Moon Song

Kevin’s mom and dad were the pro­to­typ­i­cal Leave It To Beaver types. Mr. Fer­ring was a nat­ty dressy who kept his office tie on until after din­ner and like Ward Cleaver, nev­er lost his tem­per or raised his hands to the kids. He’d say, “Now Kevin….” fol­lowed by an order or com­ment, and that was it. Mrs. Fer­ring only had to say, “We’ll talk to father about this lat­er,” and Kevin and Cindy would get respect­ful­ly back into the obe­di­ence line. It was amaz­ing.

When I stayed over at Kevin’s, Cindy hung out with us. She was a year old­er than I was but didn’t hold that against me like my sis­ter Karen did. Cindy had two fas­ci­nat­ing pen­ny-size freck­les on either side of her mouth. Kevin told me they weren’t freck­les but scars from a ter­ri­ble inci­dent when Cindy was younger. I wasn’t able to find out what pos­sessed her to do it; she didn’t like to talk about it. But she stuck her tongue into an elec­tri­cal sock­et and the volt­age blew holes through her cheeks. Still, she was very pret­ty and looked real fine.

Mrs. Fer­ring was care­ful­ly coifed. Her blond hel­met hair was sprayed into place, her orange lip­stick glis­tened on her freck­led lips and her fin­ger­nails and toes were paint­ed to match the lip­stick of the day. There was a Step­ford Wife qual­i­ty about her. She adored her hus­band and wait­ed on him hand and foot and kissed him with affec­tion, con­stant­ly. They were always cud­dling and polite to each oth­er. I won­dered if Cindy would grow up to be like her mom. That would be great.

Kevin, my broth­er Joe and I came up with a song, well, some­one else’s song we heard on the radio, but we wrote our own lyrics. We called it: “By the Light of the Moon.”

While I was walkin’ down the street
I met a pret­ty girl that I’d like to meet.
Hmm by the light of the moon, Oh yea
Hmm by the light of the moon, Oh yea
She was pret­ty and looked real fine,
…some­thing, some­thing, and she’d be mine.

Cho­rus, repeat, repeat, and repeat until we stretched it out for a good two min­utes. We prac­ticed it over and over until we got it right. We swayed and kicked out a leg move in uni­son after the “Oh yeas.” Our pre­pu­bes­cent voic­es were maybe one octave low­er than The Chip­munks, but bet­ter. Our first per­for­mance was in front of Cindy. She thought it was great. So did Mr. and Mrs. Fer­ring. Our biggest crowd was a group of ladies gath­ered for a Tup­per­ware par­ty at my house. Mom pulled us in from the back­yard to sing our song. We absolute­ly killed; the chicks dug it! Enam­ored by our cute­ness and the love­ly melody, the women clapped with enthu­si­asm after our bow. We always fin­ished with a bow.

We got caught up in the hys­te­ria and pon­dered this music thing rather seri­ous­ly. First, we’d have to think of a cool name. “The Horny Toads,” “Moon Mon­keys,” and “The Lizard Lads,” were con­sid­ered and shelved. In the mean­time we bet­ter write a cou­ple more hit songs, get an agent, and make a record. Then we could quit school and go on tour. We were on cloud nine for a good week. Our final per­for­mance was in front of Mike Harp­er who brought us back to earth with a resound­ing thud. He laughed at us, mocked our song, and said, “It was pussy.”


Kevin and I were on the same base­ball team, the Pirates. I real­ly didn’t like base­ball, but it was like church, you were expect­ed to go. I did my penance in left field for the trans­gres­sions of the sacred game I was sure­ly guilty of. I was like a fish out of water and flopped around in the out­field when a ball was hit to left. Kids in Cal­i­for­nia could play ball all year round, depend­ing on the league you joined, so I began my short-lived base­ball career with a dis­ad­van­tage.

