Concerts weren’t one man or woman shows in the 60s. They were produced and or hosted by people like Allan Freed, Murray the K, or Jocko. When you went to a Rock N Roll show you were guaranteed to see at least ten to fifteen acts; all performing more than one song. How you purchased a ticket to one of these extravaganzas was you got yourself to the Brooklyn Paramount about two hours before the doors opened, stood on a humongous line, and when it was your turn paid $5.00 to gain entrance.
So having heard there was to be an Allan Freed show on a particular day, Susan and I cut school, took the subway to DeKalb Avenue in Brooklyn and walked to the theater. We had no idea where we were going and got there by pure luck. When we arrived we gave no thought to the fact that there were about a thousand teens and adults already online and that all these teens had probably cut school too.
The atmosphere was more than electric. It was so exciting. Among the performing artists there was going to be, the Supremes, the Shirelles, Brenda Lee, The Five Satins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Rivers, the Champs, Little Anthony, and so many others.
We got great seats in the balcony about two rows back, and didn’t have to wait long for the theater to fill. In no time at all Allan Freed took the stage and introduced the first act. One after the other they came on stage and the songs grew from mellow to Jerry Lee’s fevered pitch with Great Balls of Fire. Everyone was on their feet gyrating and dancing in the rows and on the steps. Screaming and singing. The blood was rushing through your veins. I remember reading the next day that the balcony actually swung about two feet and if the performance hadn’t come to an end right when it did they would have evacuated the building.
You wouldn’t believe it but the crowd streamed out of the Paramount in an orderly fashion everyone in high mood still singing and dancing. Susan and I got about a block from the theater and just stood on the corner trying to figure out just what way was the subway entrance. Luckily a white, ’61 impala, convertible, with red leather interior (I will never in my life forget that car) pulled to the curb. Two guys in their early twenties asked where we were going. Having no fear, and no sense, we jumped right in when they offered us a ride back to Harlem. I got the front seat with the driver, Frankie, and Susan got in the back with Blankie (no kidding that was the name he gave). Both of them had slight Italian accents and Frankie was so handsome and slick and really nice. Susan wasn’t as lucky with Blankie, he was an octopus and she wrestled him all the way home. For me it was a great ride.
About a month later I was hanging on 111th Street with a bunch of people when that impala pulled up. No mistaking it. I saw Frankie get out wearing a white cashmere coat, and enter a building. Apparently he was picking up his date, who turned out to be the older sister of a boy I was dating at the time. I didn’t bother saying I knew him. Who would believe it? The fellows I was currently with were all drooling over the car. The other girls were all abuzz about the hunk in the cashmere coat.
It must have been about a half hour later when Frankie emerged from the building with Dorothy, the older sister. This time he saw me standing in the group. I was as surprised as everyone else when he left her side to come to me. He took my face in his hands and kissed me right there in front of all. Frankie asked how I was, and how happy he was to have run into me. Then he excused himself, as he had a date waiting. Dorothy was standing there with her mouth hanging wide open. Not her best look. She had always been a real snot to the younger girls. My knight in cashmere armor opened the car door for her, and they sped away.
Forty years later – Thank you Frankie!