DO YOU REMEMBER WHEN
by CHARLES ROBEY
(MOODY AL USA)
Remember those exciting movie serials? Fiction adventures usually shown in conjunction with a feature film. The extended motion pictures broken into a number of segments called "chapters" or "episodes". Each chapter was usually screened at the same theater for several weeks, giving a cliffhanger of which, the hero and heroine found themselves in a perilous situation with little apparent chance of escape.
Serials were especially popular with children and for many youths in the first half of the 20th century. A typical Saturday at the movies included a chapter of at least one serial along with animated cartoons, newsreels, and a double feature film.
We kids would return to the picture show each Saturday, to resolve these cliff hangers of a particular serials. Some of my favorites were, The Shadow, Zorro, and The Phantom.
Life was surely easy back then. For just a few cents, we could catch the Saturday double feature, and enjoy the popcorn with the bottles of pop.
May we reminisce a bit. Yes, our childhood was much simpler back when. Can you now remember when? If so, great. If not, please ask your pa-paw, he’ll be more than welcome to give a memory or two. For the thought of futility, what shall we label these personal real-life serials? Why not call them, for what they are known for “DO YOU REMEMBER WHEN” So, here goes.
(Ecclesiastes 11:9) Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment.
THE SATURDAY MORNING HAIRCUT
He promised Dad he would go peacefully to that barber shop slaughter mill, if dad would only advance him his next week’s dime-a-day allowance. For then, he could splurge on a giant bag of movie popcorn and an oversized bottle of pop while watching the Saturday double feature western adventures.
Why was it he always seemed to be passed up by that big, impatient bully, who would always quickly answer the infamous barber call of "Next!" as he made a beeline, pushing him out of the way and jumping up into the chair. How he knew to awaken from that catnap so quickly, was beyond him.
Why the barber shop had all those X-rated magazines lying around on the seats in plain sight, was also beyond him, as well. His prayers were answered, however, when the shop added a line of comic books to the mix.
It was good that he had no allergies for the dreadful cigarette smoke and rancid chewing tobacco smell would have surely done him in. Not to mention the perfumed hair tonic stinking up the place to high heavens.
SHOOTING THE BAD GUYS
He would often go into action, during the Saturday afternoon double feature intermission, by jumping on his faithful broomstick horse and riding up and down the sidewalk range.
Armed with his two-gun cap six-shooters, he was bound to go after all those bad cowboy outlaws, catching them all before the start of the second cowboy feature movie. Yes, in his small childhood mine, he was the main movie hero.
THE WOOD SHED BLESSING
He was only six. He sensed right from wrong. His dad was an old-time religion preacher. Family came first, in all aspects of living, including the religious life.
He knew better than to take his little brother's candy stick. But the devil on his shoulder was too convincing. With dad, this un-religious feat quickly prompted another trip to the old wood shed altar, another belt-driven devotional thought of sharing. Dad’s final benediction ended with the same ole prayerful thought, “this hurts me, more than it does you, my blessed Son.” Amen”
Oh well, another lesson in futility, I presume. As usual, I couldn’t sit to eat for a day or two. So, I missed a few well-requested meals, for having to stand.
THE ANTS IN THE PANTS
He just couldn’t be still, this young hyper-genitive young lad. It was graduation day. He was being promoted up to the seventh grade. Up to the big time, of football, basketball, and all the others. So, what exactly was his motive of not being still? It should have been a solemn moment; his mom had proclaimed as they left home for the school.
Arriving a bit early, his uncontrollable movement was obvious as he exited the car.
“What’s wrong, Son?”, she shouted in mere disgust. “Why can’t you just be still for once? They then quickly rushed inside. Where all were patiently waiting. The ceremony was about to begin.
Sitting there, his demeanor was shown to all. He just couldn’t be still. Then it happened. The ants came crawling out of the open bottle in his pocket, marching in unison down onto the floor.
