That distinctive aroma of gravy and turkey spun its way around the corner of our old kitchen into a small dining room. A traditional Thankgiving meal was almost on the way. Mom, of course, would be the last to arrive at a table with an informally placed, odd selection of chairs seating a similarly odd hodgepodge of family members.
A typical family holiday. Mom insisting that everyone be seated before she sat down. Dad fussing over something of which we had no idea. Perhaps a fondue pot in the center of the table surrounded by dark green vegetable trays on top of a brown, yellow, and orange table cloth all set the tone for a 70’s Thanksgiving feast.
This particular year was different, however. Aside from all the normal scuffle-abouts, the children among us – myself included – were pre-instructed to be on our best behavior, if possible. My Uncle John was bringing a special guest home for the holiday .. a friend of his … a gentleman singer/associate he met while both sang as members of the elite US Army Chorus.
I don’t recall the specific year, however, I do remember where I sat and the specific quote. “Keep an eye on him,” Uncle John said, “…he’s going to be a big star some day and go places!”
Clint Holmes went on to be a major headliner in Vegas – and is to this day.
I can’t really wrap my mind around sitting next to him that Thanksgiving day fifty years ago. Only a few feet away sat a young man in a very humble house, in Hollidaysburg. His life unfolded in quite a magnificent way. Uncle John nailed it.
The other day, this picture roused up that memory.
“Playground in my Mind” was released in 1972. The Clint Holmes recording became one of his all-time biggest hits. I listened to the record over, and over, … and … over. “Where the children laugh and the children play / And we sing a song all day” are my favorite lyrics in this wonderful song. Doesn’t this picture speak that magic?
Kiddo magic – running into a playground to laugh, play, imagine, and dream. We forget, as astutely mature ones, what it was like to be inquisitive … to run into mysteriously fun places to touch a universe of unknowns, or examine tiny fascinations.
Look at these two little ones. If they could fly, they would. One foot off the ground and the other toe-tapping a ground barely in existence under their joyous toddler beings. Beyond the covered bridge is a magnificent playground in their mind … just as Clint Holmes loved and sang in his mind a half century ago.
I am so honored to span the generations with music. The power of music holding hands with memories is spectacular. In so many ways, we are connected – variations of words, music, and spirit.
In no small way, two little ones helped me re-live a memory I haven’t experienced in decades. Also, they reminded me to skip a bit easier through the challenging covered bridges in life.
As Clint sang, maybe try, “Living in a world I left behind…” once in a while.
It is a fantastic song. Look it up and dare to pass through the troubles in a moment’s time to experience a happy, giggling, peaceful, generational playground in your mind.
Those two above, and Clint, would have it no other way.