10: THE GREAT MAN slimey droves of prehistoric lizards which slither through the four-color ooze. Toy makers have turned nurseries into horror dungeons peopled by plastic robots and dinosaurs who rumble metallically from deep within their blood-red gullets. Halloween is more fun than Christmas. As these words are written, toy shelves are just beginning to flower with early December merchandise. It will be a notably gruesome Christmas. At least two manufacturers have produced great tin insects with giant black mandibles capable of severing the small metal soldiers which are part of the boxed ensemble. These doubtless were inspired by weird TV shows wherein the intrepid astronaut with the nubile blonde companion lands on a nether planet dominated by kingsize cockroaches or tumble bugs the size of the Graf Zeppelin. Also on the toy shelves are bloodless replicas of such TV favorites as Morticia, Uncle Fester and the Neanderthal butler, Lurch, from the Addams family. Morticia occupies a decaying mansion with her lustful husband and the other nightmare residents, including a disembodied hand and forearm which resides in a cigar box and is called The Thing. Decor includes a polar bear skin rug which growls when stepped on and the head of a giant fish which was in the act of swallowing a human fisherman when it reached the taxidermist’s studio. The door bell emits blood-curdling moans when pushed, and a yank on the bell cord which summons Lurch produces a tooth-loosening bong. Neither I nor my son ever misses the show. For the moment at least the gentle world of Winken, Blinken, and Nod is gone. Dead as Ninevah and James G. Blaine. Mother Goose has been supplanted by the bloodshot eye, the hairy paw, and scaled beasts which, when stabbed, bleed green goo. I suppose that the amiable old social satirist would grin at me from his grave at my fatherly fears over Hiprah’s baleful effect on my young son. Even those fork-tailed, bat-eared demons who turned the torture screws in Art Young’s Hades would hesitate to enter the eerie confines of Suburbia’s nurseries today. NI:3888888=3ms 1.: 1.: 1.’ 1t: 1:41: 1.: 1.: 1.: 1.: Washington, D.C. The mind balks at exactly how old the Texas boy was, and at the year, when he met his first Great Man. Time’s awful dust has powdered it fine. It was that year of tree houses fashioned from orange crates and perched among the limbs of gnarled mesquites, of warring with sling-shots on bullfrogs bulging their throats with notes of bass beauty \(ba -rock . . . ba -from ponds sprouting furry cat-tails, of puzzling over what mysterious thing grown-ups did with their clothes off that was supposed to be more fun than football, of roaming Callahan County’s stunted, red-clay hills in search of arrowheads, and in honest fear of God. I think it was the year my mother rewarded me for having survived whooping cough with a hard-back copy of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. I read it with the bugeyed wonder of youth, in green envy of Tom’s high adventures, wishing I lived in Hannibal, Missouri, instead of this dingblasted ole Putnam, Texas, where nothing ever happened good. \(Never dreaming that my own existencesave for being lost in caves with Becky Thatcher or terrorized by Indian Joeand that of every boy in every small town in America, was virtually the blue-print of Mark Twain’s dashing This year that I’m talking about is the one in which Tim Tyler’s Flying Luck on the funny page was far more important than headlines in newspapers Lozo Smith threw on the sidewalk each morning, and it is the same year Mrs. Mobley sold for a buffalo nickle, at her pineboard lunch stand on the school grounds, the world’s biggest, juciest, greasiest, and best hamburger money could buy. It was the year that Harper’s Hill, to the south of our weed-grown city by a mile, was judged by a six-member committee of jelly-smeared faces wrinkled in weighty decision to be approximately four trillionzillion feet and some-odd inches high. Larry L. King Which, Bennie Ross Everette said in the wisdom of his years, made it near-most as tall as the State Capitol Dome ‘way down there in Austin. We doubted Bennie Ross not at all: his daddy owned the gas station and was wise. \(I saw Harper’s Hill again in 1962; somebody has sawed the med Bobby Gene Maynard out of The Secret Wolfs Society for liking Barbara Jackson, Miss Jackson charged with the high crime of being a girl. \(I lived in fear my lodge brethren would learn of my own traitorous flame for Annie Lou Williams, though I don’t know whom I expected to expose my shame. Even Annie Lou Justice played football for the Putnam Panthers, joining Providence in bringing about a victory over the hated Baird Bears \(known always to pile-on and slug and time in a decade. It could have been the same year a boy wouldn’t be caught dead at a Shirley Temple movie if Tarzan played anywhere in the county on the same Saturday afternoon, and I know it was the year I squirmed in my dark bed and begged a very miffed Jesus not to send down light ning bolts to punish cousin Kenneth Gaskin, and the writhing Sinner offering up prayful petition, for having surreptiously smoked cedar bark. \(“But if you gotta hit somebody with a ole lightnin’ bolt, Jesus, please hit Kenneth ’cause the cedar post is on his land.” How early did I suspect men Roosevelt was the Greatest President We Ever Had, that year. My brother was in distant Arizona serving the C.C.C.’s. The Government-Up-In-Washington paid Daddy desperately-needed cash to plow under acres of surplus cotton, there would be shoes for school. My Uncle Claude got beat for county commissioner for the fifth consecutive time, sourly blaming it on polly-ticks. It was the year Lawrence Leo King went straight to The Dogs, smoking as he did cedar bark, losing his best taw at marbles in playing forbidden “keeps,” giggling during the long, passionate sermons by brother Hollis at The First Baptist Church whilst fried chicken collected cold grease. It was the year to face a hard fact: I was the Meanest Boy In The World, and Jesus in withholding his fiery bolts showed more patience than had been rationed Job. And it was the year the Great Man came to town. December 11, 1964 11 Texas Society To Abolish Capital Punishment P. 0. BOX 8134 AUSTIN, TEXAS 78712 Only one person is executed for each two hundred murders in Texas. There is no justice in executing that one, who is nearly always a member of a racial minority and without influential friends. REGULAR MEMBERSHIP $2 CONTRIBUTING MEMBERSHIP $5 SUSTAINING MEMBERSHIP $10
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