This page by Jon Kennedy
Spring fever on the farm, 1956
A friend and I were recently discussing spring fever and it brought back a memory from my mental scrapbook.
It was April or early May, a few weeks short of my 14th birthday on May 31, 1956. WeDad and Mom, Gary and Iwere all out at the tractor and wagon in a corner of a field preparing to spend most of the day planting that field in potatoes. We had seed potatoes, and (as you probably know) to plant potatoes you cut a section off a seed potato with an eye on it and put it in the ploughed furrow and bury it. One potato might have enough eyes for six or so hills or plants.
I hated farm work; considered it kind of a cruel hoax. There was no money in it so it was all labor in vain. This was a very immature attitude, of course, as I loved living on the farm, mostly because of the opportunity to grow up playing in the woods and even the barn, which we wouldn't have had if not for the farm. And in reality, though we never made any taxable income from it, the farm did supplement Dad's salary from the mine significantly.
My mind wasn't on planting potatoes. The night before I had walked/hitch-hiked into town (in all likelihood with Joe Thompson) and seen Giant, with James Dean, Elizabeth Taylor, and Rock Hudson. Even more than most movies, that one transported its audience into another world. In fact, it involved several other worlds, spanning the era from the Texas "Old West" to contemporary times, the 'fifties, and also from poor life on a drought-stricken cattle ranch to modern oil-rich affluence. I remember replaying it in my mind while I was supposed to be thinking potatoes. I probably wouldn't remember the movie at all if I hadn't focused my thoughts on it that morning, but because I did, I've never forgotten it. Those two things coming together, planting potatoes and living in the silver screen world of the movie Giant gave me a sense of yearning or growing pains, spring feverwhatever it wasthat fixed itself in my memory, a timeless moment.
That's all. Except that there's another movie scene that has also fixed itself in my mind for some unknown reason that seems, even though a totally different story of a different era, like an epilogue to the first. The scene is in a highrise apartment with a night view of the city lights stretching in the distance, the apartment belonging to a rich socialite in modern Dallas. Her Urban Cowboy lover, played by John Travolta, is there, about to realize that her life is not for him, though they have pursued each other and he has almost caught up with it. A haunting movie score fixes the moment, "Love, look at the two of us...." Every time I hear that song by Boz Scaggs, I remember that scene.
Giant hasn't stood the test of time very well. Recently, my younger son went through a James Dean phase and we rented and watched his three movies together. Though it was epic in proportion at the time, Giant is severely dated now. For one thing, the consummerist-materialism that most thinking people at least try to eschew today was one of the forward-looking values of the mid-'fifties, and that comes through painfully. For years I thought someday I'd relive the night I spent enraptured in the Capitol Theater, watching Giant, and reliving it the next day. But instead it produced another of those times when you have to say, you can't go home again.
Links to additional Blacklick Township pages Blacklick Township Home Page (affiliated with Nanty Glo Home Page)
Blacklick Township High School Class Lists
George Warholic's Blacklick Township Pages
Belsano Memories (from Jon Kennedy's growing up there, with Belsano School photo-1)
Belsano Memories (from Trudy Rummel Myers, pig farm childhood)
Belsano Memories (from Jon Kennedy's adolescence, writing for Mountaineer Herald-2)
Belsano memories— Halloween in the 1950's (Jon Kennedy-3)
Belsano's famous literary figure
The Blacklick Township Class of 1960 35th anniversary reunion photo
Blacklick Valley's most famous athlete - Bill Hartack
The 'good old days' at Blacklick Township High School, by Linda Rae Watson Silbaugh
A Death in the Family and how it forever changed our lives (Belsano crash kills three
A virtual hike, Vintondale to Belsano
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