Blog 1253 – 02.02.2019
A Tale Of Two Cities?
Today’s title is from a book that many of us older folks were forced to read in high school fifty or more years ago. But I am not going to write about that tale or those two cities but rather the two cities that have most informed my opinion of cities. First Chattanooga, Tennessee, my birthplace and hometown for most of my first two decades this go round. And secondly, Houston, Texas a place as the pie box says that I thank my lucky stars that I found as soon as I did, and where I have lived the most years of my life, where my two wonderful children were born.
Let me now spend a little time telling you about how I fell in love with city life growing up in Chattanooga. And, yes, you country folk, I also appreciate the wide open spaces and all the loveliness of living in the country. But, to a city boy, born and bred, there is a certain appeal to city lights, lots of people, the varied stores, and so much more. As small boys my Mom used to take my brother and me on the city bus downtown to the movies and to shop for clothes for school. It was always a treat for us stepping up into the bus and dropping coins in the cash box and taking our seats near the front of the bus. Sadly, I do recall the “Colored Only” signs printed on the back wall of the bus. I remember thinking the bumps would have been more fun in the back of the bus. Children often have a different view of things. Gratefully, those signs disappeared in my teenaged years and some but far from all of the prejudices that made folks put them there in the first place.
Downtown was wonderful with crowds of people busy about their work lives and shopping. As a young girl my Mom’s first jobs were in Dime Stores, McClellans and Grants, and we always had to stop in and check out the candy counters and the five and ten cent bargains though by that time, the mid to late nineteen fifties, even the best bargains and the name “five and ten cent stores” had given way to inflation though they were not yet called “dollar stores.” That would come later. I do recall the cheapest down town movie theater, The Dixie, still had movies for a dime and popcorn also a dime. The Rogers, the Tivoli, and The State movie theaters were a quarter for admission and pop corn and a drink were also a quarter each. During the summers Lady MacBeth Beans offered children’s movies at the Rogers Theater and you got in free if you brought an empty Lady MacBeth Bean bag. Needless to say our mothers were compelled to feed us Lady MacBeth Beans. Once even our local television celebrity cowboy Bob Brandy was there with his palomino horse, Rebel, that looked strikingly like Roy Rogers’ more famous palomino, Trigger. Every kid in line got to hop up for a few precious seconds in the saddle, a young cowboy or cowgirl’s dream come true.
Once I even got to see the Budweiser Clydesdales pulling the big beer wagon at the grand opening of an M & J Supermarket near downtown. Wow, what a sight that was for a small boy to see. City life offered many chance to see people and things I might not otherwise have ever seen except on TV. With the exception of a couple of years in the early fifties when dad moved us to Detroit, Michigan for better work opportunities and my three years in the Army I spent my first twenty years in Chattanooga, even moving back a couple of years in my late twenties.
In January of 1973 I drove all the way from Chattanooga to Houston, Texas to attend Gulf Coast Bible College, a very conservative fundamentalist Christian college, one of four at the time connected to the Church of God (Anderson, Indiana.) I give those folks a hard time because they gave me one for many years till I decided through hard awakening circumstances that their tiny box was just not for me any longer. Perhaps it never was, and to anyone who has spent years trying to overcome religious, political, or other types of intensive programming my heart goes out to you. One well-known religious group used to say, “Give me a child till he or she is twelve and they will be a ______________ for life.” The group I was with from about ten years of age till my mid-forties used to often quote the verse, “Rear up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.” This verse many thought, like the afore mention group, it meant a child so trained would always be a whatever their parents or churches raised them to be. This is a ridiculous interpretation when a more sensible one is that they would never be able to get those early teachings out of their heads.
We all have voices in our heads for good or ill from all the attempts that have been made by parents, teachers, relatives, friends and strangers to program us to their particular view of things. It is the “still small voice” of our Higher Self, or conscience, that we should listen to most and thereby have, I think, access to the best teachings and information available from which to make our own choices.
Wow, I started out to tell you how much Chattanooga and Houston have meant to me but I guess there is a higher heavenly city that has more influence on all of us than we sometimes may think. I plan to see each of you when we all arrive safely to our final home in the City of Lights and I am not talking about Paris. (Though I sure hope I get to see her someday too. I remember a good quote from a lady who loved that particular city: “The United States is my country. Paris is my home.” As I said to the ticket seller when I took my young son to see the movie, “Ants” some years ago: “Two for Ants” which the fast way I said it on purpose sounded more like, “To France.” Or as the song after World War I went, “How you gonna keep ‘em down on the farm after they’ve seen Paree?”
I did not know when I started this blog that I would end up posting a picture of my boyhood local hero cowboy, Bob Brandy, his horse Rebel, and his lovely wife Ingrid. But then I did warn you lately that I am often as surprised as you, Dear Readers, at the turns these encouraging words sometimes take.
Your friend and fellow traveler,