them together. Jane and I make kissy faces at Ellen and she turns her back on us.

As it gets dark, Mr. Anderson sets up Ellen’s record player on the back step, with an extension cord going into the kitchen. He grabs a bunch of records from next to the hi-fi in the living room and plays songs with “moon” in them. The Andersons have a big record collection, and they like to dance. Pretty soon most of the grown-ups are up dancing to Elvis Presley singing “Blue Moon of Kentucky.”

Ellen is holding hands with Dean. She thinks we can’t see because it’s dark.

“I bet she wants him to dance with her,” Jane says.

Somehow Ringo’s gotten outside again and Teddy and Ricky are chasing him. Dad takes him in and checks the TV while he’s there. “Hey, they’re on the moon NOW!”

Everyone cheers. Dad hugs Mom, and Mr. Nimowicz goes to the back of the yard and shoots off one firecracker he had left over from the Fourth.

I keep looking up at the sky as Mr. Anderson plays “Fly Me to the Moon.” Mr. Taylor hollers, “Hey, how many moon songs did Sinatra sing anyway?” “Old Devil Moon,” Mrs. Anderson says.  “Only a Paper Moon,” Mom adds.

Dad comes over to me. “Pretty strange thing, isn’t it? Knowing there are men walking up there, above us.”

I squint at the moon, even though I know you can’t ACTUALLY see anything. “Maybe they’ll send more people now, like tourists. I’d like to go.”

Dad laughs. “It’ll just be astronauts for a while, honey. And they’re usually fighter pilots, or something. Not girls.”

“Girls can’t be fighter pilots?” I ask. “Anyway, they’ll need scientists. Why can’t girls do that?”

Dad’s fumbling for his cigarettes now. “Well, I know you like science. Maybe there’s some way girls can help, but I don’t think they’ll be sending any up.”

“They should if people start living there doing experiments,” I insist.

Dad laughs. “Well, they just might at that.”

Mr. Anderson puts on “Moonlight Serenade.” The adults start slow dancing, even my parents. Mostly they’ve all been jitterbugging and Lindy-hopping, and Mr. Anderson even dipped Mrs. Anderson during “How High the Moon.” Now everybody’s hanging all over each other. It’s weird to see parents acting like that.

Mr. Hayes isn’t dancing. He’s getting another beer and laughing at some joke Mr. Taylor is trying to tell. Mrs. Hayes is dancing with one of the bachelor airmen who live down on the corner. The one Connie says is a dreamboat, who takes out one of the older Vanderwende girls sometimes, but now he’s got his arms around Mrs. Hayes, really tight, and she’s smiling and whispering in his ear.

I think Mr. Hayes cheats on his wife. I’ve heard my parents say some things, when they think we’re not listening, about how he seems awfully friendly with his secretary or how handsy he was with a bleach-blonde lady at the Elks dance.

All of a sudden Mr. Hayes is over pulling his wife away and trying to punch the airman. I think he’s had too much beer though because he misses on two swings and by then Mr. Rosen and Dad have grabbed him.

The airman says a quick goodbye and hits the pike. Mom and some other ladies surround Mrs. Hayes and walk out front with her, and the men do the same for Mr. Hayes. Jane and I start to follow but her mom pulls us back and says leave it alone or we’ll have to go inside.

“Moonlight Serenade” gives way to “Pennsylvania Six Five Thousand” and “In the Mood” before everything’s calmed back down. The Taylors leave but Mr. Anderson isn’t ready to kill this party yet. “Hey, it’s only eleven,” he says to everyone. “The night is young.”

Connie gets home from a movie date with Larry Albright, wearing her new flowered skirt. Her dad asks her to play “Moon River” to get people dancing again but while it’s playing she runs inside and grabs “Bad Moon Rising” and puts it on next. Watching our parents trying to dance to that is even funnier than watching them be swoony. And Ellen and Dean are dancing. Jane punches me in the ribs to be sure I see them. Ellen dances behind Dean to stick her tongue out at us.

After that Connie plays “Age of Aquarius” and then her dad takes over again. He doesn’t care for Connie’s choice to end the evening, “Moonlight Drive,” and since he’s run out of moon songs, he goes with Bing Crosby singing “Swing on a Star.”

People finally drift off and a few make a half-hearted attempts to help clean up. Mom says, “Oh, hell, leave it for tomorrow,” and now I know for sure she’s tipsy.

***

Dad’s on afternoon shift this week, so he gets up late and spends the day reading the newspaper until Mom tells him to put the barbecue grill and the lawn chairs away so the yard doesn’t look like Bourbon Street.

