Tag Archives | memories

The 70s called

The 70s called

I remember talking to my Grandfather on the phone in 1974. He was in Canada, and I was in the UK.

There was an echo that made it very difficult to hear his voice; I think he struggled even more than I did with managing to talk over what we’d just said, as it bounced around in the cable under the sea. It actually sounded like he was submerged, his voice was so faint and distant. It was still pretty exciting to talk to him, though, especially since I knew he was so far away.

I have no idea what he’d make of my iPhone. He was a practical guy though, so he’d just probably use it, no doubt after swearing a bit about how tiny the buttons were.

Alltop has humor on the line.

Memories of Antietam

child of the corn by imagecarnival
child of the corn, a photo by imagecarnival on Flickr.

Little Jehoshaphat was born in 1832 to a family of carnival performers and technicians that roamed the Americas.

From Georgia up to New England, as far west as the Mississippi and all along the east coast, Dr. Prognosto’s Travelling Circus entertained with clowns, freaks, burlesque and the “Wonder of the Modern Age”, the Magic Lantern Show that Jehoshaphat’s father ran. The Magic Lantern was able to project enlarged images of photographs onto a flat surface, and was nothing short of remarkable for the age. A clever manipulator of the technology could create effects like ghosts and spirits, and the show of Jehoshaphat’s dad was the undoubted highlight of the carnival.

Jehoshaphat’s childhood was a happy one, though his mother had died while giving birth to him. The rest of the carnies took him under his wing, and he had an entire community to help raise him. He was, by all accounts, a happy child, up until just after his eighth birthday.

Shortly thereafter, the images his dad projected at night became disturbing representations of dead Americans, wearing uniforms of blue or grey. They portrayed the agonized endings of thousands upon thousands of men, killed in a battlefield that could only be American. They were horrifying. Electrifying. The show became even more popular than before, though only a “certain kind of person” would be willing to admit they had seen such a show. But flocks of rubes paid their 2 cents to see the show. His father became a celebrity, and Jehosaphat became withdrawn, sullen, a teenager before his time.

The images became progressively more disturbing, showing all kinds of horrors that were beyond anything that the average American could imagine on their own. But it was all a phantasm, wasn’t it?

Of course it was. No human being was capable of such cruelty. What Christian would ever do such a thing, particularly to another Christian?

It was unthinkable.

At age 10, Jehosaphat ran away from the circus, but he never escaped the memories of Antietam, not until he fought there, 20 years later.

Alltop didn’t find that funny. Not one little bit. In fact, it was kind of disturbing. Originaly published, March, 2012.

Remembrances of Rabbits Past

Watership Down: A Reviewmory

Watership DownThis was one of my childhood faves, and all of my friends had read it as well. So, you’d think a bunch of 12-year-old boys would find this a laughable premise, a book about rabbits. Au contraire.

For some bizarre reason, the tale of a bunch of rabbits searching for a new home ignited in us a desire to emulate the events of the book. We would find a new abode, and create a masterpiece warren with all the comforts of home, and perhaps even fill it with lovely does. (Hey, we were 12-year-old boys, we had no idea how it worked, but we were interested. Oh, we were interested.)

Finding the site was less of an adventure than the book. Really all we needed was a nice secure spot, open enough to allow us to dig, but with a few nearby trees which we would use for lookout posts. We chose a section of the woods that was open, and half-pasture, but overgrown with grass and scrub bush. It was creating the warren that became the epic.

Digging the first three feet of the “large central room”, which would be the hub of our new and magnificent clubhouse was easy. (Our goal was to dig the large room first — a 10′ x 15′ space — and then cover it with sod quickly, so the location of our hideout would remain secret.) In fact, none of our parents had occasion to ask why we were borrowing all the shovels it was going so quickly. It was just dirt we were digging.

Then we hit the clay. It took us a week to get down another six inches. And another week to make it to four feet. Somewhere in there my mother asked me what we were doing with the shovels, and I mumbled something about looking for buried treasure before collapsing into bed.

Week four saw us to four feet and three inches. We were definitely slowing, and the chance that we would keep this monstrous hole secret for much longer was rapidly fading. In fact, there were whispers that we should give up. (Most 12-year-old boys would have given up weeks before and moved onto other adventures.) However, we were a stubborn group, and the clay would have to end soon.

But no. It just kept going. After another full week of digging, we were only down to four feet and seven inches. (Though the optimists among us thought it was four foot eight.) Some discussion of using the massive pile of clay that now surrounded our redoubt to make up the remaining one foot and four inches we needed to finish our planned hole. This idea was rejected as being too avant garde, and besides, the idea was that it would be a SECRET hideout, and even once the grass had finished regrowing, which would now take months, the lump would make our clubhouse too obvious.

The committee was convinced. And it was decided that we would finish the hole this week, in a frenzy of effort. We would spend twice as long digging each day. Three times! No TV! No touch football! It would be done. It’s what Fiver would want! Fiver lives!

We returned to our warren, filled with enthusiasm, imagining how sweet it would be when the hole was covered with grass on top, the walls and floor were rendered habitable by shag rugs, and we had some does in there, only to find our magnificent hideout had been co-opted by some local teens.

The deep hole and surrounding wall of clay rendered any campfire perfectly safe and invisible to observers in the woods. (It even absorbed some of the sound teenage revelry.) The remains of a genius campfire lay in the center of the warren. Beer bottles and cigarette stubs decorated the well-trodden clay.

So instead of becoming a secret hideout, filled with sweet-eyed does and brilliant rabbit wannabes, it became the best-known place to partake of jungle juice; it became the Party Pit. In retrospect, it probably saw more action this way then our clubhouse ever would have, doe-wise.

Oh, and in the book? The rabbits don’t have nearly the same difficulties building their warren.

Alltop loves the does. And the bucks. Originally published November, 2010.