Clubius Contained Part 26 – Snow Day (November 1964)

It was Monday morning and I woke up to that disc jockey guy on the radio on CKLW again just talking away about the weather…

Twenty twenty weather word, “snow”. It’s comin down boys and girls, flake by flake, inch by inch, maybe nine inches before it’s done in the Detroit Metro area, and it’s not even Thanksgiving yet. Thanks for nothing, mother nature! Unless you’re a kid whose school is closed today, and then all hail the weather goddess! Temp in the high teens this morning… hi all you teens out there… but barely breaking thirty this afternoon. But somebody please “break it” to Tommy James and the Shondells that no school is no excuse for bad behavior…

Then the four “notes” of them singing “CKLW” followed by that first line of the song with just that Tommy James guy’s voice, that I think I’d heard a hundred times by now…

My baby does the hanky panky

Then the guitars started playing and the other guys in the band sang too in “harmony”, singing the same words over and over again, but each time a little bit differently…

My baby does the hanky panky
My baby does the hanky panky
My baby does the hanky panky
My baby does the hanky panky

Every time I heard the song now I thought of Frankie and Stuart, they were in the other fifth grade class with Mike and Arthur. They LOVED this song so much that whenever a bunch of us were talking outside school but people stopped talking for a second, one of them would look at the other and start to sing it like that Tommy James guy, “My baby does the hanky panky”. Then the other would pretend to play guitar and make the guitar sounds, “Der der der der”, and then sing it back like the other guys in the band. Frankie had an older brother who worked at that record store called Discount Records, that kids, mainly older kids, went to buy records. And Stuart with Frankie’s best friend.

What “the hanky panky” was exactly, no one knew for sure, but all us kids figured it was something dirty, a dance maybe, that a girl could do for a boy that was really “sexy”, like she wanted to do “sex” stuff with him. “Get naked” stuff. “Feel her up” stuff. “Jerk off” stuff. Those were the things I had heard, so stuff like that I guess, whatever all that was. All those things kids would never say in front of grownups. And if they said them in front of another kid and the kid asked what something meant, they’d just say “ya know”, but wouldn’t explain it. Then maybe say, “If you don’t know already you’re too young to know.” So I was never stupid enough to even ask, I just imagined a boy and a girl touching each other or rubbing their bodies together.

It was a pretty stupid song actually, because after singing that same thing five times they sang it five more times, like they couldn’t think of anything else to sing.

My baby does the hanky panky
My baby does the hanky panky
My baby does the hanky panky
My baby does the hanky panky
My baby does the hanky panky

I mean if I’d heard the song a hundred times, and they sang those words like a hundred times in the song, then I’d heard them sing those words ten thousand times!

Finally the song had a verse part where he actually sang other words…

I saw her walkin’ on down the line
You know I saw her for the very first time
A pretty little girl standin’ all alone
Hey pretty baby, can I take you home?
I never saw her, never really saw her

Was that what older boys did when they liked a girl? They’d wait until the girl was by herself and then go up to her and say, “Hey pretty baby, can I take you home?” I could never do something like that in a million years!

But then the guy sings, “I never saw her, never really saw her”, which made no sense at all. Did he see her for the very first time or not? It was a stupid song.

I swung my feet out of bed and sat up. David was already up and gone, at least from our room. Out the windows I could see the snow falling, very big flakes just floating down. I couldn’t wait to get outside and be in all the fresh snow. I wondered if the other older kids in my school would be playing soccer in the snow.

I turned off the radio, put on my clothes, got my math book with the sheet of homework problems I had done and went out in the hallway. I could hear dad typing in his office at the other end of the hall by the bathroom as I started down the stairs and around the corner. When my hand reached to grab the metal bannister the spark of electricity stung my fingertip. We had learned about that “static electricity” in our science book. I could swish my feet on the carpet as I walked around for a couple minutes and then go to touch the banister and a little lightning bolt half an inch long would come out between my fingertip and the metal. David thought that was super neat. I did too, even though it stung my finger.

David was in the kitchen with mom and the kitchen radio was turned on. Mom saw me and said they were listening to the Ann Arbor radio station. That one was the highest number, “16”, which was as far as you could turn the dial to the right, but I didn’t listen to it because they didn’t usually do music, or at least music that I liked. She said they were going to read the list of schools that were closed soon. I got even more excited that I might not have to go to school today, and I made myself a bowl of Cheerios and milk for breakfast, ate them, listened and waited, hoping.

