Music has a way of bringing back memories…..whether it be just a single moment moment or a period of time in our lives.
I connect everything to music. Not every song, but many, remind me of a specific situation or person. One genre of music, the oldies, reminds me of my childhood babysitter. When I was in elementary school, or for a portion of it at least, my mother worked full time in Manhattan. A woman that my mother had known from her teen years was our babysitter. She was a stay at he mother of two kids. Early 30’s. Her husband was a firefighter and they lived in a private home in Gerritsen Beach, Brooklyn. Their backyard overlooked the water and they had a boat that they would take out from time to time and go fishing on. During the summer, my mother would bring me and my younger sister to the babysitter’s house in the morning where we would stay until she picked us up in the early evening hours. When school was in, my mom would bring us to school in the morning and then the babysitter would pick us up afterwards.
My babysitter was not exactly an ideal babysitter. My mother trusted her because she was someone she personally knew, she had children that were the same age as me and my sister and she lived in a nice home in a nice neighborhood. However, many summer days at her house consisted of the kids playing in the backyard by the dock and not being allowed to come in until dinner time. The scary thing is that she left all four of us unattended outside by the water. All of us were 10 years and younger. The babysitter did not allow us more than one drink during dinner so you better make sure your cup lasted. My babysitter smoked Parliament 100’s like a chimney and sat on the couch all day smoking cigarettes and watching soap operas. My mother specifically told her that I was not to go outside walking around by myself, to which the babysitter agreed. She apparently forgot, though, because I was always sent to the deli to buy her more cigarettes. *This was in the 90’s of course, when a kid could buy cigarettes and just say it was for their parents. Cigarettes were also kept on the counter as opposed to behind. at least at the delis I was in.
The babysitter was not particularly fond of my sister. I still to this day don’t really know why. My sister definitely got worse treatment than I did. I specifically remember one time where the babysitter got mad at my sister (don’t remember the reason) and she stuck her face towards the toilet bowl. We never told my mom any of this stuff. We were afraid that we would still have to continue going and then she would punish us for telling.
Thankfully, junior high school eventually came around and then I was able to stay home alone until my mom and dad came home from work. My sister would also stay home with me, at this point and we were relieved of our babysitting nightmares.
I know this whole story sounds crazy, however, I do have some good memories of my babysitting experience as well. These good times come to mind when I hear oldies music. Why the oldies? Well, my babysitter loved oldies music and I really can’t remember her listening to anything BUT the oldies.
When the babysitter picked me up from school, it was in her very big, green, 1970s model vehicle. It was one of those old school metal cars that looked like something out of Grease. The radio was always tuned in to the oldies station. She would drive that big, green, metal car with the windows rolled down and her left arm posted in the window and her dirty blond wavy hair blowing in the wind. We didn’t really talk during our drive home but I didn’t mind because I liked the sounds of the station. This scene happened literally everyday after school.
Not only did we listen to the oldies while driving, we also exercised to the oldies, specifically Richard Simmons Sweatin’ to the Oldies. I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy our exercise sessions. We would exercise to the tunes of Leader of the Pack, My Boyfriends Back and It’s My Party. What I liked about Sweatin’ to the Oldies is that they had actors who performed a little scene that corresponded with the music before the exercise routine began. Richard Simmons was a ball of energy with his VERY short 80’s shorts, sweatband and VERY tan skin. At the end of each Sweatin to the Oldies video, all of the participants would dance down the floor to an oldies song while everyone else cheered them on. Here’s a snippet of a workout clip:
My babysitter introduced me to the oldies at a young age and those tunes stuck with me ever since. It is because of her that I asked for my mother to buy me an Oldies cassette tape that I would listen to constantly in my bedroom. One of my favorite songs on that cassette was Goin to the Chapel. I would sing into a Conair hair brush in my bedroom with the door closed and pretend I was on stage.
So many years later, so many situations and life events that have happened since elementary school days and yet I still immediately think of the babysitter as soon as an oldies tune comes on. This ones dedicated to you Joann 📻: