6 Guys Tell You
Ever get the feeling you’d like nothing better than to spend one whole afternoon doing nothing but recalling the funny things that’ve happened to you? Well, ever since we decided to move to a new house, Bobbie has been after me to dig out that old cardboard box and go through the Clark Collection of Valuable Souvenirs. That’s what I call it. Bobbie has another word—I believe it is spelled J-u-n-k.
So, one Sunday afternoon, I decided to sit down on the living-room floor and sort out what wanted to take with me, tearfully discarding the rest. My intentions were honest, but I’m afraid I just couldn’t find anything that shouldn’t go with me. One issue of the A. B. Davis High School paper, for instance, had a story about a dance that meant a lot to me. Another issue of Syracuse University’s “Daily Orange” told about a dance I’d rather forget. (That’s the time I knocked a bottle of soda off the table and into the lap of a young lady I was trying to impress. I sure impressed her—right out of my life.)
Then I came across a certain card that ended whatever good intentions for working I’d had. It was about two inches deep and about four wide, and all the printing it had was “Admit Two.” But after so many years, it still held an awful lot of meaning for me. The two admitted were me and my first date, and a high-school play was the occasion.
You know, sometimes that first date business is a tough one to narrow down. For instance, I can dimly remember the day when a little neighbor girl and I played tag for two blocks on our way to a party, when we were about seven. That might have been a date of sorts, but it wasn’t the “asking” kind. You know what I mean—the time when a fellow really comes right out and says, “Will you go to such-and-such with me?” Wow! What a feeling. Girls, don’t tell me it’s anything like the way you feel when you’re the one who’s being invited. It can’t be. You have to know what a guy goes through in order to understand it. For days—even weeks— he’ll walk around doing anything to postpone coming out in the open with that one little question he’s dying to pop.
For me, it was even tougher, I think, and Mom was in on it. We all were being urged to support school activities, and when the play came up, Mom thought it would be a good idea to get tickets. Me too. I figured we could all go together. Boy, was I in the dark! When I came home with the tickets in my pocket, all set for a swell time at the show, I found I was the only one in the family who wasn’t tied up that night, so what was | to do with the extra seats? “Oh. no trouble there,” Mom smiled. “Why not ask one of the girls in your class to go with you? She might like to see the show.”
It was my first year in high school, and the few girls I knew didn’t seem too interested in anybody but the football captain. Well, it was worth a try and I’d see what I could do about it . . . tomorrow. And then another tomorrow . . . and another . . .
“Dickie, did you get a date yet for the show?” Mom asked.
“I’m working on it,” I told her. “I should have an answer tomorrow.”
That’s right, I should—and in order to get that answer, I’d better ask tonight. Well, I studied history, math, the telephone book, the old magazines in the rack, anything to keep from going near the phone. Every time it rang, I’d hope it was some aunt or uncle inviting me over on the date-night. But no soap. Finally, about eighty-thirty, when the folks were busy in other rooms, I managed to get up enough will-power to start dialing. Halfway through, Dad came in looking for a magazine, and I hung up rather clumsily. I must’ve looked guilty, because he grinned at me knowingly and went back into the kitchen.
At last, I decided they could parade the entire high-school band straight through the living room, along with the ones from the local American Legion and V.F.W. posts, but I’d still have to make that call.
Maybe one of the reasons for my slight (?) case of jitters was that I didn’t know if the girl I’d decided to call would even recognize the name Dick Clark. I’d sat near her in class for all of two months, and even though we’d smiled and said hello every day, I was still shy enough to think she might crush me with a “Dick who? Sorry, you must have the wrong number.”
Still, she seemed to have a friendly personality, and I somehow felt she’d be an ideal companion for one scared fellow on his first date.
Sure enough, when she answered the phone she sounded just as pleasant as I’d imagined (hoped and prayed, too) she would be. Just my luck, I thought as we began talking, she’s probably got a date. No, she hadn’t, and of course she’d like to see the show. She loved shows, and it should be fun to see the people we knew in school parading around as other people on the stage. While the perspiration formed under my collar (it was November), we talked on and on about nothing . . . absolutely nothing. But the date was made, and you can’t know how great I felt. I’d broken the ice . . . without any help. A push? Sure, but in the end I’d done it myself. This was the first . . . the toughest . . . and look how easy it was, I told myself as I put the receiver back on the hook.
When I went back to join the family I was almost strutting like a peacock. Dad was still grinning. “I’ll bet you’ve got a date for the show,” he said.
