A few songs from the period of 1948-1960 (the years spanning Phil’s marriage to Jeanette and his marriage to Kleo as well as the earliest years of his marriage to Anne) stand out for me.
One night while listening to songs from 1948, one song stood out for me. It’s called “A Tree In The Meadow,” sung by Margaret Whiting. Now I can’t think of what little I remember about Jeanette without thinking of this song, though I don’t know if that’s a recent impression or an old one.
I first heard the song “26 Miles” by the Four Preps, a hit from 1958, some time in the late 90s, but it didn’t really stand out to me until one day in 2007. I was in Boulder City, NV, a town full of mid-century West Coast urban architecture much like downtown Berkeley, so I was already starting to feel the hair on the back of my neck stand up. I walked into an antique store, surrounded by mid-century artifacts, and this song started playing. It has since remained a part of my consciousness for the last 7 years. I still get shivers when I hear it. It isn’t the sort of song I would have liked terribly much, but one I know I heard everywhere and often in those days.
Gogi Grant’s version of “The Wayward Wind” (1956) was a song I first heard on a cassette that my father got second-hand from my grandparents in the late 90s, in a box of odds and ends they didn’t want any more. Not sure why this one stands out for me but it’s one of the few songs on that tape that made any sort of impression.
“My Prayer” by The Platters (also from 1956) is a song I probably heard on Oldies 102.5 in Charleston, SC as a child. It stands out for me as a song I knew even if it wasn’t a favorite; however, this is complicated by the fact that it’s actually a song that goes back to 1939 in its lyrical version (Vera Lynn did a lovely rendition but I probably knew Glenn Miller’s version). This could very well be a childhood memory from Phil’s life.
The most recent of these on my list is The Theme From “A Summer Place” by the Percy Faith Orchestra, released in 1960. Another song I know from the oldies radio station, and one I’m not sure about how well I knew it back then. It does make me think of the Marin Headlands around Point Reyes, though, with its saccharine imagery of chiseled coastlines and Pacific sunsets. It certainly was many people’s idea of the perfect “summer place.”