Recently, I met up with two of my buddies from the old days, and we talked about how we would prowl the neighborhoods of Northwest D.C. Depending on the mood, we were John Wayne and his boys trying to take a hill during World War II, or Robin Hood and his gang about to storm a castle. Our imaginations were our playground, and we worked them overtime.
The topic got around to my recent sharing of some of the adventures of my pop, Sam Lacy, in this space from week to week. We observed that we experienced something similar when we were kids. On Saturdays, after the chores and mini-hustles we had going, we would gather and head for the movies. The price was 14 cents, and we walked both ways. For a quarter we could get entry to the movie and buy a bag of popcorn.
We would stay in that movie theater until dark. We saw two chapters in which the hero took us on a new adventure from week to week. Throw in a couple of cartoons and a double feature and we had entertainment that would cost about 15 bucks today.
Sam’s story comes in chapters, and my buddies look forward to the next installment from week to week. After all, they have a personal stake in his life story. He was one of the parents, and like the rest of the dads, he was viewed as Superman.
My grandparents lived in a three-story house, and this was the castle of my youth. While my parents were at work, I spent the day with my grandparents and my great aunt. I never grew tired of roaming from floor to floor and an occasional trip to the basement. There was a giant oil burning furnace in a dark corner and, depending on the temperature, there were strange noises coming from that corner. My bravery was tested and the furnace won.
Most of the time my pop would pick me up. From time to time my grandmother would drop a chore on him, which he accomplished gladly. Things got a little dicey when he was asked to restring some venetian blinds. I guess Sam thought this was a simple chore. He spread the blinds out on the floor and went to work. My pop was not a cussing man, but I detected some blue language mixed up in his utterings. Finally, a trip to the local hardware store solved the problem.
One day, Sam was asked to hang a mirror over the credenza in the dining room. A hammer, nail and a picture hook were the tools needed for this chore. Sam rolled up his sleeves and went to work. After all, how hard could it be to hang a mirror? But considering that the mirror weighed almost as much as I did, we had a recipe for disaster. The deed was accomplished—and just as we gathered around to witness his work, the mirror came crashing down.
I have to chuckle when I think of this, because home improvement turned out to be Superman’s Kryptonite.
However, I can’t laugh too hard, because my wife had me restring the drawstring on the drapes over our patio window. I may have used some of the same words Sam used, and they didn’t help. Déjà vu.