“Sure,” I replied, “how’d you know?”
My mother interrupted here. “It’s very easy for your father,” she told me. “He just has a way of reading faces. And, son, it’s written all over yours.”
It was quite a night for me, and I guess I turned and tossed in bed for at least an hour, running through the details again, and maybe that’s why the making of my first date is still so vivid in my mind. The rest of the event’s kind of hazy, although I do remember I enjoyed the date better than the play.
I thought my own ordeal was just about the greatest until I heard from Duane Eddy. I was telling him about some of the things I’d dragged up in my souvenir searching, and it started him off about his first date in Arizona. Duane was born up in Corning, New York, and when he reached his teens the family moved out to Arizona. It was the start of a new life for Duane, and new friends, of course, went with it.
It isn’t easy to move right in with a new crowd of fellows and girls, and take up right where you left off with your old gang. “They all seemed real friendly,” Duane told me, “and they’d go out of their way to include me in everything, just as if I’d lived there all my life.”
Life out west had its happy moments, and one of them came soon after the Eddy family had settled down. “A group of the fellows at school were going to hold a cookout with steaks, hamburgers, and all the fixings,’ Duane told me. “They were going to make sure this would be a terrific affair, and since they knew I had been practicing on the guitar, they thought I could help.
“Well,” Duane continued, “I hadn’t been playing too long, but anything I could do to help was fine by me. Then they threw me off balance with ‘Get yourself a date and come along.’ ” Since Duane had been so busy just trying to learn where the school, church, and soda shops were, he hadn’t quite had the time to get a rundown on the local belles. He sure had to do some quick research and, practical guy that he is, he soon found out that one of the fellows in the crowd had a sister, and the sister hadn’t been invited to the cookout . . . yet. Duane decided his best approach would be through the brother. “I figured I’d better get his O.K. first, because, you know, some guys don’t like to have their sisters and brothers on the same parties with them. Guess they figure the family spoils the fun.”
The new friend gave his O.K. as long as Duane would do the asking himself. Since Duane barely knew the sister by sight, he had to figure out a way to get to know her better before inviting her.
“Well, most girls are interested in popular music,” Duane continued, “so I got the sheet music of some of the top songs and headed for my buddy’s house . . . to see his sister. I knew he wasn’t in, but I hoped she might be there. I knocked on the door, guitar in hand, and she answered it. No, her brother wasn’t home, but if I cared to wait for him, I could sit in the glider on the porch.
“So, pretending to be real casual about the whole thing, I sat down and began strumming the guitar and playing some of the songs I knew best. Then I started to pick out the melody of the newest one. Well, she’d gone back in the house right away, but pretty soon the door opened and she came out to listen.”
After a bit, Duane told me, the object of his intentions remarked about his being new around town. Duane agreed. She allowed as how she liked the guitar. Duane said he loved to play it. She thought it was real fun to sit outside and sing and play all the old favorites. Duane spotted the opening and shot in fast. “Why, that’s what I’m practicing for,” he told her. “We’re having a cookout and afterwards we’ll all sit around the fire and sing.”
Duane knew he was on the right track the way her interest quickened, but he didn’t want to move too fast. They chatted away for a few minutes, and then he heard the words he’d been waiting for. “I’d love to go to something like that,” she said.
“Well, gee, why not come along with me?” Duane said, as if the idea had just come to him. And before he could even strum another note, his offer was accepted.
“I was so keyed up,” Duane recalled, “I don’t think I hit a right note for the rest of the day. When her brother came home, he sat down with us for a few minutes while I tried to play. He soon got up and went inside, muttering that he didn’t see why I wasted my time with a guitar, maybe I should try the piano!”
Most of our early dates are made within our own crowds. Paul Anka’s first date is an exception. This talented singer-composer met “her” exactly where you’d expect him to—in a music shop. One day after school, he was rifling through records in an Ottawa, Canada store, when he noticed a Perry Como album he’d been wanting for a long time. It seems that a young girl had her eyes on that album, too, and it was the only one left.
Rather than hurt her feelings, Paul politely told the clerk he would wait for a new shipment. As he was leaving, the girl smiled and thanked him, telling him the album was a birthday present for her older sister. Paul began chatting with her about records, and he soon found out her tastes were very similar to his. She also happened to live in the same direction he did, so as they walked home together he told her all about his ambitions to become a singer and learn to write his own songs.
