Friday, October 28, 2011

Loving Television

I watched a lot of movies when I was a kid. We usually went to the drive-in theater across from the 64 Hub Truck Stop. We just called it the 64 Hub when Daddy worked there. It was a full-service gas station on the West end of town and named for Highway 64, the major East-West route before Interstate 40 went through Arkansas in the 1960's. Highway 64 is how we got to Grandma's house in Oklahoma City a half a dozen times a year and how Daddy drove us to Altus a little more frequently. Locals will know why we went to Altus. I liked going though because Daddy would get us a rarely enjoyed soft drink. All the way up there my brother and I would be deciding whether we wanted a Nehi Grape or maybe a six ounce Coca Cola. Sometimes Daddy would buy us a Baby Ruth candy bar too. We never had more than one car so Mama would load us up, usually in our pajamas, to get Daddy from work. While waiting for Daddy to finish up, we would sit across the highway watching the big screen and imagining what the stars were saying.

I loved everything about the drive-in except the times Mama didn't want to take me inside to the bathroom and expected me to use a paper cup while I squatted in the floorboard.  One time I remember Mama driving through the box office gates with her friend in the passenger seat and six or seven of us kids piled inside. It was a night we just paid one price for the whole carload full. All of us kids ran to the the playground beneath the giant screen where they had seesaws and swings. When the lights were dimmed and the cartoon began, we returned to the car to find Daddy and Pete sitting in the front seat. They had sneaked through the fence after dark. The kids usually sat on a pallet on the grass to watch the movies. I do not recall many of the films we saw at the drive-in except I do remember the Jane Russell one where her bosom overflows her blouse. I guess that was pretty racy back then. We didn't usually get much from the concession stand but, if he had the money, Daddy would stop on the way home to get all four of us (our sister came later) an icy cold root beer from the Frosty Mug. Those root beers and the Sunnyside hamburgers are special childhood memories of mine. I guess it is similar to how our kids remember going to Whatta-Burger in Russellville on Friday nights before we bought groceries.

We lived in a basement apartment near what was the College of the Ozarks when Daddy brought home our first television. I can still picture The Lone Ranger's opening scenes. My love for television began that day as I became the family's equivalent to a TV guide. I could tell you what show came on what night and at what time. There were fewer programs to choose from back then with just the two or maybe three channels we received. We rarely lived in a location that the antenna would pick up Channel 7. I was a pretty discriminating viewer back then and, although it is probably unamerican to say, I did not like Howdy Doody. Something about today's Pee Wee Herman puts me in mind of Howdy Doody. Maybe it is the way he walks. I do not care much for Looney Tunes now and was actually afraid of them as a kid. I think it was because of the scary dream I had of Yosemite Sam with his crazy orange moustache and both guns blazing, chasing Bugs Bunny out of my closet. But then it gets all confused with Elmer Fudd's, "I'll get you, you wascally wabbit!!" Which brings to mind our babysitter, who wore her hair like Petunia Pig's. You know, the one I'll tell you about in the Pinto Beans and the Frog story.


  1. You 'tell' your memories so well that I'm 'there'.

  2. Oh the memories of drive-ins and special treats. You know, I don't remember what I saw at the drive ins either. A lot of things gone out of my mind about my childhood. Well, the brain is getting pretty old and probably filled up by now.

  3. Yes, I remember the drive-in! and 64 Hub. The movie I most remember is "The Three Faces of Eve" and I don't think I really ever understood it.

    Thanks for your comments and the comparison; quite special to me.

  4. My mom wouldn't allow movies when I was a kid, but when I was a teenager, I worked at a drive-in theater. I would also sneak in when I wasn't working, either under the fence or in a car trunk.
    Ah the memories. I love that you bring them back so well written.