With the Summer Season not far off, lately our minds have been wandering back to those heady Summer days, growing up in So. California in the 1960’s, when it was de rigueur to endure the relentless Sun on the beaches of Malibu and Santa Monica “Surfin” listening to music (Ah, the music! ) and watching the girls shimmering in oil and sporting Bikini’s that covered little else! However last week we ran into an old friend from The East Coast and started talking about our mutual experiences of Summer in the 1960’s Our friend shared his unique experience of spending his Summers on the East Coast, specifically “Old Cape Cod.” His experience held all the same romance, adventure and music as our memories, But, of course 3000 miles from Southern Calif! Naturally, we had to invite him to SMS to share his story and memories of his Summers in the 60’s On Old Cape Cod! So, without any further delay, here is our friend and this week’s special guest Blogger!
Jimmy Ray Flynn is an artist, who originally hails from the GREAT city of Boston, where the three most important things in people’s lives are, Sports, Politics and Revenge. Jimmy has a great story to share, so please join us in welcoming Jimmy to SMS!
In the summer of 1960, my grandfather, the late GREAT Jim O’Brien did something very COOL. He bought our family a cottage, in the town of Dennisport MA, down on Old Cape Cod. This generous gift allowed my parents, three brothers and I the opportunity to escape the brutal Boston summer heat and humidity to travel a mere ninety miles south to our Nantucket Sound hideaway. JILAJAJO was the name that we came up with for our cozy little place. JI for Jimmy. LA for Larry. JA for Jackie. And JO for Joe. The Four Boys. Perfect. Sandy beaches with salt air breezes were located within a short walking distance down a funky dirt Birch Hill Road. The gulf stream of the Atlantic provided us with an ocean of sheer enjoyment at which to cure our summertime blues.
Something else that made our summers a bit more cool… JILAJAJO was just a stones throw from a place called Seaview Playland (in past years it was a farm) and The Barn of Fun.
Now for us kids, this was truly a slice of heaven on earth. The Barn was an arcade full of all kinds of machines. Pinball, metal disc bowling, skee ball, mechanical rifle shooting (mostly bear and deer) a simulated driving test, a gypsy fortune teller and the BEST jukebox you ever heard.
One of the owners of The Barn was a character named Jack (who along with his mother Gladys and brothers Tucker and Petey ran the place). Jack, who kinda looked like the love child of Buddy Holly and James Dean, would make sure the wicked Seeburg Select -O- Matic was stocked with the cream of the record crop. Over the many summers that we hung out there the jukebox always had plenty of Beatles, Stones, DC5, Animals, Supremes and other Rock / R&B tunes blasting from it’s glorious speaker cabinet. I do recall, however, every now and then Jack slipping in something new that would practically rip my ear off.
Like this one. The Guess Who “Shakin’ All Over”
So many different kinds of music.
I will never forget the first time I heard the Righteous Brothers “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'” come outta that box. The combination of Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield’s blue eyed soul produced by the MIGHTY Phil Spector was something on another level. The ethereal orchestrations combined with powerful bass lines and an echo chamber to boot were majestic. The Wall of Sound. I had no idea how truly AMAZING these artists were back then. Legends, who would soon take their proper place in music history.
I gotta say, for this boy, there was nothin’ like bangin’ up against my favorite machine (“Hong Kong”) being extra careful as not to “tilt” while Inez & Foxx belted out “Mockingbird”
Pinball and Music. Music and Pinball. The best of both worlds.
Popping another dime into a different machine maybe I’d get lucky and rack up a couple of free games. Wait for the click!. REPLAY. Before I knew it I was in a masterful groove with “Pipeline” by The Chantays all the while that tiny silver ball was everywhere hitting flippers and bumpers racking up yet another big score. Life was good.
I was thinking about one of the first songs that I ever heard when I walked into The Barn. A little number by The Safaris “Surfer Joe” The B-Side of “Wipe Out” (Or the A-Side depending upon who you talk too).
Funny how these things have stayed with me over the years. The music of my youth. FOREVER. In my bones. My soul.
I remember the excitement at the time. The lights, the colors of the pinball machines that made them look like works of art. All the sounds throughout the Barn most especially the music. Jack was always giving us quarters to play his favorite 45’s. Bobby Moore and the Rhythm Aces “Searching for My Baby” Gene Pitney, “It Hurts To Be In Love” then outta left field comes little Millie Small and “My Boy Lollipop” Over the course of the summer we must have heard these records a thousand times.
Yeah, Jack was a cool cat. A real music lover, who would pass his joy onto me and my brothers. So many monster records I can recall. The Beatles “There’s a Place” The Rolling Stones “Satisfaction” Martha and The Vandellas “Heatwave” BJ Thomas “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” Arthur Conley “Sweet Soul Music” The Beach Boys “I Get Around” just to name a few.
Truth be told, we couldn’t always be at The Barn (we more than made up for it on rainy days and summer nights). On sunny days my brothers and I would be with our friends, on the beach, soaking up the sunshine, laying on our 007 towels while getting our Coppertone tans. For hours we’d stay in the salt water until our lips turned purple. Drove our poor mother crazy! We loved the Cape Cod life. And, let us not forget THE GIRLS! Drive-In Movies. It was a magical transformational time in our lives, indeed.
With each passing summer, as my brothers and I got older, we were like kings at The Barn. We practically ran the joint. Jack would give us little part time jobs to make a few bucks. Taking care of the Par 3 Golf Course or running the paddle boats or batting cages. Sometimes we would work in the snack bar. It felt good. We were really lucky to have had those experiences along with family and friends.
Yeah, my grandfather was special. Old school. Salt of the earth. I am eternally grateful to him for the adventures my brothers and I had on Cape Cod. To which I’ll leave you with one of my all time favorite summer songs from the one and only Nat King Cole.
Thanks for allowing me to share some sweet sixties summer memories.
SMS SEZ: If you’re interested in seeing and hearing more from Jimmy Ray Flynn, and we highly recommend that you do, here’s a link to his incredible Instagram page