Mr. and Mrs. Hayes take a very sudden trip away on Tuesday. They give Mrs. Taylor their house key so she can feed the fish while they go on their “second honeymoon.” “Second honeymoon, my eye,” I hear Mom say to Dad in the kitchen after she talks to Mrs. Taylor. “It’ll take more than a trip to the beach to fix up that marriage,” and then she hears me giggling because all I can think of is Mr. Hayes holding a hammer and Mrs. Hayes a paint roller like when my parents “fixed up” the basement. Mom yells, “I thought you kids were watching TV!” like we never came in the kitchen for a drink or something.

Now Ellen’s lording it over us that she’s “going out” with Dean Sullivan. Well, not really, because her parents won’t let her, but they talk on the phone and sometimes he comes over and stands around in the front yard looking embarrassed while Jane and I keep walking by them accidentally-on-purpose and Teddy sings, “Ellen and Dean, sittin’ in a tree.”

On Friday I get some more books about space from the Bookmobile. Teddy and Ricky change their sign to “Cape Maple” and pretend the big tent is a rocket ship and the little one is a lunar module. One of the books is about the people in the NASA control room and the ones who design the rockets and stuff like that. I need to find out more.

2. By the Time We Got to Maplestock

After Mr. and Mrs. Hayes get back they announce they’re selling their house and moving to Meadow Gate, a new subdivision out by the Fine Foods plant. “No airmen can afford to live there,” Mr. Hayes brags to my parents while they’re fertilizing the lawn one day. After he leaves Dad says, “Wonder how long until he starts punching his ticket out there,” and from where we’re standing behind them on the porch Teddy has to blurt out, “What ticket?” Dad says, “Jesus, you kids,” and Mom tells us to go out back until dinner.

But the big drama is over at the Andersons’. And for once it’s not Ellen who’s sulking, screaming, and slamming doors. It’s Connie, the good girl who always gets top grades and is home by curfew and doesn’t sass. She’s so responsible that she’s been our babysitter the last few years. I don’t think we need a babysitter anymore, but that’s another story. Anyway, Jane and Ellen told me it’s because of Woodstock.

See, Connie’s best friend is Tracy Rosen, and Tracy’s brother, Scott, goes to college. He’s friends with Larry Albright, the boy who took Connie to the movies. Scott and Larry are going up to New York State in a few weeks to camp at this music festival called Woodstock. They invited Tracy and Connie to come along, but the Andersons won’t let her go. Even though Connie explained, “The girls and boys will each have their own tent!” her parents still said no, and Connie had slammed her bedroom door so hard a picture fell off the wall in the living room, Jane told me.

I see Connie out in the backyard one afternoon, lying in a lawn chair in her bathing suit with her back to the house, playing her transistor radio. I go over and ask her about this Woodstock thing.

She sighs and rubs more Coppertone on her legs. “It’s three days long, outdoors. Bands play music all day and into the night, and then people camp till the next day when they start again. All the top groups will be there.”

“Even the Beatles?” I ask incredulously.

“Well, not so many British bands, except for the Who. Most of them are American, like Creedence. But they’re adding more all the time, so who knows? Imagine seeing so many groups all at once. It’s a once in a lifetime thing, and my parents just don’t understand.”

I see an actual tear trickle out from under her Foster Grants. “I’m so sick of everything. This house, my summer job, my parents, Arboria Park. . . I just want to have an adventure before school starts again. Something to remember.”

I’m still thinking about what she said later when Jane and Ellen are over on my front porch eating Freeze Pops and looking at the latest Tiger Beat. “I feel bad for Connie,” I tell them.

“Me too,” Ellen agrees. “Our parents are so unfair. I can only talk to Dean for ten minutes on the phone. Like, that’s so stupid. They never let us do anything.”

“They’re letting us go on the bus trip to Dorney Park,” Jane says.

“Because it’s a church trip,” Ellen sneers. “Just wait until you have a boyfriend, or want to go somewhere cool. You’ll see.”

It’s Ellen being all Miss Teenage It with us again. I’m ready to tell her to go stand in traffic when Jane says, “I still think our parents are nice. They gave us money to buy records at Nichols last night. I got the Archies and Ellen got ‘Crimson and Clover.’” She jumps up. “Come on, Ellen. Let’s go play them for Laurie.”

And that moment I get the idea. “You know what? We should put on a music festival for Connie. Learn to play and sing some songs. We have some instruments. Ricky Nimowicz plays drums. I have a guitar.”

