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Teenager in the era of the jukebox


Hit songs of the sixties provided the soundtrack for my teenage years. Lines from classic tunes including Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini and The Battle of New Orleans still run through my head, on occasion. These were two of the catchy, sing-along songs that gently rocked my generation.

In the summer of 1960, my parents bought me a transistor radio. The latest in modern technology, this battery-powered device enabled me to enjoy music at the beach or right in my own backyard. Like most of my friends, I listened to the Top 40, almost every day during summer vacation. Elvis was the king and hits such as Love Me Tender, Don’t Be Cruel, Jailhouse Rock and In the Ghetto frequently were aired. There were also mournful ballads such as To Know Him Is To Love Him, Johnny Angel, Poor Butterfly, and Tell Laura I Love Her. Of course, there were livelier tunes as well, among them Rock Around the Clock, and a Chubby Checkers number about doing the Twist, a dance craze of the early sixties.

Nonsense songs such as Hot Diggity, Dog Diggity, Boom, What You Do To Me, Little Red Rented Rowboat and They’re Coming to Take Me Away, Ha Ha, also were popular with my generation. And who could forget The Little Blue Man, with his profession of alien love?

I was a teenager in the era of the juke box or nickelodeon. Each table at Picton’s Guild Restaurant featured a small metal carousel with a list of hit songs. We could hear our favourite tunes, simply by depositing a quarter, then pressing the button opposite the name of the piece we wanted played.

In the dance hall at Martin’s Outlet Park store, there was a big juke box. No summer vacation was complete without a few evenings spent at this popular county night spot. We felt very grown up as we slow-danced to romantic hits such as the Love Theme from Romeo and Juliet or A Summer Place.

Some of my favourite songs of the sixties were taken from the movies. The title song from Where The Boys Are, sung by Connie Francis, climbed to the top of the charts as did Love Me Tender from the movie of the same name. Blue Hawaii, another of my favourites was the title of an Elvis Presley film, in which he co-starred with dancer Juliet Prowse. April Love was another popular song from the Pat Boone movie of the same name.

Love saturated the air, throughout the sixties. A series of romantic teen movies featuring Troy Donahue, Sandra Dee, Pat Boone, Debbie Reynolds and Bobbie Darin were playing at Picton’s Regent Theatre. Among them were A Summer Place, Diamond Head, Blue Denim, Gidget, Where The Boys Are and Tammy and the Bachelor. Corny by today’s standards, these films set our hearts aflutter. No four-letter words were used in the making of these movies and the love scenes were chaste, in comparison with what is commonly seen in today’s films. However, this did nothing to detract from these teen classics with their common theme of true love. The single exception may have been Blue Denim, which was considered rather daring for its day.

In recalling the music and movies of the 1960’s, I realize how fortunate I was to grow up in this era. Most songs had lyrics that made sense and tunes that made everyone want to hum along. Rap music, mercifully, had yet to hit the airwaves and movies left something to the imagination. There was an innocence about the early sixties that no longer exists today. Happily ever after was regarded as the norm, in those days. True love lasted longer than 20 minutes and love and marriage really did “go together like a horse and carriage”. It was a golden time.

Filed Under: Margaret Haylock-Capon

About the Author: Maggie Haylock is a freelance writer and former newspaper reporter who has co-authored several books with her husband, Alan Capon.

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  1. Ann Sherwood says:

    It certainly was golden. So much has changed since, much of it not for the better. I, too, am lucky to have grown up when I did.

  2. Linda Logan-Smith says:

    Oh, I remember so well! I often think that our generation was lucky enough to have lived through the best of times, both the innocence, and the assurance that we would get a job and have a secure future.

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