Despite her many accomplishments, Mary Shirley did have competition for greatest garage-rock goddess of Urbana, 1967, and that competition was a dark-haired beauty named Chris Swing.
I was walking down the hall one day when Chris and George Faber bumped into each other unexpectedly and began having an animated conversation with their immense sexual auras in full power.
Man, everybody in that hall just stopped what they were doing and froze in place so we could concentrate on what those two were saying. That was the main difference between junior high and high school, the sexual hormones were bouncing off the walls once you got to high school.
And having the Finchley Boys, the greatest garage band in the state, in my high school was a lot of like having the Rolling Stones hanging around all the time. Their charisma was that strong.
But the charisma coming off Mary Shirley and Chris Swing was just as powerful! I didn’t dare to speak to either one, as they were both way out of my league, although Chris was going steady with my bass teacher at the time, Jim Brewer.
I got completely plastered drinking beers in the parking lot at the Tiger’s Den one night. I’d just heard that Carole had driven off in some sports car with some rock’n’roll upper-class-man, and tried to drink myself into oblivion.
Jim found me passed out in the alley. Chris got down on the ground and put my head in her lap to comfort me. That’s how I woke up…with Chris stroking my hair, telling me how cute I looked.
At first, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. But then I woke up and got really embarrassed. Chris wanted Jim to drive me home, but I waved them off and started hoofing it back to Delaware Street. When the sun came up hours later, I woke up again, passed out in somebody’s lawn half-way home.
Funny how Chris Swing lived out in the country, just a few blocks from me and the Shirley’s. Her mom Pat, remains a stunning beauty to this day, defying any effects of age whatsoever. Pat makes 80 look like the new 30. She had two daughters, but the little one wasn’t on my radar in 1967, although that would eventually change.