A YouTube film clip of The Dubs performing their 1950s classic, Could This Be Magic.
The Golden Age Of American Rock ‘n’ Roll; Volume 4, various artists, Ace Records, 1994
Scene: Prompted by the cover photograph, the memory cover photograph, which grace each CD in this The Golden Age Of American Rock ‘n’ Roll series. The photo on this CD, as might be expected, shows a girl, a pony-tailed, starch-bloused, woolen-sweatered, wide, flouncy skirt-wearing, Penny Parker, all grown up almost, as the good teen D.J., a.k.a. hostess, that she is, doing her chore of spinning platters, okay, okay, putting records on her portable 45s record player for the guests at her sweet sixteen party, her very first house teen be-bop hop.
We all wish her well, right? And hope she plays a couple of Elvis, Chuck, and Jerry Lee things and not too many slow dances since some of the guys still have not got the hang of that yet. Oh yes, for the clueless, a record player was a machine to put records on in order to hear those rock guys just mentioned. And records, for the really clueless, were grooved, vinyl plate-like objects that kept the blues away in the 1950s teen night. Just like iPOD, texting, yahoo messaging, etc. keep the blues away from the hip-hop nation teen night.
“Don’t come back before one,” Penny Parker, now sweet sixteen party-crowned Penny Parker, as she shouted to her parents leaving out the breezeway door to the garage to take off to places unknown, maybe unknowable, until at least that one o‘clock hour. Peter Parker, Penny proud without showing it, muttered under his breath that he damn well would not be back before one, come hell or high water, while that rock and roll music was infesting, and that was the word that he used, his house. Or at least the downstairs part, rock and roll previously being limited to the Penny upstairs netherworld, and kept away from his ears, well, mainly away form his ears.
“Now, Peter,” was all that Delores Parker at first could come up with, and that was usually enough. Tonight however she added, and told him so in no uncertain terms, that her husband was being an old fogy seeing that this was Penny’s sweet sixteen party, she had baby-sat to perdition in order to fund the party (with a little Parker parent help, Delores mainly), had done mostly what they had asked of her, as much as one could expect from a rock-addled post- World War II teenager from what she had read in the women’s magazines that she was addicted to reading.
Most importantly tonight was, and here is where woman-girl- female whatever solidarity came in, Penny was going to “coax” Zack Smith into giving her his class ring, the universal teen sign of “going steady,” hands off, and a 180 degree turn in their sometimes stormy relationship since back in about junior high school. If he showed. At least, Delores, thought, she had given that Jimmy Kelly the air, although he was invited, invited tonight for old times sake since Jimmy had been there the night Penny played her first record, Could This Be Magic by the Dubs on her brand new, slave wages-bought record player. But enough of Parker parents, tonight is Penny's night.
Penny night or not, Miss Parker is already starting to fret that Zack will be a no-show. See they had had an argument last week about that “going steady” thing, that eternal love class ring- signifying thing, and Zack for the twenty-third, at least, time stormed off. And Penny for the twenty-second time made peace over the telephone, the midnight blues telephone. But you never knew with Zack. All Penny knew was she wanted him, wanted him bad, and wanted him here tonight to share her sweet sixteen-ness.
So as the couples, maybe a dozen or so of their close friends, started filling up the Parker living room Penny, knowing that she was not the only rock-addled teen in the room, played D.J. And revved up the old Sear& Roebuck recorder player with a stack of platters (records, 45 RPM records okay); Ray Sharpe ‘s Linda Lu; Nappy Brown’s Little by Little; Maybe by the Chantels although she always wondered how they could get their voices that high on that one; a tear-jerker but a slow one by request from Pammy and Sue who had boyfriend troubles of their own, Little Anthony and the Imperials’ Tears On My Pillow which got even hardened corner boys a little weepy as she found out once when Zack and she were “finished” and king corner boy Frankie Riley had asked her out, and she had accepted. Well, she thought that should last this crowd for a while, for a while until Zack gets here, hopefully.
Later, around ten, ten-thirty, just as she was about to give up the thought of Zack’s coming that night, and had resigned herself to playing D.J. putting Buddy Knox’s Party Doll on(although she wasn’t feeling like any party doll then) for this rock-addled crowd Zack came in kind of sneakily through the side door. And instead of coming over to say thanks to Penny for inviting him or any other kind of social graces recognition he began to get into an animated conversation with Jimmy Kelly. Nothing serious but as Penny found out later Zack was miffed at Jimmy, one of his best friends now that the Zack-Jimmy girl wars, or rather Penny wars were over in Zack’s favor, because Jimmy had not told Penny that he was going to be a little late. But that miffed-ness turned into nothing once Zack told the reason for his lateness. See, Penny performing, as it turned out, her last D.J duty for the evening putting on that much requested previously mentioned Could This Be Magic was finally called over by Zack and as the strains of the song echoed through the house he presented her with his class ring, just a while ago engraved with To P.P. Always 10/7/59. Magic.