Looking through memory windows of special occasions
Some events in our lives come bouncing into our thoughts as if looking through a memory window. It can be a special anniversary, an old acquiantance we haven’t seen in years, or something that happened twenty years ago. In my case one of those was the sight of Mount Rushmore.
It was in 1964 when my five sons and I turned a curve in the road near Rapid City, S.D. We were on our journey to a new life in the West. Our trip had been normal until then, as we passed from one state to the other, not seeing anything that memorable. This was different. Then there was what happened as we left. A buffalo came way too close to our car.
In the roadway, it got right to a back window as we sped away. Such memories come to the fore, silly things that weren’t all that important. However, watching a movie the other day brought to mind a ride I had on an elevator in Santa Monica, Calif., years ago. It was a beautiful dark winter evening outside. As we entered the elevator on the first floor, it began up to the top floor restaurant.
It was an outside elevator, and three sides of that elevator turned to glass. I’m terrified of heights and almost fainted. The closest person to me was the elevator operator. I grabbed onto that poor man for dear life. I bet to this day he’s talking about the woman who wouldn’t let go of him until we hit that top floor. Naturally, our table was by a window.
Thankfully, the windows were wood half way up from the floor. After dinner, we used an inside elevator. If that hadn’t been available, I would’ve walked down the stairs. Let’s discuss a more pleasant topic. My son Doug loves good older movies; especially the 1930s and 1940s ones with dancers in fancy costumes and people like Martha Raye. I once saw her in person performing at the Valley Forge, Pa. Music Circus.
My oldest son, Don, Jr. was supposed to take his girlfriend to the show. He had front row seats. However, Don’s date was ill at the last minute, and my husband Don, Sr. and I decided not to waste the tickets and headed out – late, of course — and got there just as the first act had begun. The Music Circus stage is round shaped. The performance is done in the center of the round.
The audience sits around the circle. The performers then move around, scene by scene, so that everyone gets a front row view. Don Sr.and I arrived late. We tiptoed down the steep stairs. The stage lights were bright on the first rows, and the entire audience saw the two of us take our seats. Suddenly, the entire show stopped. The star, Martha Raye, came over to us and said, “Where the hell have you been?”
The audience howled. Many were people who worked with Don and I from our places of business. It made the whole thing fun. During one of the waits between scenes, Martha was standing right beside us. I got to tell her what had happened. We talked a lot, that night, with this very famous lady who had done a tremendous amount of good work as a nurse during World War II.
Now for a different memory, happening years before that Martha episode. Don Sr., my son Don Jr. — then six months old — and I were in a compartment on a train headed from Philadelphia to Fort Myers, Fla. for Don’s military training. It was at the beginning of that trip when they announced the train bringing President FDR’s body from Warm Springs where he had just died, would pass us going to the White House
During wartime, the trains were blacked out. We stood, with many others, in that darkened train as the President’s train passed us that terrible black night. My husband saluted as FDR’s train headed to Washington. Our baby slept all through the night, the movement of the train soothing to that little fellah. I woke to a beautiful Florida morning to look out of the window at acres of orange groves.
We’d never seen oranges growing. Our city view of that fruit had always been in a bin at our local supermarket. Memories make us who we are today. I hope my looking through memory windows help you remember some pleasant ones too. Edna Van Leuven is a Churchill County writer and columnist. She may be reached at email@example.com