Chapter One, Entertainment
BY PAULA WATKINS
To be continued, as our grandson used to say when we had to listen and listen to an imaginary tale he would make up as we rode along to an event – thank you, Caleb! The gang, consisting of Stonewall and Jordan Street, and Bell Avenue (Jortonell Gang) did have lulls in neighborhood entertainment. Not that we were ever bored, borderline maybe – but sometimes your days needed just a little extra incentive especially when our parents could sense we were on the verge of getting into something.
We’d hear Laverne, Momma or Ivy Nelle talking about taking us somewhere completely out of our domain when we were sitting around on the front door steps. Going to town on Saturdays was always a given, but to hear mention of an upcoming event made us send Peggy or Randall to the front door screen to hear what was being said. We wanted to be sure we were not being sent to another country, especially since some of our days could cause wishful thinking on the part of our mommas. Outside entertainment, as I said was rare. Just so you know we did get to experience what we considered the finer things of life that always led to imagination, which contributed to higher intelligence levels. You just try to convince your mommas of that!
I’ll never forget when Smiley Burnett came to town. Now that was just about as close to Roy Rogers as I would ever come. He came to the old high school auditorium, all decked out in his old black hat and his kerchief around his neck. He sang a few songs and shook hands with every kid. You could even get a picture of him and get him to sign it for only Twenty-Five cents. That was a lot of money in our day, but somehow Momma found enough in the wash to buy one picture for the three of us. I wonder which one of us destroyed that picture??
We could hear talk of going to the county fair if the adults were really exasperated. I always did want to join the circus, so maybe, maybe… Load ‘em up, drive to Huntingdon – a whole ten miles away from the comforts of home. I remember being a little nervous of about going that far to be entertained. Get out that big old sedan and poke us all in there! We didn’t have seat belts so six or seven of the gang could fit in the back seat. One of two could sit in the front between the driver and the other gullible adult. I usually got to go with one of the other families in our neighborhood since Momma stayed home to take care of Darrell. I always got the warning to not get on the swings that swung out almost parallel to the ground. “Don’t you dare get on the ride! The swing broke with a little girl riding and she hit a tree.” (I tell my grandchildren that now.) Momma scarred me for life. I will not even ride the ferris wheel!
Saturdays got a little more entertaining after we got old enough to realize that we could go to the matinees at the Park Theatre. The westerns, Tarzan, Superman – man oh man! We’d go with Fifty Cents and pay a quarter to get in and buy popcorn, a drink and candy to last us almost the whole afternoon. We’d leave that world of makebelieve and take home dreams of becoming one of those famous characters.
Later on, the world opened up even more. The written word of comic books was introduced. I hear tell that, for some reason, parents were afraid reading about Archie would lead to juvenile delinquency. They finally agreed to let us buy and read the comics, especially when they realized how quiet we were.
Television came to our house when I was around ten years old. Oh my! Howdy Doody, westerns and a cartoon was like looking through the looking glass. Watching the shows were a lot more entertaining when a group of us could get together in one living room. The shows soon became live as we scuffled and tried to take on the persona of the characters we were watching. I didn’t think I would ever understand why Momma yelled for us to get outside “NOW”! I didn’t understand until I had my own imps. To be continued…