Tuesday, June 21, 2016

A Poem about Mentor Headlands in the Summer of 1964

Lucky (Stones) at Mentor Headlands (1964)

Got my driver’s license a week after June 11th,
borrowed Dad’s ‘59 Pontiac Catalina, big as an ocean liner,
and headed down Lake Shore Boulevard to Headlands.

The drive in mid June is wonderful, windows down,
“Cathy’s Clown” blaring from WIXY 1260,
Everly Brother’s in their perfect blood harmony.

My brother Denny and my buddies are singing raucously along.
We think we’re big deals, going into junior year of high school,
hormones boiling, but a Catholic straightjacket firmly over everything.

We get to Corduroy Road, then north past the Marsh
and east to the park. Hundreds, maybe thousands of cars
parked there, the hottest day of the year.

We hit the broad beach, burning like coals,
and hot-foot it across the sand towards the lake.
Half-naked bodies everywhere. We’re not in Catholic school any more!

The smell the wonderful smell everywhere, sweat and tanning lotion,
coconut, Coppertone, and towels cheek to jowl on the sand.
Transistor radios, tuned to WIXY and WHK, “color radio,” whatever that means!

We run into the lake, and the contrast with the sand is astonishing!
The lake is freezing cold, the sand too hot! But we are 16
and don’t give a good goddamn. We are 16,

Walk the beach toward the Fairport Lighthouse,
pick up luckystones and polished beach glass,
wish the impossible, that we could get lucky,

with the beautiful girls sunning on the beach!
The music is changing this year, Gerry and the Pacemakers,
Peter and Gordon, “Love Me Do,” side by side

with “Chapel of Love” and “Girl from Ipanema.”
Headlands is no Ipanema, Mentor no Rio de Janeiro,
but we are 16, Kings of the Beach, and happy to be here!

[Bob Coughlin / April 3, 2014]

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