I went to New York for my friend Marianne’s 60th birthday. Getting there was quite an adventure. I boarded the Amtrak train in Lancaster, PA. We barely made it past two stations when the power went out on the entire train. About a half hour later, they fixed the problem and we were rolling again. But the problem wasn’t really fixed. We made it past two more stations and lost power again. Once again it took about a half hour to “fix” the problem, and we were rolling again. We were only about 6 miles from Philadelphia when the train lost power again. This time they weren’t able to restore power, but they did come up with a Plan B.
Philadelphia was downhill from where we were stuck, so they decided to attempt to coast into the station. They released the pneumatic brake and we started rolling slowly. Gradually the train picked up speed and we made it all the way to the Philadelphia station. Once there, they announced that there would be a delay while they switched engines. Passengers could, if they so desired, walk over to track 3 and catch a train to New York, which would be leaving soon. Almost everyone raced towards track 3. It was like the lifeboat scene in Titanic. I was the only one to stay on board. I was on my way to a Patty’s Day party and it was only Thursday, so I wasn’t in a hurry. About 40 minutes later we were rolling to New York – the new engine, the train crew, and me. I had a private train all the way to Trenton, where two guys got on. Since it was no longer a private party, I had to take my music off speaker then and go back to wearing a headset. Fortunately, I took enough video while the train was my private train, so I’ll be able to put something on FaceBook to commemorate the day.
Marianne’s party was one of the best ever. As usual, she had hired Bob Gier to play the piano and entertain, but this time a bunch of us had parody songs prepared to honor Marianne. Her sister Geralyn channeled Robert Palmer to do a very funny parody of Addicted to Love. “Might as well face it that you’re over the hill.” One of Marianne’s cousins and her other two sisters, Eileen and Janet, played the gorgeous backup band who never crack a smile. They had the gorgeous part of the act, but couldn’t help laughing throughout the song. I can’t blame them. I was cracking up, too.
The entire O’Hara clan got up to do a riotous tribute parody to the tune of Piano Man. “It’s 9 o’clock on a Saturday. The regular crowd shuffles near. There’s a young gal sitting next to me, making love to her 60th beer.” More cousins and friends did their rewrite of If I Only had a Brain, that was a mini biography of Marianne. “A Driscoll she did marry, Producer legendary. Twelve Emmys he has won. Three children they created, all with talent unabated. Yes, one daughter and two sons.”
The talent included performances by real live Broadway and Off-Broadway performers. None were easy acts to follow, so my friend Johnny and I were nervous when it was time for us to perform a parody of Chuck Berry’s Sweet Little Sixteen we called, Sweet Little Sixty. “They’ll be rocking in Merrick, Lancaster, PA, On the streets of New York, As long as Bob can play, All over Long Island, And way across the sea, All the cats want to dance with Sweet Little Sixty.”
Afterwards, I found out that Chuck Berry had just died. Some said that our “singing” of his song is what killed him, but I don’t think we were loud enough to be heard in St. Louis, though, goodness knows we tried.
Rock on Marianne. Roll on to Rock N Roll Heaven, Chuck.
Peace & Love, and all of the above,