How The Blue Oyster Cult Taught Me My Parents Were Cool

April 21, 2016 in Family life

The Essential Blue Öyster Cult

The Essential Blue Öyster Cult (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This post is in honor of my mother, who would have been 78 years-old today. 

Unless your father is David Beckham and your mother is a Spice Girl, most kids don’t grow up thinking their parents are cool. My parents were regular people with regular careers, who wanted my brother and me to have a typical upbringing in a suburb on Long Island, about 20 miles east of New York City. My parents moved there to take advantage of the reputable school system and easy commute to the city.

Although our community had its share of well-to-do folks who wore expensive outfits and drove flashy cars, my family lived on the more low-key side of town. My father was a physician and my mother was a nurse, both of whom had impressive careers, although you’d never know it if you saw our house, which was an underachiever at best. Our house was a modest, split-level with an erratic mix of antiques and mismatched 70’s style décor, including the burnt orange shag rug in the den that our dog regularly relieved himself on.

Some of the other houses on our street were larger and had more curb appeal, but for the most part it was a quiet street with quaint Tudors and colonials.

Except for the house directly across the street from ours.

This particular house was large, but very rundown. It seemed to cater to a revolving door of renters, because no one wanted to take on the task of owning a fixer-upper. We were always curious who would rent the house next. For a few years, a race car driver and his wife lived there, along with their Alaskan Malamute named Zachary, who would pull us down the street with his leash attached to our Big Wheels. After they moved out, a group of five guys became the new tenants. We quickly discovered they were musicians. We weren’t quite sure if they had other jobs, but for several hours each day, we’d hear drumming, singing, and electric guitars. During the summer, my mom always pushed our windows wide open so we had front row “seats” to this mini concert each day, which echoed up and down the street.

The other families within earshot of this house were less than pleased with the noise emanating from it and the other local kids labeled this house as the one with the bearded hippies, but to us they were just our neighbors who played music. Then, without much warning, the five hippies moved out and the house remained deserted for years. The kids on our street began calling it the haunted house, and as it fell into further disrepair, the house became scarier each day.

In 1973, a year or two after the hippies had left, one of the guys from that house showed up at our front door and gave my mother a copy of their first recorded album. He told her that in one of the songs, the lyrics referenced her and my dad with the phrase “doctors and their wives.” He wanted her to have a copy of the album with that song because, as he explained, my mom and dad were the only neighbors who never complained about their practicing at all hours.

My mother was flattered that he came back to gift her with the album, but never realized that the fledgling band across the street had now become the Blue Oyster Cult. Although my parents got a kick out of hearing the band’s rock and roll music each day, their musical knowledge was strictly limited to classical so even as the band member told her they were now known as the Blue Oyster Cult, that name did not register even the slightest recognition with my mother. In fact, it had so little meaning to her that she neglected to tell us about the album when we got home from school that day.

It wasn’t until my mother mentioned the album-gifting story to my brother and me many years later that we clued her in to the legendary rock star status of the Blue Oyster Cult. She laughed at being so uninformed about their fame.

I joked with my mother that she and my father were partially responsible for their success, by allowing – and enjoying — future rock stars to jam. The Blue Oyster Cult may have been the ultimate rock band from the 70s and 80s, but now I know my mom and dad were the ultimate cool parents on the block too.

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Julie April 21, 2016 at 10:02 am

What a great memory. I love it.

Thinking about you today as you honor and remember your mother. I hope this day is filled with more peace and joy than sorrow.

You are loved.
Julie recently posted…The Power of the Holy SlumpMy Profile

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ohboymom April 21, 2016 at 1:49 pm

Thanks so much Julie – your thoughts are always sweet and meaningful. :)

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Janet April 21, 2016 at 11:31 am

Oh, wow – you’re my old neighbor! I grew up right around the block (on VV Rd.). Our house faced down toward your street, and whenever I heard the band practicing, I’d drop whatever I was doing, go sit on our lawn and listen for as long as they played, pretty much mesmerized. They were amazing. I loved all the cats, too.

I so appreciate this memory. I know your mother would, too. Thank you :)

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ohboymom April 21, 2016 at 1:48 pm

Hi neighbor! Thank you for reminding me about the cats – almost forgot about them! I think my mom used to feed them when they wandered over to our house – perhaps another reason the band gave her that album.:) Thanks so much for reading and commenting – I’m glad I could help you remember a happy time.