“It’s a toy guitar.” Ellen just can’t stop being Ellen. “It’s made of plastic.”

“Well, yeah. But it has real strings. And Ricky’s drum kit is for real. And Jane plays the recorder, and Teddy plays trumpet . . . It’ll be kind of weird, but I get we could learn to play something. Maybe some songs by the bands at Woodstock.”

It takes a few minutes but I convince them. We go find the boys and pitch the idea. We agree we’ll have to practice at my house so Connie won’t find out.

***

Ricky sets up his drums in our basement, and we set about learning to play. We’re not sure what bands will actually be at Woodstock but have decided to learn “Proud Mary” first because Connie likes Creedence. We have our old record player that my folks put downstairs when they bought the stereo, and we try playing along with the record at first. Ricky is the only one who can actually play. After a couple of days, there’s no way we can pretend we’re any good at all.

Ellen flakes off first, then Teddy. Jane and I sit on the back stoop, feeling glum. Woodstock’s in less than two weeks. And even though Tracy’s parents have said she can’t go either (though they’re still letting Scott go), Connie’s still barely speaking to anybody and is either closed up in her room or over at Tracy’s house whenever she’s not at her summer job at the dime store. Between that and Ellen moping about not seeing enough of Dean, Jane’s house is pretty depressing so we’re usually over at mine.

Ellen comes out in the backyard, playing Connie’s radio that she’s “borrowed” while Connie’s at work. She’s dancing around being all moony to Tommy Roe’s “Dizzy.” Then Jackie DeShannon starts singing “Put a Little Love in Your Heart,” and Ellen is pretending to sing it, holding the radio like a microphone and emoting at our mimosa tree like it’s her audience. She doesn’t see us watching because the big pyracantha bush is in the way.

Jane stands up and is about to go bust Ellen when I get another flash. “That’s it! We’ll never learn to play one song in time, let alone a bunch. Let’s lip-synch and pretend to play! It’ll be easier. We can make costumes and try to look like the bands!”

We dash over and interrupt Ellen and tell her the idea. To my surprise, she kind of likes it. We round up the boys and go back in the basement, but this time we know what we’re doing.

Over the next few days, Ellen prods Connie to list some of the actual bands playing at Woodstock, and we go through her records so we can pick out songs. We figure six songs will do, and enlist Mom and Mrs. Anderson to help us.

But then things slide again. We’ve agreed to rehearse at one o’clock one day, but we can’t find Teddy and Ricky anywhere, and Ellen’s not back from the shopping center. Her mom gave her the okay to walk up there with Dean.

I’m ready to give up again when the boys finally come trotting up. They’ve been over on Elm Street, they explain, watching Audrey Vanderwende make out with a guy in a sports car.

“There’s like six of us around the car, and they don’t even stop kissing!” Teddy says breathlessly, throwing himself on the front step. “We banged on the windows and they ignored us. He had his hand up her shirt!”

“I even did this on the windshield.” Ricky puckers his lips and mashes his face on the window of my mom’s car, leaving a disgusting imprint.

“Never mind. We still have time. We’ll start without Ellen.”

Jane points. “Here she comes.”

Ellen and Dean are walking up Maple Street, real slow like they want to drag out their time together. I yell, “Hey, Ellen!” and she walks even slower, looking away.

We run over to them. “Hey, Ellen, it’s time to rehearse,” I say, and she turns red. “We agreed we’d start at one.”

“Rehearse for what?” Dean asks, and Ellen gets even redder.

“We’re putting on our own version of Woodstock, since Connie can’t go,” I explain. Ellen’s eyes are just slits now, but Dean’s brighten up.

“Cool,” he says, and I launch into a description of our efforts. When Ellen sees Dean’s reaction, she jumps in and tries to pretend it’s all her idea.

“Can I be in it?” Dean asks.

“Of course!” Ellen purrs and bats her eyes at him, but he’s looking at me.

“It’d be great,” I say. “We need another person, really. We don’t have enough instruments, or the right kind of guitar, but maybe we could make some fake ones.”

“Now Laurie won’t have to play a guy in every band,” Ellen says to Dean. “Just because she looks like one.” I swear I’m going to kill her later.

But Dean doesn’t acknowledge her. “Can you guys wait a few minutes? I think I got something that will help.” He takes off down the street, a lot faster than he walked up it.

He’s gone for twenty minutes and Ellen goes from over the moon to spitting fire. “If he doesn’t come back, Laurie Willis, it’s your fault. He probably thinks we’re all weirdos.”

