Writer, editor, professor, etc. For more information, see jaygabler.com.
I decided to make a summer-songs playlist, so I started thinking back on songs I associate with summer. This song was one of the first several that came to mind, because I have a strangely precise memory of hearing it for the first time one night in 1988 while I was sitting on the back porch of our house, reading a book I didn’t want to read.
It wasn’t a book assigned for school, it was a book from my dad’s study, which had been his dad’s study (my parents bought the house my dad grew up in) and still had many books that had belonged to my English-professor grandfather. I was 12 in 1988, and my dad had decided that I was reading too much junk—specifically, sci-fi. He issued an edict that lest I waste my ever-promising, ever-underachieving brain, I had to alternate reading books of my choice with reading books from the study (I later talked him into loosening the restriction to include books on a recommended-reading-for-teens list from the library, which included such relatively pulpy fare as Ursula K. LeGuin).
Dad’s delivery of that misguided, anachronistic edict—which I obeyed—was a classic episode in our complicated father-son relationship. A lot of kids would have ignored that kind of command, or only pretended to obey it. How would Dad have known? Most of the books in that study he’d never read himself. But not me—ever the martyr, I actually followed Dad’s rule and forced myself to plow through one of the boring books from the study, starting with the least boring and working my way in from there. Sherlock Holmes was one of the first to go, and then I had a miserable slog through House of the Seven Gables. That night in summer 1988, I was sitting on the back porch listening to KDWB and reading The Garden of Eloquence by Willard R. Espy.
A not-atypical moment from my strange childhood.
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