And then the guy on the radio read the list. Allen. Angell. Bach. and then he said it, “Burns Park”.

“Alright”, I said, looking at David, “No school today mister D”, which was the main nickname we called him.

Dad came down from upstairs and stood in the doorway to the kitchen. His lips were pushed together like he was thinking of something else.

“Liz”, he said, “Can you turn the heat on the tea kettle? There should be plenty of water still in there.” He sighed and said, “I need more coffee! I’m trying to get the final test done for my journalism students and my head’s kind of cloudy.”

“Well I’m not surprised Eric”, mom said, “You were tossing and turning all night. Is everything okay?”

Dad pushed his lips together again, nodded and said, “Yeah”, but it didn’t sound like he was sure, “A lot of things were going through my mind last night.”

“So the kids’ school is closed today due to the snow”, mom said.

“Oh wow”, dad said, “Didn’t realize we got that much, I better call in to see if my classes got canceled.” He took the talking and listening part of the phone off its hook and rested it on his shoulder as he reached around the kitchen table to dial a number, then he held it to his ear. Mom went back to washing dishes. I ate my Cheerios and David sipped a glass of orange juice as we watched dad.

“Doris! You’re there!” he said, “It’s Eric Zale. So I assume classes are on even though it’s snowing?” I could tell he was listening to that person talking on the other phone as he nodded his head slightly.

“Did Doctor Wilson make any decision on the proposal?” he asked. He closed his eyes and nodded some more. “Okay… okay”, he said, nodding some more.

“Did your brother get that job?” he asked. He opened his eyes and made a big smile and said, “Oh good… so good… glad to hear.”

Then he listened some more and said, “No problem. I was happy to help him in any way I could. He’s such a bright young man!” Then, “I’ve got to go. I’ll see you when I get there. What?” He listened again and said, “Oh Doris, you are so bad, but that’s very funny. I’ll touch base when I get there… gotta go… bye.”

“What was that all about?” asked mom. Dad closed his eyes again and shook his head and waved his hand across his face.

“English department politics”, he said, “It would take me a half hour to explain.” The tea kettle started to whistle. Dad came into the kitchen, opened the coffee jar and put a big spoon of the brown powder in his cup and poured the hot water in from the kettle. I could smell the coffee smell and it always smelled good, but a couple times when mom or dad let me taste it tasted horrible.

Mom breathed out air. “So Eric”, she said, “I was planning to have the house to myself this morning for some “me” time. I didn’t expect the kids to be home from school so I was wondering if you could take them with you to your office. You’ve been talking about showing them where you work.”

“Well”, he said looking at David and me, “I’ve got a ten o’clock class, but if you two are okay hanging out in my office til I’m done, I’d love to show you around the place before my one o’clock class. What do you guys think?” David nodded. I wondered what mom meant by “me time” but I didn’t ask and finally nodded too.

“Great”, he said, “We should leave by around nine.”

“Are you sure you’ll be okay driving in the snow?” mom asked.

“Sure Liz”, he said, “I’ve got chains in the garage and I’ll throw them in the back of the stationwagon in case I need them.”


So as the big soft snowflakes continued to fall, dad got David and I in the car and tried to drive out of the driveway but the car wouldn’t go anywhere even though you heard the engine and the wheels were spinning. So he got out of the car, got the snow shovel from the garage and shoveled the snow away under the car and behind it, where the tires had to go. Then he got out those chain things and laid each down in a straight line behind each back tire and drove the car back just a little so the back tires were on top of the chains. Then he got down on his knees by each one and pulled the chain up around the tire and hooked them at the top. The car looked kind of neat, like a tank or something.

“Back in the car, guys” he said, rubbing his now dirty hands together, and blowing air between them because they were cold. Big snowflakes landed on his gray cap.

“Now we’re ready for anything!” he said.

David and I got in the car and took our favorite places in the “wayback”. Now the car started moving slowly backwards, which was neat because it felt like we were driving it instead of dad. But when we got out in the street, which didn’t look like a street anymore but just one big white flat part that went up onto everybody’s front yards, we moved forward, which was backward for David and I in the “wayback”.

Dad drove slowly around the park then took a left and then a right and down this street until we got to Stadium, which only had a little bit of snow on it because dad said it had been “plowed”. Dad turned left and as we drove down the big street there was a grinding sound under us. Dad said that was the chains on the “macadam”, the stuff the road was made of. We drove by this big square building on a snow covered hill that dad said was “Tappan Junior High”, where dad said I’d go to school after I was done next year with sixth grade at Burns Park. It looked like a giant fort, sitting by itself on the white hill, or maybe a giant factory but with no smokestacks.

