While Elvis has left the building, Frankie Valli has left his autograph
Well, singer Frankie Valli (and the rest of the Four Seasons) can rest easily tonight. My wife Jo Ann and I have removed them from our "no play" list, so Frankie and his famous falsetto voice will again be heard coming from our car's CD player.
I suppose I should explain. Jo Ann and I are not big concertgoers. The Frankie Valli concert we went to in Scranton last May was the first one we attended in more than two decades of marriage.
Two weeks before the concert, Jo Ann had written Frankie a fan letter and we enclosed a SASE envelope with a request for an autographed picture.
We enjoyed the concert immensely and listened to Frankie Valli singing alone and with the Four Seasons through the summer and early fall. But when we still hadn't heard from him after four months, we took drastic action.
We stopped playing Frankie's music and replaced him with the "King of Rock 'n Roll." Elvis Presley was our main guy for providing music for our car and in our home.
Actually, we rediscovered Elvis' considerable singing talents. There were only two drawbacks. When we played Presley's platters while we were housecleaning, Jo Ann wound up doing almost as much dancing as she did dusting.
Elvis' effect on me was less evident. I grew longer sideburns. The problem was that since I already had a goatee, nobody really noticed. They just assumed I had a full beard.
I should point out that Jo Ann and I are not autograph collectors or - much worse - people who make a living acquiring and selling autographs.
The only other famous person's autographed picture we have on display is of film and recording star Doris Day. We watch and enjoy one of her movies virtually every Saturday night. (I know. I am that boring in real life, too.)
We sent her a birthday card last year and received a personalized autograph from Miss Day on one of her pictures.
It is in a place of honor in our home. Actually, it is a place of honor higher than my own, but I can't argue with the choice of Doris Day.
Come to think of it, I do have one other autograph of a famous American. The unlikely third member of our autograph group is former President Richard M. Nixon.
The story of how I got it is even stranger than the stuff that I usually make up. It dates back to December 1960, when I was not quite halfway through my first-grade year.
Don't ask me why or how, but somehow I learned about the presidential election that year. Vice President Nixon was running against Sen. John F. Kennedy.
Stranger still, I was rooting for Nixon. (I was only 6 years old at the time.) Apparently, I took his defeat at the polls so badly that I wrote him a letter expressing my disappointment.
I was still working at putting the alphabet together into words (I still am), so I must have had some help in drafting the letter.
In reply, I received a nice, signed note of appreciation from Nixon, a Christmas card featuring a photo of him, his wife Pat and their daughters, and a Nixon-Lodge bumper sticker. I even saved the bumper sticker when I found out it was too wide for my bike.
This communication with a national figure did not start me on a path of autograph collecting. I still couldn't sign my own name; why would I want to save the signatures of other people?
As a matter of fact, I just don't have a talent for collecting anything. As a kid, I bought my share of baseball card packs with brick-hard gum (and my parents had the dental bills to prove it), but I never managed to collect the entire Phillies team, let alone the sets for both leagues.
Somehow, I got hold of blue cardboard holders for a penny collection. I filled probably 10 percent of the available slots.
Back then, I didn't give many of the pennies a chance to get old. I would save up 5 of them and buy another pack of baseball cards.
I was much more successful at collecting the premiums that came with Mallo Cups, a teeth-challenging blend of whipped marshmallow surrounded by milk chocolate and coconut.
If you collected a certain number of points, you could send away for free box of Mallo Cups. These took care of the teeth that had managed to avoid being affected by the baseball card gum.
Jumping back to the present and Frankie Valli, Jo Ann and I were both pleasantly shocked 10 months after our initial request to find an envelope in our mailbox which contained an autographed picture of the singer.
So now, Frankie and Elvis are co-starring in our car and home CD players. We don't have any tapes of Richard Nixon.
(Walter Kozlowski, a freelance writer from Mount Carmel, composes "Walt's Way" for each Sunday edition.)