“Maybe he thinks you’re a snot for calling me a guy,” I answer, and we’re getting into it when Jane yells that Dean is coming back.

He’s holding an electric guitar. It’s pretty banged-up-looking, but it’s a real one. “My uncle left some stuff in our basement when he shipped out,” Dean explains. “It won’t play for real, but if we’re just faking anyway…”

Two strings are missing, and the back is peeling away from the front. But he’s right, it’ll look realistic.

Now we’re back in business. We raid Connie’s room for more records and Mrs. Anderson’s “Halloween chest” for costumes. Our families agree to provide food, and we make up a list of people to invite. One afternoon we form an assembly line to make fliers: Ellen and Dean letter “MAPLESTOCK! TWO HOURS OF MUSIC FOOD PEACE & LOVE! 111 and 113 Maple Street. 1:30 PM August 16, 1969.” Then Jane and the boys draw flowers and peace signs on each one, and I add “Don’t tell Connie Anderson It’s a surprise!!!!” on the bottom. We distribute them to the neighbors and to some of Connie’s friends, swearing them to secrecy.

***

Connie has to work until two on Woodstock day. We start setting up as soon as she leaves the house at ten. Our dads have a surprise for us: an actual stage, made from two-by-fours and a big piece of plywood left over from our basement renovation. They set it up under the Andersons’ swing set. We take down the swings and hang up an old sheet where we’ve painted “MAPLESTOCK 1969” and more flowers and peace signs. Instead of Ellen’s tinny-sounding record player, we have a sound system: Mr. Anderson has moved the hi-fi outdoors and he’ll change the records for us. Ellen drills him about the order while I help our moms set up tables for food and coolers full of ice and sodas. Our costumes are piled on the Andersons’ dining room table for quick changes. The boys set up the instruments, including a fake keyboard we made from a cardboard box and one of my mom’s tray tables.

We told the guests to come at 1:30 so they’ll all be in place when Connie gets home. The yard fills up with the usual party attendees, kids we know, some of Connie’s friends like Becky Baxter and Matt Halloran and his younger sister Stacy, and a bunch of the Vanderwendes.

Tracy Rosen pulls up the driveway, dropping Connie off. We have a sign up on the front step telling them both to come to the back yard.

It’s like a surprise party. Some people even yell, “Surprise!” and Connie is led to a lawn chair set up just for her in front of the stage.

Our first “act” is Ellen doing Joan Baez. We don’t know what songs the bands will actually play at Woodstock, so we just picked ones from Connie’s records that we liked and thought we could fake good. Ellen is wearing bell-bottom jeans, a shirt with a peace sign, and a dark wig. She pretends to play my guitar and sing “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right.” I have to admit Ellen really is the best fake singer of all of us.

The real applause drowns out the clapping from the live album version of the song. Ellen dashes inside to change for her next song. Since Ricky’s our best fake musician, he’s staying behind the drums for everything from this point on. Ellen has passed me her Baez wig, and me and Teddy fake-strum the guitars. We’re Creedence Clearwater Revival, wearing Mr. Anderson’s flannel hunting shirts. Dean is being John Fogerty, in an old Beatle wig. We do “Bad Moon Rising,” and at the very end Teddy and Ricky yell “there’s a bathroom on the right!” even though we told them not to. But the crowd loves it, so I let it go.

Our next band is Jefferson Airplane. We ditch the shirts and put on a lot of scarves and beads and try to look like San Francisco hippies. I’m supposed to be Paul Kantner, so I have on a long blonde wig and the sunglasses I snitched from Connie’s room. Dean leaves the Beatle wig on to be Marty Balin, and Ellen has changed into one of Connie’s miniskirts and some high heels to be Grace Slick. They pretend to sing “Volunteers” at each other. It goes over well.

We leave on the hippie gear for Big Brother and the Holding Company. I muss up the wig and wrap a bandana around it and add a feather. And put on a bunch of my mom’s old jewelry, because in all the magazine pictures Janis Joplin’s always wearing lots of rings and bracelets. It’s fun being out front performing “Down on Me.”  I dance around like Ellen.

Now we have to be Sly and the Family Stone. We fought over this one because Teddy wants to play his trumpet, even though the trumpet player in the real band is a girl. But we decided that since some of the real band are black people anyway and we’re not, it wouldn’t hurt. I wish the Andrews boys were old enough to be in the band but they’re too little. They’re dancing on our picnic table bench, though. Ellen is at the keyboard and me and Jane are the backup singers. We all get into “I Want to Take You Higher,” and actually yell “Boom shaka laka” over the record. Dean has borrowed a harmonica for the solo, and Teddy prances around the stage with his trumpet.

