I’m Just Sayin’
David Muise runs into old buddy Bobby Curtola, Canada’s Frankie Avalon.
On a recent visit to Halifax I ran into my old friend, Bobby Curtola. Bobby who? Bobby Curtola, Canada’s Frankie Avalon. Frankie who? Let me explain.
Bobby Curtola, from Port Arthur, Ont., was a teen idol in the mid- 1960s. With hits like “Fortune Teller” and “Three Rows Over and Two Seats Down,” he was a successful Canadian rocker long before Canadian content rules were even thought of. At the height of his career he played a dance at the Steelworkers Hall in Sydney and I was fortunate enough to win two tickets in a radio station contest.
My first thought was that Mike and I would go but Ma suggested that they probably meant for me to take a girl. A girl? I had skated with girls at the forum but had never actually asked a girl out.
The next day at school the talk was all about Bobby Curtola, a genuine star with songs on the radio and everything, coming to Sydney. With two free tickets in my pocket, getting a date was looking good. By afternoon I had worked up the courage to ask a girl (name withheld to protect the innocent) and she said yes.
Next I turned my attention to my wardrobe, as a jacket and tie were required in those days. I had a tie but didn’t own a jacket so the Old Man borrowed one from his friend Kelly who was about my size. Then a lick of polish on my shoes, a crease in my pants, a knot in my tie and my outfit was complete. Picture this, Grey flannel pegged pants, blue shirt, green tie, Black Watch tartan jacket, flat- top haircut and Buddy Holly glasses. What a vision!
Another detail to work out was transportation. I asked around and learned that my friend Joe was going to the dance and, being a few years older, was allowed to have his father’s car for the evening. He said we could go with him. Perfect!
Now there was just one more thing — I couldn’t dance a lick. I had done a sort of waltz with Ma, so the slow ones were no problem, but this was still the jive era which required some moves. Mike had a small record player in his bedroom and his sister Christine agreed to give us a few lessons after school. She said I danced like St. Vitas.
Finally the big night arrived and Bobby didn’t disappoint. Dressed in a sparkly, baby blue jacket he sang all his hits plus some from Elvis, the Everley Brothers and, of course, Frankie Avalon. I stumbled through a few jive numbers and managed not to embarrass myself too much and Bobby added that touch of star power that made it a special night.
After the dance we went to the Sands Restaurant for fries and a pop and to listen to more Bobby Curtola songs on the jukebox. Joe dropped us off in front of my date’s house saying he couldn’t wait as he had important business to tend to at Victoria Park. As I walked my date up the driveway, the porch light came on and her father came bursting through the door. Apparently he had something against his daughter being in a car with a boy. My fight or flight instinct kicked in and I was off like a shot.
Years later I crossed paths with Bobby again when I was president of the cancer society and he was playing a series of fundraisers for us.
He had a great laugh when I told him my first date story, especially the part about being chased down Welton Street.
The girl and I went out for a while then broke up, Bobby continues to perform, and I still dance like St. Vitas.
I’m just sayin’...