Renewing an old love that’s lingered for years

“True love stories never have endings.”

—Richard Bach, American writer and author of ‘Jonathan Livingston Seagull’

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Frequent followers of this forum are already familiar with many of my vices and will understand when I say my heart fluttered the first time I saw her. She was a beauty, and she filled my heart with music.

That first meeting was innocent enough. I was out of town with spare time on my hands when she caught my eye. I almost kept walking but stopped to glance over my shoulder for a second look. She was looking back at me. Beckoning to me. Calling my name. Better judgment told me not to go back, but my heart pleaded for a closer look—maybe just one touch.

Having admired others like her before, I began the flirting process. You know—asking questions, acting interested, lingering. She had seen better days but one could say the same for me. Besides, I knew some old-fashioned TLC and devoted attention would give her a new lease on life.

In her heyday of the mid to late 50s, she was the center of attention where fun flourished in places like late-night greasy spoon cafes when Hank Williams was, “So Lonesome I Could Cry.” Burger joints where the bobby-sock crowds swayed to “Sixteen Candles.” Or lakeside concession stand pavilions where teens rocked to Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode.”

Alone and forlorn when I found her, most would have said she was over the hill. Retired many years ago and relegated to linger in silence as a reward for her part in the history of music just didn’t seem fair. Without help, the old girl was down to her last dime.

She still had her pride though, she wasn’t cheap. And this wouldn’t be the first time a wild impulse would come between me and my money. I knew better. I really needed to get past these kinds of things at some point in my life, but that day was not to be the one. I wanted her. My heart won, and she went home with me to Center where she entertained family and friends for several years before we moved to the Texas Hill Country. Even there, she was often still the center of attention for gatherings at my house.

But then came our return to Center some years ago where something went wrong. Looking back, I have no explanation. Maybe it was the small house we started out in, maybe it was too many moves in too few years. For whatever reason, she sat ignored, waiting for me to come to my senses and throw more money at the aged dance hall queen. I thought of her often, recalling the good times we had together. Those memories lingered until last week when the words of a Willie Nelson song, “… forgetting seems to take the longest time,” stayed on my heart, and I finally brought her out of retirement again.

It took all afternoon to uncover her, move her out of storage, and haul her home on a trailer. She’s no lightweight at 355 pounds. After a couple of days spent cleaning, polishing, and inspecting, I flipped the power switch. She flickered for a moment then in all her radiant beauty, lit up the room for the first time in many years.

Dropping a dime down the coin chute and selecting K-1 sent a record spinning that produced booming “High Fidelity” notes of Big Joe Turner’s “Shake, Rattle, and Roll” to compliment her glowing lights. The sentimental sensory overload of the long overdue reunion filled my heart with the same joy she had given me when I first brought her home some 35 years ago.  

I’ve promised her this time that she and I will never be apart again. After all, there just aren’t that many 1955 model 100-J Seeburg jukeboxes still around.

—Leon Aldridge

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Aldridge columns are published in these Texas newspapers: The Center Light and Champion, the Mount Pleasant Tribune,  the Rosenberg Fort Bend Herald, the Taylor Press, and the Alpine Avalanche.

© Leon Aldridge and A Story Worth Telling 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Leon Aldridge and A Story Worth Telling with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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