We also drove by restaurants where we’d go sometimes to eat. There was that “Frontier Beef Buffet”, which was dad’s favorite place because he said it was a “good deal”, which meant it was cheap, which dad always liked. It was where that guy with the white coat and hat would use this giant knife to cut roast beef off this big round cooked thing that used to be part of a cow before it was cooked. And “Friar Tucks” where I liked to eat their “club sandwich”, which was a “BLT” that also had chicken on it. Finally “Howard Johnson’s”, which was mom’s favorite restaurant because they had fried clams, which David and I thought tasted “disgusting”, a grownup word that older kids liked to use too because it sounded so good when you said it, I think because it sounded like hissing.

Then we drove by that “Arborland” place that was a “shopping center”, which was a bunch of stores around the sides of a giant parking lot, that looked like they were all one long building. We went under a bridge and drove for a while until you could see that giant “water tower” way up ahead, that looked like a giant rocket ship, except it was made out of bricks. The round top part had snow on it. We were in this other city now next to Ann Arbor called “Ypsilanti”, but mom and dad usually just called it “Ypsi”, which was like a nickname. It was interesting that Ann Arbor didn’t have a short name, at least not one that I’d heard mom or dad or anyone else use.

We turned off the big street by the water tower and went to this place with all the big brick buildings that looked like the “college” ones in Ann Arbor. Dad parked the car in a parking lot, which I guess had been “plowed”, because there wasn’t much snow on the ground. When he came around to the back of the stationwagon to open the “hatch”, he looked at the two of us like he was thinking.

“Have either of you two guys ever been here before?” David looked at me and I shook my head, so David shook his head too. The snow was still falling around us and everything was really quiet, even though you could see those “student” type people walking around carrying books.

We went inside this big building, which kind of looked like my school only the ceiling was higher and the floor was a shiny gray.

“My office is on the third floor”, dad said, his eyes sparkling, “Shall we take the elevator?” Both David and I nodded at the same time without even looking at each other first. I had REALLY LIKED elevators since the first time I could remember riding them at that “Union” place where dad took me to get my haircut, and now David’s too. The last time we were there, David and I had played “elevator tag”, where one of us was “it” and had to “capture” the other one by being outside the doors of the elevator they were on when it opened. I had always liked stairs, because it changed where you were when you went up and down them. And elevators were that way too, and even better because they were big machines you could control by yourself just by pushing the buttons, and feel the going up or down part, even if you couldn’t see it.

As we walked through the building we didn’t see any other people. Dad said that some of the other teachers may have canceled their classes because of the snow, but he wanted to have his, even if some of his students didn’t show up. Though I’d never seen him be a teacher, he would always talk about it like he really liked it, even when he had to grade tests, which mom said was the worst part of being a teacher. Dad said that he even liked grading tests because he liked to see his students doing well and “demonstrating their knowledge”. In the school David and I went to, all the teachers were women, except for that gym teacher guy. But I guess in college, most of the teachers were men. I remembered once spying on mom and Molly’s mom when they were talking in the kitchen of our old house, and Molly’s mom said that she wanted to be a college “professor”, that’s the word they used at colleges for teachers, but she ended up being a mom instead. I wondered about mom, if she wanted to be something different than a mom, like a tennis player maybe.

Dad’s office was kind of neat. You went through the door from the hallway into a bigger room that had doors to four smaller rooms. One of those smaller rooms was dad’s office, which was just big enough for a desk in front of a big window, a table and one of those “filing cabinets” on the right side and bookshelves on the left. They were regular wood bookshelves, not the board and bricks ones he had in his office at our house. The window was neat because it was really tall, and went up to the ceiling, and dad showed us how you had to use this long pole with a hook on the end to pull down the “shade”, though I didn’t want the shade down because you could see all these other buildings, and watch each big snowflake for a long time as it floated down from above the top of the window to the ground way below.

On top of the bookshelves were a bunch of empty tin cans that didn’t have the paper around the outside that showed you what kind of fruit, soup or vegetable it used to have in it. Each can had a rolled up piece of white paper inside it. I went up to look at all of them more closely.

