Sunday, July 28, 2013

"Surfer Girl" - The Beach Boys, Dad and Me - (1964)

Summertime always brings me memories of “beach music”, and naturally, that leads me to the Beach Boys. Just listening to the sound of “Surfer Girl” I can feel the air conditioning as it washes over me in the bar on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn, located at the “Junction”, where Nostrand Avenue crosses Flatbush and Brooklyn College sits right nearby. My Dad had done some air conditioning work at the bar and this was one of the popular records of the day.  It was not only an insight into the “California” sound of music; but also an education in economics every time we went there.

The bar was owned by the local mob, and they weren't going to pay my Dad’s company for the work at all; which may seem strange; but at the time that was the practice in certain sections of Brooklyn. And you didn't complain. You simply licked your wounds and moved on. That is, unless you were; like my Dad; somewhat enterprising.

He informed his boss of the situation they were facing and then went back to the owners of the bar and explained that if he couldn't collect something, he’d be fired. He took me along; I suppose; as his protection, after all, these guys weren't going to kick the shit out of my Dad in front of his kid. These were legitimate businessmen, and gentlemen. They’d find him when I wasn't with him; and then kick the shit out of him. So, my Dad had a plan.

He told that them  his boss was willing to give them a discount- say 25%. They immediately countered with 50%, which my Dad gratefully accepted. He then told his boss they were getting the 25%, which delighted him no end. Then my Dad kept the difference.

The owners paid my Dad directly out of the jukebox; in coins; the same jukebox which played “Surfer Girl” so many times that summer whenever we went to “collect”. The best part was going for an ice cream soda afterwards. I always thought of that as my "payment" for being his “protection” while engaging in this activity. At any rate, I can never hear this record without feeling a rush of cool air wash over me. 

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