I own an original single of Fats Domino’s Blueberry Hill. It is a 1960 Dutch release on the Imperial label, catalogue number AI 107. The story of getting into possession of the single contains a school-journey, plaster and guilt.
The school-journey, a yearly phenomenon, always generated lots of anticipation. In 1977 I was 11 years old and was in fifth grade of elementary school “de Wegwijzer” in Heerhugowaard, The Netherlands. On May 26th we were to go to a themepark (I don´t remember which one exactly). It was a beautiful day, almost summer (temperature-wise). Everything indicated that the coming summer was going to be as beautiful as the summer of 1976, when even the school roster was altered, because of the continuing high temperatures.
Anyway, the bus drove off with everybody in high spirits for a great day of children’s pleasures. Halfway through the journey we stopped: get off the bus for a short while, eat, drink, and then continue the journey. In the meantime we could play somewhat. Jumping over (small) ditches, great fun! Until the moment I misjudged a jump and seemed to fall somewhat unluckily. But, thankfully, I could catch myself using my arms.
But, something was off. I was in pain, and lots too. It was estimated that it was nothing really serious and off we went to the theme park. I grew ever more silent and pale and my arms hurt badly. I lost my appetite. Once we got to the theme park we went to the first aid post at the park. My arms had turned into an unnatural color (I seem to remember they were red containing white spots). But the first aid ‘specialists’ had good tidings (for the guides anyway): a minor bruise. It would soon heal itself.
The rest of the day I was apathetic, didn’t feel like doing anything and had excruciating pain. I remember vividly I couldn’t move my arms at all. It seemed it was something serious, but the first aid post had said that…
I don’t remember the journey back home. My mother told me later that I left the bus looking white as a sheet and she immediately recognized something was seriously wrong. Finally at home I could lie down on the couch. Some rest! I remember vividly where I laid and the way the sun came shining into the back-room. My mother wore a denim skirt, I can still see it in front of me. She walked by and the movement of the air made me cringe in pain. That was it then: straight to the family doctor. Not our regular family doctor Oudeniel, for he was absent. I can remember we went to the practice at the Dreef, across from the deer-park in Heerhugowaard. Now another doctor uses the practice, but thanks to the current practice I know it had to be doctor Meijer I went to see. This visit was very short: straight to the hospital.
In the meantime I was half out of it and scared. The pain was unbearable. Just pointing at my arm was drama.
In the hospital photo’s were made. And what was the diagnosis? A broken arm, according to the doctor. My father took a look at the photographs as well and noticed the other one was broken too. Well, yes: a broken arm and a broken wrist! After both arms were plastered thew pain was soon bearable. Around 9 PM we were home again and I was hungry, I hadn´t eaten all day. The fact I was hungry was a good sign.
My mother worked at the school´s board, so the commitment the school felt towards me and my family was slightly higher than average. I can imagine that the irritation and anger about the way things were handled that day were bluntly put into words. I know that the management and supervisors were heavily startled and, rightfully so, deeply ashamed. To let an 11 year old walk around all day with broken arms, while something was obviously wrong, was irresponsible.
What does all of this have to with music then?
The day after our school-journey, our teacher, mister Molenaar, was going to raffle some of his own singles in class. Back then, music was much more important among youth and children, than it is now. Much of the pocket-money was spent on singles (mine was anyway). Because I arrived at school with both arms plastered, and the feeling of guilt was huge, I got to pick one of the singles (no lottery for me). I had first choice and it came down to making a choice between Jefferson Airplane’s Somebody To Love (probably because of the title: it had the same title as a Queen song that I loved) and Fats Domino’s Blueberry Hill. I chose Blueberry Hill. And so, from May 27th 1977 on I am the proud owner of that single.
Soon, all was well. I thought it was kinda tough also. I had two mitella’s and was forced to keep my arms up during the first two to three days. I felt just like Freddie Mercury on the cover of the Queen II album. Well, children adapt so easily.
In the end, my arms turned out alright. But, first off, after not discovering the second fracture, a second mistake was made at the hospital. Procedure dictated that my plaster should be renewed after two weeks. The old would go and new plaster would be applied. However, in my case the procedure hick-upped. The final plaster was applied over the old one. It didn’t bother me (what did I know?), but my arms were rather heavy. I clearly remember that, when the plaster was finally removed, my arms were literally floating through the air. Luckily, it was removed just before the summer vacation.
And it provided enough to talk about: at school and during the evaluation of the school-journey. Even in 2017 the story has a purpose.
This is my story about how Fats Domino’s Blueberry Hill ended up being in my possession. Do you have a similar story on how you ended up getting something, which, given your age at the time, you normally wouldn’t have? Let me know, tell your story!
De Wegwijzer early 1970’s image: schoolbank.nl
school-journey 1970’s image: anp-archief.nl
Deer-park Heerhugowaard image: heerhugowaardsdagblad.nl
Wrist fracture image: chirurgie-anna.nl
Fats Domino – Blueberry Hill image: 45cat.com
Queen – Freddie Mercury on the Queen II cover image: sfae.com