“That’s an interesting assignment I gave one of my writing classes”, he said, “I gave each of my students a tin can. You can see how each one is a little different from the others. They had to write a short essay using descriptive language about how their particular can looks, and then we’d see in class if their fellow students could figure out which one was theirs based on what they wrote.”

Dad looked at his watch and said he had to go teach his class soon. He said it was just downstairs on the first floor of the building in room 105, and if there was an “emergency” we could come down to that 105 room and find him. Otherwise he’d be back up here a little after eleven. He showed us where he had pieces of paper we could draw on and those “bluebooks” we could write on. He opened the middle drawer of his desk and showed us where there were different colored pencils and pens. He said we could sit out in the bigger room and use the tables there to draw or write on.

He showed us where the drinking fountain and the men’s bathroom were just down the hall. He said if anyone asked who we were or why we were here, tell them we were “Doctor Zale’s kids and our school was closed today because of the snow”. He took two regular books out of his bookshelves and put them on a stack of papers and then took what he called his “gradebook” from his desk. It looked like the one my teacher had that had those metal wire circles along one edge. He said he was off to teach his “journalism” class and he headed out into the hall.

David got some pieces of paper and started drawing people. Not regular people but those “superhero” guys from comic books, like Superman and Batman. I wasn’t sure what to do, so I looked at the books in dad’s bookcase.

There were books about “journalism”, which dad had told me was about how you write stories for newspapers and magazines. There were others about “literature”, which he said was a word for books, plays and poetry. “Books about books”, he had said, laughing. There were other books about writing. One was called “Writing the Perfect Paragraph”. We were learning about “paragraphs” in my class. They were supposed to have a “topic” sentence, then “supporting” sentences, and finally a “summary” sentence at the end. I liked asking dad questions about that kind of stuff because he really liked answering those kinds of questions, and he also liked it that I was learning about that kind of stuff in school.

There were also some magazines piled up on top of the shelves where there weren’t any books. Some of them were called “Reviews”, like “Partisan Review”, “Hudson Review” and “Evergreen Review”.

The “Evergreen” ones had interesting pictures on the covers. The one on top looked like the picture of the top part of a man with no clothes on with the back of his head on a woman’s chest and she didn’t have any clothes on either. One of her hands was on top of his head and the other on his back. I carefully picked up that magazine to see the one below it, which had a picture of a woman in one of those old-fashioned bathing suits standing in the water with a rope between her legs that was touching her private parts down there. The bathing suit was wet so you could see her chest “figure” parts sticking out, Dale’s “headlights” from that joke about her and Roy Rogers. Some of the older boys in the park called them “breasts” or “tits”, and talked about the older girls they thought had “nice” ones or “big” ones. I had never seen anything like those pictures before. I had never seen an older girl or grownup woman naked, even just the top part of her body.

I wondered why dad had magazines like these “Evergreen” ones at work but not at home. I figured it was maybe because kids my age weren’t supposed to see them, because we weren’t old enough yet. Older kids in the park had always talked about this magazine called “Playboy”, that had pictures of women without their clothes on. They said that store called the “Blue Front” had that magazine and sometimes they’d go there and sneak looks at the naked pictures in the middle part, when the guy that worked there wasn’t looking. Only grownups could look at or buy those magazines without getting in trouble.

I just wanted to see those kind of pictures of women without their clothes on so I could figure out how older girls and women’s bodies were different than mine. When Molly and I took our clothes off up in her bedroom when we were five, her body wasn’t that different from mine, except I had a penis thing and she had something else, but I really wasn’t too sure what it was that she had instead.

So I put the magazines back as I had found them, the one on top of the other, so dad couldn’t figure out that I looked at them. I looked at David and watched him thinking real hard as he drew his superhero guys.

“So”, I said, walking up to him, “You want to explore the building?” He nodded but he kept drawing too, which made me a little bit mad.

“You want to go NOW?”, I asked.

“Just a second”, he said, something mom and dad said a lot but I had never heard David say before, “I want to finish Batman’s legs. It’s a lot harder to draw them when I can’t see the picture in my comic book.” He pushed his lips together as he drew them and then frowned when he was done.

“Okay”, he said, “Let’s go!”

He followed me out into the hallway. It was kind of like the hallways in my new school except it was straight instead of going around a corner. It was wider, the ceiling was higher and the floor was shinier. We walked down to one end where there were stairs going down and a big window that looked down on the parking lot, other buildings and a bunch of trees. The snow was still floating down and I could see our car had white snow on the top part that hadn’t been there when we parked it.

