Thursday, July 25, 2013


Surely by 1967, the year I turned four, I was starting to develop personality traits that were identifiably "Galen". I don't know what those traits were, but I'm quite sure I still have them.

So what was my life like? How did I spend my days? Other than my immediate family, I know the Russos were an important part of my childhood. Dorothy Ann Russo, my "adopted grandmother", remained a friend and confidant until she died a few years ago. Her husband Remo was also a delight to my brother and me, dropping trails of uninflated balloons around the house, while swearing that he wasn't doing it.

I am named after the Russo's son Galen, who died at the age of 19 the year before I was born. My parents asked Remo, an artist, to build a retaining wall behind our house. He made it quite an elaborate affair, with lights, stereo speakers, and a birdbath, all molded from concrete. He built the wall almost entirely single-handedly. I'm not sure when it was completed. But many years afterwards, when I was around 12, I discovered that Remo, unbeknownst to anyone, had scratched "Galen 1962" into the concrete on one end. So for him, the wall was a memorial for his son.

By 1967 my brother David and I had probably already discovered the Batman TV series, and dressed up in Batman and Robin costumes my mother made for us.

For holidays, we would visit my father's parents in Chattanooga, and my mother's mother in Lebanon.

These are the main influences and events I can remember!

Looking at the cultural scene, the Beatles had a huge year in 1967, with the release of Sgt. Pepper, the "All You Need is Love" single, and Magical Mystery Tour. It's also notable that Disney's The Jungle Book premiered. I have vague memories of seeing it in a movie if I'm right about seeing the re-release of Mary Poppins in 1966, then Jungle Book might be the second movie I ever saw.

And Bert Lahr died. For a while there, he was my chief performing inspiration. I used to practice making faces like his in the mirror.

No comments:

Post a Comment