LOUD MUSIC – RINGING PHONE by Lettice Randall

“Turn down that music!” That was the battle cry of my mother when she deemed my music loud enough to wake the dead. It was early 1964. I was 17 and at the age where I could spend hours in my bedroom, just listening to my favorite rock groups. Mom’s musical preference ran in the direction of Nat King Cole or maybe some of that music from the Big Band era. Dad was more into Irish drinking songs!  But they both listened to Classical music on occasion and while it wasn’t my cup of tea, I learned to distinguish Beethoven from Tchaikovsky which totally impressed my music appreciation teacher in high school. I made it quite clear to him, however, that my preference leaned toward rock music and more specifically the Beatles, or the Rolling Stones or other groups associated with the recent English invasion. He told me that they would just be “flashes in the pan.” Here today, gone tomorrow. He said he would give the Beatles three months and then he figured we’d forget all about them. Huh! A lot he knew! As I recall, I made a bet with him that they’d be around “forever and a day.” I shouldn’t have made it quite so open ended because, even tho’ I think he lost that bet, he never paid up. Where is that guy anyway? He owes me big time.

I continued to spend those hours in my room and I continued to listen to that music. And mom continued to yell up the stairs for me to turn it down. I also spent hours on the phone at this time, much to Mom and Dad’s chagrin. It was the year before, on my 16th birthday, that they relented and gave me my very own extension phone for my room. This was a big deal at that time. I was the only kid in my class to have such a luxury. When friends came over, they’d want to check out my phone. It was a “Princess phone and it wasn’t black! It was beige! Very chic. I’m sure after a few months my parents wondered what they had been thinking to let me have that phone. It rang a lot more than it used to and I think my parents were getting tired of hearing it and knowing it most likely wasn’t for them. There was no caller ID then, so if it rang and they answered, they’d have to yell up the stairs, “It’s for you, TC! Keep it short!” Yeah, right. I did have a curfew on it and was not allowed to make or receive calls after 9 at night. Then there was that time that my parents really flipped out when my boyfriend, who was stationed in Great Lakes Naval Training Center near Chicago, called me collect and we talked $13.54 worth. “Tell him NOT to call collect again unless he’s going to pay the bill.”  That bill?  I paid it from money I earned babysitting. At 50 cents an hour it took me a while, but I did it.

Well, these are just sounds from my youth. Much different from the sounds of today’s youth. Today they would never consider an extension phone as a luxury. Today they have their very own cell phones and I-phones. Today they text. Today they hardly talk to one another. They send messages back and forth. They visit their social network pages and leave messages for their friends. No talk involved. They also think that email on a computer is old-fashioned. I wanted to say we’ve come a long way, baby. But really, I’m not so sure.

Oh, and by the way, that boyfriend at the Naval Training Center near Chicago. I married him 46 years ago. Now he’s paying the phone bills!

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