Oh, I knew the title would get everyone to take a peek at exactly what I was going to write about today. Well, guys, relax and listen to my thoughts about my Uncle Leo’s music store that was on Brighton Beach Avenue and 6th Street in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, NY back in the 1960’s.
It was called The Pleasure Shop and Uncle Leo sold records (no CD’s back then), greeting cards, rubber bands, pens, pencils, well you get the idea. But the main theme of the shop was music.
Music was played in the store with a microphone or something that blared what was played out onto the street. The store was small and very narrow but it was always filled with teens looking for the newest record release.
Uncle Leo didn’t have to pay a lot for people to work there. His sisters, my mom Emma and Aunt Frances, would always help out. Even I “worked” along with my cousins. My cousins and I were really young, maybe 10 years old, but it wasn’t brain science to turn a greeting card over to look at the price, take the money, and make change. Don’t worry, mom and Aunt Frances kept a close eye on what we did when we helped out. It was fun.
The Pleasure Shop sold all kinds of records including Show Tunes. The Broadway play, “West Side Story” was very popular back then and everyone knew the words to every song because everyone had a copy of the album.
My cousins Donna, Susan, and me sang and rehearsed the songs from the play. Donna sang lead either because she had the better voice of the three of us or because she was a year older than us. So that left Susan and me as background singers. Not so terrible really.
So, we rehearsed and rehearsed the song “I Feel Pretty.” When we were perfect we sang it for my mother and Aunt Frances. Oh, they raved about it, “You sounded so professional and Donna has such a good voice, she could be a famous singer someday. And Sharon and Susan, no group has such wonderful background singers like you two. We’re so proud of you.” My cousins and I were on cloud 9 with all that praise.
Then Aunt Frances said to my mother, “Call Leo and let him hear the girls sing.” Mom got Uncle Leo on the phone and “Donna and her Background Singers” starting belting out “I Feel Pretty.” When we were finished Uncle Leo asked my mother why she was playing him the record. My cousins and I were ecstatic. We were so good that Uncle Leo thought that my mother was playing the original album for him! Stupid kids.
Uncle Leo was a kind man and loved his nieces and wanted to make us feel good. Heck, maybe he did think we sounded good. Most likely he was just being a good uncle.
The reason I went through the “West Side Story” “Maria” story was to let you know how much of an influence The Pleasure Shop had on not only my family but the neighborhood as well. Because of that shop Brighton Beach Avenue was always filled with music. Songs blared out on the street where teens, kids, and adults would sing along and many even danced. People flocked into the store to buy records and schmooze with my mom and aunt. Every neighborhood has some kind of hang out place where people stop off for a while to shoot the breeze and my uncle’s Pleasure Shop was that place back in the early 1960’s.
Brighton doesn’t have any music stores stores which is a shame but I often think back to when I was very young and all the music in my life.
Here’s a song that we all loved way back then and Uncle Leo constantly sold out of every record that Jay and the Americans released.
To see more of my childhood memories go to S.A.K. Remembers on my blog.