While talking to BBB at the WILLIAMSBURG FILM FEST on Thursday, we we talking about how I became a huge fan of all things western, 5 years ago at the age of 43, after spending my whole life being a fan of classic horror films.
Later, I was thinking about why I love old TV and film westerns. I decided that while watching something like a classic western TV show from the late '50's, I often find myself simultaneously thinking how exciting it would be to live during the Old West AND how exciting it would be to live during the hey-day of TV westerns during the late '50's and early '60's. Being born in 1964 I missed both of those time periods. I know I'm looking at both eras through rose colored glasses, but it still makes me wish I had a time machine so I can experience both eras.
That's one of the reasons I enjoy reading books ABOUT classic TV shows and films as much as I enjoy watching those shows. It puts me in Hollywood during the filming of those shows.
So yes, I guess I AM nostalgic for 2 eras that I never lived through.
The little western Kansas town that my family all lived in is still there. Nor has it changed much. I hear that they are going to tear down the old Delux Theatre, which is sad. I had spent many happy nights in that little theatre. They grabbed the handle and pulled down the screen before the movie started. I think it was about eight seats wide and maybe ten rows long, maybe less. I recall trying to keep up with my grandfather when he walked me the two blocks to the show. Roy Rogers was a big deal. To me, at the time, the little theatre seemed huge. The tiny little yellow brick building has been derelict for fifty years or so. Soon it is coming down. I'll miss it.
We had two little banks and I think one is still running. There is also a new telephone exchange building and the people have dial phones. There is a high school and grammar school. The hospital is all closed up and there isn't a town doc or dentist anymore. My grandfather "Doc" McCarty was the dentist from 1919 until his death in 1964, no one replaced him.
There are one or two new houses, but essentially the town is unchanged since about 1939. Downtown stores are mostly vacant, which is sad. They used to be booming, or as booming as anything "boomed" in Bucklin, Kansas. Now citizens drive the 30 miles to Dodge City, which has some new "box" stores and the feed lots, now employing Vietnamese and Mexicans which are still turning out beef in a big way.
A few of my old jr. high buddies still live in town, all about 70 now.
The two grain elevators on the north side of town are still standing and I think they are still accepting wheat. The John Deere place is still open, but today it's biggest business is recycling used farm equipment to be shipped to China!
They were all excellent conversationalists and story telling became a fine art. They made fun of everybody and almost anything. Some, but not all, were extremely religious. Those who weren't were respectful of the faith of others.
Meals were noteworthy. Dinner (lunch) was served on a blanket in the field. When we'd see my grandmother or greatgrandmother driving up we'd stop working and walk to the edge of the field, cross the fence and sit in the grass around the table clothe spread on the ground and eat friend chicken, corn on the cob, biscuits and apple or cherry pie. We usually drank ice tea or maybe coffee or even lemonaid. All made fresh.
Supper was always a full spread. After prayers (in the case of my great grandparents) we would eat off of china plates. Milk was fresh that day, and potatoes and chicken gravy, sometimes ham or steak. String beans or peas from the garden. Chicken was common and it was good. My great grandfather said that store bought bread had never crossed his lips. (He also said he participated in the shootout after the bank robbery in Coffeeville.) and his .45 hung on a nail in the kitchen, always loaded.) Biscuits were made fresh for each meal and the butter was churned and kept in the ice box. Pies and cakes always. This in the 40's and 50's.
While my great grandparents never had much money there was never any talk of poverty or a feeling of being poor. They were confident and self reliant and proud of it. They had a radio as I recall. By the time I knew my great grandparents, they had moved into town, Hinton OK. My g grandfather built their house....it's gone now.
Here is my g grandmother McCarty. She was always called "Pink".