Thursday, October 25, 2007

Up Jump The Devil

My best friend in the whole wide world is Mildred. Halloween is a perfect time of the year to share with you one of the most wonderful joys of my life, more than a golden ticket from my favorite Barista, more than 90% off at my favorite store, this tops of my list of things I love--scaring Mildred. I just can't tell you how awesome it is. One thing to understand about scaring Mildred is that Mildred is a tough ol'bird. She's not afraid of tornadoes or walking in the baddest part of town at midnight, oh no bring it it on for her. She has no fear of "natural" things. No, no, see she's afraid of things that don't really happen in the natural world. I'll explain.

When Kendra and I lived in Oklahoma City and were working at Deer Creek we were good friends with the Triplett's. We spend many hours together; Mildred and her family, Kendra and Me, and the Triplett's sitting around either one's home and laughing until our belly's hurt and our tear ducts were dry. So much fun. I think for Kendra and Me the Triplett's house was our favorite place to hang out because we loved their house! It was in a very nice neighborhood of Oklahoma City called Blue Stem and the house was our dream of an absolute perfect house, now we say we would add one more bedroom since Teensy's surprise arrival almost a year ago (one month and 4 days to her 1st birthday). The floor plan was totally open and inviting, as were the Triplett's. I loved the kitchen and really liked cooking in there.

On one of our fun nights we were all cutting up and having a ball when Larry, sorry Pat and Larry Triplett, walked in the kitchen with this horrendous old man mask, that looked a lot like this one. Well Donna nearly dropped her contents! In addition to being really fun to scare she is even more fun to startle! It's really too easy to startle her, but it's still fun. Of course after she was startled we all got a HUGE classic Mildred lecture. As the night progressed, I decided it was time to pull out all of the stops. Mildred was at the sink, which had a window looking out over the side of their property. The street lights gave a blue haze to the dark night sky. I put that mask on and snuck around to the window and waited for her to get totally engrossed in a conversation. At just the right moment, up jump the devil! I popped up and caught her eye. She threw up her towel screamed and spun around! It took me a good five minutes to get off the ground because I was laughing so hard. She refused to look out that window any more that night, and really didn't want to go to the sink. The other thing to remember about Mildred is that when scared it usually marks her for life. Call her today and ask her about that night I jumped up at Pat and Larry's and we are RIGHT back to that night, and I get the same lecture as if it had just happened.

When Mildred's husband was on an out of town trip, for business, Mildred came over to the house to hang out with us. We always ate too much, laughed a lot, and just had fun together. This night was no exception other than we had decided to watch the Blair Witch Project. It was ALL the rage in 1999 and it seemed EVERYONE was talking about it. We started the movie about 10 or so. You have to understand that I'm not, so not, a night owl. I turn into a pumpkin around 10 and it just gets worse and worse at the night wears on. It drives Kendra crazy and Mildred too. I have never been a night owl, I'm a morning person. I say that to say, Blair Witch put me to sleep.

It didn't put Mildred to sleep, it put her in a state of absolute marked for life sheer terror. What makes this movie so believable is the way in which it was shot, like a home movie all bouncy and rough, not like a really fancy high dollar production. There is a part of the movie where this person is in a tent and children are all around the tent banging on it. Mildred was wrapped up in a blanket, peeking out with half an eye--totally and completely horrified. This movie ruined her.

The next day she was still ruined, still marked, still mortified that she had allowed her mind to open, even a crack, to the images and sounds of this now horror classic. It was all she could talk about. Mildred lives in the boon toolies about twenty minutes from civilization and the thought of her going back to her house...alone was all she could do. She just knew that little children would pop up and surround her house banging on the walls or something. She stayed with us for three days and then went over to the Triplett's for another three days. I really believe that she's still haunted by this movie--it really ruined her. I'm sure, not that she ever reads this blog, that she will get all tense and keyed up just reading this post. It's ok Mildred, they are all actors. My friend Tracy tells me that this happened in her neck of the woods. Since Mildred and Tracy are friends I'm sure it will come up in conversation (have you asked her about it yet, Tracy?)

