It all started with the Plaza Theater
I grew up in a very small town with a population of 1,010 people. Downtown we had three grocery stores, a drugstore, a variety store, a barber shop, a hardware store and a restaurant as well as a movie theater, called The Plaza, that showed outdated movies on Friday and Saturday nights.
And it is the Plaza Theater, Dear Readers, that I hold directly responsible for all the childhood fears I had — which were as follows:
1) Falling into Quicksand
In 50’s movies, people were constantly falling into quicksand. Consequently, any second grader worth his weight in elementary-school rubber cement could tell you that if you fell into quicksand, never, ever struggle. You will only sink faster. And while this seemed like important information at the time, it never really panned out as being useful in the long run.
2) Contracting Leprosy
I suffered from eczema as a kid, which might be why contracting Leprosy was a huge fear of mine. After watching the horror that Ben Hur’s sister and mom had to go through when they ended up with leprosy, well, I lived in constant fear of getting Leprosy and having to be sent away from home to live in a leper colony — even if it was in the beautiful Hawaiian islands. This was before Hawaii was a state. (Note to self: Jeez I’m old!)
3) Falling into the Alice and Wonderland Hole
I thought Alice in Wonderland was horribly scary complicated by the fact that Alice was a complete air-head who didn’t seem to be bothered at all by the fact that she had fallen into a deep, dark hole populated by drug-crazed weirdos in a nightmarish world of high strangeness. This troubled me deeply.
Alice didn’t even have the sense to worry about getting back home. Oh no! Instead, her overriding concern was finding a bunny with a pocket watch. I had to ask myself why? And I”m sorry to say my question fell on deaf bunny ears, Dear Readers.
Anyway, after seeing Alice in Wonderland, I became seriously worried about falling into the Alice and Wonderland hole. And for awhile there, my mother had to check out my room to make sure it was Alice-in-Wonderland-hole-free before I’d go to bed.
4) Being Pulled Underground by Aliens
I remember watching a horribly scary 50’s sci-fi movie about people who would just be walking along, minding their own business, when suddenly, the earth would open up and an alien would reach up and grab onto their legs and pull them down into their underground base (that no doubt led to the Alice and Wonderland hole). In the 50’s, this movie chilled the bones of the second-grade, movie-going public of which I was, unfortunately, a terrified member.
The Strangest Day of All
Here’s a strange incident from my childhood for which I blame my imagination in conjunction with the Plaza Theater movies I watched.
In second grade, Becky Kenny invited me to come over to her house after school. I got to ride the school bus which I remember looking forward to with excitement.
Somehow, I got the idea that a meteorite had gone through the roof of Becky’s house the night before. But that I was under no circumstances to mention this knowledge because the Kenny’s didn’t think anyone else knew about it and didn’t want anyone to find out for some reason.
So we rode the school bus out to Becky’s house. When we got close to her stop, Becky stood up and so did I, but the bus driver slammed on his brakes so hard that Becky lost her footing and slid nearly the full length of the bus — under all the bus seats — and came to a stop neatly beside the bus driver.
I didn’t say anything, Becky didn’t say anything and the bus driver didn’t say anything.
We got off the bus and Becky’s mom met us at the front door to warn us not to go upstairs. Of course, I knew why. It was because of the meteorite, naturally.
And there you have it, Dear Readers, I hope you enjoyed the very first installment of My Brain, Peanuts Remembers.
Until next time . . . I love you (and whatever you do don’t mention the meteorite!)