When rocks were still soft...
by Chris Terry
OK, classmates, it's time to reflect a bit, and look back. After all, there's more behind us than in front of us now
It's TV Time! Let's turn it on. That means you have to get up, cross the room, and turn the knob. You remember when TVs had knobs, don't you? Now, in order to get clear reception, you will have to move the rabbit ears around a bit, until the picture clears up. You know, the black and white picture? Some of you have color sets, but not all. Cable? That's something you use to build suspension bridges. Now, let's change channels. That also means you have to get up, cross the room, and make your selection. You can choose ABC, NBC, or CBS. That's 21, 33 and 15 I believe. Who's that on the news? Oh yeah, the new president, Kennedy. Doesn't he look young? I miss Eisenhower, though. Remember Channel 21, Friday night horror movies? "Welcome to our laboratory." And when the movie was done, guess what happens? "Oh, say, can you see " And the jets fly over, the flag waves, and then it's gone! Off the air for the night. Might as well go to bed, or else we could go outside and look at the moon. You know, the round thing in the sky that no one is ever going to visit, except in science fiction stories. The moon...the only satellite we have!
O.K., now let's go for a ride. First of all, the car isn't locked. Just like the house. Now get in, and fire her up. Go ahead, gun the motor! Gas is only 40 cents a gallon, leaded! (Alaska has moose, not oil. Arabia has camels, not radicals. Iraq what in the world is Iraq?) O.K., let's head out. Where to? How about driving up Jefferson Street to the stadium, then back down to the A&W Root Beer stand. Then back up to the stadium. What's across the street from the stadium? Cows, that's what. COWS. No shopping center. Let's drive to the grocery store. Which one? Marsh's, A&P, Bechsteins? Or else we could go to Kroger, A&P, or Bechsteins.
Let's head out of town a bit. Out Salamonie Road. How about stopping on the old bridge for late-night dancing? Turn on the headlights; turn up the radios On the other hand, we could go a little further to Devil's Backbone. Scary! Getting hot? Turn on the air conditioning. What? No air conditioning? Roll down the windows! No, there's no button. Just a hand crank. Cold weather? Remember the tires thumping for the first few miles until they warmed up and got round again? Maybe we should go out on the bypass oops, where did that go? How about going out to I-69 oops again. How about the four-lane U.S. 24 going West through the state oops Let's turn on the radio. See the glow from the tubes? Let it warm up a bit, and if the weather is good, we can pick up WLS from Chicago, and listen to Dick Biondi before he gets fired again or, the 50,000 watt voice of WOWO, telling us what pork bellies are selling for. Listen to Elvis - he's young! He's got quite a few years ahead of him. "Beatles" What? Do you mean "beetles"?
Here come the guys. Let's play "slips". Try to catch me! What was that? Hobe Schacht, driving a green VW through the pavilion at Hier's Park, which is too narrow for me to follow in the old 55 Rambler. Damn! At least I can enjoy my girlfriend sitting close to me in the front seat, because it's a bench-seat. Bucket seats are in Corvettes, not in your father's Plymouth. And there's no seat belts to get in the way!
Let's do some shopping. We can go to Wolf & Desire and see Sherry Hiatts mother. We can go to Bazley's Meat Market for some hamburger. Get the good stuff with lots of fat. Lean meat is bad for you. Just don't go on Wednesday afternoon, because everything is closed so the kids can work on the farm. Who can name the most downtown stores that are no longer there? It's a long list Groceries. O.K., where's the Thai section? Where's the Mexican section? Where's the Chinese section? Oh there it is "LaChoy Makes Chinese Food Swing - American." Where's the sushi? Oh, over there in the bait section we'd better pick up some beer. Hey, how do you open these things? Where's the pull-tab? What, a key to a church? What do I want with a key to a church? How about a soft drink. Say, Mountain Dew? What do you mean, Mountain Dew comes in gallon jugs from Kentucky? Why don't the Coke bottles say "Classic", and why don't the caps twist off? What's this, the price? Can't be must be the refund. O.K., let's make a salad. Where's the arugula? Iceberg lettuce? Only iceberg lettuce? Something's wrong here Meat section. Hmmm what's this stuff selling for over a dollar a pound? Must be steak. Better go to Bechsteins - better meat, and cheaper. While we're here, might as well get a jar of homemade sauerkraut. Bang! #*!@!! Ran right into the door! The automatic opener must not be working now let's pay for the stuff we bought. Want to use your credit card? What credit card?
How about stopping at the Hotel Huntington for some homemade cream pie? After that, we can go to the LaFontaine for some bowling. If it gets late, we can go to the coffee shop by the Erie station, and wait for the men to get off the train from their shift. Or we can go to the Double Dip for ice cream and banana pie. We can't, however, go to McDonalds, Arbys, Burger King, Pizza Hut, or dozens of other places we take for granted today. Maybe we can go to the movies - there are two theatres downtown, and of course there's the drive-in. Or maybe we should go to Big Blue for a swim.
