Thursday, February 22, 2007

Radio Preachers

Sitting in the yellow breakfast nook..
Every Sunday morning.
Reading Dick Tracy.
Reading Little Orphan Annie.
Waiting for the French Toast.
Smelling the frying bacon.

My mom would be cooking breakfast.
The radio would be on.
The radio was an old radio.
One with tubes that glowed.
This was in the mid 1950s.
Ike was President of the USA.

Flying saucers were everywhere.
Commies were everywhere.

One Sunday morning.
Everything was the same.
I was reading.
My mom was cooking.
The flying saucers were resting in the cosmic cupboard.
The commies were sleeping in.

The radio was on.
We were listening to a radio preacher.
He had a deep voice.
A Russian accent.
Or maybe it was German.

He was talking about the Holyland.
Send ten dollars in.
Get a prayer shawl.

Then he said.
Then he commanded.
"Put your hands on the radio
and feel the power of the Lord!"

My mom walked over from the sink.
Her hands were wet.
she was heading for the radio.

I yelled.
"Don't do it mom!"
"That ain't the Lord"
" It's electricity"
" You're gonna die"

She stopped.
Turned around.
Wiped her wet hands on her apron.
And then she said
"Freddy, you are so smart."

Later that day we went to church.
Then we took the bus to Morningside.
We ate fried chicken at Aunt Clara's house.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

How I Use to Watch TV

Back then we did not have a TV.
We were living on Jackson Street.
The Swanson Apartments.
Apartment 303.
This was in 1953 .
I was 5 years old.

I wanted a TV.
My mom wanted a TV.
It took a lot of money to get a TV.
I only knew one family with a TV.

But it was summer.
And it was hot.
I would ask my mom if I could go get an ice cream cone.
She would give me some spare change.
I would walk the 3 blocks to Birdsall's.
It was over on Pierce Street.
Near the corner of 16th.

I would get 2 scoops of ice cream in a cone.
Maybe chocolate and chocolate chip.
Mr. Birdsall always said that I should get the lime sherbet.
He said get it in a dish with chocolate sauce on top.
I did it once.
It was good.

Birdsall's had a lot of pinball machines.
I was not allowed to play them.
My mom said that they would lead me to a life of gambling.
Lead me to a life of sin.
She was a Methodist you know.
Got saved at an outdoor rally in the 20s.
But, I watched the older guys playing them.
These guys were having fun.
And they seemed like important guys to me.

Well anyway, after I got my cone, I walked outside.
Into the hot summer night.
The bugs were always out.
Millions of them.

I would walk over to William's Appliances.
They were next door.
They sold TVs.
They would put several TVs in the window.
And they had some speakers outside too.
I could watch TV and listen, too.

People would be standing outside watching TV.
Watching the news.
Watching a movie.
Watching a clown
Maybe a test pattern,
One night I watched a test pattern for a long time.
Just standing there.
Licking my ice cream cone.
Waiting for Fred C. Dobbs to come back on.
Wondering what was going to happen to the Treasure of the Sierra Madre.
I finally went home.

When I got back to apartment 303,
my mom was waiting for me.
She said that I had been gone an hour.
She was worried that I had been kidnapped.
Or that I was playing the pinball machine.
She grounded me for a week.

Later that summer she bought a TV.
Sylvania I think.
Got it at William's.
$5 a week.
We were now part of the TV elite.

Later my mom would buy 2 metal TV trays.
We could eat our TV dinners while watching TV.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Dark Road on a Dark Night

The road heads north from Stone State Park between the Big Sioux River and the Loess Hills. For some reason some of the guys and I had decided to go swimming at the sand pits. The sand pits had one of those "No Trespassing " signs. It was after midnight. I guess we figured that we would not get caught. I really don't recall. So we were all in Jones' old Renault. There were four of us and a case of Old Milwaukee. We were all in a good mood. We were listening to Bleeker Street on the AM radio. 60s rock music at it's best. Hendrix, Country Joe and the Fish and The Velvet Underground.It was a dark night on a dark road. No moon. No lights. Just the headlights of the old Renault. Up ahead we could see a car parked on the side of the road. No lights. Jones slowed down a little as we passed. One of the guys said that he saw someone in the car. Jones turned the car around and drove past the parked car from the other direction. He stopped again and and turned north again. He stopped the car a little behind the car on the side of the road. It was an old car. Nothing special. This other guy and I got out of the Renault and walked towards the other car. The driver of that car was slumped over the wheel. Probably just a drunk passed out and sleeping it off. But maybe he needed help. I knocked on the driver's side window. No response. I knocked again. No response. I knocked again and yelled "Hey Buddy!" Slowly, very slowly, the driver raised his head but his head was turned toward the front window of his car. Then he jerked his head to the left and stared at us. He was smiling. It was not a happy smile. His eyes were glaring at us. His expression was one of " I have been waiting for you and now you will pay". I was scared shitless. So was my friend. I have never seen a face so evil in my life. We ran back to the car. We told Jones to get the hell out of there. The other guys saw him as we drove away. He did not follow us. He did not have to . He had crawled up inside of our brains. He is still there when I remember that night. Dark road on a dark night.