D is for Dion, the Dave Clark Five and Dancing to Dick Clark. Fourth of 26 posts in the April 2021 Blogging From #AtoZChallenge. Theme: “Endwell: My Early Teen Years”— adding my story to the family history mix. Please join me on the journey.
My early teen crushes weren’t just local Endwell boys. My diary was also populated with rock, pop and soul singers or band members that I regularly fell in and out of love with.
I break up with Dion
My first heartthrob was Dion, who went solo in the early 1960s after leaving the Belmonts. I tacked his photos all over the walls of my bedroom’s radio alcove and carefully saved my babysitting money to buy his “Runaround Sue” and “Lovers Who Wander” albums — both of which I still have!
Yet even my teen celebrity crushes were fleeting — here today, gone tomorrow, dispensed with in my diary as new infatuations arose.
May 20, 1963. I don’t like Dion anymore…he’s getting married! May 19, 1964. Dion!! That’s a laugh!!! [arrow to 1963 entry.]
I take up with Dave Clark
Truthfully, Dion never stood a chance. By 1964, when I turned 14, the British Invasion of pop groups had begun — the dawning of a counterculture that would burst my generation out of the straight-laced 1950s.
The Beatles are now seen as leaders of this invasion — but when it began, the Dave Clark Five were considered their rivals in teen magazines like Sixteen and Big Beat.
According to my diary, I really liked Dave Clark and his band — whose first album “Glad All Over” I also still have.
March 15, 1964. The Dave Clark Five are beautiful!! I screamed like mad when I heard them sing! They’re way better than the Beatles. I think they’re GORGEOUS.
A fan club is born
And I was not alone. Some of my Junior High girlfriends also sided with the Dave Clark Five in the rivalry — and pretty soon I logged plans in my diary to start a Dave Clark Five Fan Club.
April 26, 1964. I’m starting a DC5 fan club as soon as I get Dave’s address! April 27, 1964. Jackie and I are going to start a nationwide DC5 fan club! April 28, 1964. Our fan club is working out GREAT! I’ll get Gramps to print fan club cards! We’re gonna send to Dave for pics! And send our addresses to 16 Mag. and others to print.
From there, the Dave Clark Five Fan Club took off. My grandfather, who worked at a printing company, came through with the cards — and Jackie and I got busy signing and distributing them.
May 10, 1964. Gramps printed 6,000 DC5 Fan Club cards!! Jackie-n-I laughed so hard it wasn’t funny! May 12, 1964. Gave out 200 cards in school! June 2, 1964. Wrote a letter to Teen Topics [on] Sat! [a local newspaper column] They just called me and asked if they could use my name when they print it! June 3, 1964. Sent fan club cards to the guys at Teen Topics! June 9, 1964. Everybody read my article in the paper! [which also plugged the fan club.]
I learn and grow
But why settle for just Endwell publicity? I got our DC5 fan club announced on an Albany, N.Y., pop radio station near my grandparents’ house — and soon got letters from two girls, Bobbie and Marty from Burnt Hills, N.Y., who I corresponded with for years and even met once at a Schenectady record shop.
Emboldened by this success, I wrote to Epic Records — and got a card back from them making us an official DC5 fan club!
That prompted me to write to Big Beat magazine asking to be a teen correspondent — but alas, they turned me down.
Still, bit by bit, our Dave Clark Five Fan Club helped me learn and grow in my early teens in new and exciting ways — and with that came a new perspective.
June 22, 1964. I love Dave Clark, but I’m over the screaming stages!
Dancing to Dick Clark
Of course there was one more Clark who served as a daily inspiration in my early teens — that was Dick Clark, whose program American Bandstand aired on TV at 4 p.m. First thing after school, I’d change into cutoffs and a T-shirt and head down the basement to watch the dance show — sometimes inviting girlfriends over, too.
In the middle of our rec room was a round, metal upright pole that supported the house beams. With a bathrobe belt tied around it, that pole made a perfect “dance partner” for practice.
That’s how I learned couples dances like the Jitterbug, the Lindy Hop and the Cha Cha — swinging out and turning under the terrycloth belt as I followed along with the Philadelphia teens dancing onscreen to Top 40 hits.
Up next: E is for Edgar Allen Poe and the willow tree. Please leave a comment, then join me as Endwell: My Early Teen Years unfolds one letter at a time!
© 2021 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.