Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Bill Mack’s Entertainment Beat: The autumn of my youth


Friday, November 12, 2010
by BILL MACK

Radio was our main source of home entertainment back then.
Radio was our main source of home entertainment back then.

Fall is my favorite time of the year. The beautiful cover “Mother Earth” with gorgeousness. It's the season for football and popular holidays. I also love the cool weather. I've always referred to it as "sweater weather."

For some reason, fall takes me back in time to when I was a little kid in the Texas Panhandle. To me, it's a romantic period. My first serious love affair developed in the fall. The bright moon on a chilly night was a perfect setting as I walked her home following a night at the movies, or a school dance. I can still smell the cologne she dabbed on her sweater.

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Summer was fun and super active. Fall and winter seemed more serious and subdued. The music was more beautiful. Most of the tunes were love songs. Even the conversations seemed to be more romantic as we exchanged thoughts of love toward each other. Most of these conversations took place on her porch or in my used Ford. Kisses were very special.

To me, fall was that perfect time of the year and always will be. Of course, times have changed radically since I was going through my first touches of love. Back then, it was more restricted. Her parents patrolled our activities — as best they could. If I was late in getting her home from a date, we were both punished by separation for a few nights. But it was worth it. I could usually sooth the situation with an apology to her parents, and with the assurance I would take note of my Bulova watch more often.

Her mother liked me. Her dad was a bit more thorough with his words, but also seemed to trust me. I seemed to be gifted with "workable words" while I was dating my "first love."

I was raised in a small town ... and loved it. Attitudes toward life were very different back then.

As I look back on the Thanksgiving holidays during my youth, the events were truly focused on remembering how we should be "thankful" for the many blessings we had received in our small family — occupying our small house. The Thanksgiving prayer, usually delivered by my dad before sharing the turkey and other delicacies, was always sincere. The sincerity was obvious in the tone of his voice.

Radio was our main source of home entertainment back then. Television had not yet become a national fixture. I will never forget that Sunday in December of 1941 when Pop, seated near the old Philco radio, informed my mother that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor, an area of the world we had never heard of. He said, "It's somewhere in Hawaii. President Roosevelt is going to be speaking later." Then, he added, "This could mean we are at war with Japan." The next day, our president officially declared war with Japan, Germany and Italy.

I was a youngster during WWII, but I remember emphasis always being placed on President Roosevelt and those serving us in the military within my family’s Thanksgiving prayer. They were our wartime heroes ... and we were thankful.

I truly believe we should continue this practice, although it doesn't appear to be as necessary as it was back in the '40s.

WWII seemed to create a stronger era of togetherness in America. It was a busy time, but our relatives and neighbors left the impression that we needed to share more time together. I'm sure this was brought on by the fear that had been instilled by a war that was unpredictable, especially during the first two years. America and her allies were not winning many of the horrible battles at the time, and "togetherness" seemed to present hope.

I mentioned our small house: When I was growing up at 1010 North Madden Street in Shamrock, Texas, our house easily accommodated my mom, dad, brother and me. When we had relatives and friends visit us, we were never crowded! However, while visiting my hometown recently, the people who now live in the old structure allowed us to go inside and check the precious memories. I was astonished at the limited space in my former home. The living room where so many relatives and friends spent hours with us now appeared so very small. When I glanced around the living room, I found it impossible to believe over a dozen people could fit into the very limited area. The nice couple who live there informed me that they had occupied the old house for decades and, except for painting and needed repairs down through the years, it was exactly the same house that I had lived in as a youngster.

While checking out the former homestead, I noticed that the storm cellar was no longer located in the back yard. The gentleman who now owns the property said the dirt roof had caved in because of age. It had been built by my dad and a neighbor on a very limited budget, and was a common gathering place for most of our neighbors and some relatives when tornadoes threatened our town. After the storm had passed, those who had taken shelter in the cellar were invited into our house where mom would serve coffee, iced tea and whatever snacks might be available from the pantry.

The old one-car garage is still standing. The owner allowed us to take photos and video of signs I had written on the walls with black and red paint. Most of my creations, written during those precious years of my youth, are still very readable.

Here are a few choice quotes: "BOYS ONLY! NO GIRLS ALLOWED!" ... "KOOL AID 5 CENTS" ...  "HELP KILL HITLER! WHIP THE JAPS! BUY BONDS!" ... "BOBBY’S SISTER IS UGLY! SHE BITES!"

Yes, there has been a strong change in the behavioral patterns of our youth. Kids today have television, video games, and assorted other treasures, including their own spacious bedrooms. 

Back in the day, my little brother and I shared the same bed, but never felt inferior to most of the other kids in our hometown. We always noticed that our small house was filled with genuine love, and very little was required to make life so very enjoyable.

This Thanksgiving, I will thank God for having been blessed with living in a time frame that will never be duplicated.

The Trucker staff can be reached for comment at editor@thetrucker.com.

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