Did you ever go snipe hunting or cow tipping? Or lay on your back at the county fair right under the fireworks, oooing and ahing in unison. I was 16 when I finally got to see real fireworks, and they were just a little disappointing. I’d read The Fellowship of the Ring, and I was spoiled by Gandalf’s fireworks. How about a traveling fair with rides and gaming booths? I got cheated at a carnival, which was a useful life lesson.
Did you have Senior Skip Day? Have you ever returned for Homecoming? In small towns, “homecoming” means the return of all the people who moved out of town, not just the people who were in your high school class.
Those “small town list” builders forgot a few small town things. I remember a lot about our one traffic light town, no longer the main US highway after the interstate went in. That light was important – it kept kids from cutting over to the business road and drag racing through town.
I remember that every village had a movie parlor. Movies ran for 2 or 3 days, depending on how good they were. There were Su-M, Tu-W, and Th-F-Sa shows. The big shows were on the weekend, of course, and sometimes a double feature. Rarely, there was a kids’ movie in the afternoon.
It was ten miles around the peninsula, and the road was not safe for walking, though we walked sections of it occasionally. (Our parents helped operate a one-man bridge over a channel, back in their time, but it fell into the channel years before. Too expensive to maintain for only a summer house part of the township.) Easier to row over the lake to town. Or to wait for a bad beach day, when parents were restless and we’d stalled on the big puzzle, to drive over and wander around and see which little store survived, and what was new.
Now, the theater is remodeled into realtor and lawyer offices, and there’s a multiplex at the county seat. A couple of older theaters still survive, but not the really good ones. I’ve heard the bad ones recycle the popcorn.
The funeral home had an annex that dressed deer and did taxidermy.
Thursday night was band concert night. If you had an instrument and could play, you showed up. The music was a tattered, ringed book of old favorites, like “The Footlifter” – rarely something in the same decade as the concert. All the kids ran around, caught lightning bugs, ate cotton candy and hit the House of Flavors ice cream shop (or way back, in the beginning, the fountain at the drug store). Teens scoped their peers out, older folk brought chairs and blankets, and if the skeeters were bad, people sat in their cars, and then honked after the songs they liked best.
We (the small children) hung from the edge of the banisters and the pier & beam floor, looking over the shoulders of the musicians and delving the mysteries of how a horn man could play and chew at the same time, or that guy whose cigarette never went out — it balanced on the ancient music stand, and he took big drags between songs, while shooing us off the banisters because they were old and creaky. We never could have cotton candy — Dad was a dentist — but the ice cream was regional and good.
They finally tore the bandstand down, probably because they really thought one night the thing would fall on all of us. The new one is very pretty, a nicer layout with a curve, no banisters…and folks still honk car horns, and visit one of the ice cream joints before scoping out the single men and women who showed for the concert.
(to be continued….)