A shout-out from Dick Clark

In 1956, I was a teenager on a date with my boyfriend, when my life suddenly changed. As we were driving down Broad Street, I was complaining about a Spanish test I had to take the next day. Seconds later, I was slammed against the windshield and thrown to the driver's side.

A trolley car had blown through a red light and broadsided our car on the passenger side. My body was twisted and bent, and I remember a funny taste in my mouth and shivers. At St. Luke's Hospital, in the emergency room, I was told I was in shock, and had dangerously low blood pressure and several fractures to my pelvic bone. I heard a doctor say, "She may not make it."

That emergency-room doctor was still by my bed when I awoke the next morning. I remember whispering, "I guess I don't have to go to school this week." I gasped when he said I'd not be returning to school for months.

Once stabilized, I was transported home, and a hospital bed was delivered to my bedroom. My world became that bed, which I would not leave for three months. A small TV was placed nearby, and I soon became Dick Clark's No. 1 fan. I was in too much pain for visitors, so Bandstand became my new family, and all the dancing couples my new best friends. Pelvic injuries heal slowly, and while the pain was intense, every day that passed the pain diminished with the support of my Bandstand friends. My story reached Clark, and he actually gave me a shout-out during one program.

At 16 years old, I was injured, frightened, and felt disconnected from friends, family, and my life. Dick Clark and Bandstand lifted me up, made me feel welcome, and placed me on a path of healing.

Clark changed the lives of many, but he especially altered mine, and I'm grateful.

Nancy Gold, Ardmore

Now, childhood is gone

It was with disbelief I heard that Philly's own Dick Clark had died ("Rock's 'Band' leader," Thursday). At that point, so did my childhood.

As a first-year baby boomer, I grew up with Clark. From Bandstand, here in Philly, to his move to the West Coast — he was our guy. He was our leader, our joy, and the one we stayed with through the years. If Clark recommended a group, we listened. If Clark started a dance craze, we did it! I used to rush home from junior high and then high school to switch the old Philco television on. And there he was — in black and white at that time.

Many careers were launched by just one appearance on Bandstand: Our own Bobby Rydell, Fabian, Frankie Avalon, Chubby Checker. The list is endless.

I had the good fortune to spend some time with him no once in a studio in New York City where MTV was filming a show. While onlookers, who had special passes to be let in, watched the action, Dick and I sat on stools in the back and reminisced about Philly for more than 45 minutes. He was the most unassuming, kindest, gentlest man I have ever met.

And now Dick and my childhood are gone.

Donna Dvorak Del Governatore, Chalfont

Heavens will be hoppin'

It's a sad day now that Dick Clark, America's oldest teenager, has died, at age 82. Back in the day, I watched American Bandstand — most everyone at school did. We were "wannabes" — wanting to be just like the regular dancers on his show who learned all of the latest and greatest new dances introduced on Bandstand.

Clark was a legend and he helped launch many a successful career. No doubt, every recording artist wanted to be on his show. Indeed, those "Oldies, But Goodies" remind me of Dick Clark. While he will sorely be missed down here on the ground, my hunch is that the heavens above will be swinging and "goin' hoppin' ... where things are poppin' ... the Philadelphia way."

JoAnn Lee Frank, Clearwater, Fla.

Classy man of accomplishment

The genial Dick Clark did so much in the TV and music business, and his accomplishments were always accompanied by class, style, and refinement. He presented himself to the public as a genuinely nice, decent, down-to-earth person who took a sincere interest in the countless individuals with whom he crossed paths.

Oren M. Spiegler, Upper St. Clair