Sunday, January 27, 2019

The Roots Is The Toots: The Music That Got The Generation Of ’68 Through The 1950s Red Scare Cold War Night- Betty’s Tale -With The Teen Queens’ Eddie, My Love In Mind

The Roots Is The Toots: The Music That Got The Generation Of ’68 Through The 1950s Red Scare Cold War Night- Betty’s Tale -With The Teen Queens’ Eddie, My Love In Mind  


(Aaron Collins / Maxwell Davis / Sam Ling)The Teen Queens - 1956
The Fontane Sisters - 1956
The Chordettes - 1956
Dee Dee Sharp - 1962
Also recorded by:
Lillian Briggs; Jo Ann Campbell; The Sweethearts.
Eddie, my love, I love you so
How I wanted for you, you'll never know
Please, Eddie, don't make me wait too long
Eddie, please write me one line
Tell me your love is still only mine
Please, Eddie, don't make me wait too long
You left me last September
To return to me before long
But all I do is cry myself to sleep
Eddie, since you've been gone
Eddie, my love, I'm sinking fast
The very next day might be my last
Please, Eddie, don't make me wait too long
You left me last September
To return to me before long
But all I do is cry myself to sleep
Eddie, since you've been gone
Eddie, my love, I'm sinking fast
The very next day might be my last
Please, Eddie, don't make me wait too long
Please, Eddie, don't make me wait too long
(Transcribed from the Teen Queens
recording by Mel Priddle - May 2006)


…come closer, will you, because I have got a story to tell. Come on over here, here nearer me and get away from that midnight phone waiting, that eternal waiting. Waiting now in vain because if he or she has not called by this hour, nine, on a school night they are not going to call and anyway you don’t need Ma to yell at you about wasting your time waiting for that call when you could be doing homework or something. Yeah, like you could do homework with your head filled with anxiety about that call. What do parents know anyway never having been young, never having been in love. Hey, while I am talking maybe you should put on The Teen Queens’ Eddie My Love like I have on right now or some other teen trauma tune, sad, sad tune to help drown your sorrows while I’m telling the story,

Yes, get away from that midnight telephone call wait by your bedside table and listen up a minute or two because I’ve got a story to tell, a 1950s teen story to tell, or let’s make it a 1950s teen story, and if it works out for 1960s, 1970s, or 2000s teens except for the newer techno-gadgets cellphone, iPhone, smart phone ways to wait, to wait that midnight call that are different, well, well this waiting by the phone hasn’t changed that much since the 1950s when this trend started or reached a certain plateau where waiting became one of the ways that you knew you were a forlorn teen-ager, knew that life was going to be filled with ups and downs and so there you have it.

And let’s make it a boy-girl story, although I know, and you know I know, that it could have been a boy-boy, girl-girl, whatever story and that’s okay by me, except that it wouldn’t be okay, okay as a public prints 1950s story since those kinds of relationships had not been deemed okay to tell except maybe in some North Beach, Greenwich Village, Hollywood hills small print, exotic, erotic small press back door scenario. Mainly those kinds of relationships would be gist for the mill in the snicker of boys’ sports after school gym locker room faggot-dyke baiting and well beyond the sad tale I have to tell.

And let’s make it a Saturday night, a hard by the phone, waiting Saturday night, maybe midnight, maybe not, maybe you cried or brooded yourself to sleep before that hour, that teen dread hour when all dreams came crashing to the floor, like a million guys and girls know about, and if you don’t then, maybe move on, but I think I know who I’m talking to.

And let’s make it a winter night to kind of fit your mood, kind of make you realize that you are totally alone against the elements, yes, a long hard winter night, wind maybe blowing up a little, maybe a little dusting of snow, and just that many more dark hours until the dawn and facing another day without…

And let’s make it, oh the hell with that, let’s make it get to the story and we’ll work out the scenic details as we go along…

I’ll tell you, Betty’s got it bad, yes, Betty from across the way, from the house across the way where right now I can see her in her midnight waiting bedroom window, staring off, staring off somewhere but I know, I know, what ‘s wrong with her. No, not that, no she is not in the “family way,” I don’t think, I hope not, hope not because then she will have to suddenly go out of town to visit some ailing aunt, or something like that. What is wrong with Betty is simpler. Her Eddie has flown the coop, and has not been heard from for a while.

