Little Bobby’s Childhood in Pictures Words and Music

 

Ahhh, February.

A flat tire on the way to Spring.

A bone chilling extra inning of shitty weather, gloomy skies, weak coffee, and runny noses. A period of time best survived by curling up on the couch with a box of alcohol, something to read, and at least one or two critters asleep on top of you generating heat, an occasional purr, and an excuse to remain on the couch as long as you can as to not disturb them.

Just think of this as something to read while you’re all scrunched up on the couch under the kitties or puppies,  a Scrapbook of sorts. One that comes with its own soundtrack and a picture of crabs.

You’re welcome.

Editor’s Note – A few lines below were taken from my comments in the “Interview with Bill King” column, and updated and corrected for this post.

AUGUST 28TH 1945

San Francisco Powell Street Cable Car 1945

I was born in San Francisco to a couple whose love of children must have ground to a halt just before daddy forgot to pull out, or mommy left her diaphragm in her other vagina.

At any rate they did go on to sire a flock of lawyers, who have managed to refuse my calls for the past 50 years. They probably thought I wanted money, but in fact, I just wanted to know a little about my genetic heritage and what diseases/ailments/curses would pose a threat to my existence.

So far, I have learned a few things on my own over the years.

I wonder how many of my brothers and/or sisters have diabetes, failing hair, and teeth so fragile I have lost a few of the ones that were left by biting down too hard on a mound of whipped cream.

When I think of my birthplace, I think of Fisherman’s Wharf Cioppino, Crab Cocktails, and Crab Louies, Italian sandwiches from the little mom and pop corner diner next to Stuber and Sons in Daly City, and Original Joe’s Prime Rib with Ravioli on the side.

Dungeness Crab Fisherman’s Wharf 1945

The Number 1 song on Billboard when I was born turned out to be a record of a song from a hit movie called “The Harvey Girls” starring Judy Garland. The hit was recorded by the writer (a portent of things to come) who became one of my influences, and the vocal group, The Pied Pipers. His name? …Johnny Mercer. …and this would explain my lifelong love of traveling by rail.

Such an amazing recording and song. Witty and smart, melodic and full of sophisticated musical moves …and sweetened by one of the members of the Pied Pipers who had a career of her own, Jo Stafford.

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FEBRUARY 24TH 1946

My New Mom Baptizes Me in the Merced River in Yosemite National Park Because That’s the Way Mom Rolled

So, 6 months after the water broke, I find myself the proud rescue-baby of a couple who were in the market for a Pre-Born child to take home and love.

My newly acquired parents, a duo consisting of a hard working Italian immigrant from Genoa, Italy, and a half Cree, half English farm girl from Arkansas City, Kansas, (unable to have children of their own), have selected me from the display case at a Catholic run Baby Boutique (much like selecting a steak or a lobster at a decent restaurant) paid the check, and, seeing as how the place didn’t deliver, had driven the 80 miles from Stockton California to The City and picked me up like an order of Chinese food or a pizza.

I didn’t know it at the time, but I had just won the lottery.

The Number 1 song in February of 1946? According to Billboard, it was Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!“, also known as “Let It Snow“, is a song written by lyricist Sammy Cahn and composer Jule Styne in July 1945. It was written in Hollywood, California during a heat wave as Cahn and Styne imagined cooler conditions.  and performed by Vaughn Monroe. – Wikipedia

Hmmm 2 more writers who became influential favourites. …and, after spending a great deal of my existence in Montreal and Toronto, where it is allowed to snow whether Vaughn Monroe asks for it or not, this may have ALSO influenced my path in some goofy, mystical fashion. Maybe these strange connections are the responsibility of my mother’s Native American DNA. I’m not sure what my mom’s Spirit Animal was, but I’m pretty sure my dad’s Spirit Animal was a Dice Cup.

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AUGUST 28TH 1947

I Turn Two. So Does Teddy

After 2 years of just having a great time doing nothing, my mother decides it is time to start earning my keep. Suddenly, it is no longer enough to be adorable and happy and well fed and adorable and cute and happy, no, now I must pay the piper.