“This place is like a giant fort”, David said. I remembered when I was his age how I liked pretending places were forts, even the lilac bushes in the park. Now that I was nine, I didn’t think about forts so much anymore, just sometimes, but David was only six.

“I guess so”, I said, but in a way that sounded like I really didn’t think so. He wrinkled his nose like he wanted me to feel like the building really was like a fort too.

“Shall we go down to the other side of the fort”, I said, “And see what we can see from there?”

“Yeah okay”, he said, smiling.

We walked down the hallway to the other end. A few of the other doorways off the hallway were open, and the rooms inside looked like the bigger room outside dad’s office. I could hear a typewriter but when I looked in through the open door I couldn’t see anyone typing. But then I saw a woman sitting at a desk and I could tell that she saw us. She got up and came through the doorway out into the big hallway where we were.

“Dear me”, she said, “Are you two children lost?” David looked worried but shook his head and looked at me. I looked at her and shook my head too.

“We’re okay”, I said, “We’re waiting in our dad’s office while he teaches a class down in room 105.”

“Is there something wrong that I can help you with?” she asked, “Do you need help finding that classroom? I can take you down there.” I shook my head, but didn’t like it that she was talking to me like I was a little kid who couldn’t figure out how to go down the stairs and find a room on the first floor that had a number by the door.

“I’m just showing my little brother around the place”, I said.

“What’s your father’s name?” she asked.

“Doctor Zale”, I said.

“Oh my god”, she said, putting her hands over her mouth for a second, “Your Doctor Zale’s children! You must be Cooper and this must be little David. Your father talked to me this morning but he didn’t say he was bringing you two in.” She looked down at David and made one of those big smiles that grownups do to kids sometimes. “Your father’s told me all about you, how smart you both are and how you’re a good baseball player too!”

I wasn’t sure what to do or say when grownups said stuff like this, trying to make you like them. I didn’t want to nod like, yeah I am super smart, because that would be “conceited”, that’s the word the older kids in the park used. And no kid liked it when some grownup said stuff like that to one kid, but not to all the kids. And I knew you were supposed to say “thank you” when some grownup did something to help you, but saying I was super smart didn’t really help me, it just made me kind of embarrassed. So I just looked at her and tried to smile like grownups always did to kids.

“Well”, she said, “It was a pleasure to meet both of you, but I’ll let you continue your ‘tour’. But if you need anything, you can find me over there in room 312.” Now I nodded, and tried to keep smiling. David nodded too. She walked back into her room.

“Well”, I said to David, trying to say it the same way that woman did to be silly, “Where shall we go next?”

“Let’s go spy on dad”, David said. I was surprised he even knew that “spy” word. He and his friend Hannah must have played spying with the older girls back at Allmendinger Park.

Even though the stairs were kind of neat because they were so big and had giant windows between the floors, we decided to take the elevators because they were even neater, and we didn’t get to go in them very much. There were two elevators right next to each other, with the button in between that you pressed to get one of the elevators to come to where you were and open. It was the same way in that Union place in Ann Arbor where we got our hair cut. Since we were on the top floor there was only one button, because the only way you could go on the elevator from here was down.

David got mad at me when I pushed that button to make the elevator come so I let him push the “1” button in the elevator to make it go down to the first floor. After it went down, the doors opened and there were three of those college student guys standing there. One was really tall with curly red hair and freckles.

He laughed and said, “You two look a little young to be college students!” The other two laughed. I wanted to say something funny too, so I tried to think what Ricky would say if this happened to him.

“We’re short for our age”, I said. All three of them laughed. David looked at me like he couldn’t figure out why I said that.

They let us walk by them as they came into the elevator, and as we walked away and the elevator doors started to close that one really tall guy said, “You’re a crackup kid!”, and I thought that Ricky would be proud of me.

Once the elevator doors were closed David looked up at me and asked, “Why’d you say that?”

“They were being silly”, I said, “So I decided to be silly too.” David nodded his head like that finally made sense.

We walked to the room with the “105” by the door. The door was closed but it had a window in the top part and we could see dad sitting on a table looking at all these students sitting in front of him. His legs were hanging down and he was swinging them back and forth like a kid. The desks the students were sitting in weren’t like the desks in my school because the top part didn’t open up and was really small. We walked up close to the door, where dad couldn’t see us but we could hear him talking even though the door was closed.

“That’s an interesting way of looking at it”, we heard him say, “Anybody else?”. We heard another voice but I couldn’t figure out what they were saying.

