As this year’s Remembrance Day was approaching, folks in the Los Angeles area were noticing that radio station KGIL has a new format and is calling itself retro1260 (dot com) because they are playing pop music from the Fifties and Sixties and that, in turn, reminds this columnist of some “never to be forgotten” lessons that seem to have become as obscure as some of the songs that haven’t been heard on the radio for forty years. What would the soldiers who died in Vietnam have to say about the very likely scenario that President Obama is about to send another 40,000 troops to Afghanistan? Can an entire country get Alzheimer’s disease?
Last year, this columnist was in Sydney on Remembrance Day and was very moved by the news coverage of that day’s events in their country.
Anyone who graduated from college in May of 1965 will surely recall that the very next month LBJ sent six divisions of U. S. Marines to South Vietnam to clean the mess up.
In May of 1965, Ford Motor Company’s Mustangs were all “fresh out of the box” new and the really shrewd guys were buying the ones souped up by Carroll Shelby’s team. Some really smart fellows were renting “competition ready” Mustangs from Hertz and taking them out to a nearby track and using them to compete. Why put that kind of wear and tear on a car that you own?
The bunnies at the Playboy Club served drinks with a maneuver known as the bunny slouch so that their cups wouldn’t runneth over.
If KGIL really wants to bring back memories, why don’t they use some recordings of the classic sixties disk jockeys introducing the songs? Who can forget the voice of Wolfman Jack which was heard “coast to coast, border to border, wall to wall and tree-top tall”? Didn’t Don Sherwood modestly call himself the world’s greatest disk jockey? Isn’t Cousin Brucie heard outside of Manhattan on satellite radio these days?
Leaving Scranton to take a job in New York City meant being exposed to unorthodox ideas. Scranton’s own 109th Infantry Regiment from the 28th Infantry Division had been among the troops capture at Bastogne and they were the loudest warning the local kids that anyone advocating less than full commitment to the Vietnam war effort was probably a Communist. Wasn’t the proof the fact that the only people against the War in Vietnam (in 1965) were college professors and show business people? You didn’t have to be a big fan of the House Un-American Activities Committee to know what that meant.
In 1965, FM radio was a phenomenon that (mostly) hadn’t yet happened. In Scranton, WEJL used the feed (with station identification blurbs) from WQXR which featured classical music. Heck this columnist had listening habits that meant he was a fan of both Johnny Cash and Wagner (and that was long before the German got such a memorable plug in the movie “Apocalypse Now.”)
Back then the expression “Bookrow of America” referred to more than just the Strand Bookstore. The one and only Barnes and Nobel bookstore was just a short walk away.
Does the Wannamaker store still have that bridge that carried shoppers from one building to another over the street?
Back then, a policy called “the Hayes code” mandated that any criminal portrayed in any film had to be apprehended. Thus young people were constantly reminded that the bad guys would always get caught. The thought that an American could commit war crimes and then get a pass was a complete contradiction. It would never happen, so don’t waste time worrying about that. The WWII vets backed that philosophy with very strong assertions that Americans were the good guys and would never think of torturing a prisoner.
Who had the “good guys” T-shirts? Were they offered by WABC or WMCA?
Scranton may not have been a candidate city for housing the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame but it was the home for WARMland and WICK. It was rumored that the Sunday morning programming in the Polish language earned enough money to underwrite the rest of WICK’s programs featuring the pioneers of Rock.
Will Fox News mention the irony of the fact that this year’s observance of Remembrance Day comes at a time when a new Afghanistan strategy is about to be revealed and that example of poor timing seems to make a mockery of the “never be forgotten” oratory that abounds each year when America marks “Veterans’ Day”? Doesn’t the word “veteran” apply only to those who survived the carnage?
When KGIL plays “My Way,” we half expect them to dedicate it to George W. Bush. “Through it all/when there were doubts/I ate them all . . . and did it my way!”
Folks shouldn’t say “we will never forget,” if it’s obvious that they damn well have.
Youtube offers a clip of Cousin Brucie from 42 years ago promoting an effort to send a shipment of Christmas items to the troops serving in Vietnam. That will suffice for this column’s ending quotation. Here’s the link to that clip.
When the Armed Forces Radio in Vietnam played Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas,” that was the signal that the final evacuation of Saigon was commencing, so now, just because he’s a sentimental old fool, our disk jockey will tear himself away from KGIL long enough to play that very song. Maybe it’s time to contact America’s “granny war correspondent” and find out how to apply for an embed in Afghanistan and get out of Cali. Have a week full of “foonman brothers” ads (or have you forgotten that “Laugh-In” shtick?).