Yes, Betty’s got it bad, and it’s too bad because she deserves better. Let me tell you the story behind the story, although I can already see that you might know what’s coming. I had noticed Betty’s change of behavior but was not sure what it meant. It first started when she did not return my wave when I waved across the street to her, then she would hang her head down walking like some zombie in the movies. So one day I asked her about what was up and she said she did not want to talk about it, made a serious point to me that she did not want to talk about it when I pressed the issue so I let it drop. Yes, so the way I know the story is because Betty’s best friend, Sue, gave me the details when I saw Betty continue moping around, moping around day after day like there was going to be no tomorrow, especially after leaving school with her head down, arriving home with her head moping down even more after the mailman came. I contacted Sue to see what she knew, knew from those little afternoon girl chatting calls or maybe from that mandatory Monday morning before school in the girls’ “lav” talkfest. 

Yes, I know, I know Sue, old best friend Sue, is nothing but a man-trap and has flirted with more guys in this town than you could shake a stick at, including Eddie a couple of times when Betty had to go out of town with her parents (keep that between us, please). Hell, now that I think about it, I’ll get this thing all balled up if I tell it my way what with what I know, or people have told me about Sue and I want you to get the straight dope.  Let Betty, old true to Eddie, Betty tell her story herself, or at least through Sue, and I’ll just write it down my way, and you be the judge:

“Last summer, oh sweet sixteen last summer, old innocent girlish sweet paper dream last summer, Eddie, Eddie Cooper, Eddie with the hot cherry red, dual exhaust, heavy silver chrome, radio- blasting, ’55 Chevy (my brother Timmy told me about cars and their doo-dads, I just like to look good in them and the ’55 is the “boss”), that I knew I would be just crazy to sit in, and give the “look”, the superior “I’m with a hot guy, and sitting in a hot car , bow down peasants look,” came rumbling and tumbling into town.

Summer beach time, soaking up the sun down between the yacht clubs beach time, summer not a care in the world time , Sue, my best friend Sue, my best friend Sue and all that stuff they say about her and the boys is just fantasy, male fantasy, and I were sitting just talking about this and that, oh well, about boys, and I was telling her the latest about Billy, Billy from the neighborhood, who I had been going out with for ages, more or less, Billy with the reading too many books and wanting to talk poetry or “beat” stuff, Billy, Billy with the no car, or sometimes with car, father’s old run-down jalopy which might or might not work like happened one night and it was a close thing that I was not grounded for coming in so late, but no “boss” car, never, when Eddie, Eddie, Edward John Cooper, parked his honey Chevy and came over to us, through all that sand and all,

Eddie gave Sue the “once over,” like guys will do automatically with any girl something about their genetic make-up drives them that way and Sue adds her part by always looking like she has either just finished a roll in the hay or would not mind being talked into it but that is just her come-hither “style” and like I said before don’t make too much of it. Yeah, she knows sex stuff, a lot from what she tells me but mostly it’s to aid that come-hither thing she has with guys.  Besides whatever Sue has, or thinks she has in the guy department I secretly thrill to know that that “once over” is just a game because even as he came over the sand I could see he had eyes, big blue eyes, for me, only me, We talked, idle talk, sex in the air flirty talk, don’t talk sex straight out but weave all around it talk, the mating ritual I guess they call it, still a lot of talk for a summer beach day, and I knew, I swear I knew he wanted to ask me out for later, or maybe right there to ride in his car but three’s company, and for once I couldn’t shake Sue, my best friend Sue, Sue with the million boyfriends so she says, who I could see was taken in by his big blued-eyed, black haired, tight tee-shirt, blue jean charm too.

