“O.K. I’ll go first!” My friend Barbara pumped hard backward and then extended her long, lean legs to the front as she slidoff the canvas seat.
“Sunday, Monday, Happy Days,” she sang in mid-air. She landed gracefully in the sand and immediately struck a singers pose with an invisible microphone in hand. On cue, Lisa launched and chimed, “Tuesday, Wednesday, Happy Days.” Her long, dark hair rippling behind her.
I pushed the iron chains behind me as my swing reached its zenith. “Thursday, Friday, Happy Days,” I landed with a thump, but quickly recovered in the rock star position.
Barb nodded hard and we all blasted, “Saturday, what a day, dancin’ all week with you.”
We were ten year old products of mid-seventies television. The sitcom Happy Days was in its first run and looking back now, the jumping off the swings on each phrase was brilliant choreography on Barb’s part.
After we had exhausted our act, Lisa decided we should sing “Half-breed” a song made popular by Cher. We had probably seen her perform this sultry tune on a recent Sonny and Cher variety hour. Cher was undoubtedly swaying in an impossibly low-cut fringed, buckskin outfit balancing an enormous feather headdress.
After a brief discussion, we figured it probably wouldn’t work well as a swing song, so we began marching shoulder to shoulder around the perimeter of the playground, belting the lyrics.
“My father married a pure Cherokee; my mother’s people were ashamed of me. Indian’s said I was white by law white men always called me “Indian Squaw.” Half-breed! That’s all I ever heard, half breed how I learned to hate that word. Half breed, she’s no good they warned, both sides were against me from the day I was born!”
Lisa, with her long black hair, shook her head like the Cher and even licked her lips between lyrics. We attracted other kids to our throng as we crooned by clusters of kickballers, hopscotchers and see-sawers. We sang more and more passionately and linked arms, seven mostly-soprano-singers wide.
We were deep in the second verse and starting another chorus when the recess monitor blew the first warning whistle to stop and “freeze.” The second whistle would release us and we would head back to our respective class lines and file back into the school. Well, we were so enraptured by our singing that we didn’t hear the first whistle and started on the third verse of Half Breed.
Full of giddiness and grandeur, I shouted in Barb’s ear. “Everyone stopped playing and is watching us!” to us.” Barb stopped in her tracks and our chain of kids buckled. In unison, we looked back at her. “It’s the recess-is-over whistle!” she whispered frantically.
We froze and waited to for the second whistle to release us. The trill signaled a massive sprint to our class lines where we waited in silence and then filed in. Later, during art class, Mr. Scarpa, our super-cool art teacher who wore blue jeans made of denim squares and had shoulder length, wavy Bee Gees hair and mustache said, “You girls were pretty good singing out there today! I heard you from the teacher’s lounge!”