Connie and all her friends are dancing now. The applause is so enthusiastic that Ellen yells to her dad to play “Everyday People,” and we fake it even though we haven’t rehearsed it. We invite the Andrews boys up to dance onstage and Kyle, the seven-year-old, starts belting out the song so Dean gives way to him. He’s amazing. Me and Jane do these little dance steps during our part.

Dean puts on the long brown wig and sunglasses for Canned Heat’s “Going Up the Country.” This is Jane’s big number, because she’s faking the flute solo on the recorder. People are still dancing.

Our big finale is Blood Sweat & Tears singing “Spinning Wheel,” and Teddy surprises us by playing his trumpet for real at the end. Jane pretends to be the rest of the horns.

We take a bow and some people even yell, “Encore!” So we play Joe Cocker doing “A Little Help From My Friends,” because Connie requests it. Ellen’s being Leon Russell in the blonde wig and sunglasses. So who’s a guy now?

Connie hugs all of us. Our moms give out cupcakes and Mr. Anderson complains that his hi-fi is probably wrecked forever, but we don’t think he means it. Some of the neighbors leave around four but Connie asks if she and her friends can have a little record party indoors. And to our surprise she asks us to join them, even Teddy and Ricky.

3. Aftermath

School will be starting next week, after a big Labor Day cookout in our yard. It’s been a fun summer. Connie’s friends wave or honk now when they see us. It’s like we’re not little kids to them anymore. I think it bothers Ellen a little that we’re lumped in with her now, though.

Teddy’s learning to play the Woodstock songs for real. He practices all the time to the records, and he’s getting pretty good. Dad says, “Jesus, do we have to listen to that racket again,” and Mom reminds him that they’ve been wanting him to practice more.

Scott and Larry didn’t even get to Woodstock. They got stuck on the New York Thruway for three hours and heard on the radio that nobody could even get near the festival, so they turned around and went to the Jersey shore instead. Connie told her parents, “See, maybe I could have gone after all,” and Mr. Anderson said she had another thing coming if she thought camping with boys at the beach was an option.

Ellen’s parents let her go with Dean to the teen pool party out at the air base last week. Me and Jane didn’t care because we went to this thing at the bowling alley for kids ages eleven to fourteen. The shoe rentals and the snack bar were half price, and they played Top 40 music. We bowled against Stacy Halloran and her friend Julie; they beat us but they were nice about it and said we were good. They left because they got a ride to the Dairy Queen, so we played two boys from Jane’s class, Kip and Marty, and we beat them. The bowling alley had all these Christmas lights strung up, and sometimes they’d lower the other lights so colors flashed on you while you bowled. It was cool.

Ellen didn’t have such a good time. In fact, her and Dean broke up. Dean ditched her at the party and spent the whole evening pulling on Cheryl Ottolini’s bathing-suit strap and trying to dunk her, then bought her a soda at the vending machine to apologize. He didn’t buy one for Ellen or even talk to her. When Mr. Anderson came to pick them up she told him Dean had another ride home and left him there. She even told Jane she wished she’d gone bowling with us. She also told Jane not to tell me that part but then she said she was going to the bathroom while they were doing the dishes and didn’t come back so Jane got revenge by telling me. Ellen said Dean acted like that because Cheryl has big bazonkas. It’s too bad because now we have to ignore Dean when we see him, and if we do another show he can’t be in it. You think you know a person and then they act like that.

I hope junior high won’t be all about bazonkas and boys pulling your straps. It’ll be weird not being in the same school with Jane, just like it was when Ellen wasn’t at our school anymore. I mean, we both know other people to hang out with, but it’s still weird. I don’t know if I can count on Ellen. She even said we should have let the boys beat us in bowling and that I won’t be popular in junior high if I don’t learn things like that. Like I’m going to pretend to lose to a couple of sixth-grade booger-eaters like Marty Siegel and Kip Vanderwende. But I would still try to win even if I were bowling against Bobby Sherman and Mark Lindsay, so I guess I won’t be popular. They don’t have recess in junior high, only something called “intramurals,” where the boys play basketball and stuff in the gym and the girls watch. I think that’s lame. Maybe I’ll use the time to read. The junior high library should have some more space books.

