On Saturday night, November 15, 1975, I was a senior at Choate School. Some buddies and I had signed out that weekend to go to Boston, ostensibly to look at colleges. Which we did of course the next day. But mainly it was a weekend to blow off some steam. One of my pals, John Helmick, kept an illegal car near campus and so off we went off that afternoon driving north on I-91, joined by Neal Collyer and Tom Trimble. CB Radio was in vogue and John impressed us all with his ability to talk to the truckers. “This here is Orange Crate,” he drawled in his Des Moines accent, “how it be looking over your shoulder?” Trucker-speak for “any highway patrol passing out speeding tickets around here?”
After settling in at our Copley Plaza Hotel, grabbing some pizza, and a six pack of beer procured, someone had the foresight to turn on the boob tube late that night. To our amazement, we tuned in right at the beginning of Robert Klein’s legendary “I Can’t Stop My Leg” skit. It was one of the first episodes of Saturday Night Live. Playing a ridiculously amped-up blues musician, Klein’s gag was to bounce his leg up and down in an exaggerated way while singing “I Can’t Stop My Leg” repeatedly. Without warning, the leg does stop in the middle of the performance. “It stopped!” he shouts in put-on shock. Only to start up again.
Here’s the only version of the skit available on YouTube; it’s filmed right from the monitor with a low-grade phone, but you get the idea:
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The old clubhouse. Photo Courtesy of the Southampton Yacht Club
Last week, I related how Dad and I had our Friday schedule – pack up the Horsemobile and drive to Southampton. A lot of people have such similar routines. Saturdays no different.
Even the grand dame of our Southampton rooming house, Mrs. Fordham, had a weekend habit. Every Saturday she would get together with her buddies and – I have no idea what they were drinking, rolling, or tooting – but were they up, I mean UP!, for the Lawrence Welk show at 6PM! They were huddled together in the chairs, arranged in a semi-circle around the boob tube, simply breathless for the start of the show… Roll the bubbles… Ah, one, two, three…
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After a busy week in the office of Bernard Olcott & Associates on the 33rd floor of the Pan Am building, it was time to close up shop on Friday afternoon. It was July 1966, the pavement outside was soft from the searing heat of the sun. Summertime transforms Manhattan into a tropical sweaty island, albeit with world-class dining and entertainment options.
We strolled back to Dad’s large efficiency apartment at the Peter Cooper Hotel on 38th and Lexington, grabbed our stuff for the weekend, and took the 7 train out to Long Island City where Dad kept his car, the “horsemobile” – see image below – during the week. Like a Canada Goose in periodic migration, every weekend we plied our way east away from the hot shimmering city onto the Southern State Parkway until it emptied out on country roads. (This was before the Long Island Expressway was extended to Riverhead.) There, we followed Hot Water Road from Manorville all the way down to Route 27, making a left in Eastport. Through picturesque villages with quaint cottage-like storefronts, we wound our way past Katrina’s Deli (the logo was a haunting blond girl wearing a Viking-styled horned helmet), Go Kart tracks, and roadside ice cream parlors with high peaked roofs.
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