“So is that coming from your own prior knowledge on the topic or from something specifically cited in the article?” dad asked. Then someone else was talking and we couldn’t hear the words.

We heard dad say, “I would pay good money to see THAT!”, and then we heard a bunch of people in the room laughing. I couldn’t remember the last time dad said something that made people laugh. He kind of sounded like a different person than when he talked to us or mom. And he didn’t sound like any of MY teachers, but then he was a man and they were women, and he was talking to college students, not kids like me. David and I listened for a little while longer, but then dad stopped doing much talking and it was just other people in the room talking that we couldn’t hear very well, which wasn’t interesting anymore, so I said we should go back upstairs.

We took the elevator back up to the third floor. I let David push all the buttons this time. When we went back into the big room where dad’s office was, there were those same three students again that came into the elevator on the first floor when we went out.

That one really tall guy with the red hair, who had talked to me before saw us, smiled and his eyes sparkled. “Hey short-for-your-age”, he said, “What are you two doing here?”

“We’re waiting for our dad”, I said.

“You two are Doctor Zale’s kids?” he asked. I nodded. David nodded too. “How about that!” he said.

“Well this is a bit AWKWARD”, he said, looking at his friends and then back at us, “But we’re in your dad’s Advanced Writing class and we’re kind of in the middle of playing a prank on him.” He rolled his eyes around, but then looked at me again.

“Don’t get me wrong”, he said, “Your dad’s great, he’s my favorite teacher.” He looked at each of his friends and asked, “Favorite?”, and each of them nodded.

Then he looked back at David and me and said, “But he made us do this crazy assignment where we have to DESCRIBE a plain tin can with no label on it. He said we need to do it well enough so someone else in the class can read what we wrote and figure out which one is ours.”

“So my buddies and I figure we’ll fix him”, he said, making his eyes big and making a big smile, “We’re going to switch all the essays so they’re all in the wrong cans and now HE’S going to have to read them and figure out which went in which can. IF he even can.” He laughed and his friends did too. The three of them pulled the rolled up papers out of cans and put them in other cans so they were all mixed up.

Then he looked at David and me again and wagged his finger at us. “You two need to pretend you didn’t see us.” Then he thought about that and said, “Actually… I think he’ll get a kick out of it so you guys can tell your dad whatever you want.” Then he laughed again and said, “But you’re going to have to give him a pretty good description of which cans… I mean students… we are.” The three of them laughed and went out of the big room into the hall.

I thought it was neat, playing a “prank” on the teacher, even though the teacher was our dad.


Dad finally came back from his class and I could tell that he was happy. “I’ve got the best group in my Journalism class”, he said smiling, “Sometimes I’m amazed Eastern even pays me to do this work. Of course, according to your mom, they don’t pay me enough.” He pushed his lips together and said, “She’s most likely right.” He put his hand on his forehead, looked down, and shook his head.

Then he looked at the cans with the papers on them on the table by his desk in his little office, the ones that those student guys had changed. He wrinkled his nose.

“Did you two move those cans around?” he asked. I shook my head. David looked at me shaking my head and started shaking his head too. Dad saw that and figured there was something we weren’t telling him.

He bent down toward David and smiled at him. “Are you sure Mister D?” he asked.

David shook his head again and said, “We’re not supposed to tell you!”

“Oh yeah?” he asked.

“Coop’s not supposed to tell you either”, David said, trying to get dad not to look at him but look at me instead.

“So a conspiracy”, he said. I didn’t do or say anything. I wasn’t going to tell on other kids, even big kids who were college students. But David nodded.

“So… did you guys touch the cans and the papers in them?” he asked. Again we both shook our heads.

“Did someone ELSE touch the cans and the papers in them?” he asked. We didn’t shake our heads.

“Okay”, he said, laughing through his nose, “A really tall kid with red hair and freckles?” Again we didn’t shake our heads.

“Franklin”, dad said, shaking his head slowly, “That kid’s a live wire!. Smart as a whip though.” He looked at his watch.

“Well”, he said, “Normally I’d eat my sandwich and have my one o’clock class, but Doris said they were canceling. She said she met you two in the hall exploring the building.”

“Yeah David wanted to so I figured I better go with him”, I said, like that was all David’s fault.

“No that’s fine”, dad said, “I meant to mention that it was okay for you two to explore the building.”

“Anyway”, he said, clapping his hands together, “You guys want to stop for lunch at Dog and Suds?”