I’ve kind of figured out what I want to do. See, they’ll be doing more science experiments in space. They’ll need to remember to bring the right equipment and stuff, and somebody will have to organize it all and keep track and make sure they don’t forget anything. There’s no reason girls can’t do that. I think we’re better than boys at things like that. The part I liked best about Maplestock, now that I think about it, was the organizing part. Getting everything together and planning and telling people what to do. If I can’t join NASA, maybe I could organize music festivals. Connie says there will be more, maybe even another Woodstock. They’ll need someone to plan things better so people don’t get caught in traffic or stuck in the mud, and have more food and stop people from bringing drugs. I’m not sure what that kind of person is called, but I think I could do it.

I’ll have a chance to practice my organizing skills soon. Mom starts a new part-time job next week at ILC, the place where they actually make the spacesuits! I can’t wait until we do the family tour in October. So two days a week we’ll be on our own when we get home from school, until she comes back after five. We have to check in with Mrs. Anderson and stay inside doing our homework, and maybe peel potatoes or something to start dinner. Mrs. Anderson just got a job answering phones at the newspaper office, but it’s only in the mornings. Our dads are worried that if President Nixon ends the war, there won’t be as many planes to fix at the base and they could have their hours cut back. I mean, it’s not like they’re for the war because everyone at the base is sad when a guy from there gets killed. I asked Dad if he could get a job at NASA fixing rockets instead. He said, “We’d have to move to Florida. Do you want to do that?” and I answered truthfully, “I would if Jane and her family went too.”

Jane wants to be an airline stewardess and said maybe if people go live on the moon they’ll have regular flights like a plane and we could be space stewardesses together. I don’t think so, though. I’d rather be the one organizing the flights.

 

 

Chapter 6: Stacy, 1970

At fifteen, Stacy is still yearning for “something” to happen. Teen life isn’t like what her sister experienced (formal dances and dates at the soda shop). Instead it’s a group of kids hanging out “talking about how bored they were.” Until the day she meets Greg Martinez, cousin of Stacy and her friend Julie’s nemesis, Richie. Richie’s a bloviating showoff, but Greg is something else: not only cute and athletic, but interested in some of the same offbeat things as Stacy–things Julie is always trying to get her to stop talking about in front of boys.

Greg’s presence signals that the regular summer Saturday night teen hang at the Arboria Park playground will be more fun than usual. As her friends sip beer, smoke pot, and make out on the playground equipment, Stacy and Greg are watching the stars and talking about all kinds of things. Too bad he’s only visiting for the weekend.

The Arboria Park teens listen to AM Top 40 radio at their gathering, but Stacy and Greg learn they’ve both discovered hard rock music through older siblings living interesting lives in New York City. Stacy even confides that she’d like to learn to play electric guitar. Free-form progressive FM rock radio is making its way into the scene in 1970. Compare the kinds of songs Stacy’s friends are listening to and the kinds Stacy and Greg seek out:

AM

No Sugar Tonight   The Guess Who

Fire and Rain   James Taylor

Ride Captain Ride     Blues Image

Let It Rain    Eric Clapton

Make Me Smile   Chicago

Lola          The Kinks

All Right Now       Free

Mama Told Me Not to Come    Three Dog Night

 

FM

 Kick Out the Jams    MC5

T.V Eye    The Stooges

Angel    Jimi Hendrix

Cry Baby    Janis Joplin

Paranoid     Black Sabbath

Midnight Rambler   Rolling Stones

Man Who Sold the World     David Bowie

 

Chapter 5: Stacy, 1968

A year of international upheaval and change is reflected in Stacy’s own life, though she initially views the summer of 1968 as “boring.” She’s edged into the teen years but not enough to really matter, except for making some cash babysitting for people other than her sister. This includes new black neighbors, just some of the people she’s hanging out with regularly of whom her mom decidedly does not approve.

Mary’s working and taking college courses at night, Don’s about to be sent to Vietnam, and Olga has a boyfriend. Daisy and her roommate, Helena, smoke weed and host parties featuring the guitar-playing grad student Arch, who Stacy worries is up to some “funny business” with her sister. As she spies on Mary and her friends (while taking guitar lessons from Daisy), Stacy is also keeping track of what’s going on at the neighboring Oakley farm. It’s about to be developed into a subdivision nicer and fancier than Arboria Park, and Stacy’s mother Evelyn is lobbying for the family to move there. Because the only thing flower child Daisy and uptight Evelyn agree on is that Arboria Park is nothing but “houses made of ticky tacky.”

