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The Song That Changed Your Life

Background Noise by Judith Ouellette-Bezaire

This story is on the shortlist for The Song That Changed Your Life challenge. 


Video source: Youtube.

In 1965, every summer morning, our workers' boat, Papoose, careened milky Detroit River waves for the brief cruise from our border town of Amherstburg, Ontario to capture the breezy coolness of Lake Erie's Bois Blanc Isle.  The American owned amusement park there, popularly known as Bob-Lo was fashioned with a dazzling Chicago-style ferris wheel that greeted crowds of thousands of Americans debarking, waving, whooping from the tethered steamer, Columbia.  It sailed four times daily from its moor near Detroit's Motown, delivering scores of teenagers, their tanned limbs jutting from fashionable madras plaid, feet marching in rubber soled sneakers to the measure of "Yankee Doodle Dandy" that was always played by the arriving ship's band. The rhythm smacked against the dirtied stained surface of wide planked dock toward the surprising, somewhat confusing designation, Welcome To Canada, where our country's new flag insignia stood in a banked bed of frilly red and white petunias.  

This day, a-riding, seated opposite me, Sonny Bono with his Cher waited to disembark from our Canadian side preparing to perform for the taping of a U.S. teen dance show.  Early in both our careers, mine, selling souvenirs, I didn't recognize them, but we smiled at each other when I accompanied them up island, beyond the ferris wheel, along a river path, past a clandestine, crumbling 1812 battle fortress, then finally to the privacy of the stone dance pavilion.  Cher banded the strands of her waist long hair.  Sonny nodded approvingly, tossing well-worn white Levi's that he ultimately  secured to a naked nail head.  When he appeared in a spandex jumpsuit and fuzzy vest, his wide grin kissed my innocence on the cheek as they flew past to the sounds of their host's introduction.  When "I Got You Babe" boomed against the background noise of screaming fans, I tipped the rim of an abandoned feathered straw fedora that was made in the USA.  Surrounded by a revolution of Americans rudely tapping tarnished silver coins, demanding, Hey Miss . . . over here. . . to serve them, I tried, but I was only sixteen, lost in a midsummer dream and midway to a hot love for a yankee boy.

Judith Ouellette-Bezaire lives in Lasalle, ON.



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