Helena. This blog post is for you.
I'm almost positive I had one of the best childhoods ever. And I was keen enough to realize that fact while I was living in that particular prime of my life. My summers were pretty much the business. I grew up in Southern California, but I spent all of my summers in Upstate New York, until about the age of 16.
My Grandmother, Aunt, Cousins, Best Friend Tammy, and a slew of extended family and other friends were there. And I was never lacking in terms of exciting outings, summer reading, and amazing stories that would forever shape my mindset, work ethic, and the way I understand family and community.
My earliest memories revolved around the amazing concerts my Aunt began taking me to at about age 10. I went to more concerts that I can even count. And we were almost always near the front row. I believe the first concert she took me to, was at the Starlite Theatre in Latham, NY. I absolutely LOVED that theatre. It was a music venue "In the round". And who did I see at my first concert. Oh, just Chaka Khan. Um. Yes. Believe it.
I distinctly remember the beautiful glitter in Chaka Khan's hair. And I vowed that when I became a grown up, I would wear glitter on everything I owned, including my hair.
Today I was reminded of an amazing memory:
"Patrice, do you remember when you were on stage with Diana Ross and she asked you want you wanted to be when you grew up, and you said a lawyer?" - Helena
Why yes I do. It's a true story. I was about 12 years old. My on-stage concert experiences would continue with the likes of Luther Vandross as well.
So what ever happened to the Starlite Theatre...
The Starlite was for many years an iconic place in the Capital Region, acting as one of the area’s key performance halls. In its glory days, it hosted legends like Johnny Cash, Bob Hope and Sammy Davis Jr.
But the theater closed in the late 1990s and is now dilapidated. Visitors, in fact, can walk right through holes in the exterior fence for an impromptu– and somewhat creepy — tour of the Starlite, which is still littered with programs for one of the last events there: the 1998 graduation ceremony for Shaker High School.
The article goes on to describe the possible construction of office space in the place of the Starlite. Sigh. It's a bit heartbreaking.
So who were the last artists I saw play at the Starlite? Kriss Kross. And I'm pretty sure I wore my pants backwards. And did I also mention that Mike Tyson pinched (not punched) my face at the Starlite? Good times.
Take the time to enjoy the good times. Because the memories of such moments will become like streams of encouragement and hope in the desert of a weary heart.