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Christine Carter April 21, 2016 at 1:13 pm

Oh Emily! What a fantastic story!! I don’t remember that band, so now I want to google it to find out who they are. I just love the way you are able to write this story so brilliantly, as I envisioned your house and the street and your parents being so humble and SO COOL.

I’ll be thinking of you today, as you remember your mom and the true gift of a woman that she was. Although my heart aches for your loss, it rejoices in knowing how much she meant to you and how beautiful your relationship was. That is a gift that surely lives on…
Christine Carter recently posted…About Those Home Projects…My Profile

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ohboymom April 21, 2016 at 1:46 pm

Thanks Chris – you always have the most beautiful and comforting words – I appreciate your comments so much! And, google the song “Burnin for You” or “Don’t Fear the Reaper” – those songs were two of their big hits that you would likely remember.

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Kristi Campbell April 21, 2016 at 7:04 pm

Such a cool memory, Emily! WOW. So many hugs and much love to you today as you think about this and other wonderful memories that you shared with your mom. <3
Kristi Campbell recently posted…If I Only Had More TimeMy Profile

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ohboymom April 23, 2016 at 1:25 pm

Thanks Kristi, I think my mom was a hippie at heart, so those guys were great to have across the street from us.

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Bobby April 21, 2016 at 9:41 pm

I love your post. It is always great to hear about shared experiences from long ago

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ohboymom April 23, 2016 at 1:23 pm

Thanks Bobby, it’s fun to remember that time. And I appreciate your help in filling in the holes in my memories!

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Janine Huldie April 22, 2016 at 6:39 am

This is truly awesome and seriously love that your parents were referenced by The Blue Oyster Cult as they never complained with all the loud neighborhood practices. Also great tribute to your folks 😉
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ohboymom April 23, 2016 at 1:22 pm

Thanks Janine, it was a fun memory to write about. :)

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Julia April 23, 2016 at 10:34 am

Love it! And I’m friends on FB with Joe Bouchard, bass player for Blue Oyster Cult. I shared it to him on his page – let’s see what he says!!

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ohboymom April 23, 2016 at 1:21 pm

That’s so awesome Julia – thanks for sharing it with him too!

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Julia April 23, 2016 at 2:16 pm

So cool! He’s getting lots of likes on it and he himself liked it, too! You should friend him!!!

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ohboymom April 23, 2016 at 2:30 pm

Thanks Julia – maybe I will!

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Ralph April 23, 2016 at 4:02 pm

Hi

I’m actually documenting the history of Blue Oyster Cult’s band houses – is your recollection concerning the 5 Terrace Drive house (Great Neck)…?

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ohboymom April 23, 2016 at 10:41 pm

Yes, that is correct – they lived at 5 Terrace Drive (We were at #6 across the street). Very interesting that you are documenting that!

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Agent April 24, 2016 at 12:58 am

ohboyman, Ralph documents EVERYTHING! Google “Hot Rails to Hull”.
The song that references your parents is a real hard core Fan Favorite “Workshop of the Telescopes”
—“By silverfish imperetrix, whose incorrupted eye
sees through the charms of doctors and their wives
By salamander, drake, and the power that was undone
Rise to claim Saturn, ring and sky
By those who see with their eyes closed
you’ll know me by my black telescope”

And that makes your parents very cool, indeed.

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Ralph April 26, 2016 at 7:22 pm

I don’t suppose you have any photos of Terrace Drive from back in those days? I have a couple looking away from the bandhouse – perhaps towards your house, I dunno – it depends where exactly it was:

https://www.facebook.com/172395859439848/photos/a.1211139765565447.1073741845.172395859439848/1211139778898779/?type=3&theater

https://www.facebook.com/172395859439848/photos/a.1211139765565447.1073741845.172395859439848/1211139785565445/?type=3&theater

I have only one pic of the bandhouse from about 10 years ago before it was knocked down prior to redevelopment:

https://www.facebook.com/172395859439848/photos/a.1211139765565447.1073741845.172395859439848/1211144895564934/?type=3&theater

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ohboymom April 26, 2016 at 7:38 pm

I may in fact have some photos…I will check and if I have any, I will post to your Facebook page…

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