Swinging Singers

“O.K.  I’ll go first!” My friend Barbara pumped hard backward and then extended her long, lean legs to the front as she slidoff the canvas seat.

“Sunday, Monday, Happy Days,” she sang in mid-air.  She landed gracefully in the sand and immediately struck a singers pose with an invisible microphone in hand.  On cue, Lisa launched and chimed, “Tuesday, Wednesday, Happy Days.”  Her long, dark hair rippling behind her.

I pushed the iron chains behind me as my swing reached its zenith. “Thursday, Friday, Happy Days,” I landed with a thump, but quickly recovered in the rock star position.

Barb nodded hard and we all blasted, “Saturday, what a day, dancin’ all week with you.”

We were ten year old products of mid-seventies television.  The sitcom Happy Days was in its first run and looking back now, the jumping off the swings on each phrase was brilliant choreography on Barb’s part.

After we had exhausted our act, Lisa decided we should sing “Half-breed” a song made popular by Cher. We had probably seen her perform this sultry tune on a recent Sonny and Cher variety hour. Cher was undoubtedly swaying in an impossibly low-cut fringed, buckskin outfit balancing an enormous feather headdress.

After a brief discussion, we figured it probably wouldn’t work well as a swing song, so we began marching shoulder to shoulder around the perimeter of the playground, belting the lyrics.

“My father married a pure Cherokee; my mother’s people were ashamed of me.  Indian’s said I was white by law white men always called me “Indian Squaw.” Half-breed! That’s all I ever heard, half breed how I learned to hate that word.  Half breed, she’s no good they warned, both sides were against me from the day I was born!”

Lisa, with her long black hair, shook her head like the Cher and even licked her lips between lyrics.  We attracted other kids to our throng as we crooned by clusters of kickballers, hopscotchers and see-sawers.   We sang more and more passionately and linked arms, seven mostly-soprano-singers wide.

We were deep in the second verse and starting another chorus when the recess monitor blew the first warning whistle to stop and “freeze.”  The second whistle would release us and we would head back to our respective class lines and file back into the school.  Well, we were so enraptured by our singing that we didn’t hear the first whistle and started on the third verse of Half Breed.

Full of giddiness and grandeur, I shouted in Barb’s ear.  “Everyone stopped playing and is watching us!” to us.”  Barb stopped in her tracks and our chain of kids buckled.  In unison, we looked back at her.  “It’s the recess-is-over whistle!” she whispered frantically.

We froze and waited to for the second whistle to release us.  The trill signaled a massive sprint to our class lines where we waited in silence and then filed in.  Later, during art class, Mr. Scarpa, our super-cool art teacher who wore blue jeans made of denim squares and had shoulder length, wavy Bee Gees hair and mustache said, “You girls were pretty good singing out there today!  I heard you from the teacher’s lounge!”

The Great Flying Swings by Tanja Buzzi,1975

Tanja at ten. My fifth grade teacher, Lance Hall encouraged our class to write stories. He would then read them to the class. Though my home life was very stressful at this time, school was a haven to me. Before puberty and peer pressure set in, I was creative and comfortable with myself—and recognized as a writer!

One fine Saturday, I went down to the carnival.  I bought two rolls of tickets.  First I decided to go on the Ferris Wheel. It was high up, but I didn’t care.  I saw the whole carnival.  Then I went over the concession stand to get some cotton candy and a soda.  After that I went on the Round Up but that was pretty short.  Then I went on the Moon walk and stayed on two tickets long.  Then I was tired.

So I hopped on the Scrambler.  Then I noticed the Flying Swings.  I got off and went on one of the outside swings.  The motor started and I was going around and around.  For some reason, I felt the bottom of the swing, something that felt like a knob.  I pushed it. All of a sudden the chain unhooked and I started to go up, just as if I was a balloon and someone let go of my string.  Well any way, I went up about 10 feet.  Everyone stared at me even the guys that ran the rides were looking up at me. I went up a little higher so I was even with the Ferris Wheel.  I said, “Stop!” and the swing stopped.

I heard a fat lady say, “What shall we do, should we call the telephone company?” That really helps matters, doesn’t it?  Everyone was worried all except me.  I was having a ball!  I could see almost all of Higganum! The people of the Middletown Press and the Hartford Courant came to take pictures and to write articles on me.

The Eye Witness news team came down and did a report on me.  Then a special telegram went to the President of the United StatesMr. Ford came by helicopter.  He landed on the Higganum Green.  Then he saw me and said to me, “How on earth did you get up there?”  I started to explain but everybody started shaking hands and asking him for autographs.

So I pushed the bottom and said, “Take me back home.”  So I went back home.  “Don’t believe me then.”  That’s what I said when I told my family.  Then my sister said, “What do you have to prove it?”  Then I went to my room and got the swing then told it to glide down the stairs and go straight to the family room.  It did.  My family was astonished.  “It was all run by a machine, see the knob and wires?” I said.  I looked around at the swing’s bottom seat.  On it was a mark that said, “Hollywood California, filming.”  It must have been in a place where they had made movies. I wrote to The Middletown Press and to the Courant to get things cleared up.    The end.

Do you remember when you were ten? What were you like? What did you do for fun?  Write yourself a letter from your ten year old self to your present day self.  What would he or she say to you? Advise you to do?