My first "paid gig" was when I was 5.

My first "paid gig" was when I was 5.

School photo - Immaculate Contraption

I used to hang out near the candy counter at the Gallaher's Drug Store in Belmont 'til one of the lady clerks would ask me to sing. I usually sang "Silent Night" (whatever the season) and received a nickel candy bar.

My mom had a friend who worked nearby in one of the stores named Lee. She was a redhead, a real looker, which impressed me even at the tender age of 5. She asked me, "Do you know, "The Girl That I Marry?"

It was a Sinatra record. We had it at home. Lee said, "If you learn "The Girl That I Marry" and sing it here for me, I'll buy you a "Scarlet Lady" (a specialty nectar soda that cost a nickel more than the 25-cent regular sodas).

Of course, I delivered. And I got that "Scarlet Lady" . . .

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