Pensive Person's post got me to thinking about my family and our outings.
Family outings were not big on our list. I live in a state with two major league baseball teams (I saw my first game Cards/Phillies when I was 24), a world famous FREE zoo (I was 13 and went with other people), two amusement parks (we only went a handful of times, which is ok. Newton proved gravity with an apple - I have no need to prove it with a two-ton rollercoaster) and Branson/Silver Dollar City (once was enough for a lifetime). We usually went to the Boone County Fair (Sheep, cows, horses, and Tilt-A-Whirls, oh my!) and I've been to the State Fair twice.
In 1972, I was seven and received an allowance. For what, I have no idea, but I got one. My dad said, "We'll treat this just like a real job. Every week I'll record your allowance in the checkbook and keep the balance. Then, when you want something you can check the balance and see if you can afford it." I know what you are thinking. Smart auditor dad teaching about budgeting, saving and delayed gratification. Hmm. Maybe. If so, it didn't stick. What I truly believe is that if we kept track "like a real job" then he didn't have to scrounge up five bucks every week for me to squirrel away in my room somewhere and lose.
That year what I really wanted more than anything in the world was a red and white portable record player. A real one, not a little kid one. So, I "saved" enought that my dad took me to Radio Shack - then called Tandy - and I became the proud owner of a red and white portable record player with built-in speaker and pop-up ring for the 45s I would someday own. Oh my god, it was a thing of beauty. But then I needed something to play on it. Real music...like The Jackson 5. I loved The Jackson 5.
Shockingly, Tandy did not have a vast array of music and only one Jackson 5 album, which I, my family, and anyone within hearing distance of my home would come to know intimately, "Looking Through The Windows" (released May 1972).
You don't remember it? Really? It had the title song, which I think was a single, an Ashford/Simpson cover, some other songs and a cover of Jackson Browne's "Doctor My Eyes". Only I didn't know it was a cover. Imagine my surprise when I heard the original version. I loved that album. In fact, I still own it.
That summer I heard on the radio that The Jackson 5 were going to be at the Missouri State Fair in August. Can we go? Can we go? No, too hot, too expensive, blah, blah. Ok, pretty much the answer I expected, so I forgot about it.
The evening of August 21, a week before school started, my dad announced that we were going to the State Fair. Great. I've never been. That will be fun. No, dear reader, The Jackson 5 never crossed my mind. I was a fairly clueless child and besides my dad had said no. Unlike with my own kids, no meant no.
We got the fair and spent the day looking at exhibits, riding the rides and drinking copious amounts of soda because it was blazingly hot and humid. As the sun started to go down, my dad said it was time to go. Instead of walking to the gates to the parking lot he led us toward the Grandstand. Basically as a child and an adult I will wander around watching people, so if I am following you, you can lead me anywhere and I won't question you, which was exactly what I was doing that night.
Then I saw it. A huge poster announcing The Jackson 5. He was taking me to see THE JACKSON 5. I WAS GOING TO SEE MICHAEL JACKSON AND THE JACKSON 5! ME!! I was the luckiest girl on the planet. I EVEN got a souvenir program with bios and pictures! Wow, oh wow. Nothing is ever going to be better than this.
As my dad led us higher and higher up the metal bleachers the opening act was setting up. What's an opening act? I have to sit through something called "The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band"? Who are they and why do I care? Just hurry up....oh wait. I know this "Mr. Bojangles" song. I like it. Ok, that was nice...NOW hurry up!
And then, there they are...THE JACKSON 5! They sing, they dance, they tell corny jokes, they change their clothes for absolutely no reason. They are so nice they let their little sister come on stage. Janet. Janet has a really cool tangerine floor length dress that I covet. She sings a song, but she's nothing special, because Michael is singing again. There is Tito with his hat, Jackie is spinning and looking super cool, there is Marlon with his cute hair and Jermaine! Oh my. I'm singing and dancing on the bleachers and no one is telling me to sit down!
It was one of the best nights of my life.
As I got older and my dad and I became even more alike in personality we weren't close. Communication? The closest we came is the fact that I am pretty sure we could both spell it. I know my mom loves me, but she would never have done something like this. This type of grand gesture complete with fake out and surprise was all my dad and I know it was his way of showing me he loved me.
Thanks Dad. I miss you.