Now we're in school. You remember the school, it's still right here on Guilford Street uh, I think it's here somewhere what did they do with it?!? Didn't we donate something important, like repairing the front stairs? Did they save them for us? How many of you remember the "secret" way to get up into the catwalks above the auditorium? In addition, the rest of the attic, including the trap door above the physics lab area, where there was all sorts of neat stuff stored. Or the "pit" that you could fall into if you weren't careful it looked like it went all the way to the basement. Now let's look at the clock on the wall, and see what time it is. Oh my gosh! It's earlier than I thought! By an hour! Wait my watch says it's actually 9:00, but the clocks say 8:00. Oh yeah, that's to keep the Federal Government happy. You see, there's a lot of controversy going on about what time it should be, and if you want to keep federal funds coming in, you'd better set the school clocks according to what time Uncle Sam thinks it is in Indiana. Now let's go to the office and make some copies. Where's the copy machine? What? Mimeograph? What's that? And what's that smell? Oohhh smells good. Sniff some more getting dizzy? Is that why the purple letters look blurred? No, I think that's just the way it came out. Where's the computer? Oh yeah the computers are in the big cities, in the big factories, and they take up a whole room. Two, actually one for the computer, and one for the punch card machine and boxes and boxes of punch cards, both new and old. Millions of little rectangular paper dots all over the floor, but not in Huntington, not yet. There's the principal! Who wasn't intimidated by Harold Johnson? Was he really ten feet tall, or is that just my faulty memory again? It's night now, and if you look up at the left side of the front of the building, you'll see a blue/purple light in one of the offices what is that? Oh, the ultraviolet light in the nurse's office. That will keep everything sanitary where's my hand-held calculator? Oh yeah it's hanging from my belt. It's plastic, and the center part slides back and forth but where's the digital display? Digital isn't that something to do with fingers? (Remember going to noon-time classes on how to use your slide-rule? Does anyone remember how to use it today?) O.K., now it's time for audio visual to come around and set us up for the big show. Here comes the cart, thanks to McCabe Day. A slide show! Fantastic. A movie! Wonderful open reels of film, flipping and flapping. Where's the PowerPoint presentation? Where's the computer projector? Where's the 3-D computer display?
Now let's go to the basketball game. Regionals in Marion, I believe? Who's that filming us on our caravan? Someone making a movie or something? Maybe they should call it "Hoosiers." (If anyone out there hasn't seen the movie, go get a copy and watch it. You will really think they were there with us.)
O.K., now let's go on a vacation. Get in the car, and drive North through Michigan to the practically new Mackinaw Bridge! Biggest span in the country. Verazzano Bridge in New York? Never heard of it. New York - you know, where the World Trade Center will be built in a few years. Off we go, on the highway. Are you keeping on the smaller back roads on purpose, or do you want to use the Interstate? Excuse me, the "what"? Maybe we should travel by air. You just go to the airport, and go through security wait a minute, where's the security checkpoint? Hey, there's the plane just sitting there, and everyone can sort of walk around and why are the silly people walking on the ramp? Oh - they're going to the plane, and climbing up stairs what kind of plane is that, anyway? What are those paddle-like things on the front of the engine? And what kind of noise is that? It sounds like a piston engine Where's the jets? Only at the National Guard? Where's the 707s, DC8s, 727s, 737s, 747s, DC10s, L1011s, 757s, 767s, 777s, Airbuses What? Planes made outside the US? Ridiculous!
Maybe we should just call on the phone instead of going there in person. "Long Distance, please. Hello, operator? I'd like to place a call to California California that's C, A, L, I, F, .O.K., here's the number. Now, when you get them on the line, call me back and connect me. In the meantime, I'll call some friends in town." Let's see - I'll call Nancy Ware. Her number is 50. That's all, just 50. (I know it's the right number, because it's the last two digits of my social security number!) Hey! Exciting news! They're bringing in a dial system! We're really going modern, aren't we? Cell phones? You mean they have phones in the jail cells? What will they think of next? Probably something like radios that you can use to talk to other people on the highways nah, just kidding. No one would think of anything like that. Only police have that sort of thing.
O.K., now let's get dressed. Where are my Nike shoes? Oh, they're called sneakers? Keds? What's a "ked"? O.K., let's get some good jeans and go to school what? What do you mean I can't do that? Why not? Dress Code? Never heard of such a thing girls, let's get the plaid wrap-around skirt on, with the over-sized safety pin holding it together in the front don't forget to wear your "virgin pin". Anyone left who qualifies to wear that anymore? Gee - sorry to hear it! (Good thing you girls weren't allowed to dress the way they do now, or I never would have learned anything in school!) Where's my watch? Is that it over there? Why is it ticking? What's that little knob on the side? Where's the date and the alarm and the stopwatch function? Where does the battery go? Now let's set the time no, don't use the school clock, silly. Don't you remember?
Yeah, sometimes it does feel like 40 years. However, the memories are still fresh (clearer than what happened last week at times!) And the best part of it is we remember the good parts much clearer than the few sour moments. Or else maybe it really was that good! Sure feels that way now, thinking about it.
How about some other memories from the rest of you? As for me, it's time to drive home in my air conditioned truck, listening to my CD player, using cruise control, to my home where I'll turn on the TV without touching it, and see live programs beamed off satellites, on 65 channels (I'm too cheap to sign up for more) and then I'll cook some food in my microwave, and maybe call my brother in Palau with my cell phone until my digital watch tells me it's time to say goodbye!
Copyright© 2003 Chris Terry
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