Lastly, Mildred had not been on the world wide web for long when this happened, even though it seems she has been there ever since All Gore invented it. I had been after her for some time to get an email account set up. She has dial up which is totally frustrating to ALL of us, especially her. A few years ago I came across this cool picture of a kitchen/dining room and the challenge was to find something wrong with this picture. It came to me in an email, but I found it here and I'm so glad I did. Well the fun thing is as you stare at this picture you realize nothing is wrong, so you lean in closer, and closer when--up jump the devil! this monster face jumps up at you and screams. The first time I saw it I have to admit I jumped. I knew it would be fun to send to Mildred because she just simply could not resist the desire to find fault in this picture and there would be a for sure nose print on her screen. The only sad thing is I was not there to witness the shock. Mildred used to stay up into the wee hours of the morning pouring over the web and checking and responding to email. She was in this two peas in a bucket group and spent a lot of time there doing something. Well...sure enough she opened the picture and took the bait the picture was there and she was nose to nose with the screen when--up jump the devil.

She screamed, threw herself back from the computer in her rolling chair and ran out of the room. I'm sure her hands were close to her face, or covering her eyes. She was Ruined. She did not have her speakers on, or up one, because had that happened I think she would have completely dropped her contents and never touched her keyboard again. She knew she had to get that thing off the screen, but it kept poppin up and she just couldn't do it. So she covered her eyes and side step-slid, into the room waving her free arm around trying to find the computer. She finally managed to smack the screen and slide her hand down to the button to turn off her computer. I got the biggest lecture from her, lord o lord did I get a lecture. "William! I can't believe..." I really don't know what she said because I was laughing too hard. This happened at least seven years ago and she still won't open an attachment from me! How's that for holding a grudge.

Nowadays I just get my kicks out of making her think I'm bidding too early on her ravenous compulsive vintage ebay wallpaper purchases, but you gotta do what you gotta do. See since she has dial up and gets her connection dropped I get the supreme joy of doing her bidding--literally! It's just more fun that I have the ability to share, scaring Mildred. One more thing, Mildred....Boo!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Caped Fear

My Sister and I are four years apart in age, which is to say I basically grew up alone. We lived in the country at the junction of 76 and 86 highway in Neosho. These two highways came together at angles. If you picture a pie shape, our row of house was in the center right before the tip of the pie. There were six houses on our highway and none of them had children my age. I can't remember one time that I had a friend over in the seven years we lived there, except for Corbin Cornell whose mother dropped the reluctant lad off for a one hour trip into town. My cousin, Tiger, would come over but only on holiday or special occasions. I say that to say, my best friends growing up were my imagination and TV. I would get lost in my world and play for hours and hours on end and if I wasn't playing in my world, I was watching TV.

Saturday mornings, I would get up before the sun and make my way into the living room to watch TV. I can't tell you how many hours, collectively, I watched the color bars just waiting for the flag to be shown followed by the guy to com on the air and pray for the day. After the formality of the station revving up for its day of broadcast Super Friends came on, my favorite show! The Legion of Doom and the Hall of Justice was just awesome. I liked Aquaman the most, Hawk Girl and the Wonder Twins drove me out of my mind crazy--didn't like them at all. The Wonder Twins never did anything but get into trouble and cause the Super Heros more work. Gleek their mascot monkey was better than them. I wished them back to their home planet of Exor more times than I can count and wished the Wendy and Marvin would come back with Wonderdog.

I'm not sure why this popped up, but; there was a time in my life when I wondered to myself at what point the world became color. I had watched a lot of black and white TV and also color shows came along so I just knew that at some point in history things must have been black and white. Makes sense to me, how 'bout you? Pleasantville helped me out a lot in living through my thought process.