“The nicest thing I can remember,” Paul related, “is that she didn’t laugh at me. She told me she thought it was wonderful, that I should keep working hard and that I could be successful. We were just in our early teens, but I was very impressed with her sincerity. I was glad I had let her have the album.”
On the way home, Paul remembered that a friend of his was having an end-of-school party during the coming weekend. He asked a few questions that let him know his new friend didn’t have anything planned for the weekend, and then began to set the groundwork for an invitation. He told her about his pals, and how they all liked music and records, and he could tell she was just as interested. Then he told her, “I think you would like my friends. I’d love to have you meet them.” She stepped into the velvet trap by replying that she, too, would like to meet them. “How about Saturday night?” Paul asked breathlessly. “We’re having a little party with records and dancing.” She gave him a smile that told him she’d like to.
There was a hitch, though.
Wouldn’t he like to come in and see her record collection? She knew her mother would like to meet him. What’s a fellow to do? “So I went in and met the family,” Paul said, “and when she told her mother I’d invited her out Saturday night, I knew I was being given the once over.”
When he knocked at the door the night of the date, he was relieved to find himself being greeted as if he were an old friend. By that time Paul felt he really was, because he had passed two tough tests in one day . . . the date and the family.
The family also entered into the first date of Dion (of Dion and the Belmonts). In New York City, Dion tells me, it’s kind of difficult to do anything without someone finding out about it. He found that out on his first date. Some of the fellows were standing around one summer evening and, as fellows do, they started wondering about what they were going to do on the weekend. Well, if you saw Ernest Borgnine in “Marty,” you get the idea: “What are you going to do, Marty?” I don’t know, what are you going to do? “I don’t know, let’s do something.” What?
Well, after the “What?” there’s usually a long silence. One warm evening Dion decided to break it by getting himself a date for the movies. “What, are you nuts?” and similar questions stirred the air on Belmont Avenue.
“Nope,” Dion assured his buddies, “I’m getting a date.” Hours later, at home, he began to think maybe he was off with the heat. Who would he date? The next morning at breakfast, the family noted that he wasn’t singing and playing around as usual. He felt it himself. It was almost as if he’d taken a dare. Dion hadn’t had a date before, and now he’d put his word on the line in front of the fellows. He had to go through with it if he didn’t want them giving him the razzmatazz. The list of eligible girls in New York is pretty long, but Dion knew this one had to be somebody special, since all the fellows would be watching.
This is where the family comes in. You know, Mom and Pop—and sometimes brother and sister—can be pretty good critics. Dion realized this, so he just began to drop the names of various girls he knew, just to hear the response. It started on Wednesday, so time was short, and Dion says it must have sounded as if he were rattling off the names of train stations, he was going so fast. Something was wrong with each name he mentioned. He started to worry and was afraid he’d have to go along with someone the gang could really needle him about. “I guess I saved one name till near the end, though,” Dion recalls. “She was the girl I think I must have had in mind when I mentioned a date in the first place. I was afraid to mention her name because I was scared someone would criticize her. I didn’t want anyone to find anything wrong with her, because to me everything about her was perfect. Finally, when I couldn’t stand the suspense any longer, I said I had met, let’s call her Mary, at the store that day. For the first time no one came out with anything critical. The family liked her. I knew the guys must have, too, and I knew I sure wanted to take her out.”
Romance has a strange way of working out, for on the way to the swimming pool the next day, Dion found himself strolling along with his intended first date. She certainly was innocent of any suspicion that the fellow with her desperately hoped she would be at his side Saturday night.
Later that afternoon, spotting a moment when she was sunning herself at the side of the pool, Dion sat down and joined her. “Now’s the time,” he told himself, and before he knew it the question was out. “Would you like to go to the movies with me Saturday night?” The answer: Yes.
When Dion went back to the crowd, the fellows were still debating plans for the weekend. “Include me out, fellows,” Dion told them, “I’m taking Mary to the movies.”
“You’ve got a date?” was the astounded reply, in chorus.
“I sure have,” Dion told them. “In fact, I might have a date lots of Saturday nights from now on.” And he did. But the first one was the most fun to make.
It’s a long stretch of road between Louisiana and New York, but James Reed Clanton has traveled it by train, plane and car. But the first time he made a date, he wasn’t much of a traveler.
