PHASE THREE: Now is truly the time of your life

PHASE THREE By Arnold Bornstein Memory timeline from the 30s to today.

   Anybody who lived any part of his or her life at any time between July 31, 1930, and today, Dec. 3, 2004, may find a few things to relate to in the column that follows.
   Anyway: This isn’t a story of my life or anyone’s life, but merely an arbitrarily selected time frame — a handful of decades which are but specks of sand on a timeless beach, but meaningful to those whose footprints were made during that period before they disappear.
   I was born in what was then called Geisinger Hospital in Shamokin, Pa. Only a year ago, our close friends’ son, who is a doctor, was working at the same hospital. Was that a coincidence, chance, fate or whatever terms are used in attempting to explain the unexplainable?
   The day of my birth marked the first time "The Shadow" was heard on radio, and the famous opening lines would eventually become, "Who knows what evils lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!"
   You grew up with radio in those days, as it was before television, and your family listened to Jack Benny, Fred Allen and Walter Winchell, and later you would listen to Brooklyn Dodger, Yankees and New York Giant baseball games.
   You also grew up with the movies, which followed you for the remainder of your life. There were newsreels, "The March of Time," serials like "Flash Gordon" and double features. There was "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," There was fright watching "Frankenstein," "Dracula" and "Wolf Man," laughter watching the Three Stooges, the Marx Brothers and cartoons like Popeye. You remember "The Wizard of Oz," "King Kong" and "Gone With the Wind" before the endless repeats on TV.
   "All Quiet on the Western Front" made you wonder for the first time what war was about. Then you liked the names and images that signified action: Gary Cooper, John Wayne, James Cagney, John Garfield, Humphrey Bogart. My favorite movie candy became Juji Fruits.
   The jumbled memories and scenes unwind in your mind: Olympic swimming champion Johnny Weissmuller as Tarzan, the Charlie Chan series, James Stewart, Clark Gable, Cary Grant, Edward G. Robinson, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, Betty Grable, Rita Hayworth, Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Gene Kelly, "Marty," "Psycho," "On the Waterfront"….
   What was the year? Where did you see it? Who were you with? Sitting in a darkened theater for a few hours, temporarily escaping from things that were bothering you. It was a night with good friends or a good place to go with a date. Now, we are at the stage of senior discounts.
   I remember sitting on an open deck of a destroyer on warm nights watching movies, or in the empty mess deck (where meals were served) during bad weather, and we would periodically go alongside another ship and exchange movies via rigged lines.
   Our ship happened to participate in the making of the war movie, "The Bridges at Toko-Ri," with William Holden and Grace Kelly. Our only scene, off the Korean coast, involved transferring Mickey Rooney at sea from our ship to an aircraft carrier as he sat in a passenger basket that was moved with rigged lines.
   A couple years earlier, Jack Kelly was an officer on our ship and he told us about his "kid sister," Grace Kelly, who was getting her big break in a movie coming out called "High Noon" with Gary Cooper.
   Along came television, with "Howdy Doody" and "Captain Kangeroo," Milton Berle on Tuesday nights, Arthur Godfrey, "The $64,000 Question," "Gunsmoke," Bob Hope, Perry Como, "M.A.S.H.," "Bonanza," "I Love Lucy," "All in the Family," Edward R. Murrow and "Person to Person"….
   Perhaps nothing jogs the memory as quickly as familiar music. I recall my late cousin telling me that he made it a habit of trying not to listen to his car radio music because too often he would hear songs that reminded him of sad memories from his past. I remember my deceased oldest brother telling me that during his Army basic training in World War II, "I’ll Be Home for Christmas" was removed from the Post Exchange jukebox because some guys would have too many beers, hear the song and then go Absent Without Leave.
   The lyrics linger on with Bing Crosby’s White Christmas, Vaughn Monroe’s Ghost Riders in the Sky, Johnny Ray’s Cry, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Patti Page’s The Tennessee Waltz, Tony Bennett’s "Because of You," the McGuire Sisters’ "Sincerely," Debbie Boone’s "You Light Up My Life"….
   They call them fads: the Monopoly game, drive-in theaters (the first opened in Camden, N.J., in 1933), miniature golf, zoot suits, wing tipped shoes, car hood ornaments, "Kilroy Was Here," Slinky, Hula Hoops, boomerangs, 3-D movies, sideburns, leather jackets and DA haircuts, poodle skirts, saddle shoes with bobby sox, platform shoes, go-go boots (Nancy Sinatra’s "these boots were made for walking"), bouffant hairdo, Ouiji boards….
   The years have come and gone; cycles continue: "The Lord of the Rings," TV reality shows, Donald Trump, the "Sopranos," "Desperate Housewives," Eminem, Britney Spears, Destiny’s Child, U2, Shania Twain, Celine Dion, MP3 players, Fantasy Leagues, tattoos, Atkins, low-carb diets, low rise jeans….
   Headlines and news bulletins reach us daily and throughout the day from newspapers, radio and television, and from 1930 to today in 2004 they have included World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, Afghanistan and the war in Iraq…as well as the ebb and flow of human misery and of human triumph…from the world of celebrities and world leaders to the world of everyday people….
   Here’s a thought about your time on the timeline of history, from Michael Altshuler, a professional motivation speaker: "The bad news is that time flies. The good news is that you’re the pilot."
Arnold Bornstein is a resident of Greenbriar at Whittingham.