Wednesday, July 29, 2009


What do you take with you (speaking metaphorically) on
your journey through this life? Most people, I think, don’t
want the additional baggage of the bad memories, so they
use the available storage space for the good ones. And
generally, there’s only room for the best of those.

I tend to be a packrat – never throwing anything out unless
there is just absolutely no place to put it. If you don’t
believe that, please take a look in my garage. Tools, for
example, scattered all over the place. There are cases
for some of them, and as I try to put the sockets back
into their corresponding slots, there are times that I mix them up. “Metrics” in the “SAE”
box, and visa versa. They look alike. It is an easy mistake to make.

It isn’t the packrats, like me, that have the neatest and most organized tool boxes. It is those guys that keep only the best and most useful of the things they have accumulated.

History, you know, isn’t necessarily what has happened in the past. It is simply what somebody wrote down about what happened in the past. It could be an accurate record. It could be embellished to fit the particular needs or whims of the author. Or, it could be completely false. Historians, like the late-great Wilson Powell, and his contemporary, Larry Stroud, I imagine, always had really organized garages. They research, and write accurate records of things gone by. When they do that, you can generally take it to the bank.

Not me, OK?

I’m just shooting from the hip here – trying to get the toolboxes cleaned up before somebody trips over something and sues me.

After my last column about the Landers Theater becoming a church, an epic conversation was generated via email and Facebook, wherein I discovered that I am not the only packrat in the world. This is a good thing. To paraphrase Judge Smails, “The world needs packrats, too!”

It all started when Janice (Martin) Price (SHS ’68), my sister-in-law, called me to ask if maybe I had my bouncers’ names mixed up. She thought the person I described was “George”, and not “Clyde”, as I had written.

No sooner than the words had left her mouth, I realized she was right. It was indeed George I had seen in my mind’s eye, chomping on that unlit cigar. I immediately posted a sort of retraction on Facebook, and the replies started rolling in, reassuring me that there were many others out there who carry on seemingly insignificant items when they travel. So maybe they’re not so insignificant after all.

In the discussion, it was resolved that previous to George, there was a bouncer named Claude at the Landers. Being insolent teenagers, we called him “Clyde”, just to make him mad. When George came along, for the same reason, we called him “Clyde.” So, for history’s sake, I’d like to correct that point.

Now, whether or not that is accurate will have to be a matter left for the real historians. The noteworthy thing, to me, is that so many people thought the Landers Theater was an important-enough part of their lives to take it 35 to 40 years down the road with them. I think that’s fantastic.

My BHS 1973 classmates, Ceil (Glenn) Smith and Dianne (May) Thomas were there to set me straight. They hadn’t forgotten. Another classmate, Steven Gillihan, all the way from his pulpit in Colorado, came to my defense, planting the seed in the conversation that we might have just made up our own names for people back in those days. He remembered, even after leaving for college, living all over the Midwest, and ending up (so far) as a preacher in Arvada, Colorado. And Ol’ Curt Wainwright, way down yonder in Saraland, Alabama, who has been there, pretty much, since a week after graduation day, 1973, had recollection of the sticky floors being patrolled by “Clyde”, and thought perhaps Bill Milum and Tommy Dodd were the only people who managed to sneak in the back door without getting caught. He must have forgotten about Gillihan, I guess. Lots of other memories that I’ll have to save for my next book.

And there were those upper classfolk, whose reminiscences of the place go farther back than mine. Gary Humphries (class of ’68), joined the Air Force in 1970 and spent some time in Alaska before finally settling down in Indianapolis a decade ago. But the cold up there didn’t freeze from his mind the fact that the Landers had curtained windows between the theater and the lobby, where us smokers could do our thing and not miss any of the movie. Matter of fact, I remember making RJ Reynolds rich while Becky (’71) sat alone watching “Gone with the Wind”. Then, Dana (Bone) Teichart (’71) had some ideas on where to look for those “naked lady” lights that used to hang on the walls inside.

Mine wasn’t the last class to remember roaming the dark aisles either. There were the youngsters like Barbara (Bruce) Rivera and Rene Montgomery (’75), Nancy (Sturch) Weaver (’76), Bob Wallis (’77), and even Heather Jeffries from the class of 1991 – a quarter century after “Hump” stood back there peeking through the curtains. They all had their comments to make, because the place and the people associated with it meant something to them.

Now, if any of you “accuracy freaks” find mistakes with any of those names or classes, take it up with the historians. My point is simply that any place important enough for the smallest details to be burned into people’s minds, so far down the road, deserves some sort of tribute – and while I promise this will be the last of it, this is mine.

Claude, Clyde, George. What does it matter? They knew who they were. No matter what we called them, we knew who they were, too. They were a big part of Batesville’s history. And they won’t be forgotten.

© 2009, Rick Baber


Anonymous said...

Saw your article in the paper today. While it was a well written and easy to read piece I have to say that I don't think this theater is as big a deal to anybody else as it is to you. Otherwise there would be some comments on here about it and I seem to be the only one.

Rick Baber said...

Thanx Anon, for breaking the ice. I am crushed by your comments that nobody else is interested.
Actually, I think Facebook has taken the lead as the "comments" place for this, and everything else in the world. Sign up. Send me a friend request. I'm sure we'll become fast pals.

Anonymous said...

I know nothing of this "Batesville" of which you speak, but the thought occurred to me that all of this would be so much cooler if you just made the whole place up, along with all the people, landmarks and attractions.
Just a thought.