Gary:”A new year, 1956 and I would turn 16 this year. I still worked as an usher at the Willow Theatre. I changed in September and got a new job working for the Post Office (part-time after school). Yes, I sorted mail by hand.
It was in this year, 1956 and through one of my class-mates Betty Mae Kalbfleisch, I would meet a person, one year older, who I would remain friends with until this day, Jack Beechey.
I think Jack and I met through a bowling team, but I am not sure. We would remain friends for a long time, through starting of the Willow Y Club, we car pooled when I had my first Job, but he would marry in 1961. I was then still single and he was married, so the relationship was not and could not be as close. We met through business in the 70’s & 80’s and I just received an email from him today, so we still talk. We had fun times, yes, we got into trouble together, but you know, good friends are hard to find so hang on to them.
In 1956 I still had trouble keeping girl friends, I was really into cars, music and girls, not necessarily in that order.
I learned not to get so many detentions at school, or basically to keep my mouth shut. I started to get more into High School life and also got into running dances. I was now a 16-year-old DJ, but in the coming year I would really be into it in a big way.
I wanted to get my driver’s license, so through my dad and a driving school, that was accomplished. I was still getting use to wearing a back brace to school.
My back brace was similar to the one above, but it had two steel rods that ran from bottom of the brace up the spine to my neck and two straps that looped over each arm for support. Yes, it was difficult to put up with it, but I was alive. I wore the brace from late 1955 to the fall of 1956.
I was making new friends and I hung out at a place called the Coffee Cup Restaurant. It had great Milk Shakes and a great Juke Box.
I cannot remember exactly what model it was, I know that it was not a Wurlitzer, but we were there every day feeding it 5 cents per song, or 6 songs for a Quarter.
I have an uncle “Leo” who is 9 months older than I am and we kinda grew up together. But in 1956 we had very different lives, even though we had been like brothers for the first 10 years of my life, things had changed drastically. Here I was, kinda disabled, and had no sex appeal with the back brace and Leo had quit school when he was just shy of his 16th Birthday, got a job sailing on the Great Lakes Shipping Vessels.
So, this is where the story gets interesting. Leo was a sailor, had a car, so when he sailed he left it at our house. I did not have a license but I did get one. I knew where his keys where and I put more miles on that car going up and down the driveway, to the end of the street, just to get gas, then back to the driveway and garage.
That’s one of the ways I learned to drive. The other one was a driving school, my dad tried, but it just never worked out. Leo always wondered where all the miles came from and just assumed that my dad used it and I did not correct anyone.
Pat Boone was still an influence so I bought and wore a pair of “White Bucks”. They had to be kept very white.
Now what exactly do I remember about 1956, that was not related to Music, Cars and Girls? Well not much, but this I remember:
1. The Swedish Liner “Stockholm” hits the Luxury Liner “Andrea Doria” off Nantucket. Neither vessel sinks immediately, but the Andrea Doria sinks days later with the loss of 52 people.
2. Heavyweight Boxing Champion, Rocky Marciano, retires undefeated.
I was starting to become more interested in Sports, including the High School Football Team.
1. World Series/ NY Yankees beat the Brooklyn Dodgers
2. NFL/NY Giants beat the Chicago Bears 47-7
3. The Montreal Canadiens win the Stanley Cup, beating the Detroit Red Wings.
I was still a big Movie fan. Besides, that is where I took my dates. This was the year that the major studios began movie productions that were like live performances, with an intermission half way through the movie.
1. The Best Picture was “Around the World in 80 Days”
2. Best Actress/ Ingrid Bergman/ Anastasia
3. Best Actor/ Yul Brynner/ The King and I
4. The Best Rock and Roll Movie of the Year was “The Girl Can’t Help It”
5. The Screen Debut of Elvis in “Love Me Tender”
New on Television in 1956:
3. Gunsmoke /
The Cars from 1956: (not all of them)
1. 1956 Chevrolet (internet and mine)
2. 1956 Ford Crown Victoria
3. 1956 Corvette
4. 1956 Ford Thunderbird
5. 1956 Plymouth Fury
6. 1956 Oldsmobile Rocket 88
7. 1956 Mercury Montclair
8. 1956 Desoto Adventurer
9. 1956 Cadillac Coupe De Ville
Debut Rock Artists of 1956
Now to my way of thinking this would be “The Year” for Elvis. He no longer could walk on the street. He would become the biggest recording artist in the World. Why the explosion?.., partly Col Tom Parker, but, in my opinion, TELEVISION.
I think his world would be changed forever just by being on TV. I do remember “every” TV appearance and every teenager was glued to the Black and White TV.
21. Love, Love, Love / The Clovers
22. Ain’t Got No Home / Clarence “Frogman” Henry
24. The Fool / Sanford Clark
I am well aware that anyone who reads this from my era, will be very critical of the music I have omitted. I really do understand your concern but there is just so much time and space. I will do this for my critics. For the first time in history, the top three billboard songs of the year, were Elvis. So here is a little bit of what I left out.
Elvis Hits of 1956:
- March/ Heartbreak Hotel / I was the One
- April / Blue Suede Shoes
- May / I want you, I need you, I love you / My Baby Left Me
- September / Blue Moon
- October / Love Me Tender / Anyway You Want Me
- December / Old Shep
Hits I just did not have the Room for:
- February: Bo Weevil / Fats Domino
- March: Church Bells May Ring / The Willows / R-O-C-K Rock / Bill Haley / The Magic Touch / The Platters
- April: I want you to be my Girl / Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers / The Wayward Wind / Gogi Grant
- May: Church Bells May Ring / The Diamonds / I Almost Lost My Mine / Pat Boone / Ruby Baby / The Drifters
- June: Boppin’ the Blues / Carl Perkins / Ka-Ding-Dong / The G-Clefs / My Prayer / The Platters / Transfusion / Nervous Norvus
- July: Fever / Little Willie John / The Fool / Sanford Clark / Rip it Up & Reddy Teddy / Little Richard and the Upsetters / Stranded in the Jungle / The Cadets /
- August: Just Walkin’ in the Rain / Johnny Ray / Tonight You Belong to Me / Patience & Prudence
- October: The Green Door / Jim Lowe / Jamaica Farwell / Harry Belafonte / Too Much Monkey Business & Brown Eyed Handsome Man / Chuck Berry
- November: I Feel Good / Shirley and Lee / I put a spell on You / Screamin’ Jay Hawkins / A Rose and a Baby Ruth / George Hamilton the IV / Slow Walk / Sil Austin / Ain’t Got No Home / Clarence “Frogman” Henry /