Rockin’ My Birthday or How My Sister Got Her Nickname

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DAwBa8Pqi6Ytutti frutti

“Wop bop a loo bop a lop bam bam” screamed Little Richard as he began the new year with his first ever pop hit, “Tutti’ Frutti”. Two weeks later, on my 8th birthday, January 28, 1956, a less frantic cover of that song would enter the pop charts by Pat Boone. After that, Elvis Presley would also record it, but Pat Boone’s mellower version would win out in popularity.

Rock & Roll was being embraced by teens, pre-teens, and parents alike due to wholesome, well groomed, polite Pat Boone. Although Pat Boone, Little Richard, and Elvis Presley had come on scene at the same time, Elvis, with his swiveling hips and suggestive leer, was not the singer parents wanted their children to be exposed to, and his performance was too close to black R&B. Little Richard, well, he was black R&B. Both Elvis and Pat wanted to claim the sound of the black R&B culture for their own, popularizing a form of music which otherwise might never have gained widespread acceptance. The parents liked Pat Boone, as he polished rock’s rough edges away, making songs like “Tutti’ Frutti” palatable to those raised on the soothing songs of a vanishing era.

Howard and Armetta and their four baby boomers, Denny, Kathy, Janice, and Jimmy, were living in a house Howard built on Barnes Street. Our home had oak hardwood floors that my Dad had coated and buffed to a hard, slippery, sheen – perfect for sock skating down the hall.

This would be the year that Denny Pewsey and all of America would discover rock & roll. Elvis Presley charted his first pop hit in March with 16 more hits this year. Pat Boone had charted 15 hits. Instigators of the rock & roll revolution would be the Platters, Carl Perkins, Fats Domino, Bill Haley and His Comets, Little Richard, Gene Vincent and his Blue Caps, Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, Johnny Cash, Little Willie John, The Five Satins, Chuck Berry, Roy Orbison, The Coasters. These artists provided the first sampling of rock & roll to tickle the AM airwaves!

Dad & Mom, being parents of four kids, eight and under, could have been too old for the novelty of rock and roll. Apparently unaware of the consequences, when the rise of rock & roll was viewed as a sign of the apocalypse, they introduced it to the family with much enthusiasm. Dad brought records home one payday Friday night. This was something new and we watched as Dad took the shiny black disc out of the paper sleeve and put the needle on the record! Neat! Well, Pat Boone’s top ten ballad, “I’ll Be Home”, was putting me to bed early –“ yawn”. But wait… Dad played the flip side and a sound came out of the phonograph that got my fingers popping. Janice, my two and a half year old sister, was dancing, waving her arms and jumping, “play it again Mommy!”, she squealed. Multiple replays set us kids on our glorious hardwood sock hop in the hallway, dancing and sliding. Janice, with her naturally curly brown hair bouncing ferociously, started belting the song out like a future rock star:

Wop-bop-a-loom-a-boom-bam-boom tutti frutti
au rutti tutti frutti au rutti tutti frutti
au rutti tutti frutti au rutti tutti frutti
au rutti wop-bop-a-loom-bop-a-boom-bam-boom

Could lyrics be anymore prophetic. There it is…my first experience with the power and excitement of Rock & Roll.

Now, as to how my sister got her nickname. Mom & Dad had originally had Jane picked out for their new daughter, but my Dad said he didn’t want his little girl to be called a “Plain Jane”. Mom compromised coming up with Janice. My Dad agreed but was not enthused with the name Janice, as it sounded too close to Janet, their sister-in-law. Janice it was, until she gleeful sang over and over, with Dad calling back to her “tutti frutti, tutti frutti!” Dad had finally found the name he really liked for his little girl, shortened to simply, “Tootie”.


time trial

In the cold, crisp winter air I ran my first six-mile time trial ever.  Today started my Boston marathon training with Coach Lea and she wanted to get a baseline on how fast each runner can do six miles.  A small group of runners met at Natalia’s neighborhood to run a two-mile course three times.  My time was 47 minutes, the fastest six miles I have ever run.  Running a little behind Natalia, who is stronger and faster than I, gave me more energy to keep the faster, under eight minute pace.  I finished strong and felt good afterward.  I have felt some pain in my left knee for over a month, but after a couple mile warmup, it was fine for the trial run.  The temp was 39 degrees, but after warmup I ran in shorts and long sleeve tech top and was comfortable.  The colder weather probably helped my speed for the six-mile distance. 

After the run,  the group met in Natalia’s garage for a special cold weather treat of hot tea with honey.  It really kept me warm on this cold night.  Also, right after the run I drank a cup of chocolate nutritional drink, which helps build my body after a hard run.  My left knee is feeling tender from the run and I have iced it with a cold wrap. 

Tonight was like starting my first day of school, as I had not been training with Coach Lea and this group for a couple months.  I finished my training at Tri N Run with Jerry and Tammy last Saturday.  After being nervous for a couple days about running tonight, it turned out better than expected.  It was really good training with Coach Lea and running with Natalia, who is also training for the Boston marathon.

Coach Lea thanked me for the letter of reference I gave her and she said part of it made her cry.  I wonder which part?

Coach Lea  letter of reference


Two More

Yes, there are only two more days left in this year.  Wow, did it go fast.  The year in review…no, the ten best things of my year.  At least ten things I can remember.  So much does happen in every year of life, but it seems to go in one brain and out, well, my same lame brain.  Starting this blog may help me to remember what goes on.  Like:

  1. Mom visited from Albion, Mi.  She stayed for a couple months of the winter with my sister, Tootie.  We did quite a lot while she was here and had a good family time together.
  2. Work was extremely slow to dead during the peak of the recession.  I only worked mornings from 8:30-12: noon.  My main duty was making and drinking the coffee at Screen Master.  Enjoyable conversations with Shivani made the time fly by.
  3. Several races were the lead up to my main goal of the year, to qualify for the Boston Marathon.  Uncle Jack and Aunt Mary and Angie accompanied me to the Grand Rapids Marathon and cheered me on to my goal of under four hours to qualify for Boston.
  4. Races and training for races was my main focus.  It was most fun having Tootie, Mom, Mike, Angie, Niki come to support me.  Running a couple races with my best friends, John and Lesley really made the miles easy and fun.
  5. Digital photography is a somewhat irritating hobby I got into after getting a Nikon D90 for Christmas last year.  I took thousands of pictures, but only a couple a worth looking at.  My pleasure here was the camera’s delete button.
  6. Cruising in the Edsel with many friends and family was just too cool.  Even nicer is the ’59 Edsel Ranger still runs and looks great.  Waxing it is sweet.
  7. Trying to keep up with the social networks to some basic degree was entertaining and of course extremely time consuming.  Now I can spend even more time with this blog.  Facebook, Flickr and Yahoo mail may be overkill, but keeps me thinking and well, contemplating even.  Hmmmm.
  8. The Beatles albums were remastered and put out in a mono box set on 9-9-9.  I got it, plus  Mom got me Abbey Road for Christmas, so my Beatles listening is complete.
  9. This was our last time for Fantasy Fest.  The four, John, Ben, Bob and I have had many fun trips to Key West, but we agreed that this year’s Fantasy Fest would be our last.  All wild things must come to an end. 
  10. Movies, movies, and more movies were enjoyed by our many guests on my big 9′x5′ projection screen.  My favorite DVD was Slumdog Millionaire.

This is just a bit of the fun I had in good old 2009.  I did my best to enjoy every day of it and hope to do even better in 2010.


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