LIVING FROM A TO B
He liked to brag, however. He had every right too. He had been the basketball high scorer in both Grammar and Junior Hight. Now, he was to be the first and only tenth-grade basketball player to ever make the A-team.
His professional basketball career actually took hold in the sixth grade. On game day, the entire school would gather around the outdoor cement court, to watch him play. It was then when his show-off days began. When he would score a goal, the cheerleaders would always yell "PK, PK!”. And PK suddenly became the iconic battle cry of all my young boyhood friends.
Then, it happened, he fell. Actually, he was illegally tripped, but the ref failed to call it, giving him a nasty ankle sprain. The doctor said it would have been better, if he had broken it. He was on crutches for two weeks, putting him behind with the A-team. So, he was moved down to the B team.
THE ILLEGAL CONTENDER,
He was playing his first B team game, after being demoted due to his ankle injury, at halftime the opposing coach was very mad. After shouting out a few choice X-rated super babies in public, he told his coach he would be reporting him for using an A team player on the B team. You see, he had made over half of the scores. The situation was explained, but it didn’t matter to the opposition. He was simply kept behind the remaining of the season. In hopes of building on his future plans for college.
WW II REVISITED
He just loved hanging out at the USO Club, and helping his preacher dad in charge of the club. Then, it happened sort of unexpected like. But maybe not?
Someone had built a fire under the USO hostess’s brand-new nylon vehicle tire. Nylon was virtually impossible to get back then during the war. He was accused of the act. Regardless, of right or wrong, his dad had to pay for the tire. Though she continued using the tire forever more.
THE HOT ROD DRIVER
He was surely a red-blooded fun-loving young lad, having so many early vehicle related memories. It was yesterday, learning to drive in his backyard wrestling that old 1947 Chevy. The one with the straight shift transmission and no power steering nor power brakes.
Then came his sixteenth birthday, and long-awaited driver's test. Passing with flying colors and receiving that treasured driver's license was the highlight of his sixteenth year. However, since he took the test with an automatic gearshift, his license was labeled "Restricted Automatic."
And the many family road trips. Dad would have the tank filled, tires checked, and everything loaded (and I mean crammed in that VW bug) before dawn. And away they would go, in the middle of summer, to Grandma's house, the kids being held hostage in the back seat of that sweat box.
THE RACE OF THE CENTURY
He could hardly wait. For the news was out. The race of the century was to be on Saturday night, over at the old fare park.
It was the most exciting adventure of his young life. The 55 Chev finally beat the Ford in the secret Saturday night drag race at the stadium. It was the first year of the Chev 8-cylinder engines. And, how we celebrated! He was the first to open the car hood and break the bottle of Coke over the engine, singing “Hail to the Chief.”
No, the kids were not drunk, just overly enthused. Thanks to his new PF Flyer bike. He just barely out-ran the police that time," he replied.
And yes, he could hardly sleep that night. as he recalled. Not so much from the festivity, but being scared to death the police would come knocking on the folk’s door."
CONCLUSION (Some additional energetic, zestful thoughts)
There you have it. Just a bit of youthful musing, growing up in those “good Ole Days”.
Yes, time was good growing up in the good ole fifties. Life was packed full of happy memories. So, I trust you will give out a little chuckle when reading this little ending. if you are in my age range, that is.
When grown-ups seemed glamorous?
When you expected each day to be fun?
When people said "thank you" and "please"?
When Mom called you in for supper at dusk?
When you played hide-and-seek?
When you climbed trees?
When downtown seemed so far away?
When you caught lightning bugs in a jar?
When drugstores had fountains?
When most kids had a bike?
When you had a wish for each star?
When no one had pedigreed dogs?
When you read comic books by the ton?
When you bought penny candy?
When you drank chocolate milk?
If these simple things bring a smile to your face whenever they're heard or they are told, it means you were lucky to have such good times. It also means you're kind of old! Amen!
So, who was this rip-roaring, before his time, mastermind prodigy? Well, I’ll give you three guesses. The first two don’t count.
“ When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.” ( I Corinthians 13:11)