"Anybody got any gas money?”|
Dale pulled up at the Standard Station in Greenup. His brother Don and I fumbled in our pockets and came up with a total of 47 cents, which in 1962 would have probably bought about two gallons of gas. We were on our way to Fairview Drive-in at Casey, 9 miles over.
Fairview was known for its exciting “Buck Night”, which was when you and seventeen of your closest buddies could pile into one car (the lucky ones got to ride in the trunk) and get in for a dollar. Even better were the Dusk to Dawn spectaculars, one of which we were on our way to this particular Saturday night. “Dawn” meant you saw four or five movies, if you were still awake at 4:00 AM.
We were pretty sophisticated guys: we smoked Marlboros and probably stunted our growth by a quarter of an inch while regularly burning holes in our T-shirts. I think the warning labels on cigarettes came around our senior year, when the Surgeon General determined that cigarette smoking might be hazardous to your health, but, hey don’t worry, we were told, “Live Modern, Smoke L&M,” just as recommended by Matt, Kitty, Chester, and Doc, the Gunsmoke health experts.
Dale didn’t light up, as Route 40 was a heavily traveled two-lane highway that demanded his full concentration. Soon he had to slow down for a truckload of chickens. He stuck his head out the window (practically standing up with one foot on the accelerator) to see if the lane was clear. After all, we had to get a move on as the show started at dusk, which of course was at 7:53 PM CST.
It was still daylight when we reached Casey. Even so, some of the less patient movie patrons began honking their car horns to indicate they were ready for show time, dusk or not. Within a few minutes the Snack Bar Players (Mr. Tasty Hot Dog who dipped himself in mustard, for example) appeared onscreen and the show started.
I volunteered to make the snack bar run. Dale was a little skeptical. “Are you sure you won’t get lost, Danny? It’s nighttime--with your sense of direction you’ll probably take a wrong turn and wind up in somebody’s cornfield.”
“Oh, he’s not that bad, Dale,” Don said.
“What about the time he got lost in downtown Greenup when he had his paper route?” Dale asked.
“Hey, I’m not 12 years old anymore,” I said.
“OK, but if you’re not back in 15 minutes, I’m calling your Mom,” Dale said.
I ignored this remark and made my way to the snack bar. I got back well within the 15 minute limit even though it was dark and I was carrying a truckload of snacks, which I could barely see over. I climbed into the back seat and started to hand out everybody’s order. I stopped in mid-delivery when I noticed a couple—not Dale and Don—sitting extremely close together. I fell over myself and my Pepsi/popcorn delivery trying to get out of a stranger’s back seat.
I finally stumbled upon Dale’s car. I climbed in and said, “You’ll never guess what I just saw.”
“Never mind that--what took you so long? And where’s the rest of the popcorn?” Dale asked.
“I got in the wrong car. There was this couple up front who were practically sitting on top of each other.”
“Hey, what was going on? Did you see something?” Don asked.
“No, they were just sitting close--they weren’t doing anything. They were old married people.”
“How old?” Dale asked.
“At least 25.”