John Peterson’s The Secret Hide-out was absolutely one of my favorite books growing up — and with good reason. As I’ve noted on this blog before, I and the other boys on my street placed paramount, enduring importance on whatever iteration of our “club” that we had going — whether we had a viking club, an explorer club, a “ninja clan,” or whatever. (Did other groups of boys act like this? I honestly wonder. The human instinct for affiliation ran pretty strong at an early age for me and my neighbors.)
Anyway, this book was a goldmine for a second grader with our particular brand of preadolescent tribalism. It was about a trio of boys who find a mysterious “club handbook” behind a stone at two of their number’s grandmother’s house. The handbook outlines club minutes, membership tests, and the location of the titular secret hideout — along with instructions on how to craft the masks, spears and shields — and with whistles made out of paper. (I swear to you that those whistles were easy to make and that they really worked quite well.)
Anyway, The Secret Hide-out was a 1960’s book that my brother would have brought home from school in the 1970’s — probably from one of those Scholastic Books fairs. It wound up in my hands by 1980 or so. I am by no means the only person who remembers this book; it was a favorite for a lot of people. There’s even a Facebook page dedicated to it.
There’s even a sequel, as it turns out — Peterson wrote Enemies of the Secret Hide-out a year later. This time out, the Amazon description informs me, there is a rival club of boys who try to appropriate the clubhouse. (I know from boyhood experience that such conflicts were entirely common.) I might have to hunt that one down someday ona lark.
Does anyone else remember “The Odd Couple” (1970-1974) growing up? I was too young to remember its original run, but it played endlessly in reruns in the early 1980’s. For a lot of us, it was a show our parents watched. It was based on an eponymous 1965 Neil Simon play, and Tony Randall was absolutely a household name.
Hearing that theme song — and seeing those priceless shots of early-70’s New York in its opener — absolutely takes me back to my gradeschool years. I can practically smell dinner cooking in the kitchen.
Turns out it didn’t have a lot of cultural staying power — with my generation, at least. When was the last time you heard someone make a pop-culture reference to “The Odd Couple?” Yet people still fondly remember things like “The Partridge Family” (1970-1974), “The Six Million Dollar Man” (1973-1978) and “Voltron” (1983-1985).
I found these videos on Youtube. They were taken between 1965 and 1967 in the neighborhood of Woodhaven in Queens, NY — where my family lived when I was a baby. I wasn’t around in the 1960’s, but this is how the community looked around the time my siblings were born.
No, I wasn’t around in 1965, but I absolutely remember this song from when I was a tot in the late 1970’s. My parents played it quite a bit; they had a few Frank Sinatra albums among their stacks of 8-track tapes in the living room entertainment center. I wasn’t supposed to touch them, but I did. (Hey, they were right at the bottom level, where I could fiddle with them. And, as a kid, would read anything — even album titles.)
Anyway, this Internet thingamajig tells me that the song was written in 1961 by Ervine Drake for the Kingston Trio. Sinatra won a Grammy in 1966 for his rendition of it, as did Gordon Jenkins for his accompanying instrumental work.