Fountain of youth discovered in Rosemount

by John Loch
Special to Sun Thisweek
Dakota County Tribune

We all have heard that there is no “fountain of youth” and that we can’t bring back our youth. I disagree, witnessing the audience last week at the Steeple Center in Rosemount.

The Rosemount Area Arts Council has sponsored a “tribute band” concert series this winter at the Steeple Center. Starting in January with “Bob” the music of Bob Dylan it continued in February with “A Hard Day’s Night” the Beatles. March brought “That’ll be the Day” with Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper. Last week ABBA “Absolutely Fab” tribute band performed to another sellout crowd. Next month will be Elvis and Roy “Pretty Woman” Orbison — “The Kings of Heartbreak Hotel.”

Sixty has been the average age of the audiences (ABBA brought the average down because of a wider range of appeal). But what one witnessed were people being transported back to their 20s and 30s. Dancing in the aisles, waving their arms, shaking their “booty,” holding up lighters (replaced by cellphones) laughing, whistling, clapping, and generally “feeling the music” the only thing missing was the sweet smell that used to permeate concert venues.

This was a far cry from those that had slowly and gingerly walked in. No oxygen tanks were in evidence but a few inhalers were used and there was a wheelchair and a walker. A number of hearing aids were replaced with ear plugs.

The 60s were being revisited along with flashbacks of listening to the latest top 40 on KDWB and WDGY (63 that’s easy to remember). Every week brought new hits from new bands, the British invasion, Beach Boys, protests, hippies, the Mamas and Papas, Dylan, Denver, Everly Brothers, Hit Parade, American Bandstand, eating at drive-ins, going to drive-in movie theaters (sneaking your friends in that were hiding in the trunk), sock-hops, stuffing phone booths or Volkswagen Beetles, Woodstock, flower children, bell-bottoms and free love (nothing I personally experienced). Remember the TV shows “Father Knows Best,” The Monkees,” “Dobbie Gillis,” “Gilligan’s Island,” Maxwell Smart, James Bond. Oh the memories just keep flooding back.

Remembering your first car, date, job, kiss, you get the picture. The carefree days until “the War.” We try to forget that part but it defined us; the draft, protest marches. sit-ins, Kent State, Watts, Watergate, Nixon, body bags, the lies. The anguish. The feeling we aren’t going to accept this. We are going to make a difference. The future is ours. Things have to change.

For two hours we could forget our aches and pains, our troubles, and we could leave our inhibitions at the door. We were set free to enjoy the moment, the music, that 70-year-old woman swaying in front of you transformed into a barefoot girl with flowers in her hair. Oh “what a night.”

At the end of the concerts we are usually congratulated with a “good show,” “we enjoyed it,” “great band” being mumbled as the audience filed out. Now all of a sudden we were hearing “I feel great” and “this was wonderful.” People gathered in groups and mingled. One heard “do you remember” and “let’s go party.” They didn’t want to leave because they knew they were going back to reality. Tomorrow morning they were going to ache. They had to get to a doctor’s appointment.

So yes, there is a “fountain of youth.” It resides in all of us but we keep it hidden until we are reminded it of it. Music can do that. We need to talk and share more with others our age. Storytelling and looking at old photographs can help but music seems to somehow open are memories. Certain smells can do that also. I recently read that a brief scent can quickly transport us to a specific place, a time. Our brain doesn’t forget. The scent of pine takes me to the resorts up North. The smell of hot dogs to baseball games at the “Met.” Freshly cut grass makes me think I am driving past a freshly cut alfalfa field.

You have heard it many times but stop and smell the roses. Dig out and dust off your old 45 record player and records with the plastic insert in the middle. Pour yourself a glass of wine, light up some incense, put your feet up, lean back, close your eyes, turn on the music, relax and find your own “fountain of youth.”

John Loch, a retired longtime Rosemount pharmacist, is a member of the Rosemount Area Arts Council. Columns reflect the opinion of the author.