I was in my 30s at a Jim Brickman concert in Tulsa when I met Donny Osmond for the first time. I’d never heard of Jim, but Donny was performing with him and there was no way I was passing that up. Not to discredit Jim, he’s a wonderful piano player I found out (I own all of his CDs now), but I still have my original 45’s of Donny’s. Donny was my first musical crush. I can remember hearing Go Away Little Girl playing on the radio as my mother drove me across town to my first of many new schools in Oak Park Michigan. I’d make her turn it up every time. I was six and I was hooked.
We were living at that time on Dearborn Avenue in downtown Detroit. This was a neighborhood full of crack houses, bars, pimps, dealers and prostitutes and was not a neighborhood for kids. Our house was owned by the company my mom worked for and was directly next door to their office. That way she could keep me close while she worked. The grade school was so violent that the principal would not allow my mother to enroll me and so we drove to Oak Park and every day we’d listen to the Osmonds on the way. I was oblivious to the reality of our surroundings and knew only the innocence of their music.
I got to meet Jim, Donny, and the rest of the performers after Jim’s Christmas show and while that was nice, what surprised me the most was my emotional response. It took everything I had not to cry. I’m not star struck, truth is I get to meet celebrities a lot. I have traveled the world and even gone to the Nobel Awards and was granted an audience with the King of Sweden himself, but meeting Donny face to face brought back memories that moved me to tears.
I don’t know a woman my age who didn’t play Osmond 45’s on our little turn tables at home for hours on end. We all had those small pieces of vinyl and wore them out. We wallpapered our rooms with posters. We watched the Osmond cartoon and we even watched The Donny and Marie Show. Most of us were also convinced that we alone were destined to be Mrs Donald Osmond.
We were wrong, but still it didn’t hurt to dream.
I’ve lived in over 20 different cities in my life. My portable turn table and collection of 45s was the one constant I carried with me from new neighborhood to new neighborhood. Music was my main friend in those years. Money was tight and sometimes my mom had to work two jobs just to make ends meet. We left downtown Detriot and had actually lived in Georgia and Florida before returning to Michigan four years later. Now, we were living in a very small, two bedroom house in Southfield Michigan in 1975. This was our fifth home in four years. My mother was a book-keeper for a construction firm in Detroit, and drove an hour each way to work so that we could finally live in a safe neighborhood. It cost a lot more to live there, we ate a lot of popcorn, rice, and hotdogs, but I was safe and that mattered. I was home alone, a lot.
The Osmonds were playing at the Michigan State fair that August and while the concert was free, admission to the fair wasn’t AND my mom got paid hourly. When she took the afternoon off to take me to the concert for my 10th birthday that meant she didn’t get paid. That might not seem like much, but my mom only made about $10,000 a year. An afternoon salary was a huge sacrifice. Taking me to that concert meant she went without food.
I’ve never forgotten that.
My life has turned out very wonderful. I am happily married and have two amazing sons. We live in a nice suburban neighborhood in Oklahoma. We are blessed beyond measure. Three of the Osmond Brothers are doing a Christmas show in Branson this year at Yakov Smirnoff‘s theater and my husband surprised me with tickets this week. I almost cried. Donny won’t be there, but that’s okay.
Jeff doesn’t have to go without food to take me — but I also know it’s not his favorite band in the world. He surprised me for the same reason my mother did all those years ago. Love.
Other than seeing Donny at the Jim Brickman concert a few years ago, I haven’t seen the Osmond Brothers perform since 1975. I’m looking forward to the concert and to the memories. I just hope I don’t cry again. That would be awkward.
What gifts do you remember giving or receiving in your lifetime? Which ones stand out for you?