Nearly forty years after his death Jim Croce, the man whose hits include “Time In A Bottle”, “Bad Bad Leroy Brown” and “You Don’t Mess Around With Jim” continues to inspire generations of fans with his music.
Having been the victim of bad record deals over the course of his career, Croce never saw the fortune that went along with his fame. Relegated instead to earning a few dollars a week writing songs while at the same time shopping for clothes in thrift stores. But Jim never lost his passion for music, his wife Ingrid or his son, Adrian James “A.J.” Croce.
Croce, who would have turned 70 on January 10th, 2013, died in a plane crash shortly after a show in September of 1973. In the years since his death, Ingrid Croce has received several requests to help tell the story of the working man’s singer, but all were ultimately shelved when attempts were made to embellish the real story behind Jim’s life and times.
Fortunately, Ingrid (along with current husband Jimmy Rock) has finally released the real story of her late husband’s life and career. The book, “I Got A Name: The Jim Croce Story” is an inspiring and intimate look into the lives of Jim and Ingrid Croce, both of who were working folk musicians in the late 1960’s. From Jim’s early years performing while barely making ends meet, to the partnership and love he shared with Ingrid, to the ill-fated flight that abruptly ended his life, “I Got A Name: The Jim Croce Story” is an honest, accurate portrayal of one of the greatest story tellers of our time, told by the one person who knew him best.
My eyes slowly adjusted to the light now beginning to break through the kitchen windows and I began rubbing the last bit of sleep out of them. A bit of a distraction but the need for a decision continued to weigh heavily on my mind.
What kind of coffee was I going to have?
After deciding I needed a little Ginseng mixed in with my K-Cup I felt the pressure leave my shoulders. I smiled and let out a sigh. Yes sir, today was going to be a good day.
As the Keuring brewed I decided to peer out my kitchen window and that’s when I saw it…my blueberry bush. The one that I had painstakingly planted last year. The one that almost didn’t survive the onslaught of two Boston Terriers rough housing around it. The one that was now at last beginning to bear fruit, albeit still hard and green. It wouldn’t be long now before hints of blue began to show on the small orbs that adorned the bush. I believed it was only a matter of time before I could enjoy the fruits of my labor.
Another smile came across my face. Only this time it was because I was about to once again take a trip down memory lane:
My family and I had spent my childhood living with my grandparents in their small turn of the century home on the south side. My grandfather had owned several acres of land where he had planted dozens of trees and shrubs. All of which he meticulously cared for himself.
Since he couldn’t afford one of those “luxury” gas-powered lawn mowers, my grandfather would mow all of the yard with one of those old school hand-held contraptions. It’s still hard for me to imagine that after spending an entire week working in a sweaty silk mill he’d spend one of his only days off every weekend doing yard work. His yard was his baby.
For a typical kid, summer mornings usually meant sleeping in but not for me. I’m not typical. I was always up early because I could not wait for breakfast. Now, those of you who frequently read my blog know of my affection for the chocolatey goodness of Count Chocula so what I’m about to say may sound like blasphemy so forgive me:
Summer time was perhaps the only time that I did not eat Count Chocula or some other sugary cereal for breakfast.
One of the things I really loved about summer while growing up was getting up early and pouring myself a large bowl of Corn Flakes. You heard me right: regular old Corn Flakes. But before a single drop of milk was added I would first grab a small bowl from the cupboard and head down into the yard.
For down there, in between the clothes lines my grandmother would hang socks and linen out to dry in the warm summer breeze stood a trio of blueberry bushes my grandfather had planted many years ago.
Every morning in late June there were always berries galore. Bushes that over flowed with the sweetest blueberries I had ever tasted. Blueberries that not one other member of my family even cared about. Blueberries that were literally, all mine.
I remember laughing to myself as I filled up my bowl with the bushes’ wonderful creation. I’d pick handfuls off at a time and eat them right there. I was convinced that the combination of warm summer sun, the smell of clean, wet clothes drying on the line and the taste of this fruit was what heaven must be like. Childhood was wonderful.
With my bowl now filled I would literally run back to the house with bounty in hand. I rinsed off the berries and added them to my cornflakes. While my parents and siblings still slept I was about to partake in the best breakfast ever!
On certain days when the morning harvest was exceptionally high it was like I was having corn flakes with my blueberries instead of the other way around. I OD’d on antioxidants but it was so worth it.
And now here I stood, still gazing out the window thirty years later looking at my own blueberry bush. One that is not hidden behind hanging sheets or tube socks. One whose fruit will now be the cause of countless battles between me and my daughter, a blueberry lover herself.
But I look at the bright side: I get up earlier than she does.
It won’t be long now.