Delight possesses me as I contemplate another journey to my boyhood home of Eldorado. Our taxes are finished and we must drive to Saline County to sign them…due to the slowness of the mail and the lateness of the hour. I wonder how my hometown almost never entered my mind when I was in the height of my revelries and working many 16 hour days… Now the stories of my youth occur to me on a regular basis.
Eldorado seemed large to me when I was living there 47 years ago. It appeared to me that there were so many people that I could never know them all. Mom and I lived on West Street in a little red house that Aunt Guelda rented to us. I remember that we were sick with the flu, on one occasion, and Guelda brought us Seven-Up Soda Pop for our weak stomachs. Guelda was moms’ half-sister…different father…and she had lived for many years in St. Louis, Missouri. Gueldas’ first husband was named Lou, and he was a Jewish businessman who knew many famous and prominent people. Guelda told me that she had met both the singer and actor, Bing Crosby, and the Comedian and actor, Bob Hope. I was amazed and asked her to tell me more about them. She replied that they were nothing special…just men…they put their pants on one leg at a time… Mom spoke often of her sister Guelda. She and Guelda had an age gap of over 20 years with mom being the younger sister. According to mom, Guelda was glamorous. She wore furs stoles and expensive dresses and seemed so urbane compared to her country sister.
Eldorado had a plethora of thriving little businesses in the 60s. I visited the Ben Franklin Dime Store on a weekly and sometimes a daily basis. The Dime Store had a little bit of everything. There was a kind gentleman who worked there who looked to be middle-aged. I believe that he spent his carer in the Ben Franklin…as many people who worked in retail stores did in those days. My clothes came from the P.N. Hirsch Department store. They were moderately priced…but not as cheap as the clothing from the Brokerage…in Harrisburgh. Cousin Freds moved into Eldorado…and it was a big deal. The Cousin was a smaller version of Wal-Mart…which did not exist in our town…or perhaps anywhere but Arkansas…at that time.
Christmas was a grand event in Eldorado. The town Christmas lights were stretched across the main street and fastened to light poles on either side of the avenue… and were quite resplendent. The Orpheum Theatre had a Christmas movie that was sponsored by the Lions’ Club and all of us kids received a large Christmas Basket which contained all manner of Christmas Candy and even a Soaky Bubble Bath. Soaky came in bottles that were in the shape of popular cartoon and movie characters. Soaky made bath time…fun. The bottles included; Rocky The Flying Squirrel and his buddy…Bullwinkle Moose. Also, there was a great representation of the Universal Studios Monsters such as; The Creature From The Black Lagoon and Frankenstein.
Life was deliberate and slow in Eldorado. I sold Grit Newspapers for a time. Grit was a popular Weekly in those days and somewhat like todays’ USA Today…but with more rural news. Earl, my stepfather, loved to drive to the various supermarkets on Route #45 and purchase a Jelly Roll and the daily or weekly newspapers. He did this faithfully each evening. Among the papers was the National Enquirer and often The Star newspapers. The common headlines were regarding Aliens From Outer Space being captured and…’Woman Gives Birth To 30 Pound Baby.’ Or as mom often recounted a fantastic story to me and then qualified its’ veracity by noting that she had read the account in the Enquirer…