We continue taking a glimpse into Paul's early life with his parents. You can read the entire beginning of my novel here.
I mostly listened to songs that were on a new radio program called American Top 40 with Casey Kasem. These songs were lighter than things like Led Zeppelin and Kiss and were tolerated by my mom and dad on Saturday mornings, although I frequently caught them looking at each other hesitantly like they were ashamed at kind of liking an occasional “long-distance dedication” track or something by Bread.
John and Anna Andrews, ironically, met and bonded over a rock song. It sounds cheesy now, but they were at the ice cream shop when one of the rowdier kids at Papersville High ventured to play a brand-new song in the jukebox called “It’s All Right (Mama)” by a still virtually unknown Elvis Presley. Nearly all of the kids in the store got up from their soda pops and started dancing. John quickly saw the pretty girl in the pink dress still sitting shyly at her booth and leaped over to ask her to dance. Turned out she was pretty fancy in her feet. He got her name and asked her to the senior dance. She accepted, even though it turned out that she was still a year away from being in high school. The same Elvis song got played again about halfway through the senior dance, which, although they’ve never admitted it to me, may have sealed the deal on their lifelong friendship and love for each other.
One time I got my mom to go as far as to say, “Elvis was pretty exciting to hear when I was 13.” Of which my dad quickly added, “Even if he was in the minor leagues compared to the top crooners.”
Anyway, I guess Elvis put enough jump in their juices to have me a few years later. But he didn’t put enough in to supply me with any brothers and sisters. My dad’s rationale always was, pretty astutely, that there just wouldn’t be enough of a life in Papersville for more than one Andrews’ offspring. At the time, in 1956, the town was thriving by the standards of most others in the region. But he must have seen even then that New York City and other big towns would lure future generations to megalopolises of opportunity rather than ones like ours with choices limited to papering, record pressing, bartending, or lawn mowing.