Built with the post-war levity for anything new, our ranch house in Elmhurst forgot all about a family room or a den or a jacuzzi. We did have a half-bath which we called the powder room and it was tinier than any jacuzzi I ever saw.
Instead, we had living-dining space that provided all the community activity a family of five could want, or could endure. Since Mom was musical and Dad liked that about her, it housed a Steinway baby grand piano. Opposite the piano corner was a corner more mobile, more experimental. Musically inclined objects swapped in and out like renters.
An organ was first occupant. It didn’t last. Sound meant to rock cathedral pews was out of place, pretentious, like a tiara lost in beanie-land. Its replacement, a stereo cabinet, was more successful, though less accessible. My two brothers and I were disallowed, forbidden, warned not to touch it, not to seek to touch it.
Thus it drew us like pins to a cushion. Since I couldn’t play it, I fiddled about with the record albums stored inside. I was introduced to male-female relations by “The King and I” cover: Deborah Kerr’s fine neck, swelling bodice and monumental skirt. Yul Brenner’s large hands and bare feet. They dance. They shimmer. Love.
Dad liked jazz and bought an album with a disappointing cover: lame trumpets and drummy stuff. But the title more than made up for it: “Solid and Raunchy.” I never heard it played since Mom was somehow affronted; but, Man, I understood jazz.
In a move only an eldest child dare take, my brother boldly slid his Kingston Trio; Peter, Paul & Mary; and The Lettermen albums into the cabinet. I never knew musicians were so scrubbed, so clean, so perky looking. This may explain my lifelong fascination with folk music.