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The hot blistering July sun was just sinking
over "The Knob" in New Sewickley Township one evening.
It was then that I spied her. I knew at a glance that we'd met
before. That was years ago in a more innocent time when we were
so young. She'd aged a little now but was still in good shape.
It took a mere second as I gazed at her
silhouette, to see that this gal still had those exotic streamlined
features. It was a creature of downright beauty. It's still indescribable
to me how this still had power over me. It was as if I was being
pulled by a magnet. Talk about bein' seductive! I couldn't help
but come closer and closer.
Even six decades ago, she had me going around
in circles. She made my head spin and I can remember leaving her,
dizzy at times. But, my little heart skipped a beat every time
I got near her. I'd hold her tight as if it was love at first
sight. It didn't last long, however, as some older boys would
come and put her under their control. I'd go for a while but I'd
be back. Even the bigger kids couldn't keep me from her.
She was always in demand. All I hoped for
was that she stayed on the right track. We had to part ways in
the early 1950's. I'd got a little upset watching her keep others
excited and laughing. Oh, she was soooo special. Maybe its fate---our
crossing trails again. Some things never changed. For example,
she seems shorter and I now tower over her. She's been dominated
by at least four men but the lady is still proud. She's all painted
up and ready to roll!
Yep, I was really tickled pink when I saw
this beauty again. And boy, does she look good. A very understanding
wife, Linda Young, smiles and is the first to say that her husband
Wayne, "Has so much fun with her." You see, the Riverside
High School grad, who lived in Fombell, has a long relationship
with her too.
One doesn't have to be a "rocket scientist' to see that he loves and adores her too. Plus, Here's betting that he'll keep her on the right track. Wayne and Nancy, residents of nearby Marion Township, are both 100 per cent devoted to her. He asserts, somewhat philosophically, that "You know we are all in love and attached to things we knew in the past." He amended "It don't matter what it is. If you have good memories of something, a certain attachment comes with that." This is true, your truly will never forget many things. The fun we had at Halloween, our plow horses Barney and Clyde; and ev
en my childhood dog, Rex.
Wayne and I have a mutual love affair from our days of going to Spotlight 88's drive-in theater. It ran from 1948 until 1985. If you went anytime between the opening date until the early 1970's, chances are you do too. Ours centers on that ol' Crosley Train. It, if you recall, sat inside the giant screen of that huge 22 acre complex.
Here is just a brief history lesson to you
youngsters under the age of 40. Spotlight 88 was named for Route
88 on which it sat. It went south to New Brighton, and north to
Ellwood City. It intersects with Route 588, which went west to
Beaver Falls and to Zelienople on the east. Getting back to Spotlight
88's name. The Eisenhower Administration re-assigned north-to-south
routes to having odd numbers. Route 65, therefore, replaced Route
88. For instance, this writer lived on Route 88 when he went into
the military. I found myself on Route 65 when I was discharged.
Spotlight, before the sun disappeared, had
the looks of a small amusement park. Scores of youngsters (some
of us even clad in our "jammies") would swarm the base
of the wall. Many lined up for the airplane ride. Another group
would streak to the fire engine. Larry Parks recollects the small
merry-go-round. His wife, Debbie, a granddaughter of Ralph, explained
that he had "The kids from McGuire Home come out as guests
and opened up the rides and concession stand."
This was one time when our parents didn't
have to wait long for us to get ready at home. We knew that the
sooner we got there, the more time we had. You do the math! We'd
run from here to there until the shadows turned into darkness.
Then, on top of the giant screen, three large and bright spotlights
would light our way back to our respective cars. I'll also never
forget the flashlights dancing like Ballerinas showing late comers
empty parking spaces. Then it was "Movietone News" time-our
CNN. Then Bugs, Goofy, Donald, Mickey, The Roadrunner or Yosemite
Sam would come on.
Although, we lived just over the hill, we
didn't go that often. Once in a while, however, mom would pack
some PBJ sandwiches, some fruit and a couple of Mason jars of
home made root beer. It'd be off to the movies. We took blankets
and us kids usually sat on the fenders, hood or roof of our cars.
Who can forget intermission as we were shown what goodies awaited
us at the snack bar? The clock ticking down.
Soon the time was gone, the lights were
out-and, so were we. The next thing I'd know was a booming voice
was saying "Please be sure to return your speaker to the
stand." I could never understand who'd want those "tinny
sounding" things in the first place. But after I worked there
for awhile, I discovered many would be missing. As a child, I'll
also always remember the massive traffic jam at the exit. I think
that was the main reason we didn't go much. Country folks didn't/don't
like bumper to bumper situations.
We, however, best get back to the main issue.
Debbie, daughter of "Sonny", explained that the train
"survived at least 20 years and two tornados. A now-deceased
opening night employee recalls that "It was there that night".
That means it would be celebrating, at the very least, its 60th
birthday. "It was still running when I bought it" Young
stressed in amazement. He, since that time, has put a new engine
in the three-car train. Sixteen small steel wheels guide it to
its destination. "It was in pretty bad shape when I got it"
Young said, wiping his brow. He added that he was laid off one
winter so he and his wife, volunteer conductors and tour guides
at the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum in Washington, Pennsylvania
spent a bulk of the time grinding, sanding and painting. He also
had a friend get him some finished wood scraps and installed bright
If memory serves me right, it was red at the drive-in. "The coat closest to the metal" Young confirms "was red." Debbie, on the other, thinks it was blue. If that is the case, Ralph bought it secondhand and had it repainted. That also makes it over 60 years old! Regardless, it brings back a lot of vivid and fond memories. Wayne now has the diesel-type bit of nostalgia donning a yellow coat of paint with a small red stripe near the bottom. For those who remember the fun we had at Spotlight 88, this writer advises you to drop by the "Big Knob Antique Tractor Show" in July.