Mr. Businessman, of course, wanted that money, so he renamed us “Teenagers” and then started to manufacture the clothes we liked. Next, he made movies about us and began recording that strange new music our parents hated called Rock&Roll.
Doing my homework in the kitchen one evening while my mom was preparing dinner, once again I heard that strange music that Barry’s sexy sister was swaying her hips to a year earlier.
However, this time it wasn’t coming from a record player, it was coming out of the radio.
One two three o’clock
four o’clock rock.
Five six seven o’clock
eight o’clock rock
Hearing “Rock Around The Clock” on the radio changed every thing and before long, you started hearing the Crew Cuts, the 4 Lads, and the Diamonds all mixed together in with Patti Page and Perry Como.
As good as this new music sounded, it didn’t take me long to discovered that most of it was just watered-down versions of a bigger and badder sound.
When I graduated from the eighth grade in North Kildonan where we had lived in my Grandfather’s house, we moved into our brand new home in Transcona.
Not only did I leave North Kildonan behind, but I also left behind that shy, quiet, fourteen-year-old, too.
Unfortunately, my Dad, being a jack of all trades had purchased the stripped-down version of our new home which meant that I became his assistant.
My first summer in Transcona, I helped my Dad build a garage, another bedroom in the basement, a concrete driveway along and sidewalks, a fence, and we sodded both the front and backyard.
During those not so bonding moments, my Dad took advantage of our building time together to once again remind me about the house rules.Don’t bring the police to the front door, don’t tarnish the family name, and stay away from the “bad girls.” Now the first two rules I understood, but the staying away from “the bad girls” was ludicrous; you sure as hell weren’t going to get lucky with a good girl.
Also, according to my Father, crime began at midnight, so to keep me away from temptation, he supplied me with a midnight curfew.
The only break I ever got was when my Dad was sick for a few days, which happened quite frequently. Looking back now, I think that he must have been suffering from depression.
On those days, I would wander over to the nearby park, where, still being a baseball freak, I was hoping to meet someone who would play a little ball with me.
Eventually, I met a guy by the name of Peter Proskurnik (RIP) who said that he be glad to play some ball, but first he had to practice his accordion. I remember thinking at the time, “Why the hell would anyone want to play the accordion?”
True to his word, he was back in no time, and while we were tossing the ball around, I had no idea that he was about to change my life.
At some point, Pete asked if I’d like to go to Teen Canteen with him, and when I asked him what that was, he said that it was a dance for young people.
It sure didn’t sound like fun to me, because the only dances I was aware of, were polkas and square dancing but since he was kind enough to play ball with me, I decided to go.
Later that evening when we arrived at the East End Community Club, the Canadian summer sun was still high in the sky so when the door closed behind us, we were blinded.
As we inched our way down the hallway, we must have looked like a couple of blind guys who were in desperate need of white canes plus a seeing-eye dog as we groped our way towards the dimly lit entrance ahead.
Upon entering the dance hall, I noticed that the only light was coming from Christmas tree lights that were everywhere.
However, now, I no longer cared about seeing; all I cared about was the thunderous sound blasting out of the four giant speakers hanging in the four corners of the room. The raw sexuality that was pouring out of them and into my soul made it very difficult for me to breathe.
I spent the rest of the night standing front of one of those speakers frozen in place.
I was listening to the likes of Jimmy Reed, Fats Domino, Big Joe Turner, Little Richard, Tiny Bradshaw, Little Willie John, Muddy Waters, and Wynonie Harris, just to name a few.
Pete must have sent some girl over to ask me to dance, but all I remember thinking was “Hell, I don’t wanna dance, I wanna make other people dance and I want to do it for the rest of my life.”