Banner photo of Larry Eugene Meredith, Patrick Flynn and Ronald Tipton, 2016.

The good times are memories
In the drinking of elder men...

-- Larry E.
Time II

Monday, March 14, 2016

When Mars Invaded My Bedroom By Night and Scarecrows in the Daylight



Fifth Grade -- This was the year Mars invaded my bedroom.

From 1950 to 1959 there was a popular TV show on Sunday evenings called “You Asked For It!” Art Baker who created the show also hosted it and for the first year it was called, “The Art Baker Show”. It was a little like “Ripley’s Believe It or Not”, except by viewer request. People sent postcards asking to see a particular person, object or event, thus the title. Each show presented several requests. Baker read a viewer’s postcard then fulfilled the request. Some were mundane, such as an interview with a former silent movie star who had retired years ago. Some were bizarre, such as a man with a million bees covering his face. Originally the show ran live on the DuMont Network (long gone), but beginning in 1952 appeared on ABC.  It was on Sundays at 7:00 PM.

This particular night a viewer wanted to see a flying saucer. After reading the postcard Baker showed some grainy film of alleged saucer sightings and a bit of history. It ended with the usual tag line, “Because you asked for it!”

I went to bed. I couldn’t sleep with the shades drawn at that age, probably 11. My shades had to be all the way up so I could see the outside sky. I lie in bed a while and then saw it. There was a flying saucer coming across the horizon in a direct line with my house. I could see its throbbing light as it came closer and closer. It wasn’t veering off. It was going to fly right through my window.
I screamed and both my parents came running into my room. It was Sunday night thus my father was still home. They found me standing on my bed, pointing toward the window and yelling, “Flying saucer! Flying Saucer!”
My dad looked toward the window. “All I see is a lightning bug,” he said.
Indeed that was all it was. A lightning bug was flitting about outside, its tail blinking on and off a yellow-green glow.
Humiliated before my dad again.

Fifth Grade was also the year of the Scarecrows. No, I didn’t see a scarecrow crawling through my bedroom window, although that would make a pretty frightening horror film image. I was a scarecrow. My friends were scarecrows too. Even some non-friends danced and sang with me as scarecrows. In the picture from left to right: standing - Ronald Tipton, Bumper Dague (who was probably a cousin, but he sometimes hung around with the Charles-Bird-Way gang), Denny Myers the Sunburned Scarecrow, Yours Truly (I was the Sloppy Scarecrow, a bit of type casting I suppose). Kneeling is Buddy Bruton (who sometimes was part of our group; he was friends with Dave Fidler. Buddy’s dad was a Dentist and he lived on Lancaster just east of Chestnut Avenue), Duer Smedley (whose father deliever the milk to the Grade School, this combined with the fact Duer was short earned him the nickname Half Pint), Bill Brookover (I don’t know what kind of Scarecrow he was supposed to be in that white makeup) and Stuart Meisel.

This was an Operetta we performed at East Ward. I no longer know the name. It apparently was something down on the farm. There were quite a few farmers and farmer’s wives in it judging from the picture on the right. The big boy standing on the right is Jack Swarner. I think Jack was the main farmer and father  because he was the largest boy.

It may have resulted from this performance that some of us went on a bigger stage. That was the Downingtown High School stage where four of us tykes were recruited for the Senior Play that year. I believe we four were Denny and Michael Myers, Stuart Meisel and I. I don’t know what that play was called either. I do still remember my line, “Let’s head ‘em off at the pass.”
From what I recall the stage set for the high school play was a living room. In our big scene there was a man, the Head of the House, trying to relax. He was sitting in a large chair with a newspaper. The four of us little kids played little kids (type casting). As best I remember, our scene played out this way. Denny and Stuart, dressed in cowboy outfits, come running onto stage. They are outlaws. They disturb the guy in the chair by shooting their cap pistols. They have a couple lines, such as, “Don’t tell anyone you seen us or else.” Then they exit. The man tries to relax again.
A couple of ticks later Michael and I, also cowboys, but the good guys, gallop on stage and disturb the guy some more. Michael was to ask, “Which way did they go?” The man would point off stage and I would deliver my line. We would exit. That was it.
(Left, me being a cowboy, 1944.)
There were two performances, afternoon and evening. At the first performance Michael missed his cue. I came galloping on stage, pretending to ride a horse. I stopped by the guy in the chair and looked around. “Hey,” I shouted, “where’s Michael?”

This got a big laugh from the audience. It was a blooper, but I liked getting that laugh. I wanted to become an actor and get more laughs. Eventually I got my chance, but again, a tale for a later time.

1 comment:

Jon said...

Another thoroughly enjoyable post and I like the photos. You've sure known Ron a long time. I wish I could have kept in touch with my school friends, but it was difficult since we moved so often.