Tuesday, July 25, 2006


Have you ever been scared, I mean so badly that you thought you would never recover – your veins ached from the rush of adrenalin coursing through them, your temples pound from the beating of your heart, you about pee your pants and you gasp as though you just finished a marathon?

Something like that usually only occurs after you realize you almost bought it in a near crash landing, or your roller coaster felt like it raised up too high on the last turn before the downhill dash to the finish. However, if the moment catches you just right, you can go completely berserk with fright.

A couple cases in point –

Case one began way back about 1953 in Paducah, Kentucky. My dad was working there and driving home on the weekends so I could stay in school in Harriman, Tennessee. My mom decided that she and I would stay with him during the summer and so we moved to Kevil, near his work, into a little trailer he had rented; when I say little, I am talking about ten feet long, if that. I slept on couch and about six or so feet away was the bedroom!

There are only two things I remember about this trailer – one was the foot peddle you had to mash down to flush the toilet and the treasure trove of comics books I found that the previous occupants left behind the sofa. Man what I would give to have those back – they would be worth a mint!

Reading comics was about all I did that summer – one right after the other, from publishers like Atomic, Fawcett, and Action and biggest of all DC, with characters like Captain Marvel and Superman (who later got into a court battle), Batman, Wonder Woman, and a myriad of other things with cartoon characters from Disney - all written prior to the "Comics Code," guidelines for acceptable and unacceptable content.

Anyway, to shorten this horror story, out of all the comics I read, or mostly looked at, that summer, all I remembered apparently was a single frame out of a Dell Comic where Tarzan fell into a snake pit. There were snakes all around his feet and legs! I have never been a snake man at all - ooh.

When school started that fall we were back home in Harriman. I slept in the living room even there, but on my own folding/roll-away bed. I had taken a cold and was running a fever when I went to bed this particular night. Sometime in the night, probably due to the fever, I began to dream about the snake pit. Suddenly, and coincidentally, the roll up window shade on the living room door, which had the inexplicit ability to roll itself violently up, did just that. Still asleep I stood up in the middle of the bed in the middle of the dark room and screamed bloody murder! I looked down at my feet and they were tangled with squirming snakes of all sizes and colors! I screamed some more and would have until daylight had my mom not flicked on the light and woke me up.

It was hours before I could be coaxed to slide my legs back under the cover and lay in that bed. However, I demanded that the light be left on for what was left of the night. The moment had been just right!

Case two begins with mom and dad’s friends over playing cards one summer evening in 1956 leaving me to entertain myself. I watched the Wolfman – you know the 1940’s variety with Claude Rains, Bela Lugosi, and Lon Chaney Jr.? Well, I watched old Lon change back and forth several times and did not even notice when company began to leave.

The visiting neighbor lady decided she wanted to say goodnight to me and so instead of coming back inside, like any civil person, slipped up beside the open window that was just behind my head. At a critical point in the movie, just when the moment was right, she put her face right next to the screen and blurted out “BOO!”

I went berserk! Like a cartoon character trying to get traction, my flannel covered knees could not get a bite on the linoleum floor for several seconds, but finally, after what seemed an eternity, I made it to the opposite wall still screaming to the top of my lungs. Had I known how to cuss at the time, I would have been so embarrassed!

All that was said was, “Sorry - good night.” There was no acknowledgement from me, and it was several weeks before I even spoke to the lady again.

In the words of Yosemite Sam, “I hates surprises!”

1 comment:

Ron Southern said...

Just goes to show Yosemite Sam ain't all bad. Surprises are people who want to wet their pants (or worse).