Posts Tagged ‘memories’

This evening, as the kids and I watched the “Wizard of Oz’, I had a sudden recollection that ties the generations together for me.

The movie came out in 1939, the year my mother turned seven-years-old, and made quite an impression on her.

It began what was to be an annual run on American television in 1956. I was five that year, but we watched it as a family every year of the ‘50s from then on.

I don’t remember ever not having a TV in the living room; sitting in front of that tiny (by today’s standards) screen in the huge wooden cabinet on the oval braided rug as my mother … either perched on the brown, skirted couch, cup of coffee in hand no matter what the time of day, or standing behind the ironing board with a bowl of starch water at hand … did the ’50s version of multitasking. It was a position I must have mastered very early. Color TV had yet to arrive, so black-and-white was all we knew. Ricky and Lucy’s apartment, Sky King’s sky, everything the Mouseketeers got up to … all were sans any shade but variations on gray.


The 1939 Poster

And that was fine … most of the time.

The exception to the whole being-okay-with-B&W thing came with the opening bars of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”. My mother’s WoO had imprinted itself on her brain before the age of television, when films were only seen in ‘movie houses’ where a show cost a dime … unless you wanted to sit in the loges … and grownups could add a bit of atmosphere with clouds of cigarette smoke.

By 1939, cinemas also offered films shot in Technicolor, something this movie was made for:

Notable for its use of Technicolor, fantasy storytelling, musical score and unusual characters, over the years it has become one of the best known of all films and part of American popular culture. It also featured what may be the most elaborate use of character make-ups and special effects in a film up to that time.

The fact that this beloved experience was reduced for us kids to NO color annoyed my mother no end, apparently, so she did a running commentary to enhance our viewing pleasure … or hers.

This is where, all of a sudden, everything goes into brilliant color!

That is the YELLOW brick road!

The witch has GREEN skin! (No mention that she looked just like our Aunt Mary when seen in B&W until we were much older.)

Those flowers are poppies … bright red poppies … and are so beautiful.

The whole city is GREEN!

That’s the ‘Horse of a Different Color’ and as it walks around the color changes from green to purple and more!

And so on …

All these years later, I found myself tonight explaining my mother explaining the colors to me to my kids as they watched a hyper-hued DVD of the road and the witch and the poppies and the horse, realizing as I did that time sometimes moves in circles.

Now … if I can just find those damned ruby slippers. I know they’re around here somewhere …

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Hiding the ghosts ..

Hiding the ghosts ..

A prompt from NPR inspires today’s post … a quick dash down Memory Lane on a Monday morning that goes way, way back … thanks to a project being conducted on places that now exist in Memory only.

There are a lot of those stuck in my head … The Milk Farm (always known as “The cow that jumped over the moon” amongst us Hanks kids), The Golden Eagle Hotel where we roamed at will, Grandma Hattie’s apartment in San Francisco … but what popped immediately into my head was a sometimes stop in my father’s wanderings of the back roads between hunting and camping trips on hot summer days.

Whiskeytown, California … In the 1950s and 60s my father used to drive us through a small Northern California town of a couple of streets with clapboard houses, a store and very little else. It was scenic and pioneer-flavored, being a relic of the days of Gold Fever and expansionist mentality. We’d stop, buy a soda and stroll around soaking up atmosphere and sensing ghosts amidst the minimal hustle and bustle a population of under 100 could manage to stir up.

Dad was big on history, so related much about the time the town thrived, including tales of hardships and hangings, imagination fodder for hot and thirsty pre-teen kids primed for adventure after hours in a car, even with all verses of “Sixteen Men on a Dead Man’s Chest” and “The Big Black Bull Came Down From the Mountain” sung loudly while passing the miles.

Sometime in the mid-60s we made a special trip … the final visit. Within a week, the town was to begin the process of being covered by millions of gallons of water that would fill the space behind the new Whiskeytown Dam.

Whiskeytown looked exactly as it always had to my brothers and me, with one exception … there were no people. The houses, rundown as always, stood, but doors were ajar offering a view into formerly private spaces littered with broken bits of furniture and odds and ends of life not worth toting away. Ghosts seemed much more tangible as we walked from building to building, tentative in our snooping but fascinated.

In my mind, the town remains, somehow preserved in all its dilapidation at the bottom of the lake and the ghosts still walk there, unaware of the elemental changes to their old haunt.

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