Super Friends entertained me for hours, I would just get spell bound wondering if my super friends would be able to survive the Legion of Doom's diabolical schemes. Even though Aquaman was my favorite superhero I would pretend to be Superman more than any other superhero, didn't swim much so Aquaman was just not an option, and since every super hero I became had a cape my dad made me a one to be superman. This was not a flowing red cloth, was a heavy scratchy tweed cape. That's right lime green, dark green, yellow, and white striped tweed cape with a button to attach. I didn't care because that cape would transform me into Superman, Batman, or Hong Kong Phooie, and I would have super powers just like them. None of the super heroes, however, ever had an older sister who got her kicks out of waiting for her little super hero brother to come running through the house only to grab my cape and watch me flail to the ground--flat! She loved that! I hated it! Every time I wore my cape I ran around in fear of my pesky sister grabbing my cape. Dad thought he would fix the problem by writing a note on my cape, "Don't Tug on Superman's Cape" was written on my green striped tweed cape with Marks A Lot Black Marker. It was kind of the cherry atop my pathetic attempt at being a super hero. I still have that cape in my Mom's cedar chest and it still has the warning, thanks Jim Croce, for all to see.
I knew when the Super Friends would be showcased by the villain showcased. If Bizarro, Brainiac, Lex Luthor (who founded the legion), or Toyman were on it woudl be Superman's day to shine. If Black Manta was on Auqaman would be the lead of the day. Cheeta and Giganta were the arch enemies of Wonder Woman and if Giganta was on it meant that Apache Chief would guest appear to help Wonder Woman out. Riddler, Scarecrow, or Solomon Grundy meant that Batman and Robin were on their way. Sinestro's yellow ring always battled against the Green Lantern's green ring. Just loved the stuff!
Watching those shows now I see how hokey they were, but back then I ate it up! I still enjoy watching the old shows and remember most of the episodes and get all keyed up just like I used to.
I usually watched my shows until the beginning of American Bandstand, and we left to go to town with Granny. I was never interested in American Bandstand and really, really loved spending the day with my Granny.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Vacation long ago, go

The Summer of 1974, my family and I had been waiting in our green station wagon for our turn to get into Silver Dollar City. We knew we were close because we had passed the horse ranch which my sister and I always wanted to visit, "we aren't here to ride horses we are here to go to Silver Dollar City", but knew would never happen. We loved Silver Dollar City. We loved the walk up to the tram stop in parking lot C, we loved seeing the long green snake pull up, "howdy folks, welcome to Silver Dollar City, Please wait until the tram comes to a full and complete stop before loading, watch your head." The Silver Dollar City was the first of many rides that I looked forward to. I can still remember the heat of those metal seats burning my legs as I slid into the bench, scrunching close to my Dad. Mom never let me ride against the edge because she was afraid I would fall to my death...on a tram going no more than five miles an hour!
There weren't many rides compared to Six Flags (ST. Louis) or Worlds of Fun (Kansas City) but they were great. Sis and I always made our way to every one full excitement and anticipation. There was: Fire in the hole, Run a way mine train, Rube Dugan's Diving Bell, and the Train. Of course, you can't forget Marvel Cave which wasn't really a "ride" but totally cool to walk through. Mom never stepped foot in the Cave, Dad had to go. Mom just shopped while we did the cave.

