[This appeared in the July 8, 2004 edition of the Charleston Mercury.]
These boots were made for walking
I was almost a ‘60s sensation.
In the summer of ’66, I decided to form an all-girl rock band, a cutting edge idea at the time, especially for a girl of 10. I figured a generation that welcomed the Beatles, the Animals and the Rolling Stones would also be receptive to a group of pre-pubescent, relatively talent-less rockers of another sort. I was clearly ahead of my time.
My friends, Nancy and Cheryl, joined me in something of a post-Lennon Sisters/pre-Spice Girls endeavor aimed at attracting mobs of adoring 12-year-old boys. My dad always said, “If you’re going to dream, you might as well dream big.” At the time, I couldn’t imagine anything bigger than the adoration of boys, although I have undergone a process of enlightened since then.
Finding the perfect name for our group didn’t take long. We quickly settled on “The Dogs,” as we reasoned that people actually liked dogs and weren’t particularly fond of icky bugs like beetles.
And so the sweet summer breezes of ’66 inspired a small pack of howling pre-teenage girls dreaming of rock ’n roll stardom. The summer after fourth grade marked the greatest of a lifetime, a season where I fell asleep every night already wrapped in my dreams and arose every morning with my eye on a goal.
Long rehearsals filled the hours between bike-riding, jump rope and neighborhood kick-ball games. The rehearsals mostly consisted of us lip-syncing to Nancy Sinatra’s greatest (only) hit, These Boots are Made for Walking.
These boots are made for walking. And that’s just what I’ll do. One of these days these boots are gonna walk all over you.
We howled and danced to that song playing on my record player so many times I’m surprised my mother didn’t do some walking herself–to the first bar stool in the next county.
The act took a giant step forward when Nancy acquired a genuine pair of fashionable white go-go boots. Those boots, coupled with her naturally blond flowing hair, established her as the centerpiece of our act. But I didn’t mind. I was the undisputed “leader of the band.”
As the leader, I instinctively knew we needed something more than a scratchy 45 record of Nancy Sinatra, one pair of boots, and a burning desire for fame. Somehow, my ability to pound out Petula Clark’s Downtown on the piano with the best of them, and Cheryl’s year of viola lessons didn’t figure into our musical plans. What we really needed, I finally concluded, was WARDROBE!
Hounding our mothers into making us look-alike stage dresses wasn’t the chore I expected. As luck would have it, we found the perfect fabric in the remnant pile down at the Woolworth. With just a little prodding of our mothers to their respective sewing machines, we soon had fabulous clothing befitting our name. Our new sleek shifts were made of a cotton/polyester blend with a classic bright white background splattered with even brighter pink poodles. The simple sleeveless design was complemented by a big flouncy collar. True to our name, we looked exactly like three freshly clipped and coiffured poodles in our dog dresses. I’ve never felt as pretty or as perfect as I did wearing my dress. It was more than a pink and white puff-of-a-thing–it was also a symbol of my mother’s support. It was her way of telling me it was OK to dream.
Ultimately, the season of rock ’n roll ended and fifth grade began. We all moved on to other dreams.
Even though Nancy and I showed up on the first day of junior high dressed alike, I am semi-positively sort of almost certain beyond a shadow of a self doubt that our dog dresses had previously landed in the rummage sale pile, fuel for someone else’s dreams of stardom. One can only hope.
Several years after the summer of “The Dogs,” my friend Brenda and I joined forces to give the music business another shot. This time we brandished guitars and sang folk music in the tradition of Peter, Paul and Mary. This time our motives were completely different. This time we wanted recognition as strong independent-thinking women–attracting mobs of adoring 16-year-old boys. Great dreams die hard.
All these years later, I’m still a dreamer. I believe our dreams are who we really are. Every one of us is a little bit rock star, a little bit astronaut, and a little bit Stanley Cup winner. Deep in our souls, our humanness drives us to want to leave our cosmic mark in the vastness of a universe that is beyond our comprehension. Kilroy was here! Please make a note of it.
As children, we have the capacity to dream big. But once we’ve grown up and earned our place at the giant strip poker table of life, we often lose our nerve and resort to bluffing our way through the important things like our dreams. Or worse, we fold and give up on them all together.
Now 30-some years of hindsight later, I realize that “The Dogs” probably wasn’t such a great name for an all-girl rock band. But I also realize that dreams can be built on lesser things than an 89 cent fabric remnant adorned with pink poodles. And most importantly I realize that dreams can come true if we’re true to them.
I may have missed out on becoming a 60s sensation, but my chance to become a 60-year-old sensation still lies ahead. I’m going for it.
Are you ready, boots? Start walking.
Copyright © 2019 by Patra Taylor Bucher. All rights reserved.
Here’s more family humor from one of the Charleston Mercury columnists, Patra Taylor.
July 8, 2004