Baltimore, radio nights of 1959.
I’ve always enjoyed listening to radios: AM broadcast, shortwave broadcast, communications radios of all shapes and sizes. In 1959, I was a boy of 13 in Towson, Maryland, a Baltimore suburb. I loved to listen to an AM radio disk jockey named Larry Dean. He called himself “Long, tall, lean, lanky Larry Dean”. He’d close each show at midnight by playing the Moonglows’ “Ten Commandments of Love”. His last words each night were “Remember your A-B-C’s: Always Be Cool”.
Larry’s smooth voice would waft across my darkened bedroom, punctuated by not the white bread Bobby-this or Tommy-that pablum. No, Larry played tunes that most “white” stations didn’t play: groups like the Moonglows, the Penguins, the Flamingos, the Robins, the Coasters, as well as Little Richard, Fats Domino, Bo Diddley, and Chuck Berry. I loved them all, and looked forward to falling asleep each night while serenaded by my 5-tube plastic AM radio. John Waters’ movie Hairspray captured that 1959 Baltimore magic. We really did use the word “drape” to describe what our parents called a JD (juvenile delinquent).
When my family moved away from Baltimore, I couldn’t listen to Larry’s “ABC” instruction so my coolness drained away. Over the years I’ve wondered who Larry was and what he looked like. Thanks to the worldwide web and its search engines, I now know that when I listened to him, Larry was in his 30’s and on his way up the deejay ladder. He always impressed me as a really decent man. According to Larry Dean’s on-line gravesite, he was.
Refrain: Oh how happy we will be, if we keep The Ten Commandments Of Luh-uh-uh-uh-uv.