Truce, Sue truce, as we walked home, Eddie-less, a few blocks away. I left Sue at her house. Truce still, except that I heard a big engine, a big “boss” car engine, coming up behind me as I hit the sidewalk in front of my house, and dream, dream wake me up, it was Eddie, Edward  John Cooper and that cherry ’55 Chevy. He said, and I will never forget this, “Hop in,” and opened the door. I was supposed to have a “date,” some dreary poetry reading date with Billy, ah, Billy who. We were off as soon as I closed that cherry red door.

And we were off, off for a sweet summer of love, ’55 Chevy love and okay, truth, because I know that Sue probably blabbed it around but I let Eddie take me to the back seat of that warm-bodied Chevy one night, and some nights after that. But let me just tell you this about Sue, my best friend Sue, honest, she’s the one who told me what to do with a boy, yah, she told me everything.

Late August came as summer beach love drew to an end and those damn school bells seemed ready to ring, Eddie, out of school Eddie my love, told me he had a job offer in another state and he needed to take the job to support his mother and his ’55 Chevy.

I started crying; crying like crazy, trying to make him stay, stay with his ever-lovin’ Betty but no he had to go. He didn’t know about a phone, or a phone call, but he said he would write and I haven’t heard from him since even though I wear out the mailman every day”…
Christ my heart bleeds for Betty every time I think about what Eddie had done, and see, I know Eddie, no I don’t know Eddie personally but I know Eddie stuff, stuff that has been going on since Adam and Eve, hell, probably before that. I know Eddie stuff from the days a few years ago when I used to hang around with junior Eddies, car-less Eddies who only dreamed of foxy Chevys then being underage, at Jack Slack’s bowling alleys over on Thornton Street heading toward the beach. 

Those were my corner boy days before I got into more serious stuff, my poetry readings that Betty sniffed her nose at for her Eddie. And those junior Eddies, and me too, once we got started on the subject of girls which we were clueless about but which began every lonely hearts Friday night holding up the wall conversation, were pretty raw about what we would, or would not, do with girls, mostly the unattainable ones at school, and then move on like the wind. And some of my corner boys like Frankie Riley and Jimmy Jenkins to name names actually proceeded to do just that once they got their wheels.  Yeah, so I know the Eddies of this teenage world and this is the hard truth I would tell Betty if she would listen for one second:

Betty, Betty, sweet Betty, I hate to break it to you but Eddie, Edward John Cooper ain’t coming back. And old Eddie ain’t writing and it ain’t because he doesn’t have the three cents for a stamp, or cannot write more than a few simple lines even in the best of times, or is not near some desolate mail box, or, well enough of that for Eddie excuses because that is all the gaff. No, Eddie, let's just say Eddie’s moved on to greener pastures like every other Eddie who did only what he was capable of doing- love ‘em and leave ‘em. Not because he intentionally started out that way with you but because that is his take on the world, the girl world. These guys, even ugly guys like “Whiskey” Pete who you probably have heard of and who lives a few streets over from us, who have “boss” cars operate in the world like that because they know that front passenger seat will not be vacate long when mating season comes ago.  

(I heard later after Sue filled me in and I was curious, but don’t tell Betty because she is weepy enough, when I asked around about it, asked some guys who had known Eddie when he worked at Smitty’s Garage last summer while he was with Betty that Eddie had left for Florida, had a new girl there, or maybe an old girlfriend who had some kind of spell over him but all of that, that last part about some forlorn Eddie love was just guys talking one night. Eddie guys are more in the first category, the new girl and move on claiming that some mother needed desperate support in some other state and they would write. But you never know with Eddie guys on that last part.) 

Betty, Betty hold onto your Eddie, My Love dream for a moment. But Betty, tomorrow, not tomorrow tomorrow but some tomorrow you‘ve got to move on. Betty then why don’t you call up your Billy. I’ll be here by the phone, the midnight phone…

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