Before summer is over, Stacy’s loyalties are tested: to her family, to her new friends, and to her neighborhood. While many American cities are in flames, the only fire Stacy sees is when the Oakley farmhouse is put to the torch by the new developers. But she also observes the symptoms of “white flight” in Arboria Park and how sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll are tearing generations apart, even within her own family.

Some songs from 1968:

Hey Jude/Revolution            The Beatles

Dock of the Bay           Otis Redding

Sunshine of Your Love           Cream

Midnight Confessions              The Grassroots

Born to Be Wild                         Steppenwolf

Jumpin’ Jack Flash                     Rolling Stones

I Wonder What She’s Doing Tonight            Boyce & Hart

Time Has Come Today               Chambers Brothers

Think            Aretha Franklin

 

Chapter 4: Stacy, 1967

It’s 1967.The word “love” is on everyone’s lips; love songs dominate the charts. The Beatles claim it’s all you need.

But it’s definitely not the Summer of Love over at Mary and Don’s house. In fact, Mary doesn’t even want to accompany Don, who has joined the Air Force, to his training destination. Stacy, who’s just trying to rush through her last year before reaching her ultimate goal of being a teenager, still hopes they’ll work it out. But she can also see why things aren’t going well.

As Stacy hangs out at Mary’s looking after her toddler niece, Autumn, she’s also getting to watch TV shows her mother doesn’t want her exposed to (like Dark Shadows), listen to Bob Dylan, and meet Mary’s newest neighbors–flaky hippie Daisy and the gorgeous, exotic Olga. Olga is from Spain and married to a control freak; like Mary she’s yearning to break free. Maybe Olga’s listening to Englebert Humperdinck sing “Release Me (Let Me Love Again)” as she hustles to get dinner on the table before her demanding husband gets home.

At home, brother Tommy has announced he’s joined the National Guard and a traveling theater troupe, angering his parents by refusing to attend college. Stacy just wants to support her siblings and keep her own toe-hold in the wider world of adults and cultural changes. As she listens to Mary’s new Dylan album, she thinks “She Belongs to Me” could relate to her sister’s life. But maybe “Subterranean Homesick Blues” sums up the discordant summer of ’67 for Stacy’s family overall.

Some of the great love songs from the Summer of Love:

Dedicated to the One I Love                       The Mamas and the Papas

Somebody to Love                                        Jefferson Airplane

Happy Together                                             The Turtles

Friday on My Mind                                       The Easy Beats

To Sir With Love                                            Lulu

Expressway to Your Heart                           Soul Survivors

Here Comes My Baby                                   The Tremeloes

I Was Made to Love Her                              Stevie Wonder

I’m a Believer                                                 The Monkees

Light My Fire                                                  The Doors

Gimme Some Lovin’                                      Spencer Davis Group

Baby I Love You                                              Aretha Franklin

 

Chapter 3: Stacy, 1964

1964 is a year of real change for Stacy and her family, the world at large, and definitely the music charts.

Stacy’s disgruntled again, this time on behalf of her older sister, Mary. Newly graduated from high school, Mary is being forced to wed her boyfriend, Don, after becoming pregnant. Though euphemisms are used in front of Stacy and arguments between Mary and her parents primarily take place after Stacy is supposedly asleep,  she’s nine “but not stupid” and understands  what’s going on—to a point.

What she can’t figure out is why no one is happier about the marriage and why the wedding is scaled down. Enamored of the ideas of love, marriage, and fancy white dresses and cakes, Stacy is annoyed that everyone is treating her sister as though she’s committed a crime rather than celebrating the event with lavish gifts and good wishes. She’s also puzzled by Mary’s lack of enthusiasm about getting to move into her own home (though a visit to the new house in “the Pines,” the least desirable part of Arboria Park, provides a partial explanation).

As Stacy feels things changing too quickly and confusingly, she’s not alone. The nation has weathered the Kennedy assassination and is embroiled in a war that isn’t a war; civil unrest and cultural clashes are regular happenings. The changes even affect something as simple as how Mary’s future husband wears his hair; while Stacy has admired him for looking like teen idol Ricky Nelson, he’s now growing out his hair into a Beatles do.

The pull of tradition is strong, but so is the rush toward change. Mary’s church wedding illustrates the price of rebellion (and its possible rewards), as Stacy’s brothers clown around and the priest is unable to hide his disapproval. A reception at the Halloran house divides along generational lines: Mary and Don’s friends in one room and the adults of both families in another. (The Halloran siblings improvise their own places to be.) Stacy’s attempt to be supportive of Don reveals him to be both bitter and resigned to his fate (while exhibiting some rather old-fashioned notions of gender roles for someone attempting to look like Paul McCartney).

