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My Turn: Growing up with Eddie Money, 'Paradise' was Plainedge

Eddie Money performs at the Great South Bay

Eddie Money performs at the Great South Bay Music Festival in Patchogue on July 16, 2017. Credit: Bruce Gilbert

“Eddie Money, LI rocker dies at 70” flashed on my computer on Sept. 13 as I was working. I stopped, stared at those words, not comprehending at first until the shock spread through my body. Then images from our childhood, growing up as neighbors in Plainedge, rushed in.

I was about 13 when the Mahoney family moved down the block. My childhood friend Mary, the "welcome wagon" for new kids in the neighborhood, introduced me to Patty Mahoney and her older brother, Eddie.

Eddie loved singing, as I did. And on summer nights, Eddie, Mary and I hung out under the corner streetlight and sang our hearts out. I recall Eddie had the sweetest sounding voice. He could hit high notes to match my soprano. At the playground, we practiced singing from the diaphragm by lying in the grass and pushing the air up from our stomachs. We even had contests on how long we could hold a note.

As teenagers, we joined bands. Eddie’s band played our high school, Island Trees, while my band, whose members all went to Levittown High School except for me, preferred playing Levittown. Battles of the bands were big back then, but imaginary lines were drawn; Eddie and I never crossed into each other’s territory. Rather we basked in being that popular band in our respective domains.

Eddie and I remained friends well into our teenage years, and he even attended my sweet 16 party.

Eddie, a lover of jazz, often stopped by my house not to hang out with me, but to share music with my mother, an avid jazz fan. He loved listening to my mother talk about meeting the jazz greats of the day — Carmen McRae, Gerry Mulligan, Gene Krupa and the like. I often came home after a day of school to hear McRae’s rich tones fill the house as Eddie and my mom listened. Maybe those days left a lasting impression on Eddie, whose own music reflects his love of jazz.

After high school, I went on to college while Eddie trained for the NYPD, following in his dad’s footsteps. The tug of music was too great, however, and he dropped the police force to pursue music in California. There Eddie fell into the world of drugging and almost died.

Eddie slowly returned to music, but his voice was never the same. That sweet tenor of his childhood was displaced with a raspy sound that was perfect for his later songs.

I didn’t see my childhood friend again until 2009, when the Dix Hills Performing Arts Center produced a musical, “Two Tickets to Paradise,” based on Eddie’s early life. After the show, he signed autographs, and I stood in line to say “Hello.” We only had a few minutes to catch up as a line of autograph seekers followed, but it was immediately apparent how fondly Eddie thought of Plainedge and our childhoods growing up in the innocence of a simpler time.

I reminisce about the childhood friends who have touched my life, leaving an indelible impression, and I lament the loss of some way too soon. Our dear friend, Mary, who introduced me to Eddie, died a few years ago.

I imagine that when Eddie walked into the light of Heaven, he was greeted by his loving parents then welcomed by my mom before bumping into Mary. They probably searched out a heavenly streetlight where they are singing their hearts out. One day, I will join them. Then we will be the trio again, filling the air with dulcet tones.

Barbara Anne Kirshner,
Miller Place

YOUR STORY Letters and essays for My Turn are original works by readers that have never appeared in print or online. Share special memories, traditions, friendships, life-changing decisions, observations of life or unforgettable moments for possible publication. Email act2@newsday.com, or write to Act 2 Editor, Newsday, 6 Corporate Center Dr., Melville, NY 11747. Include name, address, phone numbers and photos if available. Edited stories may be republished in any format.

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