Friday, March 7, 2008

Land Cruisin'

Andy (at age eight): What's gray, has four legs and a trunk?

Me: An elephant?

Andy: "Nope! -- A mouse on vacation!

Speaking of vacations ...

Way back when the kids were younger, in the bygone days when Joyce and I had the stamina to deal with kids imprisoned in a minivan for endless hours, we used to do the Chevy Chase "Vacation" thing. During the summer of 1990 (with kids Andy - 8, James - 3 and Ben - 2) we went on a whirlwind trip, looping from Texas to the Great Lakes and then west to Yellowstone and down through the Rockies to Pikes Peak and finally (like a horse headed to the barn) back home to the warmth of North Texas.

Our trek began on August 4, 1990, 6:15 AM (Plymouth Grand Voyager odometer reading 13,789.4). On the first day out we drove to Sullivan, Missouri, spent the night in a Super 8 Motel, and (after saying goodbye to our friendly desk clerk, Abdul) the next morning we abandoned common sense and harkened to the beckoning billboards along I-44. We detoured from our intended route to Meramec Caverns, the infamous hideout of that notorious outlaw Jesse James.

After completing our examination of the gift shop (fun-house mirrors, your usual token-embossing machines and sundry Jesse James memorabilia), we joined a guided tour of Jesse James's Lair. Joyce noticed as we entered the cave that it was a bit musty. I agreed, "Yeah, you’re right. I believe I can still smell Jesse James's farts." Both my beloved and our fire-plug-shaped-lady guide frowned at me for that remark.

We were herded deeper into the cave where we mounted rickety bleachers and had our group photo taken. Our intrepid guide was a bit sketchy on scientific facts (not too sure about what kind of bat that one above us was - my guess was "dead and glued to the ceiling"), but nonetheless what she lacked in scientifical detail, she more than compensated for in her command of all the TV programs that have ever been produced in the cave, which included: Art Linkletter's "People Are Funny", two episodes of "Lassie" and the TV version of "Huckleberry Finn", with Lurch (a.k.a. Ted Cassidy) playing the part of Injun Joe and Jodie Foster portraying Becky Thatcher. (If I remember correctly, Huck Finn was played by John Hinkley - but I could be wrong.)

On the "People Are Funny" program Art Linkletter (always the practical joker) enticed a newlywed couple to spend a week performing a caveman skit for each cave tour that came through. As reward for their what-must-have-seemed-interminal performances, Art sent them off on a whirlwind vacation for three glorious days and four even more glorious nights in Hawaii. There's a permanent plaque honoring this dauntless couple. I rather doubt those newlyweds have ever seen their memorial plaque - well, certainly not as a couple.

As a memento of the two "Lassie" episodes, Lorimar Studios presented Meramec Caverns with a wax figure of Lassie which is prominently displayed atop a somewhat user-worn stalagmite. Unfortunately, just a couple of years before we visited Meramec Caverns, there’d been a flood in the cave in which Lassie tragically lost a leg, an eye and had one waxen ear flattened a bit. Nonetheless we were awed by this wax collie standing proudly on her remaining sturdy legs, gazing nobly into the distance with her remaining good eye.

There's more to this story, but since we (who were bottle-fed on mindless television) have attention spans strained by 30-second commercials, just like the "Lassie" TV series, this is TO BE CONTINUED...


ShalomSeeker said...

You have such an incredible memory for detail, and such a gift at seeing it through the lens of humor. Thanks for brightening my day...again!

Looking forward to future episodes!
P.S. You were so right on the not-keeping-up-with-folks gene running in the family. I'm pretty sure I have every note ever written to me by the parental units, and the file isn't very thick... :-D

GUYK said...

my kids used to come home with the elephant jokes seven year old daughter asked me 'why do elephants wear springs on their feet?' So they can get into the trees to rape the monkeys

when i asked her if she knew what rape meant she peplied it was kissing the monkeys when they didn;t want to be can be funnier than their jokes

Bob said...

Thank y'all for dropping by. I write mostly for my own enjoyment, but I do so enjoy having others enjoy it, too.