In 1964 I was twelve, my cousin Kate was eleven. There was no special rite of passage for us as we stood on the brink of puberty, so we created our own. We headed downtown to Woolworth’s, running, skipping, and giggling along the way. We each had a dollar and we were on a mission.
That day we would purchase our very first phonograph records. We could afford one ’45’ each and still have enough to treat ourselves to an ice cream soda.
Kate ordered strawberry and I got a black and white: chocolate soda with vanilla ice cream. We sucked those sodas down so fast we were frozen for the rest of that hot summer day, but we were bursting to get back to her house and play our new records.
Back at Kate’s we locked ourselves in her room for the rest of the afternoon and played those songs over and over and over. We would sing along until we had every word memorized or lost our voices, whichever came first.
That was over forty years ago, yet whenever I hear either one of those tunes I am transported in a flash to Kate’s bedroom, hovering with her over that pink and white portable record player. How grown up we felt, crooning along, daydreaming of puppy love. We were on the threshold of a new phase of life. Jumprope and Barbie dolls would soon be cast aside for our new obsessions: teenage infatuations and music, music, music.
Welcome to womanhood in the Atomic Age.