21 October 2020

Ellis Millsaps: I Remember, Mama

 I remember the hula hoop. I mean I remember when the hula hoop became a craze in 1958. I was in the first grade. Hula hoop contests were a big thing, something like the dance marathons of the 1930s. I never entered one because I have never been able to keep the thing going. Only recently did it occur to me that the hoop had anything to do with the hula, because when I first heard of the toy I had not heard of the dance.

 I remember Sputnik. I remember standing in the backyard with my brother-in-law Jack Bryson and my nephew David when he pointed out the star slowly moving across the clear night sky-- we had them in the 1950s-- and told us what it was. I was five years old.

 I remember Pittsburgh Pirate Bill Mazeroski’s home run in the bottom of the ninth to beat the Yankees in the 1960 World Series, still the only World Series 7th game walk-off homer, though the term hadn't been coined then. Games were played in the daytime then. Holly Springs Elementary School principal Mr. Settles let all eight grades out of class early to watch the game in the lunchroom. I was in the third grade. That happened sixty years ago tomorrow as I write, October 13, 1960.

 I remember when I could safely eat in a restaurant and nice young people would bring me food and drink at my request. Man, that was awesome.

I remember Cool Swap which for those of you who don't know was an outstanding Newton County rock band formed around guitarist Marshall McCart in I think 2005. They practiced at my house for years. I contributed a little to songwriting and production. They had a successful reunion show at Five O’clock last year but got no further because…

 I remember live music. We don't have it anymore in the Covid era which doesn't appear to me to be ending anytime soon. I said in an earlier piece that the things that have kept Americans constant during times of crisis are baseball and popular music. We've come through pretty well on baseball but we can't hear live music.

 Here's how I think we could do it. Shows will have to be outdoors, say at the fairgrounds or the Porterdale River Park. The audience needs to be roped off at a safe distance from the performers. Attendees should wear masks and be admitted in a small enough number to permit social distancing.

 Practices can't safely happen in the basement anymore. They also need to be held outdoors or in rooms large enough and ventilated enough to safely separate the musicians. Larger churches would be ideal. ( Baptists for Rock?) The Porterdale gym would be perfect.

- Ellis Millsaps