Sunday, November 25, 2012

Down Memory Lane

I haven’t written much about my dad’s mom and dad, mainly because I didn’t get to know them like I did my maw and paw.  My dad’s mom passed away several years before my birth and his dad, who we all called Popper, died when I was only five years old.  So about all I know of them is what I have been told by those who knew them.  But, not really knowing them does not keep me from sharing about the rest of the family.

There is the occasion when some of the family decided it would be nice to get everybody together for a cookout/picnic down at a local river.  Several family members and their children came, chicken was fried over an open fire and we had a good old time.  Some of us young’uns thought that we might get to go swimming in the river, but that didn’t happen.  We had failed to take into consideration that the cookout was in the late afternoon and it was after dark before we ate.

After all the food was eaten and the adults were sitting around talking and us young’uns were playing, the fire began to die down.  A suggestion was made that all the young’uns go out and gather up some pine cones and wood for the fire.  A stick of wood was pulled from the fire and given to the oldest young’un to use as a torch and off they went.  The gathering was going just great until a loud cry came from out of the darkness.  Suddenly there was a great stampede of young'uns headed back toward the safety of the fire and family.  With the oldest holding the torch leading the pack.

Once they were all back to safety, everyone heard laughter coming toward them.  Out of the darkness came the father of the oldest young’un, he was tickled to death at how he had scared all us young’uns and particularly tickled at how the oldest one had totally forgot about the light he was holding.  That was an embarrassing moment for me, not just because it was my dad that did the scaring, but because I was the one with the light.

It’s nice to be able to look back at memories like this and really see the fun in the moment and how much family can mean to you.  Til next time, enjoy life while you can.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Fond Memory

The building had its own unique smell. The first thing you would smell upon entering the front door was freshly popped popcorn. The smell of popcorn combined with that of the interior of the old building cannot be found anywhere else.
The place I refer to is the old Royal Theater, that was once located in downtown Opp, Alabama. The building is still there, currently occupied by a florist shop, but the theater is but a memory.
The Royal was owned and operated by my great-uncle George Owen and his wife, my great-aunt Ida. Aunt Ida was my grand paw’s sister. The Royal was not the only theater they owned. At one time they owned three drive-in theaters: the Opp Drive-In was located on U.S. Highway 331 South on property now occupied by the Pizza Hut and Norris Used Cars; the Dixieland Drive-In on U.S. Highway 84 East on the current site of the Country Cathedral Church; and the Midway Drive-In, which was so named because it was midway between Opp and Andalusia on U.S.Highway 84 West, now a site mostly owned by nature.
I can recall going to the movies with my mom and dad at all three drive-ins and falling asleep about half way through the movie. But the Royal holds the biggest part of my movie going memories, because I got to go by myself.
It only cost twenty-five cents for a ticket until I turned twelve, then it went up to fifty cents. Of course, there were a few times I got in for twenty-five cents after turning twelve, Aunt Ida sold the tickets.
I can remember watching Godzilla fight numerous monsters and Frankie and Annette romping on the beach. There was also the time my brothers, Carl and Terrie, went with me. A monster movie was playing and Terrie spent most of the time sitting in the lobby.
Television eventually brought an end to the drive-in theaters, but the old Royal struggled on into the mid-sixties. After the Royal closed Aunt Ida and Uncle George retired. Uncle George kept himself busy by opening a small gun repair shop.
I still attend an occasional movie, but the fancy new theaters with their high backed seats, surround sound audio and 3D projectors, can’t hold a candle to my memories of the old Royal Theater.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Veteran’s Day 2012

The freedoms that we all enjoy and the power and respect that this country has held in the eyes of most of the world did not come from a president or congress.  It came from the blood shed by the men and women who willingly stepped forward to pick up arms against tyranny and aggression to win those rights and freedoms.  Their sacrifice and blood are represented in the red stripes of our country’s flag.  In my eyes, this makes Old Glory a memorial to those who fought for freedom.

As an American veteran, I want to take the time to show my respect and thankfulness toward all my fellow veterans both living and deceased.  No one who has never taken the oath and donned the uniform of a branch of military service can truly understand what drives an individual to be willing to put themselves in harms way.  Our veterans are a unique group of individuals and are deserving of our honor and respect.

It is an emotional thing to watch the outpouring of honor and respect shown toward our veterans today, but sadly this has not always been the case.

The veterans of my era, Vietnam, received no respect or honor upon their return.  They came home to be spat upon and called vicious hateful names, because they chose to willingly serve their country.  The names of those who gave their all are engraved on a polished black granite wall in Washington D.C. 

There is no unknown soldier from Vietnam buried in the Tomb of the Unknown.  The body of the unknown soldier from Vietnam was removed from the Tomb after modern science made it possible to identify him by his d.n.a.

I’m sure it is obvious, that today I want to salute all our military veterans, but most of all I want to salute those who served in that unpopular conflict called Vietnam and to honor the memory of the 58,200 who never returned.

From one veteran to another, thank you all for your service.

The veterans in my family:

Ronnie Boyett, myself, Air Force (Vietnam Era)/Army; Vilinda Boyett, my wife, Army; Jaime Ferguson, daughter, Air Force; Shaun Ferguson, son-in-law, Air Force (Active); Grover Boyett, father, Army; Joseph Owens, father-in-law, Air Force, Carl Boyett, brother, Marines/Army Reserve; Terrie Boyett, brother, Army Reserve; Rick Yarbrough, brother-in-law, Army; Vernon Owens, brother-in-law, Air Force; Dwayne Owens, brother-in-law, Navy (Retired); Willie Boyett, uncle, Army; Donald Boyett, uncle, Army; Walter Anderson, uncle, Air Force; Lloyd “Mutt” Anderson, uncle, Navy

Saturday, November 3, 2012

We called him Paw

His name was Otis B. Anderson, he and his wife, Hastie Cora lee, were my maternal grandparents.  All the grandchildren call them Paw and Maw. Together they raised eight children.  Four sons: Otis Curtis (Curt), Charlie Patillo (Pill), Walter Hinton and Obie Lloyd (Mutt).  Four daughters: Annie Corinne, Theresa Cinderella, Sybil Jean (my mom) and Geraldine.  There was a fifth son, Lawson Henry, who died at age one.

Paw was a farmer for most of his life and he also ran his own small store with one gas pump.  My mom, myself and my brother, Carl, live with them for a short time while my dad was serving in the army.  I remember a time when he had a field of cotton to pick and being only 4 or 5 years old, I wanted to help.  Well, Maw got out an old pillow case and pinned a strip of cloth to it and off I went to pick cotton.  Needless to say, I didn’t pick a lot.  On another occasion, when I was a little older, I along with some cousins, followed behind Paw as he drove a horse drawn wagon loaded with sugar cane.  We picked up the stalks that fell off. He was taking the cane up the road to my great aunt Mae Cassidy’s where they had a cane mill to make syrup.


Paw and me in his store

I have very many memories of that store.  One was when I had a toothache or something and telling my mom that a chocolate drink from the store would make it better.  I don’t remember what the drink was called, but boy it sure was good.  I didn’t get one for my pain though.

We lost Maw in February 1969 and Paw followed her two years later in April 1971.  I was going through training in the air force when I received the news of Paw’s death.  It was a blow receiving the news that way.  Thanks to a caring commanding officer and a loan from the credit union, I made it home just in time for the funeral. 

Mom, if I happened to get anything wrong here or you have anything else to add, don’t hesitate to comment.