My mom, obviously projecting her show business aspirations on me, trots me down to the Betty Hackett School of Dance on Harding Way and forces me into a program of servitude under the tutelage of one Betty Hackett, a handsome woman clearly possessed of a cultured upbringing, dripping with poise and grace, yet able to lose her shit if one child in a gaggle of 2 to 5 year olds missed their ball-step-turn causing a 24 kid pile up in the middle of a recital for grinning mommies and grandmothers and grumpy how-long-is-this-going-to-take-I’m-missing-the-game daddies, She could scream loud enough to make a couple of the kids wet themselves and wake up the grumpy daddies who had drifted off.

I spent the next 3 years tap dancing to “Shine On Harvest Moon” whenever Betty could convince a Fair, PTA Meeting, Hospital, or Seniors home that if they didn’t add us to the entertainment roster at the Festival of Trailers, or Annabelle’s 101st Birthday Bash, or the Gluten Cove County Fair, she would have the IRS audit their hardware stores and other businesses.

WE tapped a lot.

I ended up dancing at Betty’s until I was 14 years old. She asked me to teach ballroom, but by then, I had drank Elvis’s Kool Aid and had become a member of the cult of Rock and Roll.

She was a wonderful, talented, caring teacher and friend.

According to Billboard, the number 1 record when I turned 2 was by a guy named Tex Williams.  He was an American Western swing musician from Ramsey, Illinois. His biggest hit was the novelty song, “Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! (That Cigarette)“, which held the number one position on the Billboard charts for sixteen weeks in 1947. – Wikipedia

Okay …now the weirdness continues with the songs that were popular during key moments in my life. Started smoking when I was 9 years old, thanks to my cousin Diane, and my Grandma Kay.

Shut up. It was a different time. Otherwise, if it were today, Grandma would probably be doing time.

White Rap, Yo.

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AUGUST 28TH 1950

I Turn Five and My Dad Demands His Pound of Flesh

After my mother got me tap dancing it was only a matter of time before my father figured it was time to get some payback for me taking up room and eating his spumoni ice cream and biscotti’s. So what does he do?

He gifts me on my birthday not with Lionel Trains, or Big Little Books, or a trip to Pixie Woods. No. He hands me what looks like a little black suitcase and stands there looking at me.

At first I thought, “Did he pack a suitcase for me?”

Am I being traded for 2 one year olds and a daughter to be named later? Am I being sent down to the minors!?

Finally, he says, “Open it”

I gingerly undid the hasps, praying that the little suitcase wasn’t full of snakes.

I know what this is …at least it’s not snakes.

It’s an Italian rite of passage.

The Scots have a similar Rite of Passage. The one where boys learn to drink Scotch without grimacing and pretend it tastes good. Ditto the Irish and Irish Whiskey. Please.

From the time I was five and started playing on my first twelve-button-bass accordion and continuing after I graduated to the gigantic hundred and twenty-eight bass button monstrosity that damn near outweighed me, I spent quite a bit of time as the featured act at the “WHEREVER MY PARENTS HAD DINNER” Dinner  Theatre.

My mother loved to cook (which gave me my love of cooking) and threw a lot of dinner parties. My dad would trot me out after dinner, and I’d play and get silver dollars and fifty-cent pieces and tousled hair, and now and then my grandfather or my uncle would slip me five bucks as their way of saying, “Go back to your room.”, more than likely so they could have a few drinks after dinner and tell the racy stories and jokes they heard down at the Elks or Moose Lodge without my mom, going, “Al …the boy!”

Here Kid …Now Beat It

Nevertheless, I did pretty well financially providing cheap after dinner entertainment for family and friends, and sometimes for total strangers when we went OUT to dinner and Pop made me drag the Italian BanjoBagpipe with me.

There were no Labour Laws back then. Not only did I not get union breaks, I had to eat in the kitchen and come and go by the back door/service entrance.

Nah …I’m kidding. I got to eat at the big table and just walk to my room afterward, but I had to finish with “Lady of Spain” and collect my pay before I could go to the bathroom.

There were a few close calls.

