|Me at 15 years old the summer (August 1958) I went to American Bandstand|
In 1958 I, along with several other teenagers from Downingtown, Pennsylvania won an essay contest. The essay was on "Why we would like to appear on American Bandstand to promote Downingtown's bicentennial celebration." I won! I won! Not quite the same as winning the lottery but pretty exciting for a 16 year old kid from a small town in Pennsylvania. Going to the big city to appear on TV!
|The local newspapers clippings announcing the winners of the essay contest to appear on American Bandstand - my name is mentioned last (of course)|
Unfortunately I do not have any pictures of me or my fellow winners attending American Bandstand. Back then, I had NO MONEY to buy film for a camera. I had quite my paper boy job a year earlier and I received no allowance from my parents. It is a shame that the adults who organized the trip didn't think to take a picture of our group either. Not everyone thinks the way I do, "take a picture!" But, be that as it may. The experience of being taken down to Philadelphia to actually appear on the MOST POPULAR program of the day has been indelibly imprinted on my mind forever.
We "teens" were picked up in a station wagon by two adults (whose names are lost to history). I do remember it was a very hot August (6th, 1958) day. I was 16 years old. The picture at the top of this blog, which I'm sure I've posted before, is of me at the grand and glorious (and most self conscious and shy) age of 15 years old. Check out the pompadour. I'm with our family dog "Nancy." An interesting story on how we got Nancy. She was a Mail Order Dog. Yep, we ordered her through the Montgomery Ward catalogue. Can you believe it? At least I think it was the Montgomery Ward catalogue. I did an Internet search and I can't find anything on mail order dogs but we did order Nancy through the mail and I picked her up at the Post Office. Can you imagine such a thing today?
Anyway, back to our original programming of my first and last trip to "American Bandstand." Ah, I remember it well.
Our station wagon (I rode backwards all the way to Philadelphia by the way, not fun) pulled up to the garage in west Philadelphia that was the studio for "American Bandstand." I remember a long line of teenagers standing outside the garage. I thought "I hope we don't have to stand in that line." We didn't. After unloading from the station wagon, we were ushered to another, much shorter line for "Special Guests." This line also had the American Bandstand regulars. We felt privileged.
Inside the garage/studio, I was immediately taken aback at how small it was. On TV it seemed much bigger. The day we were there Dick Clark wasn't. Julius LaRosa was subbing for Dick Clark (you'll see him briefly on the You Tube kinescope video below).
The popular singing group "The Royal Teens" were the guest. Whoopee! Their hit song was "Short Shorts." Below is a video of the day they were there and we were there, although you can't see me. At least I can't see me. If you see me in this video, let me know because this has been 56 years coming.
I was excited to see the Royal Teens (I had a crush on all the guys, especially the tall one playing that sexy sax). However, I was disappointed that they lip-synched the song. They didn't play for real. And I didn't get to meet any of my 15 year old school boy emerging raging hormones crushes. Oh sure, the other guys were looking at the gal in the short shorts but I was looking at those skinny guys with the greasy hair. Man oh man, eye candy for this teenager.
|The Royal Teens on American Bandstand August 1958|
The studio had bleachers where we teens could sit. When the music began (all piped in, and not even stereo), most everyone got up and danced. One thing I found very interesting was how clusters of dancers would follow the camera with the green light on. There were three live TV cameras broadcasting the dancers, I found it amazing how the "regulars" knew which camera was on and they would move en masse to that camera. A lot of peripheral vision was being employed that day.
|The dance floor at American Bandstand - very small and in a garage|
All too soon the adventure was over and we loaded in the station wagon and I was driven back home to Downingtown, backwards.
So there you go folks,my "Throwback Thursday" memory for this week. Sorry I didn't have a more appropriate picture. How many times I have wished I could go back in time with my now ever present iPhone with my digital pictures and videos! Just think of what "yon teens" will have to show 56 years from now. Oh well, I'll be long gone then and perhaps, someone will pull this blog posting from the dusty archives and read about this shy, gangly 15 year old who had a thrill of his lifetime in August of 1958 by appearing on "American Bandstand." The "American Bandstand" theme. I give it a 98. It's got a good beat and you can dance to it!