Aging, Life Lessons, Love, Music, Uncategorized

Jonathan Campbell, Livingston Taylor, and My Lost Youth

Here’s a true story that will probably get me kicked out of my stoic, PDA-eschewing, Yankee family, but it needs to be told.

August 3 2008 by Christina Hajosy
August 3 2008 by Christina Hajosy

I wasn’t  a kid when I got married for the first time almost 5 years ago. I was still in my 40’s but barely holding onto a decade I expected to hate when I first entered it. Maybe it was the being single for so long and having siblings who got into the parenting thing late in life, but I was able to mentally attach myself to an age (27) with a tenacity that could put super glue to shame. No matter how many birthdays passed, I was 27.

And then Jon retired. Mandatory retirement comes early to FAA air traffic controllers. It’s a super high stress job and my guess is they don’t want anyone dying in the control tower so they kick them to the curb at 56. Jon cleaned out his locker and landed his last plane (flown by musician Livingston Taylor) at 55 years and 363 days. But that was Jon retiring and he’s older so I rationalized away my age and he was 56 and retiring and I was 27 for one more spin of the earth.

Livingston Taylor and Jonathan Campbell before the Londonderry, NH concert

Jon had mentioned more than once what a good pilot Livingston (LT) was and that he always enjoyed his encounters with him. So when his last plane settled onto the runway, Jon told LT that he was his very last landing at Hanscom; he was retiring. Coincidentally, Jon learned that LT was performing at a free concert (rush, albeit BYO, seating) in Londonderry NH the next night. Jon suggested going up and I said “sure”. I’m 27, I’m young, I’ve still got the stamina to go to a concert after a 12-hour workday. Maybe I’d bring a lighter and flick my Bic a cell phone and wave it in solidarity with the rest of the concert-goers who loved the performance.

Livingston Taylor Londonderry Concerts on the Common 2013
Livingston Taylor Londonderry Concerts on the Common 2013

Jon introduced himself to LT before the concert began and they talked in codes and numbers that meant nothing to me but everything to avid flyers. The concert began and LT pulled me into his universe with his mesmerizing voice and whistling… his stories. He sang with a voice so easy it threatened to convince me that I could sing. Then sometime in the middle of the concert, Livingston told a different story. He was flying into Hanscom yesterday and he spoke to a man named Jon in the tower who happened to be in the audience. We were in the front row, so he pointed to Jon and mentioned how he’d spoken to him many times in his flights out of Bedford. He thanked Jon for his service and wished him a happy retirement.  And then Livingston dedicated the next song to Jon – it was a song he had written about the Wright Brothers.

Livingston Taylor warming up in Londonderry NH
Livingston Taylor warming up in Londonderry NH

It was a magic send-off from one era to the next.  And sometime during the song on our side-by-side lawn chairs, Jon held my hand and with the other I pulled the cashmere cardigan a little tighter around my shoulders to ward off the night air chill. And I thought, these might as well be rocking chairs. We are old. And my eyes filled at the realization that 27 was a myth. And when they filled a little more, I alluded to pollen and wind as a tear dribbled down my cheek. But it was not a tear for lost youth. It was a tear of gratitude, because as quickly as my youth evaporated, I realized, I’d rather be old with Jon, than young with anyone else.

To  Jon, Happy birthday, happy retirement, happy life. HILY.

©2013 by Alison Colby-Campbell

19 thoughts on “Jonathan Campbell, Livingston Taylor, and My Lost Youth”

  1. Alison~That was beautiful! You brought tears to my eyes. Tears of happiness of course. Love those kind of stories! You are both so very lucky to have each other to grow old with!! May you have many, many wonderful loving years to come! ❤


  2. Fantastic story, and I wasn’t surprised to read about what a classy guy Livingston Taylor is.

    Back in the 80s, LT opened for John Sebastian at Keene, NH’s Colonial Theater. My wife, my sister, and I went to the concert, and I thought it would be nice to get a photo of my wife and sister standing beneath the Colonial’s marquee.

    I was about to snap it when I heard a voice say, “Why don’t I take it, then all three of you can be in the picture.” I handed the friendly volunteer the camera, then did a big double-take. “Uh… aren’t you Livingston Taylor?” I asked.

    He was indeed. I learned later that he likes to hang around outside before a show and interact with people coming to see him. An incredibly nice guy, and an experience I’ll never forget. He easily stole the show, too, and I felt sorry for John Sebastian.

    Best wishes to Jon on his retirement, and thanks for a very enjoyable post. : )


    1. He started his first day today at a privately owned airport nearby. He had 4 days of retirement and he’s glad to be back. Thank you for your lovely commentary. LT was a very nice guy, and so super talented and engaging. I was completely drawn into the performance.


  3. This is so lovely, Alison. And such a GREAT story! Congratulations to Jon! Wishing you both much happiness happily ever after.


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