Life in Haleyville

Written by: Liz Elrod

It was raining cats and dogs outside; storms that kept a kid inside forever it seemed. That was before TV or computers and any kind of stuff that kids have today. I remember sitting on the floor with my best friends Johnnie and Bessie Burleson who were also my neighbors when we lived in Haleyville, AL. We had our paper dolls and so much fun did we have with them. I remember that mama had bought me some Betty Grable dolls; and she bought me many others also. Johnnie and Bessie had their own, and boy did we play the heck out of them. We would get lost in pretending that we were in some other world, doing things that only the imagination can render. What a wonderful time whiling away the time on an old stormy day.

We all know that after the rain, the sun pops out, and of course we would all go outside to pretend some more. We waded through puddles and wet grass with tree limbs popping us in the face, getting wet from top to bottom and yes still pretending. Our houses were built above a row of bluffs. In our imagination we would be thinking of Tarzan, holding on to a vine, and thinking of how cool it would be of giving the famous Tarzan yell and jumping off the bluffs.

We acted out every movie that we saw and pretended to be all the actors and actress that we had ever seen. To be a 10 year old kid at that time has given me some fantastic memories. At 10 years old going to the movies was one of the joys of my life. We lived on the other side of the cemetery, and going to the movies was a common thing to do each week. The theater was only a few blocks from our house, and my friends Johnnie and Bessie and I would save our dime for the movie and a nickel would buy us some popcorn and away we would go.

There was only one hitch to all of this. If we saw a scary movie we had to go through the city cemetery to get home. The oddest thing was that there was an unusual tombstone in shape of the two people that were buried there. The tombstone was sitting right beside the road and we could touch it if we wanted to.

One night we had gone to see the movie Frankenstein, and I can honestly tell you it was the scariest movie that I had ever seen. We didn't talk much while we were going home, and before we knew it, we had reached the cemetery, and there we were side by side of that old life-size tombstone. I looked up at the old man with his bald head and in my childish imagination, I would have sworn that he moved. We could not run because Johnnie had polio in her younger days and could not run so you can guess that we walked very fast. When I got home I crawled in the bed with my mom and dad and got as close to them as I could. I guess if the tombstone was still there, and it my well be, it would still scare me.

We saw many movies. Cowboy movies were prominent back then; we watched movies staring, Johnny McBrown, Lash Larue, Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, and others. Every Saturday morning there would be a serial continuing until the next Saturday. We could not wait until the next Saturday rolled around.

Once Bessie and I were playing in the woods down below our houses. I had asked my dad to borrow his knife so that I could cut myself some bow and arrows. Bessie did not ask her dad for his knife, she just took it. After we had played for awhile I came home and gave my dad his knife back. I had been asking my mom to cut my hair and that particular day she said that she would. Being crazy little kids, Bessie and I began jumping up and down and grabbed around each other and fell down on the couch. Bessie still had her daddy's knife in her hand and it was still open. And it stabbed me in the back. Of course Bessie got punished by her parents, and of course after a few days I got over it. You know it may have been safer for us to jump off the bluff and do the TARZEN YELL.