The center of town was cool because we could ride a real mule driven stagecoach, or go through Tom Sawyer's tree house (which is closed), and stood mesmerized and all keyed up because the Hatfield's and McCoy's were at it again. I really believed the story and always had a tinge of fear that those guns were loaded. The Sheriff wanted to deputize me and I was reluctant because I just wasn't ready to defend the city against the bad guys. I remember well when the Plunge came to SDC and it was just awesome! I didn't care about getting wet back then, now I do care-A LOT! Plus the apple butter house was right by it and you could sample fresh apple butter--HOLY COW that stuff was good.
Vacations for my family were always an adventure because something had to go wrong. Thinking back it was as if our car knew we were getting ready to go somewhere and decided it would just breakdown. We always packed a cooler with bologna and bread, mustard for Dad, and drinks chips. We never ate out on the road, Dad didn't want to stop he just wanted to get there. We would stop for critical bathroom breaks (most of the time on the side of the road) because I had reached the point of no return. On our only trip to Florida, which we drove to, my family loves to point out that I had--HAD to stop in every state to, "leave my mark." When nature calls you just can't tell it to leave a message.
Silver Dollar City meant funnel cakes. I just love funnel cakes and looked forward to eating them every time I knew we were going. There is one place in the park that I prefer to get my cakes from and don't really thing the other places do justice, it has to be that place. It also meant salt water taffy. Watching that taffy machine crank out fresh batches of taffy just brought joy to my heart. Plus, they give you free samples and for a boy who wasn't allowed to get souvenirs or was given spending money--free samples meant a lot! We did by the souvenir glass mugs because it meant cheaper refills. They have since become plastic mugs, but the glass ones were really cool. SDC has unfortunately become a fan of huge skillets that cook a goulash kind of conglomeration, which I am OUT on-Totally! I just can't stand the smell or sight of these huge vats of mixed up food stewing away. This picture does not do justice to the "real" sight of such a thing. I can't really describe it other than to say it looks like some took a compost buckets contents and decided to cook it over an open fire and add stagnant swamp water to it. BLECH!
We also ate lunch in the lost Mine, I don't think that I've eaten in any other place at SDC--ever. The Mine is a cool place, underground below the Fried Chicken place. You eat on tin plates and drink out of tin cups. The cornbread is just the best I've ever had. It is a buffet, but it feels like a cafeteria. Love the Mine. The Mine also had a special table which slowly crept up as you ate. By the time you were through eating it was about four or five inches higher than before. It was really fun to watch people who didn't know the table grew and see them try to fight off the feeling that they are losing their minds. So cool. By the way the picture to my right, taken from the SDC website does not--NOT portray the true visual experience of the Mine because the food does not look that good.
Hannah's Ice Cream Parlor is a true old fashioned ice cream parlor that I love. The blackberry ice cream would make anyone decide it's ok to be fat! I'm telling you it is incredible. They make the stuff right there on the sight in huge ice cream churns. They look just like the wooden bucket ice cream makers we all know, only super sized to 10 gallon not one gallon. So cool to see these things churning out such delectable confections--I'm a huge fan of ice cream. Just love it and Hannah's is the best place for Ice Cream ever!
Around 1980 or so I had a brush with celebrity. I will never forget walking by Grandpa Jones in the Park, "Hi Grandpa!", "Howdy son." He said, "Howdy son" to me--Me! Silver Dollar City had just built this huge amphitheater and showcased the Darlin Band from Andy Griffith fame. Grandpa Jones had come as a special guest. So cool to see a real live celebrity. The amphitheater called Echo Hollow opened after the park closed which meant you could stay a little longer and then go enjoy a good show. I loved the fact that the band that played with Andy Griffith was actually playing for me Live! They were really great and we always enjoyed the show. I don't' know who does the show now, but for the longest time we went to see the Darlin's at SDC. When I was a kid the end of the park was Echo Hollow but it has since grown on beyond.
We just wrapped up a trip to Branson and SDC where we took Teensy and the boys and it is just as I remember it. So much has changed and the park has really grown up, but so much is still the same as I remember it when I was a kid. Knowing that my boys can walk the same paths that I walked at their age and ride the same rides (some have been removed though, but that kind of ruins the nostalgia) is awesome. We had Teensy last year when we went to SDC and didn't know it. This year she rode in a stroller and not in her Momma belly! I got tickled at Kendra because she commented that, "these hills aren't as bad this year as they were last." There are some really steep hills you have to walk, and when you are pregnant and don't know it it's really bad!
I had the same feeling of melancholy when we left the park on Friday, a week ago, as I did when we left park in 1974 and years following. When would I get to come back to this wonderland and enjoy the freedom of fun. Waiting another year just didn't seem fair to me. These memories wrap around me like a warm blanket and just keep my soul cozy. Silver Dollar City is a good, good friend.