During our time in Miramar Beach, Florida, earlier in the month, we experienced some lovely temperate days and several showers and storms. Some might not like rain and inclement weather on their holiday…but I enjoy it immensely. Storms fascinate me. They remind me of life and the vacillating vicissitudes of our day to day struggle. I had a pastor, many years ago, who enjoyed fitting vacillating vicissitudes into his sermons. If they are not property damaging or life threatening I find storms, strangely peaceful. My stepfather, Earl, was so frightened of storms that he would rise from his bed in the middle of the night and announce to my mother and I that we must escape by car as there was a tornado coming! As I grabbed a shirt in one hand and pants in the other…he reminded me to not forget Cheetah, his loving Chihuahua. Cheetah hated the air that I breathed. Each time that I attempted to pet her…she displayed all of her old teeth and snarled menacingly. She did the same when I fed her. So, when I picked her up to the Great Car Escape…I whispered in her good ear…’If you bite me I will leave you for the tornado.’ She came compliantly.
Earl told mom and I that if a tornado came we should run out the ditch and jump in it and cover our heads. I wondered how we would breath…under the water. When it was not storming I would ride my bicycle, that looked like a motorcycle, into town. We lived on a country road with semi large gravel that did not agree with my knobby wheels. Nevertheless I was no deterred and made this trip every day that we did not go swimming at Ponds Hollow. Mom and I loved Ponds Hollow. She would drive her 1957 Chevy Bel Air convertible the roughly 20 mile trek to what was nirvana for me and my friends. The day was spent swimming and floating on the cool water and being on the lookout for Water Moccasin snakes. I witnessed several during my years of being there, and I was not afraid as I was young and invincible. During our return journey we drove through Harrisburg, Illinois and thus right by my favorite eatery…the Moo and Cackle. We bought 5 hamburgers for a dollar…and I consumed 3 of them.
Orpheum Theatre was my favorite summer time hangout. Sadly it was only open on Friday nights and Saturday and Sunday. On the weekend I attended for a 35 cent ticket and could stay all day if I liked. I liked! I saw every movie that came to our little coal mining town. I saw Barbarella, with Jane Fonda in the title role, all day Saturday and went back on Sunday for a return engagement. The owner knew me by name and seemed to like me, I was a good customer, and his wife sold the tickets and there was an ancient gentleman who tore the tickets in two just before you entered the darkened theatre. On one occasion he asked me if I would mind going to the Dairy Queen and buying him a pack of Marlboro cigarettes. I told the old sage that I would be happy to and when I arrived at the DQ I ordered two packs of the cigarettes that had the cowboy as their advertisement…1 for me…and 1 for my buddy.
The biggest mystery at the Orpheum was the Cry Room. I would look at the brilliant neon red sign that proudly proclaimed that the Cry Room was at the top of some narrow and winding stairs and wonder just what went on in the upstairs specialized area. I inquired of my Marlboro Buddy and he responded that the room was where people went to cry… I deducted that it was necessary when a sad movie was screening. On one or more occasions I climbed the haunted house staircase and found the door to the Cry Room…locked. Perhaps it only was unlocked when you are crying?
My classmates are having their birthdays this year…as we do every year. I noticed that we are all turning 64. We are members in good standing of the 57/64 Baby Boomers Club.