Tommy Dorsey, Glenn Miller, and Fats Domino

Time Travel to the 50s

I graduated from Lowell High School in San Francisco in 1952, which was in those years, in the Haight Ashbury district. We’re having our 55th – ulp! – reunion this year and I’m somehow on the reunion committee. I’m the only person in a class of maybe 300 who dropped out in the ’60s. Smoked pot, rock and roll, homesteading in Big Sur – changing course on the high seas of life at age 28, giving up a well-paying job as insurance broker, oh yes! All my friends from high school and college, with the exception of maybe two I can think of, became extremely wealthy. I’m the only guy with long hair and an earring, etc., but what’s cool is we all still have those 4 years in common, we’re all San Francisco kids, and I enjoy their company. This year I’m in charge of music so I’ve been going back to the ’50s. Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Sinatra. In retrospect it’s great music. Opus One & Once in a While, by Tommy Dorsey. Moonlight Seranade by Glenn Miller brings tears almost to my eyes. Romance was a strong emotion in those days, Saturday night outdoor dances at the Fairfax Town & Country Club, with music like this playing. I’m also going to throw in some Ray Charles, Fats Domino, Aretha, Otis, Al Green, rhythm and blues…I’ve hired Zorro, a young reggae DJ from my town, to control the music and I’m giving him lists.

Speaking of Lowell: Jack Patterson was the journalism teacher then, and I realized years later how he influenced my life. I learned the who-what-when-where-how-why of the opening paragraph (then it was supposed to be in the first sentence), and that a reporter’s job was to report it as it is and save opinions for the editorial page. Patterson was a decorated ex-Marine captain and we called him Captain Jack. He had a mischievous twinkle in his eye. He was gay, but made no moves on us.

One day a few years back, three of us on the reunion committee (Lord, have I written this up before? – my memory is shot…) discovered that each of us were in in our present jobs because of Capt. Jack: English teacher, advertising, publisher. Well, Jack eventually got fired, and ended up robbing a bank, going to jail, and ended up his life doing gardening work at Stanford. Dude! Is this not the wild west? I wish I’d sought him out to thank him.

And yes, I realize I’m prone to repeating myself, not only in conversation, but in print. I think I’ve written about this before. C’est la vie…

About Lloyd Kahn

Lloyd Kahn started building his own home in the early '60s and went on to publish books showing homeowners how they could build their own homes with their own hands. He got his start in publishing by working as the shelter editor of the Whole Earth Catalog with Stewart Brand in the late '60s. He has since authored six highly-graphic books on homemade building, all of which are interrelated. The books, "The Shelter Library Of Building Books," include Shelter, Shelter II (1978), Home Work (2004), Builders of the Pacific Coast (2008), Tiny Homes (2012), and Tiny Homes on the Move (2014). Lloyd operates from Northern California studio built of recycled lumber, set in the midst of a vegetable garden, and hooked into the world via five Mac computers. You can check out videos (one with over 450,000 views) on Lloyd by doing a search on YouTube:

One Response to Tommy Dorsey, Glenn Miller, and Fats Domino

  1. Hey Lloyd, I'd like to hand you the idea for the reunion to have a separate room with a microphone so participants who want to can stand up and tell stories about their lives and memories of sharing times past. It's a really cool fun thing that's not often done at reunions.

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