Saturday, November 21, 2015

Remembrances Of A Child From Jay

When I was little, I went to the Jackson Theater on Saturday night. It was Segregated. The "colored" people had to watch the movie in the balcony, while the white folks sat below. I wonder if the people of that day understood that the Balcony had the best seats in the house. There is some kind of irony in that.
For the balcony goers to get to the Movie, they had to walk up the outside of the building on the rickiest set of stairs I had ever seen. I walked around to the side of the building one day because I was curious as to how the theater goers got to the balcony and I saw the stairs. I can only imagine what a slippery slidey mess it was to go up those in the rain or when there was a bit of frost out or a stiff wind. It would have scared me to death.
Sometimes the balcony goers would throw stuff down on the ones watching the movie below. Popcorn or paper but never spit. A small amount of attitude for still being relegated to the dark balcony 100 years after the War that gave them freedom, ended. I understand it better today than I did then.
I remember the music in my household. When Mama was home it was country.. Earl and Scruggs, Ernest Tubb, Jim and Jesse Reynolds and our hometown boys Sonny James and Hank Locklin. I never knew as a kid that Sonny James was a Loden cousin. He hosted the first Country Music Awards and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He produced Marie Osmond's first 3 albums and was the one to suggest she sing "Paper Roses" which became a huge #1 hit. (info from his fan website)
I saw him perform in Jay when he came to visit his cousins and he was a such a gentleman. He talked and interacted with his fans in a way that is lost today. In a time when I was watching movies in a segregated theater, he was collaborating with Nat King Cole. He was progressive and smart and almost forgotten today.
One of my favorite places to visit was Knowles? store on the way to Flomaton. I think that was the name. If not, I am hoping that someone here will remember and help me put his name down for all time. He had a Western town that was animated in his little store where you could buy candy, a coke and some sandwich fixings if you were hungry. He had a daughter about my age and they lived in a trailer near the store. I went to spend the night with her a few times. I liked her but I LOVED that Western town that moved. If you saw it today, you would be as fascinated today as I was then. It took up almost half the room in the store and was fenced off so that you could not touch it, but you could get up nice and close to see all the details. Your eyes feasted on stagecoaches moving on a track pulled by six horses, saloon doors opening and closing, gunshots and gunfights happening in the middle of the town, and saloon girls swirling and dancing to the loud music permeating your senses. People threw nickles into the town, so that Mr Knowles could keep it running and buy new pieces.
I hope that some of you got to experience this when you were little because it was magical, mesmerizing and wonderful in every way. I remember the man that put this together for all of us to enjoy also. He laughed and smiled every time anyone was delighted with his collection. I will always remember how that nourished this little girl that grew up with little laughter in my home.
There was a restaurant at the corner of the street that turned to go to Brewton that gave me my first adventure with a salad and dressing. When I got my car Donna and I would make excursions to new places, and on one of these we went out to eat. I was working at Teens Delight Restaurant in Jay and that gave me enough money to make my car payment of 58 dollars and to have money for a few extras to treat my sister. We looked at the menu that the waitress offered and both ordered Salads. The waitress had to show us each dressing because we had never seen any of them. The waitress was so sweet and let us taste several of them. We had seen a bottle of the Orange one sitting on the counter and decided that was the one. The first bite of lettuce with French dressing made me pause it was so good. Neither of us had ever eaten a salad with dressing and it made quite the impression.We ate greens of course but they were cooked and used to sop cornbread.
I still love French dressing today but it has ceased to have that tart, tangy goodness that made your mouth pucker up when it hits your tongue. lol.
You have to understand that we did not eat out a lot in restaurants like people do today. It was considered a waste of money and a luxury that we could not afford. The only other times I had eaten out was on one of Daddy's trips for Alger Sullivan company and when my sister Ruby took me to Morrisons, but that is a story for another day.
These are some of my remembrances that made an impression on a child's mind that last today. When I close my eyes I can see the images in my mind like a movie. I would love to hear about some of the movies that play in your mind.
Gloria Peacock Kimmel 11-21-2015

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