A young person’s imagination can be a wondrous thing to behold. And, when adults play into the fantasies, it becomes even more wonderful. As a child of five years, my imagination knew few boundaries. If it existed in our backyard, I could imagine all sorts of marvelous adventures. Just give me a piece of rope and a wagon, and I was off to the never-never land of excitement. Add to this an occasional weekend trip to my Grandma Wilkens house, and the adventures took on a completely different dimension.
An over-night stay at Grandma’s would usually begin on a late Friday afternoon. I was delivered to the care and feeding of my grandparents by my mother who would drop me off usually after the evening meal. After a short play time with the local in-house toy chest, it was off to a big double-bed with snuggle-down blankets. I remember the bed because it was at least three-times larger than my bed at home.
The waking process was the beginning of the “Adventure” for the weekend and my growing imagination. My grandmother would awaken me with the sound of a buzzing bee. And, she would gently come beside me in the bed and pretend to “sting” me awake. The stings were more like tickles and proved the awaking process was effective.
Once washed, dressed and fed, it was only a matter of a short time before Grandma and I boarded a local streetcar for an exciting trip to downtown Indianapolis. These weekend adventures took on a basic format over the years. Usually, we would arrive in the center of the city in time to do a bit of adult shopping. My Grandma was aware of my lack of interest in this part of the weekend festivities, so, she would speed through her list of things to acquire.
Next would be a stop at Woolworth’s, a local “Five and Dime” Store, for a bite of lunch. We always sat at the counter, but I was usually too excited to eat more than a “bite.” Grandma would insist that I needed to finish my meal to keep up my energy for the rest of the adventures. It was what was about to take place, that was the best part of the day! We were off to one of the local movie houses for a show!
Downtown Indianapolis had at least a dozen movie theaters in those days, and, quite often, there was a stage show that accompanied the matinee. Keep in mind, this was years before television. Not only did we get the latest Hollywood comedy or drama, but live performances as well. It is difficult to imagine what all that glamor and excitement did to my childhood life. It added another dimension that a whole backyard couldn’t provide. The various acts of acrobatics, juggling, dancing and singing, opened my eyes and mind to a world of entertainment that had no boundaries. And, when you throw-in “Laurel and Hardy”, the “Bowery Boys” or a “shootum-up Western,” on the same bill, it just didn’t get better than that.
After leaving the theater, there was time for a quick ice cream treat, and picking up an inexpensive toy that would occupy the rest of the day at Grandma’s. My Dad would usually pick me up early on a Saturday evening and bring me back to the reality of home life minus the expanded adventure of the city.
These adventures at Grandma’s continued for several years until my sister, who was two and a half years younger than I, joined the experience. She didn’t have an iota of the interest in movies or stage shows that I enjoyed, so, it didn’t take too many downtown visits before we decided that we would discontinue the excursions.
Even though it has been over seventy-five years since those early days of “adventure”, they remain vivid reminders of times that were real…not imagined!
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