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171016 October 10, 2017


Drive-In Adventures
by Collins (CE) Wynn
LHS '64

    I recall at least three drive-in theaters in 1950s/early 1960s Huntsville: Woody's (out on Meridian Street), the Parkway Drive-in which was a bit remote (sometimes a desirable attribute when serious personal matters required attention), and the Cadillac of Huntsville Drive-Ins, the Whitesburg. 

    Of the three, Woody's was first in the hearts of the Dallas/Lincoln neighborhood kids for two important reasons. 1) It was closest to the neighborhoods - about a five minute walk from Rison School up the railroad tracks; and, 2) There was easy foot access over the wire fence on the right side of the theater. Before having the authority (but not the ability) to drive we often made the short trek up the tracks to Woody's to climb the fence and lay in the grass catching a good flick. 

    Occasionally someone would chase us off but more often than not we stayed for the entire evening. We each had our favorites but all could agree on the top two or three movies of all times (from a 13-year-old boy's perspective). Russ Meyer was our favorite producer - he specialized in movies comprised almost entirely of nearly naked full bosomed young ladies. His greatest production was "Vixen" which ranks up there near the top of the list of the greatest movies ever made.

    Another movie, whose producer has long since been forgotten but whose marketing and advertising guy has been memorialized for all time, was "The Birth of Twins". Can you imagine some guy getting possession of a delivery room film and making mega bucks from it simply through advertising and marketing?  I can still hear the pitch - "One show and one show only - educational and inspirational - see the miracle of birth." And, just to make sure that every male kid 12 and over came to see it, they added an age restriction of "no one under 16 admitted". No one at the ticket booth ever checked an ID that I saw.   Some may doubt; just take a look at the advertising archives of the Huntsville Times. 

    After we started driving, a favorite past time became sneaking in some un-paying attendees. The ruse was that two guys would drive up to the ticket booth, pay for their admissions and drive on in, all the while having 2, 3, or 4 of their closest personal friends stuffed in the trunk. Having served in both capacities (driver and stuffee) I can assure you it was great fun - it was all we could do keep from giggling out loud and blowing our cover. There was additional fun to be had by the driver if he simply refused to open the trunk and free the stuffee's - he could just sit there and listen to the mumbling, grumbling, moaning, pleading and cursing of the one's most dear to him. It was absolute power in the purest sense. 

    We were never discovered by the management but we did have an unfortunate circumstance develop once. Our usual band of hooligans was out riding around one night late in the Blue Goose trying to figure out how to get into Woody's when we didn't have enough money between us for even one ticket - which effectively eliminated the "stuffee" guise. A plan was hatched in which we would kill the car lights and drive slowly and quietly in the out door (in other words, drive in the exit gate). Woody's and the Parkway were particularly suited for this maneuver since the exits were well removed from either the concession stand or the ticket booth - the Whitesburg's exit was too well lit besides they didn't show the really "good" movies. As we started up the driveway everyone was tense and anxious. On top of that it was difficult to see the road because there was a bright light pointing outward hanging directly over the exit (or, so we thought). Just as we neared the gateway, someone spooked the Goose and we took off like a shot headed directly under the light and into the paradise that was Woody's. All of a sudden the Blue Goose slammed to an immediate full stop from about 30 mph throwing everyone to the front of the car (these were the days before seat belts and supplemental restraint systems). It seems the light was not hanging over the roadway but was firmly affixed to a 4" steel pole set in concrete off to the right side. 

    Because of all the resulting noise, smoke, and confusion we had to drop our movie plans for the evening and retreat quickly. We had smashed up the front bumper without even gaining entrance. Oh well, whatever! There was always tomorrow night.

Judy Harvey Thompson
Wife of Tommy Thompson
LHS '64

    Julian “Judy” Harvey Thompson, 74, of Rogersville passed away Friday, September 15, 2017, at her residence following an extended illness. She was a member of Rogersville United Methodist Church, Rogersville Civitan Club and was retired from TVA Browns Ferry.

    Services were held at Rogersville United Methodist Church with Robert Lancaster officiating. Burial was in Harvey Cemetery. 

    Mrs. Thompson is preceded in death by her parents, Ernest and Latinee Harvey.
    She is survived by her husband of 52 years, Tom Thompson; daughter, Paula (Frankie) Phillips of Rogersville; grandchildren, Morgan and Allen Phillips; sister, Doris (Louie) McCafferty of Rogersville; Nephew Steve (Susan) McCafferty of Harvest; Niece, Katrina (Glenn) Wilson of Rogersville and numerous close friends.
    Pallbearers were Frankie Patterson, Greg Angus, Jimmy Belue, Jeff Hendrix, Matthew Wilson, David Harvey, Chris Thompson and Robert Thompson.

    Judy entire life was devoted to her family and community. She was a Christian, loving wife, mother, and grandmother who will be greatly missed.

    Special thanks to Amedysis Hospice nurses Heidi, Melissa and Dawn and her loving caregivers Sarah, Mattie and Deanna.

        Memphis, TN -  Last week I was informed of the death of Tommy Thompson's wife, Judy, and had the opportunity to talk to him on the phone for a while. Tommy (who now goes by Tom, but will always be Tommy to me) and I shared a lot of memories of our days at Lee and had not spoken to each other since the last time we shared a table at a reunion. 

    Besides the sadness shared by the loss of Judy, we took the opportunity to reflect upon some of our better times and the friendship we shared. Though we could neither recall exactly what outside force drew us together as friends, we did share the knowledge we ran around a lot together and had fun in our younger days.

    In saying goodbye I vowed I would do a better job of keeping up with him and he affirmed the same. Is there someone in your own past you need to reconnect with? You had better do it now, because you never know what lies ahead and things can change in an instant.


From Our Mailbox 


Subject:    Rainer’s Photo Story

Barbara Diamond

LHS ‘66


     Rainer’s astute essay on a photo of himself as a young child was a delight to read. How often do we look at a photo and observe the detail and ponder the elements with such thought and insight? He presents us with and guides us through such an exercise. I love the way he draws the observer into the photo so that we notice lots of details that otherwise would have been overlooked. He draws our attention to interesting elements along with his speculation about their meaning or intent with lovely phrases - the crescent of vividness, crescendo of stripes. Through this simple photo his eloquence creates a rich experience for us to look closer at the image while telling us more about himself and his life. 

     I wonder if other readers would like to do a similar exercise - share a photo and write a short essay about it.


Subject:     Lithium
Chip Smoat 
LHS ‘66

     John Drummond discussed lithium in regard to treating Bipolar Disorder and how other, better medications have been developed to treat this disorder.  

     My wife suffers from Bipolar Disorder.  Lithium is the only thing that has given her relief from it.  For her it acts like a wonder drug.  The other medications do nothing for this disorder where she is concerned.  New medications are not always effective.  This demonstrated that what works for one person does not necessarily work for the next person.  

     Sometimes one has to push the doctor too get what works.


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