Sunday, June 2, 2013

No. 368 – From the Beginning

Performer: Emerson, Lake & Palmer
Songwriter: Greg Lake
Original Release: Trilogy
Year: 1972
Definitive Version: The studio version. I know of only one live version of this song—when Scott and I saw ELP in Cleveland in 1992. The next time we saw them, only six months later, they were back to doing Still, You Turn Me On. I guess ELP doesn’t like this song as much.

I have several images of this song, and they’re all from when I was a kid. Dad loved this song—at one time, it might have been his favorite—so he bought Trilogy. He played Side 1—Endless Enigma, this song, The Sheriff and Hoedown—all the time.

When I hear this song now, it conjures visions of riding bikes to Baskin Robbins for ice cream, summer rain showers, even Florida the first time to a certain extent, although surely Dad didn’t take the record album with him. More than anything, however, it makes me think of our house on Darcann Drive, whether it’s shooting pool in the basement or sorting baseball cards in the living room (as I mentioned in relation to Endless Enigma, good ol’ No. 763).

When we moved the six miles geographically but light years culturally from our house in Columbus to Upper Arlington, it was a new experience. I had moved when I was 2, but, of course, I had no recollection of it. It felt weird to change schools, change homes, change friends. I wasn’t dying to stay—in fact, I was glad to be leaving my second-grade teacher, whom I hated and who seemed to respond in kind. It was just … different.

I wasn’t sure about the house we chose either, not that I had a say in the matter. I remember clearly that when Dad was looking to move up in stature after being made partner at his (my grandfather’s) law firm, we looked at two houses. I suppose we looked at a few, but two in particular stuck out.

The first was a white brick and stone house in Worthington. It was in an established neighborhood, and I remember that it seemed fancy. We went to look at it twice, and I definitely liked it. We didn’t but it, and my guess was the money wasn’t right. I know that Dad grew up in Upper Arlington, so I’m sure he felt a certain pull, even though he had recently began working as prosecutor for the city of Worthington.

An interesting fun(?) fact: The white house in Worthington butted up against a huge mansion. In 1974, when we were in Florida for the second time, Dad, who by then was the city attorney, got called home, because a young guy had blown away his whole family in Worthington. What made it trippy was that it was in the mansion—the Chase Mansion—that abutted the white house into which we could have moved. The father had been found in the driveway by a kid walking to school the next day. If we had moved into that house, I might have been the kid that found the father, Dad said. Yikes.

But we didn’t buy that house. Instead we bought a house we looked at after the one in Worthington. I went to see it at one point during negotiations, I think, and I remember to this day my initial view.

It was a new house—maybe three months old, tops. I don’t remember whether a family lived there or whether we’d be the first—I think the latter—but it was so new that not only did it have no trees, but it also had no yard. I remember the backyard was just a sea of sloppy mud as the recent snow had melted.

This would be quite a change, because our house on Norway Drive had well-established trees—tall ash trees—out front and tons of huge shrubs. Heck, we even had a brook that bisected our front yard. Out back was more of the same, including tall pines and a huge maple tree.

The new house seemed nondescript on the inside. I liked the brick hearth in the den, but the basement was unfinished and nothing else stood out as being really interesting. Even the exterior—dark green aluminum siding and red brick trim—seemed blah.

Blah would have been welcome in the room that was to be my bedroom. I would have the second biggest bedroom—being the eldest child has its privileges—and it seemed big. The house was (is) shaped like an L, and my bedroom was part of the L, so I would have windows facing both the East and West. I also had a fairly large walk-in closet.

But whoever lived there before or made initial decisions about the place decided that this room should be orange. I’m talking bright, Seventies orange. One of the first things Mom and Dad did after we moved in was to wallpaper my room with a cool print of steampunk-minded flying contraptions that was blue, green and gold—far more restrained. The gaudy orange remained in the closet, however, as a reminder of the past.

That’s the house we bought, and into which we moved Feb. 10, 1972. Within a day or two, I was at my new school—Greensview Elementary, which was just a one-block walk down the street from home, just like Cranbrook had been. I remember distinctly my first day in class—Miss Wallace’s second-grade class. I arrived as the class was taking morning recess, and I remember a few kids having their faces pressed against the window, checking out the new kid.

I went by Darcann a few years ago to show Laurie, and I was amazed at the size of the trees that Dad had planted the spring and summer after we moved in. The whole neighborhood was so grown up. But what the heck, it had been nearly 40 years since we moved in. Time marches on.

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