It was the spring of 1958 when Eddie Cochran and Jerry Neal Capeheart wrote and Cochan recorded a song that would capture the ears of young radio listeners around the globe. The song was Summertime Blues, and it spoke to a generation of young people as the summer of 1958 unfolded. It was about a teenage boy who had to work a summer job to justify his parents letting him use the family car for dating. The song's chorus and its hook was "but there ain't no cure for the summertime blues."
That song was a smash hit in 1958, and kids of all ages were singing its catchy lyrics, even eight year old boys like Dale Duren and me. We were too young to have summer jobs or be able to drive the family car, but we knew all about summertime blues.
Back in those days in East Texas, boys would go barefoot most of the time. Our feet would develop a toughness that made the soles of our feet akin to leather. There were two things which would penetrate that tough exterior skin, though. A goathead sticker was one of them.
Those little, dry, multi-pointed stickers would catch on an exposed toe or heel and stick painfully into the foot. The predicament was made worse because by the time you got one, you were standing somewhere that more such stickers abounded. Often, patches of the stickers would be encountered when you cut across some vacant lot that was not well groomed by regular mowing. Once you were in them, there was no getting out of them with just one sticker. They would be waiting for your other foot the instant you let that foot down. Like some kind of ground based high wire artist, you would carefully make your way to a safe patch of ground and pick the stickers off, one by one. Then you'd have to pick the stickers off the cuffs of your jeans, because there would surely be more stickers there.
The other thing that would torment our bare summer feet was the heated pavement. Concrete was bad enough, but asphalt was even worse, because it would begin to liquefy under the summer sun's relentless heat. Normal streets were not so bad, because you could get across the pavement quickly. Crossing a four lane highway, such as Timberlane Drive, however, was another thing entirely. It wasn't enough that you had to dodge cars and trucks on the way across. You also had to brave the scalding hot pavement across four lanes. But if you wanted to get to the other side, where Sharkey's Market was located, and buy candy or baseball cards with gum, running across the highway was just part of it.
This was back in an era when eight and nine year old boys largely set their own play time agenda, ranging a mile in any direction from home, in the company of other boys that age. Parents only vaguely knew of the plans their boys made and carried out.
Upon returning home, I'd run into the bathroom and "wash" my feet by sticking them in the toilet and flushing it. That would knock the surface dust off.
Yes, even eight year old boys had the summertime blues in 1958. The song of the same name would be covered over and over by many famous bands for the decades which followed. But it will always remind this old man of the summer of 1958, and his friend named Dale Duren.
Copyright 2017, Jim "Pappy" Moore, all rights reserved.