“My first date was hectic, because it was almost a blind one,” Jimmy told me. “One of my buddies and I had met these two girls at a high-school football game, and we thought they were very nice. So nice, in fact, that we wanted to see them again. We asked them if we could walk them home, and after some cakes and sodas we dropped them at a real nice house not too far from our own neighborhood.
“A couple of weeks later,” Jimmy continued, “we met them again at a community dance. They were terrific dancers, and we really had a lot of fun. Time came to go home again, and we walked them to the same house again. Things were really going swell, we thought. About a week later, my buddy called me and told me he had a date with this one girl, and he suggested that I take out the other one. Sure, I thought, we’ll have another good time.”
Then Jimmy had another thought. “How could I get in touch with her? I’d forgotten how to spell her last name, so I figured I might as well stop by the house and ask her in person. When I rang the bell, her girlfriend came out. She knew why I was there, but did she have a surprise for me. Her girlfriend was all set for the date, she told me, but this wasn’t her house. She lived out of town, about fifteen miles away! All I had to do was pick her up at eight o’clock Friday night.”
The only trouble was, Jimmy didn’t have a car. What problems fellows can have. He was desperate. Here he was in on a date he really hadn’t formally made, and he had to go through with it or his name would be mud. Buses to the other town ran about once every two hours, there weren’t any trains, and certainly no helicopters. Things really looked dim.
Then his buddy came up with a solution: “Why not have my girl invite her friend over for the weekend?” The idea was passed along, accepted, and waiting at the bus station late Friday afternoon was one Jimmy Clanton, anxious as ever to help a young lady with her suitcases.
“She was wonderful about it,” Jimmy now recalls. “There I was, worrying myself to death about how I was going to meet her, and what do you know? She saved my life by coming to meet me. We had a week-end date, and I got a ride home for her on Sunday and went along to meet her folks. It was one of the longest—and best—dates I’ve ever had.”
For my Philadelphia friend, Jimmy Darren, it wasn’t transportation that caused his first date to linger in his mind. It was the telephone and that old demon, the busy signal.
One cold January night, Jimmy was anxious to set up a date for a school dance. He just couldn’t seem to get near the phone at home. Someone was either calling in or calling out. Jimmy hadn’t been too sure he’d be able to go to the dance, so he’d put off getting a date. All the other fellows must have latched on to all the local lovelies by this time, he thought. But after classes that afternoon, a girl he knew had remarked that a certain brunette he admired hadn’t been signed up yet. “That’s my chance,” Jimmy thought, and dashed home for the phone. Busy signal. Dinner. Phone: busy signal. Then the Darren phone started to get tied up. Jimmy couldn’t understand how anybody could be so long-winded. He rushed next door. Phone: busy. Man, how long can a guy stand this?
Finally, when he figured that every dateless guy in the class must have been talking to his intended, Jimmy heard that most wonderful of all sounds, the ring on the other end of the line. Her father answered and then called Jimmy’s hoped-for date to the phone. Almost as soon as his name was out, he blurted forth the reason for the call. “Why, I’d be delighted to go” is still a phrase that’s music to Jimmy Darren’s ears. When Jimmy told her how worried he’d been that someone else might have asked her first, she was flattered. And when he told her he’d been getting a busy signal all night, she laughed. He couldn’t understand why it was so funny until she told him her father had just finished sending her little brother to bed for being bad. Jimmy wanted to know what he’d done. “Oh,” she explained, “he thinks it’s funny to take the telephone off the cradle, and he did it again tonight. We just can’t break him of that habit!”
Say, I’ve been rattling off here just from one small card in the souvenir box. Guess Bobbie will have to figure out another way to get rid of those valuables. Or maybe I’ll just haul the box over to my little corner at the Photoplay office! Your letters have already started bulging out of that file cabinet they gave me for my very own, so maybe this is a good time to ask ’em for a second one.
YOU CAN WRITE DICK C/O PHOTOPLAY, 205 E. 42ND ST., NEW YORK 17, N.Y. DON’T MISS HIS ABC-TV “AMERICAN BANDSTAND,” 4-5:30 P.M. EDT MONDAY-FRIDAY AND “THE DICK CLARK SHOW,” 7:30-8:30 P.M. EDT SATURDAY. DICK’S NEW “WORLD OF TALENT” STARTS WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 30, 8-8:30 P.M. EDT ON ABC- TV. HE’S MAKING HIS MOVIE DEBUT AS THE TEACHER IN COLUMBIA’S “HARRISON HIGH.”
It is a quote. PHOTOPLAY MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER 1959
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