Last Week, Paul Revere of Paul Revere and the Raiders died. I took his death much harder than I expected.
..and all your kicks ain’t bringing you piece of mind, before you find out it’s too late, girl you better get straight… No but not with Kicks..
Paul Revere and the Raiders
Every day I walk past a building, a building I lived in as a child. I did not know how poor we were when I lived there. I had no clue. We had recently moved from a gold coast high rise to an awful basement apartment that stood in the shadows of the new high rise we were supposed to live in. That high rise was where the kids in the neighborhood lived. I met some of them at school (I had to also leave my private school friends) and they invited me over often, where I would eventually meet my future best friend, Debbie Tonder Steele. We were all of that age where we didn’t understand the differences of our socio economic inequities. We had things in common, mainly that we were being raised by single moms. There was Polly Wolf (who’s older brother Craig was dreamy), Wendy Winegar, another only, and my soon to be new best friend Debbie (up until then I had Linda Pappas, another singleton, as a best friend but eventually we would drift as we both had to change schools again). Their mom’s knew I lived in the neighborhood but had no idea quite where. When they found out, Polly, Wendy anad Debbie weren’t allowed over. You see there was a fence, a chain link fence and two parking lots, which separated us. As long as we were on their side, we could play like crazy, they just couldn’t climb to my side. Debbie however, never let a fence stop her, she loved coming to our little basement apartment and that is how we became best friends. No fence could stop us. I would hop her way and she my way. We still played with the other kids, but we became thick as thieves. You see when she hopped the fence to my house, from there we could walk to the 5 & Dime where she would dare me and the other girls to steal just one thing, the cigar store where we would buy candy and make prank calls from the pay phone to the cute boys , Davidson’s bakery for cheese flakeys, and the drugstore where we would get all our 16, Tiger Beat magazines, WLS and ‘CFL Surveys and our brand new 45’s. Little did I know, my side of the fence was totally cool.
As we went from playing Man from Uncle (I was always Robert Vaughn and Debbie Illya Kuryakin) riding bikes everywhere, skateboarding down the loading dock of her building, we began to bond more over music. I was the Beatles and she was Paul Revere and the Raiders. I would see the Beatles on Ed Sullivan at her house, her mom had a color TV! She’d hop the fence to my house to watch Where the Action Is after school. I was Dino, Desi and Billy, and she was… Paul Revere and the Raiders. I had seen the Beatles and Dino, Desi and Billy but we would see Paul Revere and the Raiders together and get in so much trouble for chasing the band to the hotel. Her mother must have known my mom could not afford an album, because she bought me Rubber Soul and Debbie of course Paul Revere and the Raiders. We would sit in the hallway of her high rise and giggle and ooh and aahhh over our treasures. All the while, having to now jump that fence in our go go boots and mini-skirts. Never once thinking we were too old to do that.
Eventually Debbie moved down to the gold coast, Polly and Wendy were still around, but it wasn’t the same. Debbie’s gold coast home would become my second home, and instead of a fence we
would hop the 151 bus. All the while having our battle of the bands, the Beatles v Paul Revere and the Raiders. Even as we got older, I remember well her mom getting me Revolver and her Midnight Ride, by you guessed it Paul Revere and the Raiders. Debbie and I would grow and evolve and graduate to Janis, Jimi, Bob, 10 Years After, Led Zeppelin, Delaney and Bonnie. We would see Jim Morrison and the Doors at the Auditorium, and we would remark how these were the same seats we sat in to see… yeah you guessed it Paul Revere and the Raiders. We would go from dropping water balloons from the balcony at 1000 Lake Shore Plaza, to taking boys a bit more seriously. We would go from mod and mini skirts to wild child hippies. We would go to different schools, have very serious boyfriends that the other must approve of, we would still take the 151/147 bus even farther (as I had moved even further north) to see each other. It never ever occurred to Debbie that my circumstances were much different financially than hers, it just never mattered.
We would eventually drift, geographically and emotionally. When we would see each other, over the years, it was as if no time passed, we would laugh, and stay up all night and I would bring out
my secret collection of Paul Revere and the Raiders albums, my “Debbie” collection. No matter how different our lives had turned out all it took was Midnight Ride to take us back to parking lots and that fence. We had such Kicks and promised this would always be, no matter how old we got.
Our lives took very different paths. She would marry very young and often, have three kids, living a life of “Kicks”, and would pass away before I would marry. My kids would never know her, only of her.
She always said she felt like Mark Lindsey and Paul Revere were singing just to her, and when I listen to “Kicks”.. perhaps they were. I wish she’d listened.
So when Paul Revere passed away, I took it double hard.