May 16, 2011
This is a new kind of writing for me and quite a bit more personal. Let's see if I can get through it. I had just turned 16. It was the summer of 1957. Had me a little summer job as a soda jerk in my small Rockwellian town of Adrian, Michigan. Had all the boyfriends a girl could ever want and a Mama going crazy, praying I would settle down. She was getting mixed up with names and my Dad was projecting his crazy days and passed onto everyone of the boys who called on me. Yes, in those days the boys did call on you at your home.
It was that summer that I began dating older guys; some had just graduated high school and were getting ready for college or the military...or in the case of Mack Vickery (the person I'm focusing on in this blog) heading for Nashville .. or was it Memphis? Anyway, he was a singer. He was a poet. He was beautiful. He was charming. A football player. A true southern gentleman from Alabama.
There are few people I've met who have made me feel like I was the ONLY ONE. He was that boy.
|This is Mack|
To me, he sounded better than Elvis Presley. And he sang to me. That's how boys like that steal your heart. He didn't leave out those spiritual songs my mother loved when he was at our home. My dad even liked him. My brother hid on the stair steps listening...probably because I had threatened him with his life...fearing he would say something a typical little brother of 10 would say to his big sister's boyfriend...or at least that's what he would call it. He really wasn't my boyfriend. He was a boy I saw a few times a week for a month or two. My sister was two years younger than I and she was always in awe and fell in love with all my boys. Mack was no exception, He sang to her and teased her.
Wherever we went, girls were always there coming up to him.. especially if we were at an event where Mack was performing. I'm remembering a couple of nearby music pavilions and I may as well have not been there. We swam, we talked lots, he taught me to drive (his dad's) stick shift. I stripped the gears. He was so gentle about that. His mother had died when he was 3 or 4 and his dad had raised Mack and as I recall many other siblings. He had moved quite a bit. So had I and we were both southern-born and kids of 'no means'. I think that means we were pretty poor and unless we did it ourselves - we would remain there.
How did I fail to tell you when I was on the subject of the activities we participated in that summer that the drive-in theatre aka passion pit was what we did the most. It was the 50's...everyone did that! At least that's what I told Mother and Daddy.
One of the reasons I am writing about this very personal account of my life is....yesterday I googled Mack. I wanted to see what he looked like as a grown man. I wondered if any of his songs would be on you tube. They were. My aunt had sent me his obituary when he died at age 66. That was in 2004. I knew some things about his life...after he left for Nashville. He'd had more success as a songwriter than as a singer. Google him to find out just how many artists recorded his songs...from Willy Nelson to Tanya Tucker to Waylon Jennings to Johnny Cash, etc.... When I read his lyrics about drive-in movies, I laughed and began my process of that time in my life.
By all accounts, he had led a hard life, had a few marriages, had a few kids, lots of drinking and drugs. In 1976, I lived in South Lake Tahoe and had a little store there. A store that many of the performing artists would stop by on their way to the Nevada side of the clubs. Yes, we had some paraphernalia in that little store...and Yes, it was that kind ... it was the 70's!
A couple from Nashville came in one afternoon and I mentioned that a long time ago I knew this small-town boy who had gone to Nashville to knock em dead. They knew him and told me what a talent he was and how his demons were keeping him from his art. I gave them a note to give to Mack. It simply said...from Pat Raines...probably the only one of your girls that 'got away'. I may have put my phone number in the note. I don't remember. I never heard from him and hadn't thought at the time I would.
Even with the many "passion pit" visits, I did indeed get away. My life could have been very different. I found out later he was seeing several different girls; one of whom was carrying his first child. Her name was also Pat. There were lots of us in those days. Now that is my memory. If that is not so I apologize to anyone who may have a different account.
He did teach me a lot. Especially kissing...there were a few other minor "petting" activities. Unfortunately kids today may not even know about that word. I think that's an important part of growing up and it is sad that some go right in for the home run and don't go from base to base. In 7th or 8th grade I began holding hands with the opposite sex at church camp. On hayrides I quick-kissed a few of the opposite sex...it was all a sweet process. In 9th grade I had my first boyfriend and we danced a lot, held hands a lot, went everywhere and I learned to long-kiss....then came Mack and there was that next base. It was all so honest and so sweet. Mack never disrespected me in any way. He simply knew I would never go beyond certain boundaries. I've wondered to this day, if, it was because I dated Mack and other older boys found out, that many of them asked me out because they may have assumed I was someone I was not. (Please don't try to diagram that sentence). Does that make sense? It also could have been because I was nice and funny and smart and pretty good looking. Guess I'll never know but I wouldn't change a thing.