The Number 1 song on my birthday in 1950?

This Hudie Ledbetter – Alan Lomax classic that just screams the blues, but in waltz time and strings, which help cover up the incredibly sad lyrics …which in turn, just translate as people half cut in a bar whining about their miserable lives. The Weavers with the Gordon Jenkins Orchestra. My love of roots music is intact here. Make what you will of the lyric. Maybe I’ll listen to it again later with a half a bottle of bourbon in me.

I played the accordion from the age of five until I turned twelve, and then my Destiny arrived in the form of a cheap guitar and a Banjo player named Elbert.

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AUGUST 28TH 1957

Rock/Blues Icon? No. More Like Bad Haircut, Flappable Ears

My 12th birthday. The last year of my being a pre-teen, and the gateway to teenhood and a decade of questionable decisions and epic 4 leaf clover luck

My uncle Elbert was a relative from my Mother’s side of the Family. A band leader and the man who created the plectrum style of banjo playing, he was responsible for encouraging my musical ambitions, and exposing me to artists who are now considered to be Giants in their respective fields. because of him, I saw a lot of the greats most have only heard about.

On my 12th birthday, he gifted me with an AFof M membership, and a Student Prince guitar from Sears.

The guitar changed everything. More about that, and Uncle Elbert another time.

Here’s the Number 1 Record from August  1957 according to Billboard Magazine.

…and thank God. Three days later, Elvis was replaced by “Tammy” by Debbie Reynolds.

THIS song, the movie it came from, and the man himself changed EVERYTHING. I have less than half a dozen favourite Presley tunes.

This is one of them.

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Like I have said before …I had an incredible childhood.

In an incredible little town.

Surrounded by incredible people.

In an incredible time in history.

We’ll tackle my Teen Years next time I write about my life. Thank you for your patronage.

Exit through the gift shop …or you can crash on the couch.

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Segarini’s regular columns appear nightly on the piano bar spinning plates and dancing the Virginia Reel

dbawis-button7giphyBob “The Iceman” Segarini was in the bands The Family Tree, Roxy, The Wackers, The Dudes, and The Segarini Band and nominated for a Juno for production in 1978. He also hosted “Late Great Movies” on CITY TV, was a producer of Much Music, and an on-air personality on CHUM FM, Q107, SIRIUS Sat/Rad’s Iceberg 95, (now 85), and now publishes, edits, and writes for DBAWIS, continues to write music, make music, and record.

8 Responses to “Little Bobby’s Childhood in Pictures Words and Music”

  1. Mike Mcmanman Says:

    Enjoy reading about your life. Way more interesting than mine.

    • Everybody’s life is interesting, Mike.
      Unless you’re Amish …and even then, raising a barn, churning butter, and tricking out a buggy sound pretty interesting to me.

  2. Debra Welker Says:

    Really enjoyed your story and your witt. You are a great storyteller!

  3. Denny Ah-Tye Says:

    Great memories of our younger years in Stockton. Stagg High Class of ‘66.

  4. pamela1954 Says:

    Love your stories, Stockton was such a great place to grow up I feel we share the experience of growing up in a family business and all the wonderful childhood memories that go along with it as well as having an awesome family Love your writing style!!!!

  5. Glenn Gallup Says:

    I’ll horn in here to take a little credit, or blame, for Bob learning about Blues music. KWBR in Oakland was a lot of NorCal guys entry to roots music. And I’m the guy who put it on the radio evey time I went to the Bay Area. I think it was coming back from The Oakland Roadster Show. I dunno how Bob feels about it, I wouldn’t change a thing.

    • So true, Glenn. If it weren’t for you, I would have owned Pat Boone, Mitch Miller, and Jim Nabors LPs, instead of James Brown Live at the Apollo, Freddie King, and Ray Charles’ platters.
      Miss ya, Bud. Hope you and yours are healthy and safe.

  6. Christine Andreotti Hackett Says:

    I loved the story of your early years. My brother and I were both forced (persuaded) to take accordion lessons at age five. Did you take lessons from Lou Allara? Your story brought back a lot of fond childhood memories. Thank you!

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