The afternoon Dick Clark called me

Do you remember cliques from your high school days?   At Southwest High School in Kansas City, MO, where I grew up, the two main groups were the popular kids–athletes and cheerleaders and the cool kids–and the smart group.  I was part of the latter.  I was president of my literary society and feature editor of the school newspaper.  Sweet and nerdy.  

This is why when the faculty sponsor of the school newspaper asked me and my friend Betty to interview Dick Clark, I didn’t even know who he was.    I’d heard of American Bandstand but didn’t watch it.  For one thing, I didn’t find watching others dance very entertaining.  For another, I didn’t dance well at all.   Today I realize that’s because of my dyslexia–but I blame everything on my dyslexia.

Undaunted by a total lack of who the man was and what to ask him, Betty and I trotted off to a studio in uptown Kansas City.  Oh, Mr. Clark wasn’t going to be there in person.  They had an office set up with about twenty phone lines and two students from each high school in the area got to talk on a sort of party line.  Way back then, conferences calls hadn’t been invented.    The interview lasted about fifteen minutes.  I didn’t ask a single question nor did Betty.  Fortunately, the other students were far more hip than we were and had plenty of questions.  We took notes and wrote a nice story about the conversation that we’d listened to.

After that, I watched his dance show a few times.  I couldn’t pick up most of the dances but I did learn two.  If any dances required less talent or ability  than The Stroll or The Bristol Stomp, I don’t know what they could be, but I really grooved to those two.  

As I got older, I saw clips of the artists Clark introduced on American Bandstand.  The list is amazing, from Chubby Checker and Aretha Franklin to Jan and Dean.   Mr. Clark’s influence on American music is amazing and wide.  And, for fifteen minutes that afternoon, I was a tiny part of Americana.  

What do you remember from your youth?   Have you met a celebrity?  What groups do you remember from Bandstand?  Can you name the three rock icons–groups or solos–that didn’t appear?   

12 thoughts on “The afternoon Dick Clark called me

  1. Janie…It was 1956 and Holyrood just got the first Black/White TV in town. We had one and oh boy…a huge box affair. We got 2 fuzzy channels and TV10 out of Wichita KS where I go to watch American Bandstand with Dick Clark! AND…I so remember this: A very agressive mother in Holyrood pulled together a group to go to Wichita to be on TV. I was not included. Now granted, this daughter was younger than I and somehow, it really hurt. I probably buried that somewhere down inside as being too tall or nor being enough. I am happy to report I AM Enough. I will always remember the incident when Dick Clark comes up in conversation. God rest his beautiful Soul. Love you, Di

    1. Love those memories! I well remember fuzzy channel and little choice–but it was so exciting to have a television! You’ve always been enough, you gorgeous, funny friend with the incredible laugh! Thanks for commenting!

  2. How very cool, Jane!!!!!

    My guess is that the three that never appeared would be the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and Elvis. But that’s a total, off-the-cuff guess.

  3. The big ‘pop-culture’ moment I remember from my youth is when John Lennon died. As far as celebrity encounters, I’ve been in the same room as Ann Richards, Sandra Bullock, and Shelley Duval here in Austin (purely by accident). Kiddo is the big winner – she’s met both Hillary Clinton and President Obama (who was then candidate Obama – and he petted her dog in the park).

    1. I well remember when John Lennen died and the shock of that. You and your daughter and her dog certainly do get around! thanks for dropping in.

  4. I don’t remember much about American Bandstand. We lived in the sticks and only got one TV station, which didn’t carry AB. I’m with you Jane. I don’t really like to watch other people dance. I’d rather be doing the dancing. I still remember the year you wore your shoes that light up to the Harlequin party. Now those were dancing shoes. 🙂

    1. I was watching “What Not to Wear” a few years ago. The woman they were making over had shoes with flashing lights and they made her throw them awaty! Stacy and Clinton are no fun. I loved those shoes and LI writers remember them. Thanks for stopping by!

  5. I loved watching AB, even though I couldn’t dance like that. I have always been able to polka.

    As far as meeting someone famous. I was in the same room as Carl Malden (sp?), near where I lived in New Hampshire. There was a home that had plays outside in the summer and he was there for one of the plays. I cleaned for the family for several months and happened upon him as he was sitting in their kitchen.

    He used to be on the Streets of San Francisco with a younger man who was very good looking. He, the younger man, was my reason for watching the show.

    1. Odd that they never did polka on American Idol ; ) I could do that as well. The younger man who appeared with Karl Malden was Michael Douglas. He was heavier back then.

  6. I loved AB, both for the music and the dancing (and the cute girls). My mother loved to dance, and I always knew I would, too.

    As far as celebrities, my brother and I went to the only Beatles concert held in New Orleans. Quite a thrill in 1966. I’ve also been invited to Jane and George Perrine’s apartment for some whatchamacallit and cheese cake – more than once!

  7. I didn’t realize you liked rock ‘n roll–thought only zydeco (spelling?) I’m really impressed you saw the Beatles. You may have noticed I no longer serve cheesecake. Thanks for stopping by.

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