“Hotdogs!” said David, excited.

“Yessiree”, said dad, “And rootbeer!”

Dad and I put on our black plastic boots and jackets, but when I went to help David put on his boots he shook his head and said, “I can do it!” Dad filled his briefcase with a lot of books and then tried to pick it up AND that box with all the cans with papers in it, but couldn’t do it very well.

“Cloob”, he said to me, “Can I get you to carry the box full of cans?”

“I wanna carry it”, said David, almost crying.

“Oh boy!” dad said, looking at me, “Shall we let your little brother carry it?” I raised and lowered my shoulders but I gave David the box.

“Just be careful out there David”, dad said, “It may be slippery where the snow’s packed down.”

“I KNOW”, David said, like we shouldn’t ask him that. I didn’t mind David getting to do stuff that I would usually do. I just didn’t want him to think that he could always do whatever HE wanted instead of me getting to do some stuff.

We took the elevator down to the first floor of the building. David wanted to press the buttons so we let him put down the box of cans so he could press it and then pick them up again. Outside everything was covered in fresh white snow except for the street out front where there wasn’t as much snow and it was packed down.

“Oh good”, dad said, “They plowed the street. Now if we can get out of the parking lot maybe we’ll make it to the restaurant and home from there.”


At Dog and Suds we all got hot dogs and root beers because dad said that they had the best hot dogs, and I wanted dad to think I was smart about food and David wanted to do what dad and I were doing. They had those neat booths with the soft shiny cushions and they had one of those big jukebox machines with lots of metal pages of songs under the glass and all the buttons to push what songs you wanted. Dad gave us a quarter, which let you pick six songs, and said David and I should figure out which ones we wanted.

I figured there were three ways to do the picking. One way was with me in charge, being the older brother. David could say songs that he wanted, and I would think about those, but I would make all the choices. The second way would be to get David to agree with me on all six. The third way was just to let David pick three and then I would pick three.

We flipped through the metal pages under the glass top part of the big jukebox machine. They had lots of Motown songs by the Supremes, Smokey Robinson, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas and the Temptations, including that new one “Baby Love” by the Supremes. Then they had lots of Beatles songs plus that “You Really Got Me” song by the Kinks that my school friend Arthur REALLY liked, but I liked too.

David really liked the Beatles. We had their “Hard Day’s Night” record “album”, and we listened to it over and over again. You could put that top thing on the record player over on the side, instead of on top of that little sticking up post thing that you piled the records on, so when the side of the record finished, that “needle” part would go back and play it again. I liked the record too, but David REALLY liked it, specially the “I Should Have Known Better” and “Can’t Buy Me Love” songs on the second side, though he also liked the “Hard Day’s Night” song on the first side. But he just liked letting it play by itself, over and over, so he usually had it on that second side because it had two that he really liked and the first side only had one.

David just wanted to pick songs on the jukebox from the Beatles “Hard Days Night” album, even though we played them at home all the time, but I kept trying to tell him that since we could always listen to those songs at home, why not listen to other ones here that we didn’t have at home.

“But those are my favorite songs”, he said.

“Well yeah”, I said, “But if you don’t listen to more different songs then you’ll never find any NEW favorite ones, and you’ll get bored with the ones that are your favorites now. Then where will you be?” I thought that made a lot of sense, since I knew way more than he did about how things worked and he should listen to me.

“They’re still my favorite songs!” he said.

“Well how ‘bout we just play two of them”, I said, “And maybe that really really neat one by the Kinks, ‘You Really Got Me’.”

He wrinkled his nose. “I don’t like that one. It’s too noisy!” He looked up at me next to him, both of us leaning against the big shiny machine. “I’ll pick my ones and you can pick yours.”

I shook my head. “It just seems like such a waste”, I said, “When we get home we can play those Beatle songs as many times as we want.”

“Maybe”, he said, “But just cuz you’re older doesn’t mean you get to say what’s best all the time.”

“I don’t do that ALL the time!” I said, pretending I was mad.

“You do it SOME of the time”, he said, and I could see him smiling a little like he liked arguing with me.

“You’re a pest”, I said, banging my shoulder against his. He grinned and nodded.

“That’s my job as your little brother”, he said, looking into the jukebox but not back at me. I wondered where he had learned to say all this stuff, he was only in first grade.

