Wednesday, February 1, 2012


I picked up a job in June of 1977 as a lawn boy at a condominium neighborhood in the far west suburbs of Chicago. I'd roll out of bed around 7:00 a.m. and walk along abandoned railroad tracks - about 2 miles - to work.

I'd get there around 7:45 and my first duty everyday, before hauling out the lawn mower, was to skim the community swimming pool - ridding it of leaves and skittering bugs - as well as check the water's chlorine levels. Then I'd make sure the filter was in working order. All of this took about 20 minutes. After, I'd go into the pool clubhouse and grab a few winks on one of the community couches. If I'd had a few too many beers the night before, those few winks easily slid into hours.

When I'd wake up - hopefully by 10:00 a.m. or so, I'd go outside and make my way to the maintenance garage, fill the mower's tank with gas, drag it out to the driveway and fire it up.

The idea was to mow a half dozen lawns a day starting on Monday so that by the time Friday came, all 30 condo units looked crisp and clean. With the mowing, I had to bag the cut grass and edge along the sidewalks. It was hard physical labor.

I hated every minute of it.

By July 1st of 1977, my career as lawn boy was over. I was fired. But I became a free man in the suburbs where the rest of my summer days were spent languidly driving around, playing pinball, goofing off with a crew of buddies, going to the drive-in and drinking gallons of Pabst Blue Ribbon tall boys.

The drive-in - specifically the Skylark Drive-in Theater in Aurora, IL - was where I began my film education. It was there that we spent weeknights and weekends watching double features like:
The highlight of those drive-in goodies was seeing The Van multiple times. It was directed by Sam Grossman, and starred Stuart Goetz (who's currently a music editor in the movie business) and Danny DeVito. Promoted as "Fun-Truckin'!", the movie made a truck load of promises it couldn't keep. But that didn't matter - like the best cinema of 1977, it was beer-friendly.

And, best of all, its soundtrack included songs by Sammy Johns. The two songs featured were "Early Morning Love" and, of course, "Chevy Van."

No comments:

Post a Comment