My father was a jazz disc jockey. From the early to mid-50’s he was the host of “Nick’s Musical Nitecap” – his surname robbed of a syllable and a couple of letters in order to put a listening public squeamish at the sound of a full-fledged Italianate name at ease.
He has a smudged and mimeographed program from the station – KCSB-FM, San Bernardino.
His photograph is just visible: dark-haired and pompadoured, sitting behind a Western Electric microphone.
When he left, he took his favorite records with him: Gerry Mulligan, Chet Baker, Lennie Niehaus, Dave Brubeck, Lee Konitz. Some were Fantasy Record releases, printed on gem-colored vinyl. And now they are mine. They are still playable and are quite priceless to me, eBay’s opinions be damned.
Now it’s very rare for me to wish I was an older person. However, I do wish I was an adult in 1953, living in San Bernardino, rather than the nameless hope of a nation that did not know what it was in for.
I’d then be able to listen to my father’s DJ voice, which would have been…articulate? Mellifluous? Spare? Expansive? How I wish I knew. How I wish I’d been there; listening to dad wax poetic – perhaps – on West Coast jazz and then hearing Mulligan’s most eloquent alto sax.
I do have photographs. Bu I wish I had more. More in number certainly; but also I wish they could communicate more…more about a part of my father’s life that surely rises him to a plateau of Awesome.
It has been my privilege and great good luck to have heard my father’s voice for many years – but may I allow myself to be greedy and wish for just a few more? I can’t believe it would be unreasonable.
My father has done, achieved so much to make me proud of him, to make me love him: from Emmy awards to tomato gardens, from taking us fishing to taking us to Vegas. So a stint as DJ makes him even more of an accomplishment, and makes a daughter wish she was with him for longer than would be considered realistic.
On this Father’s Day I do wish my father will know these things – my pride, my love, my deep sentimentality, my envy at all of those fans of his that listened to his Musical Nitecap.
I love you dad, and all that jazz.