Thursday, May 7, 2009

It's still raining

One of the first 45s* I ever bought -- and also one of the songs that tend to run through my head whenever I wake up to the sound of rainwater running off the eaves.

In retrospect, I'm not sure why I bothered to buy it when I'd been hearing it through the floor of my bedroom for months. At the time, my family was renting an apartment on the second floor of a building in Saxon, Wisconsin. Today the structure is a one-story place known as (the last time I checked) The Bear Trap, one of those typical smalltown Wisconsin taverns. Until the 1990s, though, it was two stories. It had probably begun as a hotel with a hallway running right down the middle of the building. At some point it was remodeled into apartments, 3 or 4 coldwater units that shared a bathroom, which did get hot water, thank goodness. For the approximately 5 years we lived there, most of the other apartments were unoccupied -- another thank goodness, or getting ready for school in the morning could have been a real headache.

When we moved in, I thought it was a huge improvement over the family's previous digs. We'd moved to Wisconsin in mid-winter because the Old Man had finagled a promotion to section foreman with the Chicago & Northwestern. Financially it was no doubt a big step up, but I don't recall us kids being too thrilled about it. The first place the Old Man found for us to live was in the middle of nowhere -- the former Kimball railroad depot. It was cold, it was drafty, heat was provided by a woefully inadequate oil-burning space heater, and plumbing consisted of the classic little brown shack out back. The biggest thing it had going for it, I assume, was it came furnished so my parents didn't have to worry about moving furniture back in the days before U-Haul. We had to walk up what felt like the world's longest driveway to get to the bus stop for school, and the closest neighbors all seemed to be retired farmers. Then when Spring arrived we discovered most of the local vegetation consisted of poison ivy, and the predominant fauna were woodticks. (Now that I think about it, it was like a dress rehearsal for visiting Arkansas.)

Moving into an apartment with steam heat and indoor plumbing was, of course, wonderful. And the fact there was a bar right under my bedroom with a jukebox blasting until late at night was a bonus. (Another insight: no wonder I was able to ignore my kids fighting once they got big enough to start annoying each other -- I'd already spent five years of my life tuning out much rowdier combatants.)

[*If you need to ask what a 45 is, you're too young to appreciate the Cascades.]


  1. I was in the Bear Trap last Saturday. It had a 'new owner' sign and I needed to check it out on the way back from kayaking Saxon Harbor. Let me assure you that even with new owners it still reminds me of the bar scene in the original Star Wars every time I walk in there. Those guys can't just wake up in the morning and get that way before heading out the door.

  2. It was that scene out of Star Wars back when it was Smitty's Tap/Smith's Tavern. Nice to know some things never change.

  3. i love the song..the first .45 i ever bought with my own money i earned was scarlet ribbons by harry belafonte..
    the second was blueberry hill by fats domino..

  4. What, no post from Zion? And I do know what a 45 is.

  5. I loved my 45's. I honestly can't remember what the first one I bought was...I had so many. As for "tuning" out the kids, my daughter is still amazed that I can do it. I keep telling her it is a talent!

  6. I loved my 45s, too. I still get nostalgic when I see those plastic inserts we used so we could put them on the console turntable.

    Your childhood story makes me realize just how pampered our kids are - heck, how pampered I was! I just took the 3 bedroom ranch with all the usual amenities for granted.

  7. Moving into an apartment with steam heat and indoor plumbing was, of course, wonderful...

    That would be hell to me, I just don't do apartments.

  8. I remember this song very well, and if I'm not mistaken I bought the 45 also. I got to be quite a sophisticated shopper when it came to records: the mom-and-pop music store in town sold singles for something like 89 cents, but if I rode my bicycle several miles to a discount store in the next town, you could buy them for 69 cents.

    So here's the question, though -- what the heck are they using to make that tinkly lead? A glockenspiel? It certainly is as inescapable a part of that song for me as the cloudburst noises.


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