The early Sunday morning silence is pierced by the ringing phone; it’s Her. She tells me she gets to keep her four-year-old grandson overnight; I express my approval since having him around always cheers her up. She tells me: “No it’s kind of a sad occasion; his pet rabbit is sick and his Mom wants me to keep him while she gets rid of it. He’s going to be heartbroken when he gets back and the rabbit is gone.”
Poor little guy; he’s in for his first big realization that adults will conspire together to make bad things happen. He’s usually the happiest, most carefree child in the world; these sorts of things will help chip away at that and after a lifetime of them make him a regular miserable adult.

She doesn’t know it but she’s just ruined my day; I can’t help but think of how sad that little fellow is going to be when he gets home and his pet is gone.
How fleeting everything we love really is; you turn around the next day and they are gone.
Every time I hear someone say: “Change is painful” I want to hit them maybe not so much as they are annoying me but also reminding me they are so right it hurts.

I’ve written about this topic before on this site; how painful it is to drive or walk through a town I grew up in and feel so much like a stranger. And I do too; I might as well be a transplant here from another country. The entire layout of my town has become absolutely Feudalistic; entire neighborhoods are being bulldozed. The rich live in little walled-in communities surrounded by moats of poor neighborhoods. Houses are being torn down and replaced with condominiums I can’t afford to lease.
Most of my friends have moved away; even though I am surrounded by masses of people I am so alone in the sense I have almost no contact of any kind with anyone who really cares about me.
Most of my spare time is spent by myself and it’s not any easier when the city I live in is constantly changing; it refuses to conform to familiarity.

Driving down the main drag Camp Bowie Boulevard is a game called Used To Be:there’s the CVS that used to be a Safeway, the bar that used to be a fish and chips restaurant, the bank that used to be a theater, the liquor store that used to be a Dairy Queen….I can play this game all day.
The book stores, the record stores, the arcades…all the places I used to love are gone.
Maybe it’s why hearing about that kid losing his pet rabbit has made me so sad; I can identify with his loss.
Damn the way we think things are going to be around forever. I remember back in the 80s and the 90s the Ramones came through town every year just like the circus. Now three fourths of them are dead.

While Christmas shopping this year I was feeling nostalgic and drove down Cherry Lane on Fort Worths west side. There is a large bit of real estate sitting in between Cherry Lane and the 183 spur that was once home to the Cherry Lane Drive In, which was bulldozed in 1986 and a gigantic Wal Mart/Sams Warehouse complex was erected on the site. The Wal Mart closed in 2001 and relocated up 183 just north of Ridgmar Mall. The Sams also closed and both stores are boarded up and empty today.

I spent a lot of time at the Cherry Lane Drive In during the 70s and 80s. Still get a warm glowing feeling inside when I think of listening to tinny country music over those rows of aluminum speakers in between the double features and the smell of popcorn drifting from the snack bar. Watching movies like 2001 and THE RIGHT STUFF underneath the starry Texas night sky was nothing less than magical. And I still laugh out loud to myself when I think of the night the obviously unsuspecting owners booked a double feature of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD and BLOODSUCKING FREAKS.

On this particular evening the drive-in was packed full of Air Force families (Carswell Air Force base was nearby at the time) and Lockheed Martin workers and their families. My friend Tom and myself were in his van watching as the 1968 George Romero black and white classic horror film ended and a few minutes later BLOODSUCKING FREAKS began.

Now whoever did the booking at this drive-in obviously had NO idea just how offensive BLOOSUCKING FREAKS was. In case you didn’t know BF is a very tongue-in-cheek 80’s “splatter” movie; a extremely low-budget Grand Guignol that doesn’t even pretend to have any social redeeming value. The “villian” and his midget henchman are shown at the beginning of the film torturing a nude woman tied to a rack. The midget places electrodes on the woman’s nipples and the two of them take great relish in the woman’s screams as they turn up the current.

About this time every single car engine in the drive-in started simultaneously as all of their headlights and brake lights came on. One by one they started filing in a nice orderly line for the exit as Tom and I sat there laughing at the multiple car-fulls of angry parents driving by (“Honey, I think the kids done seen enough of THIS movie…”) and within minutes the drive-in was almost empty except for us.

Ah sweet memories; I just couldn’t understand why they had to tear down the drive-in and put up a WalMart, I found the drive-in to be so much more entertaining. But you can’t fight “progress” and the WalMart and the Sams seemed to do a booming business for about fifteen years or so before suddenly closing and re-opening just a few miles up the road. Maybe it was cheaper than remodeling.

 Today they sit silent and empty, covered with gang graffiti. The day I went to snap these pictures it was me, one lone security guard and a swarm of grackles in the parking lot and no one else. As I positioned my truck to park under the former WalMart sign, I looked eastward and tried to imagine the screens, the snack bar and the marquee over the ticket booth all still there. No use; they’re all gone. They removed every last trace of the drive-in to put up this consumerist tomb that they don’t seem in any hurry to tear down.

Ya bastards; if you’re through can we at least have our drive-in back now?


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