American Top 40 PastBlast, 1/8/72: Three Dog Night, “An Old Fashioned Love Song”

This past Wednesday evening through Sunday afternoon, we hosted my cousin from Massachusetts and her friend. The four of us spent three days gallivanting all around these parts, and had quite the good time doing it. On Thursday, we took an informal tour of the horse country that surrounds the county in which I live, visited the local food co-op, and checked out a favorite Indian restaurant (the veggie samosas were especially to die for this time). Friday, we headed west to Louisville for a smallish but fascinating Picasso exhibit, a late lunch of massive non-standard burgers, and wrapped up with a trip to the very cool art studio of one of my cousin’s HS classmates. Saturday took us south and east, first to Richmond to see the church where my cousin’s parents were married and accidentally discover that the house where my grandparents had lived back in the early 70s had been recently demolished. After that, we went to the arts-and-crafts mecca of Berea. Dinner was at local landmark Boone Tavern, but before that we’d hit the state-run Kentucky Artisans Center and an amazing pottery, Tater Knob. The latter of these is fifteen minutes east of town; to call it “out of one’s way” is a sizable understatement. But I’m so glad we went–Sarah, the owner and one of the primary potters, was incredibly welcoming and gracious in showing us how she plies her craft. Martha and I bought a couple of juice cups–I have a feeling we’ll be going back again before all that long.

Needless to say, we were all a bit worn down by the end of our time together, but it was a fun, fun long weekend. Today, I’m back in the classroom, as Georgetown rings in the Spring 2020 semester. It’s good to see the students again.

Toward the end of our visit to Tater Knob, Sarah mentioned a business partnership of sorts she’s struck up recently with a group in Stanford, about forty miles to the west of the pottery. The folks there run a guest house, a farm-to-table restaurant, and a store featuring soaps and other handicrafts (such as Tater Knob pottery). What piqued my interest about this was that Stanford was the town where I lived between September 68 and June 72, covering the end of my pre-school days up through second grade. I’d been in town a little over two years ago, but hadn’t paid any attention to these Main Street businesses then (turns out they’re closed on Sunday, anyway). It’s not like I need all that much reason to return to the hometowns of my youth, but knowing about these might get me there a little sooner than otherwise.

During my second-grade year at Stanford Elementary, they undertook a school-wide spelling bee. Each grade was to select through competition one champion, and the six representatives would face off at an assembly. I had started reading at an early age, and spelling turned out to be one of those things that came pretty naturally to me. I wound up being the second-grade winner; I’d guess that within the next couple of weeks the assembly was held. Mom probably had me dress up somewhat. I remember the bright stage lights beating down on the six of us and whoever it was that served as pronouncer (the principal?). We all survived the first round, but my nerves weren’t calming down. The second word I got was a homophone–was I being asked about a body part or a first-person pronoun? I came to understand it was the latter. “i,” I said, and out to a seat in the crowd I went.

My recollection is that the sixth-grader won. He was someone I knew, an occasional companion on the afternoon walks home from school. Nice kid. I think he may offered some consolation the next time we walked together.

I did wind up having a modicum of spelling bee success a few years later, in seventh and eighth grades, but any tales about those can easily wait for some other time, if ever.

I have no idea what portion of the 71-72 school year the spelling competition took place, though I’m somewhat doubting it was January. Regardless, mention of my old stomping grounds over the weekend, in conjunction with the show selected by Premiere for rebroadcast, perhaps made it a decent choice for writing up now. Looking over this countdown, I realize that I was still some time away from regularly being able to focus on what was playing on the car radio in the moment (I was a few weeks shy of turning eight). But Three Dog Night was one group whose work I already had some awareness of. They had two songs on this show: “Never Been to Spain” debuts at #24, while “An Old Fashioned Love Song” tumbles from #4 to #18. The one that’s falling is among my favorites of theirs, so it gets the nod here. The speller in me is twitching over the lack of a hyphen in the title, however.

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