Saturday, June 26, 2010

Family Mystery - Who Killed Guy Lombardo?

We lived on Lake Minnetonka growing up, and many times Grandma would come out to our house for Sunday dinner and a ride around the lake. This was the late 70's and early 80's, and our boat was equipped with a state of the art 8-track tape player for listening to tunes while cruising the lake.

In pervious trips, Grandma always voiced her displeasure with Dad's choice in music, which usually consisted of a heavy rotation of CCR, Linda Ronstadt, Elton John, Waylon Jennings, and Jimmy Buffett. So it came as no surprise when she showed up one beautiful Sunday afternoon armed with an 8-track of her own; The Best of Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians. Dad immediately voiced his displeasure, but Grandma was adamant, so we cruised the waves while choking down the dulcet tones of the big band giant. Of course Auld Lang Syne was included as part of the mix, which created quite a contrast booming from the speakers of a large boat in the July heat. No matter. Grandma was as pleased as she could be. Unfortunately, my Dad was stewing.

As we cruised the lake, tension hung in the thick, humid air as the power play continued with Dad trying to change tapes and Grandma having none of it. Since Dad could not win, our ride was mercifully cut short and we headed back to the house for some cooler heads and some Sunday dinner. That's when the event occurred that still brings debate in our family to this day.

We arrived at the dock and began to offload people and our gear, and soon everyone and everything was on the dock, except for Dad and the offending tape. Grandma requested that Dad hand the tape to her, and with what can best be described as an effort made with "alligator arms," Dad extended Guy Lombardo over the side of the boat and released. The tape hung there for a second, like Wile E Coyote going over a cliff, and despite a pretty athletic lunge by Grandma, it fell into the blackness of the mud of our landing. Immediately Grandma issued howls of protests and accusations of dropping the tape on purpose, which were met with equal denials and claims of innocence by Dad. The debate carried into the house, lasted though dinner, and while it ultimately would simmer down, it never truly went away; it came up in conversations and family gatherings for years to come.

While time and repeated telling of the story may have modified it slightly, with Dad ultimately playing the hero by killing off the Lombardo beast, I personally think that his efforts that day weren't a truly conscious effort. I'll grant you that Dad's blood pressure was such that Guy needed to die, and that Dad's subconscious likely executed the evil deed, but had the action been intended to be so overt, Guy likely would have found himself as man-overboard an hour earlier into the trip.

Regardless of how it really played out, it is a story that captures their two personalities and their interpersonal dynamic so well that we'll enjoy telling it for years to come.

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