Columnist

No Cure for Summertime Blues

Good to be King
By King Harris

Since 1958, my days of summer have been defined by rock ’n’ roller, Eddie Cochran, whose declaration of “Summertime Blues” hit the charts that year.

“Well I’m a gonna raise a fuss, I’m gonna raise a holler
About workin’ all summer just to try an’ earn a dollar
Every time I call my baby, to try to get a date
My boss says, ‘No dice, son, you gotta work late’
Sometimes I wonder what I’m gonna do
‘Cause there ain’t no cure for the summertime blues.

Well my mom ‘n papa told me, son, you gotta make some money
If you want to use the car to go ridin’ next Sunday
Well I didn’t go to work, told the boss I was sick
‘Now you can’t use the car ‘cause you didn’t work a lick’
Sometimes I wonder what I’m gonna do
‘Cause there ain’t no cure for the summertime blues

I’m gonna take two weeks, gonna have a vacation
I’m gonna take my problem to the United Nations
Well I called my Congressman and he said quote
‘I’d like to help you son, but you’re too young to vote’
Sometimes I wonder what I’m gonna do
‘Cause there ain’t no cure for the summertime blues”

Pretty much up until this point, summertime was bliss, discounting the two separate trips to summer camps in the early part of my youth. Otherwise, summertime involved trips to Lake Tahoe where my Uncle Tom had a cabin; or adventures to Mt. Vernon in Washington State where my Uncle Charlie lived.
I like Maynard G. Krebs of Dobie Gillis fame, preferred exploring as opposed to WORK! It wasn’t like I was not used to work. I’d had several jobs since I was seven. One the proverbial paperboy, throwing afternoon rags from my bike, trying to avoid smashing plants near the endless driveways and the dogs who tried to chase me away.
And two, employment with Emmet Caldwell, who owned the local grocery store. I convinced him that he needed someone to clean up the messy and trashed comic book section every night, where kids would leave behind melted ice cream and chewing gum and crumbs from Hostess Cupcakes and every candy wrapper imaginable. He paid me 10¢ a night.
When I became a teenager, my parents nagged me to find work during the summer so I could become somewhat independent, which was their way of saying, “If you want money, kid, it’s not coming from us.”
Actually, the jobs I got initially weren’t all the bad. In 1961, I went to work at radio station KSFO in San Francisco, where for a month I had the opportunity to be a gopher for all departments, including news, music, and the morning drive show owned by famous comedian, Don Sherwood, who was very inventive and resourceful — whenever he decided to come to work.
I remember one morning he asked crowded commuters on the Bayshore Freeway to open the windows, put down their convertible tops, and turn on the radio full blast, at which point he would put on a siren.
The effect was a loud drone all the way from San Jose to San Francisco. Now that’s radio!
My next summer gig was at TV station, KTVU in Oakland, where I was in charge of some kind of contest that won you something if your letter was read over the air. I was tossin’ and turnin’ over the amount of mail I had to open.
In the summer of 1962, I landed a full-time job at a large lithography plant, which made me quickly realize how much I missed opening envelopes. Here I was on my feet 8-hours a day at the end of an assembly line, putting labels for food cans in boxes of all different shapes and sizes. Talk about tedious.
I could never take a break because as soon as I started to even think about sitting down, the assembly line would start rolling again.
As much physical labor that was attached with this endeavor, it was nothing compared to the construction job I got in the summer of ‘64. I worked in all parts of San Francisco, from the depths of the sewers to the heights of the high-rises.
Have you ever pass timber from the street level to the 20th floor, thinking all the time “I better not drop the board I’m hoisting?”
But I didn’t complain. It paid for gas in my car. Sometimes the summertime blues becomes the summertime reality.

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