There was a time back in Seventies when I couldn’t wait to watch the evening news.
I wanted to know what was going on, of course, but I was especially interested in the sign off.
During its weekend broadcasts, Channel 7, the local ABC affiliate, would show nighttime footage of New York City during the closing credits while playing this lovely, soothing music.
This was well before, the Internet, DVRs or YouTube, where you can now access just about any kind of recording any time you want.
Back then I had to make sure I was sitting in front of our old Motorola at 11:27pm or I would miss it.
New York was in pretty rough shape back then, so these relaxing few moments provided a nice break from the wall-to-wall mayhem that seemed to follow us every day.
As crazy as the city was, this mellow music seemed to tell you it was okay to slow down a little bit and look forward to the morning. It was a little melancholy perhaps, but it was also a soundtrack for hope.
My mother loved the music as well and she often hummed along with it. And there was this one night when she, my brother Peter, and I were all watching TV when the Channel 7 began its sign off.
“Oh,” my mother sighed. “I’d love to find out the name of this music.”
Now my brother and I were teenagers and thus certified smartasses who looked for all sorts of ways to be annoying. On this evening my brother decided to give our mother a hard time.
“I hope you never find it,” he wisecracked.
This comment did not go over well with my mother and she didn’t hold back her feelings.
Yes, that’s right, my sainted mother, who hated foul language with like a temperance leader hated hooch, had just dropped the S-bomb.
What I remember most about the next few minutes was my brother’s reaction, as he put his head back and roared with laughter.
Meanwhile my mother sat there with this confused and embarrassed look on her face.
“Is that something bad?” she asked quite sincerely.
Poor thing, she honestly didn’t know that the word “scumbag” was a swear word. I can only recall a few occasions in my life when I heard her let loose with the profanities and each time she had the perfect excuse.
“I was provoked,” she would solemnly declare.
And she certainly was that night. Naturally my brother tortured her with his rendition of her verbal misstep for months-perhaps years-after it happened.
Channel 7 eventually changed the closing credits on its weekend broadcasts and we pretty much forgot about that lovely music.
But then years later, while living in Connecticut, I learned that the name of that piece of music was “Forgotten Dreams,” and it had been written by a man named Leroy Anderson, who had once lived in nearby Woodbury.
Born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Leroy Anderson was also the composer of several popular tunes, including "The Syncopated Clock,” which CBS used to introduce The Late Show, “The Typewriter Song,” which used an actual typewriter as an instrument—Youngsters will have to Google “typewriter” to understand what I’m talking about--and the holiday classic, “Sleigh Ride.”
It’s hard to believe that one man was responsible for all this fabulous music. Upon learning his named, I zipped up to the local mall and somehow got a copy of his greatest hits, which included “Forgotten Dreams. “
My family was having a get together at my aunt’s summer home in the Berkshires that particular year and I prevailed upon my brother to bring his portable CD player so I could play “Forgotten Dreams” for my mother, some 20-odd years since she that fateful night.
Her search was finally over and she didn’t even have to hurl any expletives.
I have no idea whatever became of that CD, but I’m glad I was able to help her. For some reason came back to me last week and this time I found it after a quick web search.
I invite you to listen to “Forgotten Dreams.” I’m confident that you’ll enjoy it as much as we all did.
And, if you don’t, well, my mother has the perfect word for you.