So David picked the three Beatles songs from that album, “A Hard Day’s Night”, “Can’t Buy Me Love” and “I Should Have Known Better”. I of course picked “You Really Got Me” by the Kinks and I almost picked it twice as “punishment” to David, but I picked the Supremes “Baby Love” and the Beach Boys “I Get Around”.

We went back to our booth with dad who had gotten us all our hot dogs and root beers. Mine and David’s just had the regular yellow mustard. Dad got his with onions, relish, and that spicy brown mustard, all piled up on the top part of his hotdog, so he couldn’t even keep it from falling off when he picked up his hotdog to eat it. And when stuff did fall off he just ate it with his fingers. I think if mom was there she wouldn’t think that was right, that that wasn’t “good manners”. But dad was different when he wasn’t around mom, and I think he was also different when he was with his students instead of David and me, I think because he didn’t have to be their dad.

Then our songs started playing on the jukebox. Some of the words in those three Beatles songs, that I’d heard so many times playing on our record player, made me think, made me worry even.

When I tell you that I love you
You’re gonna say you love me too
And when I ask you to be mine
You’re gonna say you love me too

So many songs were about “love” stuff. It seemed like the only thing some older kids and grownups wanted to sing about, specially those Beatle guys. And asking some girl you liked to be YOURS, that seemed really scary. I didn’t want to belong to anyone else, so why would I want to ask anyone else to belong to me, specially someone I really liked?

I should’ve realized a lot of things before
If this is love you’ve got to give me more

I kept thinking about those words, “I should’ve realized a lot of things before”. There was so much I didn’t know that maybe I should already know but I didn’t. That worried me.

You know I work all day
To get you money to buy you things
And it’s worth it just to hear you say
You’re going to give me everything
So why on earth should I moan
Cuz when I get you alone
You know I feel okay

So what did it mean for your girlfriend to give you “everything”? I figured that had to be like “sex” stuff. But couldn’t you just do that naked stuff, that “sex” stuff together and not have to give or take EVERYTHING?

I’ll buy you a diamond ring, my friend
If it makes you feel alright
I’ll get you anything, my friend
If it makes you feel alright
‘Cause I don’t care too much for money
Money can’t buy me love

So these words were really confusing. He’d buy this girl a diamond ring so she’d like him and be his girlfriend, but HE didn’t care about money, because it can’t buy him love. But wasn’t buying her a diamond ring trying to buy HER love? And didn’t older girls just like older boys, and not just like them because they gave them stuff. How did it all work?

I hadn’t heard that “You Really Got Me” song by the Kinks as much because we didn’t have that record, but it was the same kind of thing except now the girl was making the guy crazy and worried all the time because she “got” him, whatever that meant.

Yeah, you really got me now
You got me so I don’t know what I’m doing, now
Oh, yeah, you really got me now
You got me so I can’t sleep at night
You really got me
You really got me
You really got me

I didn’t want ANYBODY to “get” ME. But was that what older kids did, running around trying to “get” somebody they really liked. And I guess when you did “get” them back, you were supposed to do sex stuff with them, because that’s all you could think about.

See, don’t ever set me free
I always wanna be by your side
Girl, you really got me now
You got me so I can’t sleep at night

You wanted that other person you liked to keep “getting” you forever, and never “set you free”, like you were in jail but you liked it.

But the Beach Boys song was nicer and it made more sense.

I’m gettin’ bugged driving up and down the same old strip
I gotta find a new place where the kids are hip

My buddies and me are gettin’ real well known
Yeah, the bad guys know us and they leave us alone

I had moved from Allmendinger Park and Bach School, which was kind of MY “old strip”, to this “new place”, Burns Park, where all my new friends seemed more like older kids who really knew about stuff, and I was feeling like an older kid too. And there were different groups of kids, “buddies”, who thought they were the best ones, better than the other groups of kids who were “buddies”.

That was what all the older boys – the Beatles, the Kinks and the Beach Boys – were singing about in THEIR songs, but it was that older GIRL singing in the Supremes, and she was sad about all the bad stuff her boyfriend was doing.

Ooh baby love, my baby love
I need you, oh how I need you
But all you do is treat me bad
Break my heart and leave me sad
Tell me what did I do wrong
To make you stay away so long

She thought maybe it was her fault that her boyfriend did bad stuff to her. That was interesting, because the Beatle and Kink guys thought it was THEIR girlfriend’s fault too.

Dad listened to all our songs while he ate his hotdog and scooped up the stuff that fell off and ate that with his fingers. He said he liked the Beach Boys song best, because he liked the way they sang “harmonies”.

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