“A small, redheaded girl from Centerville was a crowd favorite.” I’m not exactly sure that’s what the Cape Cod Times review said, but I can’t seem to find the clipping from the summer of 1985. I do remember my mother read it to me over breakfast while I wore my gold medal - a piece of cardboard covered with the band members’ autographs.
The night before, I had won Sha Na Na’s “Monster Mash” contest during their concert at the Melody Tent. I’m not sure the other contestants had a chance - it’s pretty easy to limbo under a plastic leg held by a man dressed as Frankenstein when you’re not even four feet tall.
Perhaps I was picked from the crowd because I was the only kindergartener in the place or maybe it was because my parents had known saxophonist Lennie Baker from back in their days working in the saloons of Falmouth, MA. Either way, it seemed like a perfectly ordinary - albeit wonderful - occurrence. Doesn’t every kid get to go on stage with the band from Grease and land in the papers?
I’d known that my parents used to hang out with the big redhaired guy on TV (remember when Sha Na Na had their own show?) and there were pictures of him holding me in my baby album. The only story my folks told about him his version of a diet - a six pack of light beers and a lettuce sandwich. That one anecdote certainly that doesn’t sum up their friendship or Lennie’s life. Then again, his obituary in the New York Times doesn’t either.
RIP Lennie. I can say "I knew you when," but that's more legend than fact.