Throughout the Sunday afternoon party, guests could watch the big screen and hear in the background some 1950s country/western music — think Chet Atkins, Bill Monroe, Flat and Scruggs — and reminisce of days gone by as a slide show covered the 60 years of our family life, plus tidbits of an evening at the local drive-in theater in Dalton.
Three or four rows of kiddie cars and other wheeled juvenile vehicles were lined up in front of the screen to give the miniature display an air of authenticity. The show began —just like movies today — with a Welcome to Cohutta Drive-In and commercials advertising products of the day and announcements about concessions, followed by previews of “coming attractions.”
There were a few clips and poster shots from movie hits like “Young at Heart” starring Doris Day, and “Dial M for Murder” with Ray Milland. I think I saw bits of “Demetrius and the Gladiators” and “Shane” and “White Christmas” run across the screen; and, of course, “The Outlaw. A very special friend gave us a video of that one since we never saw the entire movie the night of our first date. My 10 o’clock curfew took care of that.
The main attraction was the family slide show, followed by another round of ads, “Concession Stand Now Open,” and “Coming Soon” previews. They call those trailers now, I think.
In keeping with the theme, there were bottled Cokes and a popcorn machine, plus foods that were never seen at a drive-in theater, including a beautiful wedding cake.
Working the crowd were our five great-granddaughters, all dressed up in poodle skirts, sporting pony tails and proudly distributing candies and assorted goodies from trays hanging from around their necks, reminiscent of cigarette girls of the ’50s. This was when everybody smoked, and guys weren’t dressed appropriately unless they had a pack of Camels or Philip Morris’s tied up in the sleeve of their long-sleeved white shirt or T-shirt.
The only great-grandson, 11-month-old Gerit, stole the show in his seersucker suit and bow tie, proudly showing off his walking abilities gained two months ago. A few guests showed up in ’50s attire. You ain’t seen nothin’ yet until you see the Rev. W. Dan Parker in a fair interpretation of a cool 1950s teenager. And niece Marie had her own poodle skirt. She’s probably older than our marriage, and no amount of coaxing could get her to dance for us.
Although the drive-in movie set was fun, there were other sights to see. Our “girls and boys” got carried away with decorations and displays. The photographs of all the houses where we lived brought back lots of memories. The original pen-and-ink of our present home (circa 1966) was done by Dan Parker, and we used it on Christmas cards a few times. He didn’t give up his day job to be an artist, but he could have, I think.
And there was the plaque saying “Welcome to the Queendom,” a reference to the MOTH’s nickname for me, Madam Queen. I loved seeing the photo of my grandparents at their 50th. They set such a great example for us.
Lauren and her mom Linda, aunt and grandmother of four of our greats, were the official greeters. They had folks sign the guest book and pose for photos so that we could have a permanent album and memento to enjoy until our 75th.
I know that when we see those photos, we will be wanting to go back and have long conversations with those folks, do a little catching-up, thank them for sharing this day with us, and for being a part of our lives during these decades.
There were lots of stories being told on Sunday, and folks were exchanging tales with each other and with us. Two hours was not long enough. But the funniest story I heard was from Dalton friend Myra. When she and hubby Horace had their first son Tommy, their first outing with him was to the drive-in. They had a little car-bed, and Tommy was fast asleep throughout the movie.
Daddy went to sleep pretty soon, and eventually mother Myra did the same. Somewhat later, the theater manager tapped on the window to wake them up and send them home.
Ah, what memories. ’Tis wedded bliss at its best.
Juanita Hughes is retired head of the Woodstock Library.