Stacy’s brothers Tommy and Matt have prepared a musical surprise to send the couple off on their honeymoon, leaving Stacy with a good feeling (and a small bouquet of flowers), but when Don’s mother makes a rude remark, Stacy decides she’s had enough of adult sanctimony and stages a protest, complete with foul language picked up by spying on Mary’s new “white trash” neighbors.

We need only to look at the pop music charts to see how dynamic and fluid the world was becoming in 1964. The Beatles dominated, with lots of Top 10 hits, and they brought along a number of other British Invasion bands  like the Animals, Gerry and the Pacemakers, the Kinks, and the Dave Clark Five. The black music of Motown was also becoming a vital chart presence, with the Supremes, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, and Mary Wells, among others, scoring hits. The Beach Boys, the Ventures, and Jan & Dean kept the sunny California beach/surf tunes going. Roy Orbison updated the ‘50s sound while girl and boy groups singing about death and accidents lingered on. But while American teens had this wealth of new sounds to listen to, the music of their parents’ generation was still hanging on by its fingernails, with Dean Martin crooning away and Louis Armstrong belting out a top show tune. If Mary and Don were listening to the radio in Don’s ’56 Pontiac as they sped away on their honeymoon, what they heard probably reflected the tumult of the last few months of their lives—and the months to come.

Top 10 Songs of 1964

I Want to Hold Your Hand             The Beatles

She Loves You                                   The Beatles

Hello, Dolly                                        Louis Armstrong

I Get Around                                      The Beach Boys

Everybody Loves Somebody       Dean Martin

My Guy                                                 Mary Wells

We’ll Sing in the Sunshine          Gale Garnett

Last Kiss                                               J. Frank Wilson & the Cavaliers

Where Did Our Love Go                                The Supremes

 

Chapter 2: Stacy, 1963

By 1963, Stacy has a bit more freedom to roam, but it’s still not enough. She’s curious about what’s beyond the spaces she’s allowed to inhabit. It’s a similar time in the U.S. as a whole. Events outside the country intrude; things are mostly going pretty well but are a bit unsettling.

Stacy gets a chance to defy her parents when she and her friends follow some older boys down to “the woods” across a creek from their neighborhood. It’s a fun adventure, but also a dangerous one: The children are trespassing on a farm owned by Mrs. Ramsey. Though Stacy doesn’t believe the woman is a witch (as one of her friends does), she realizes quickly that their presence on the farm is not welcome.

Just a few weeks after Stacy’s adventure, President Kennedy will be assassinated and the world will become a less certain place. Lines and boundaries will be drawn, just as Stacy experiences being grounded by her parents and fears that even her limited freedoms could be coming to an end. But there are also larger opportunities and changes afoot: Stacy’s dad correctly interprets Stacy’s longings even as he must rein in her impulses. He realizes she’s ready to learn a lot more about the world around her; past and present, good and bad. Many young people in this era were waking up to the world beyond the safe spaces where they were raised in the 1950s, even as films like Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds portrayed how danger lurked in the most innocuous places.

Music doesn’t play a big role in this chapter, but things were in flux there as well. A lot of pop music had been neutered since the rock’n’roll rebellion of the 1950s; sugary-sweet girl groups like the Chiffons and the Angels and clean-cut pop idols like Bobby Vinton dominated the charts. But things were stirring: Though the Beatles and the British Invasion were still a few months away from conquering America, the Beach Boys, the Kingsmen, and Paul Revere and the Raiders were making stabs at the big time. Folk music was seeping out of the cafes of New York City into the mainstream, with Bob Dylan’s socially consciousness anthems sharing chart space with Lesley Gore’s teenage laments.

But Lesley was doing more than just whining about a spoiled party. She was also throwing down some proto-feminist warnings to go along with the publication of Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique in 1963. (Joan Jett would cover the song in the punk era several years later.) And as Stacy spends a hard week of being grounded, stuck in her room or her back yard, she may well be longing to tell her parents “Don’t tell me what to do. You don’t own me.”

 

Top songs of 1963

It’s My Party       Lesley Gore

Surfin USA       Beach Boys

Blue Velvet          Bobby Vinton

He’s So Fine             The Chiffons

My Boyfriend’s Back           The Angels

Blowin in the Wind              Peter Paul and Mary

Louie Louie               The Kingsmen

Be My Baby              The Ronettes