It was a snowy night two days before Christmas in 1963 and I was auditioning with “The Rum Runners,” to be a contestant in an upcoming hootenany at WDDS radio station in Philadelphia. Close to the station’s parking lot, our old clunker had gotten stuck in the snow and for fear of being late, I had jumped out to push our car while my band members, six husky military cadets, sat inside the sedan, teasing and chiding me on.
After the automobile was liberated, I looked up and saw this handsome, curly haired guy staring at me from inside his V.W. Beetle. At sixteen, I wanted so much to impress him by looking older and cooler than I was. But instead I waved at him impulsively like a little kid wearing my mittens. He smiled back sweetly, waved and drove on.
Once inside the studio, as I stood before the microphone, tuning my guitar, I had a funny feeling that someone was watching me. I looked up through the smokey glass into the control booth and there he was again. That cute guy from the parking lot was the judge for the audition!
He introduced himself as Jim Croce, a college student at Villanova University who was in a group called the “Coventry Lads.” He and his friend Tommy Picardo were there that night to judge our audition.
I noticed Jim staring at me with the biggest, saddest brown eyes I’d ever seen. He looked shy and sensitive, yet at the same time, he was impish. I felt like he was undressing me with every glance.
Self-consciously I began to sing. Then, trying to impress my perceived critic, I decided to improvise. Without apprising my band of my new introduction, I performed an unexpected opening to our pre-rehearsed folk song. In a husky, sexy voice, I mimicked the words acappella, to Marilyn Monroe’s tune from the movie “Some Like It Hot.”
“You’ve heard of instant coffee, You’ve heard of instant tea, Well you just cast you’re little ol’ eyes on little ol’ instant me.”
I went with it completely, body language, gestures and all and when I finished, my band, though staring at me, dumbfounded, picked up their instruments and joined me promptly, in our unrelated folk song, “The Midnight Special.”
Next we played “The Cruel War” and completed our audition with Pete Seeger’s “Where Have All The Flower’s Gone?” When we finished, “my” audience smiled at me sheepishly and Jim Croce came into the studio, clumsily tripping over the microphone chord to reach me. “I like your voice,” he managed. “Maybe we could sing together sometime.”
That night I passed the audition and made the first cut. I also fell madly in love with Jim Croce.