In our family this
story has become legendary, and like most legends its truthfulness
is worth questioning.
Mom swore it happened and her honesty was something you could
set your watch by, and that’s good enough for me, especially
because it’s about me and reminds people that I was once
My oldest brother was a operating on the grass and dirt of a
Southern California baseball diamond. By “operating” I mean he was
playing, baseball to be precise. “Operating” just sounds more like
a college word than “playing,” so I went there. Jim, the brother I
mentioned earlier, played for the Twins in the Mustang League in
West Covina, a Los Angeles suburb that was once home to Lee Majors
and developments built on top of a cancer-inducing former landfill.
We didn’t live on the former landfill, so we weren’t at risk for
cancer except for all the smoking and breathing outside air.
I’m told Jim was pretty good, but I was only somewhere between 3
and 5 years old, so my interests were elsewhere. In one memorable
moment my interest was going to the bathroom, so I ambled over to
the portable outhouses they set up near the bleachers and went
about my business. I’m guessing it was a seated affair, because I
had time to sing “I’m Henry VIII, I Am” at full throat. Outside at
least one man was waiting his turn as I sang. Apparently he wasn’t
in an urgent state, because he was smiling.
Back then young Americans worshipped at the Beatles altar, but I
was a Herman’s Hermits man, myself. My brother had a stack of
albums (What you kids might call “vinyl.”) and often at the front
of the pack was Noone’s face. Mom wasn’t much a fan of 60s music,
Dad even less so, referring to it often as “rotten roll,” then
laughing, usually with his mouth full. Jim would play his records
in his room. I was sometimes not allowed in, by Mom or maybe Jim,
so I would many times sit outside listening to what would become my
own personal Wonder Years soundtrack.
The outhouse incident I’ve described is not one I remember. I
obviously had the ability to speak, and sing, but this memory does
not exist for me. Nonetheless I don’t doubt it. As I mentioned I
was a big fan of Herman and his gang (I thought Peter Noone’s name
was “Herman.” I’m sure people older than I thought the same thing.)
and I was an even bigger fan of singing whenever the notion struck.
To some degree I still do that, though it’s not cute anymore.
The memories I do have involving Herman’s Hermits include
singing “Dandy” as a solo in my first-grade class. Seriously, it
was sharing time, so thought it would be good to sing. I also
remember my heart aching for Debbie Frazin every time I heard
“There’s a Kind of Hush.” There were lots of sappy love songs in
the 1960s. That song, though, had a depth even a 6-year-old could
admire, a vision of an entire world so mesmerized by love that it
falls silent. Poetic genius, perfectly elocuted by Noone.
That Noone and the rest of the Hermits are performing Saturday
at the Admiral Theatre in Bremerton on the same weekend my oldest
brother is here visiting us from Hawaii was a message from God. I
saw McCartney last year and did a whole podcast afterward about how
much my brothers needed to go see him. Neither Jim or I have seen
the Hermits before, so this is just pefect. I predict I will
probably cry like a little boy when Noone appears, not crushed like
the young female Brown’s former boyfriend, but because I’ll be into
something good for a couple of hours, something that has lasted
almost five decades for me now.
EPILOGUE: No crying at the beginning, but when the Hermits broke
into “There’s a Kind of Hush” at the end of the concert I got a
The music in the show
was as good as I would have hoped. What surprised me was how funny
Noone was. He bordered on Don Rickles humor at times, saying
some people from Belfair must have driven their in their
house. I only wished he had said it about Port Orchard, the
historical butt of my jokes.
My brother Jim, the bushy-mustached one in the photo here
interacting with Noone, spent a few decades of his life on the
radio in Honolulu. When I was taking Jim’s picture with Noone my
brother asked when Noone and the rest of the Hermits would make it
over to Hawaii. Noone said they don’t get over there much, but
mentioned concert promoter and radio/TV personality
Moffatt. It turns out Moffatt is a friend of my
brother’s. Noone mentioned that Moffatt introduced him to Elvis,
then asked my brother to say “Hello” to Tom for him.
The Belfair reference was part of a string of local jokes. He
poked fun at the airport in SeaTac, gas station attendants, and got
the whole bit rolling by saying that when he was a kid he always
dreamed that one day he would get to play at the “Admiral Theatre
in Bremerton, Washington.” I was on vacation last week, part of it
in Portland and I saw a poster advertising a Herman’s Hermits show
at a casino down in Oregon. I would love to go, mostly to hear all
the same jokes related to the different locale.
There was a time when we would laugh at guys like Noone and
other musicians whose prime had passed, but they continued
performing. I saw Paul McCartney last year and it was one of the
best concerts I’ve ever attended. (I’d say one of the best I’d ever
“seen,” but man we were sitting far away.) I’ll continue to go to
any Springsteen concert. But neither McCartney or Springsteen are
good examples, because they never lost the ability to fill arenas.
I’m talking more about groups like REO Speedwagon or Three Dog
In reality, it was seeing Christopher Cross that made me finally
gain a renewed respect for performers whose hits are decades old.
Now I think it’s wonderful that these musicians can continue to
make a living by touring and performing for old and new audiences.
Now that I’ve seen my first favorite band, (Noone is the only
original Hermit in the current band, but he’s the most important
one to me.) I’m really glad that they do.
Their defense against the jokes is their own willingness to poke
fun at themselves. It’s like we’re all in on the joke. Noone
said something akin to being on the tour of musicians who haven’t
died yet. He asked to see if there were teenagers in the audience.
He asked them if their moms made them attend, then said it was
their grandmothers. He finished by joking that one of the young
girls had forced her mother to go to the concert. I bet that joke
will seem just as funny in Oregon.
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