The puny skill-chal­lenged play­ers like myself rode the bench half the time and alter­nat­ed in the out­field where we could do the least dam­age to the team. I wasn’t the worse out­field­er ever, I don’t think, and could get under a ball with my speed, but it was a 50/50 chance I’d catch it. I had a good arm and I could whip it into the infield to throw out an aggres­sive run­ner at sec­ond or third even if I fum­bled a catch. I was very good at strik­ing out and elic­it­ing moans from our dugout and the stands espe­cial­ly if it was the last out of the inning with a guy at third. But I did my best and man­aged to draw my share of walks, and by chance, get a hit every once and a while. I loved to run the bases and learned to slide under a throw. On the rare occa­sion some­one hit a sin­gle or dou­ble after me, I felt the exhil­a­rat­ing expe­ri­ence of cross­ing home plate. I don’t know if I was a jinx but the Pirates fin­ished in last place.

Our Dad took Joe and I to a Padres game that sum­mer. The San Diego Padres of that era were a minor league AAA farm team of the Cincin­nati Reds, play­ing in the Pacif­ic Coast League. The Padres were the rein­ing champs, hav­ing won the PCL pen­nant the year before. Tony Perez was the third base­man that year. In the 70’s, Perez became an impor­tant cog on the awe­some “Big Red Machine.” Cincin­nati won five straight divi­sion titles, three pen­nants and two World Series.

We had a good time that night. It was great to be out any­where with my Dad. I can’t say I have as many father/son mem­o­ries as I wished I had, but while we were in San Diego we shared a few out­ings that were spe­cial to us. That base­ball game was one of them. We sat togeth­er high up in the bleach­er seats, which pro­vid­ed a great view of the well-lit field. I recall wear­ing my base­ball glove, at the ready, for the entire game, wish­ing for a sou­venir home­run ball.

I don’t recall the final score or if the Padres were vic­to­ri­ous, but I fond­ly remem­ber the sounds of Bal­boa Sta­di­um. The sta­di­um was filled with the mur­mur of a thou­sand voic­es. Dad, Joe and I joined in with the col­lec­tive singing the Nation­al Anthem, roared when a run scored and booed when the umps blew a call. We could hear the crack of the bat mak­ing con­tact with the ball and the dis­tinct pop of a fast­ball hit­ting the catcher’s mitt. The food ven­dors climbed between aisles call­ing out: “Get your hot­dogs! Peanuts — Fresh Peanuts…” and “Cot­ton Can­dy Here!”

I still love those sounds.

On the way out, gorged with hot­dogs and sodas, we drove by a new sta­di­um under con­struc­tion in down town San Diego. It would be the future home of the San Diego Charg­ers in two years and the home of the Nation­al League San Diego Padres in 1969, when the city was award­ed a major league base­ball fran­chise.

Now that I was play­ing ball, I began to pay atten­tion to big league base­ball on TV. We watched the Los Ange­les Dodgers, the best team in Base­ball. The Dodgers also had one of the best pitch­ers of all time, Sandy Koufax. Against Chica­go that year, he pitched a per­fect game. Twen­ty-sev­en bat­ters faced the great left-han­der that day, not one of them reached first base. It was the third of four con­sec­u­tive years that Koufax would throw a no-hit­ter. Koufax won his sec­ond Cy Young award and led them to the World Series in 1965 with 26 wins.

There was a big hul­la­baloo when Koufax refused to pitch the first game of the series because it fell on the Jew­ish Hol­i­day, Yom Kip­pur. A first game loss by Don Drys­dale and a Koufax let­down in the sec­ond game left the Dodgers down 2 – 0 to the Min­neso­ta Twins. But the Dodgers came back and took the next three games includ­ing a Game 5 shutout cour­tesy of Koufax, in which he also knocked in the win­ning run. Min­neso­ta tied the series in Game 6 and the cham­pi­onship went to a decid­ing sev­enth game. Unbe­liev­ably, Sandy Koufax pitched anoth­er shutout, a three-hit­ter, and the Dodgers clinched the World Series title. Koufax was unan­i­mous­ly vot­ed the MVP of the Series.