#1158: Teenager’s Dream by Les Vogt
Peak Month March 1962
7 weeks on Vancouver’s CFUN chart
Peak Position #12
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ did not chart
Les Vogt was the lead singer for the premier local rock n’ roll band in Vancouver called The Prowlers. They appeared regularly on local DJ Jack Cullen’s Owl Prowl radio show on CKNW. Vogt was a grade eight student at John Oliver High School in Vancouver in 1956. He met DJ Jack Cullen at a sock hop that year when he was thirteen. Initially, Vogt formed a band called the Fraserview Drifters that played country music dances at the Fraserview Community Centre.
But once Elvis Presley appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show everything changed, including the band’s name and repertoire. During a Prowler’s basement rehearsal a girl who was listening to them practice decided to call Jack Cullen while the band was playing. Cullen listened and, most importantly, let his radio audience listen along too. Consequently, the band became a local sensation. They called themselves The Prowlers after the Owl Prowl radio show where they got their big break. Jack Cullen brought the band to his radio studio and recorded a number of their songs which he proceeded to play on his radio show. Cullen did more for The Prowlers when he arranged for them to be the opening act for the June 27, 1956, concert featuring Bill Haley & The Comets at the Kerrisdale Arena.
In 1958 The Prowlers recorded a song called “The Blamers.” “The Blamers” was recorded by Allen Parker, who was a milkman. Les Vogt got to know Parker when they both worked at Dairyland. Parker made demos of a number of local groups. When Parker was at a concert of the DeCastro Sisters in 1958 he was able to interest their manager, Jack LeGras, in listening to Parker’s demos. In 1960 “The Blamers” was released on Sparton Records in Canada and became a number one charting hit in Vancouver. Les Vogt would have two more hits on the local charts, “Preacher Boy” and “Teenager’s Dream.”
“Teenager’s Dream” was a song about a check-list of things male teenagers aspired to when they grew up. According to this song these included: “to live a good life,” “to live like happy people do,” “to not live alone, to buy a bungalow you hope to someday own,” “a car in the carport, a garden, a lawn, a doll in the kitchen with the suppertime on” and having a baby to love. The song peaked at #12 in Vancouver and spent seven weeks on the local pop charts. It was only a local hit and didn’t receive airplay elsewhere in Canada or the USA.
In 1962 the cost of a teenager’s dream was different in Vancouver than in 2016. In 1962 the Canadian dollar was worth 92.5 cents to the US dollar. Today the Canadian dollar is trading at about 75 to 76 cents to the US dollar. In 1962 the average salary in Canada was $6,232 and the average cost of a detached home in Vancouver was $13,500. This was the equivalent of setting aside all of ones salary for two years and almost three months to pay for a home. In October 2016 the median household income in Vancouver was at $78,000 and the average cost of a home was $1,472,000. It would now take nearly nineteen years of household income to pay for the cost of a home. Of course, in each case, income earners had to set aside other parts of their income for transportation, groceries, clothing etc. But it would seem that the cost of a “Teenager’s Dream” in 2016, 54 years since Les Vogt’s local hit, has become more elusive.
The song also mentions “a doll in the kitchen” as part of the dream. In 1962 the majority of households were one-income households. This meant that it only took one adult earner in the family to cover the cost of living. There was an ability to have the other adult, in a two parent family, take care of household chores. This was almost always the mother, among whose responsibilities included preparing all the meals.
In March 1962 I was a young child a year and a half away from attending Kindergarten. I grew up in a “typical” family where my dad worked and my mom stayed at home to raise my brother and me. Aside from BBQ, making fudge at Christmas and carving roasts of turkey, beef, lamb or pork, my dad did very little in the kitchen. Conversely, my dad took care of fixing things around the house and it was my dad, and not my mom, who did any repairs that could be done to the car that didn’t involve taking it to the auto repair shop. It was only when my dad retired that he began to cook the majority of the meals once my brother and I had long since left the nest.
It would be interesting to ask youth in 2016 what their “Teenager’s Dream” would look like today.
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