I’m giving myself less than an hour and a beer to write this note on nostalgia. Every once in a while I go through our family storage unit. I love that. I was told once that we hoard old shit (clippings etc) because we are afraid to lose the memories. Well, that’s fine…I don’t want to lose the memories. My memories give me strength, my memories are what build my character, my memories guide me when I need to remember WHO I was and WHAT I did; my memories remind me of who loved me and when; my memories balance out any unhealthy and wrongheaded assumptions time may gift me with.
I have many trunks in that storage unit.
1. The big trunk has all my childhood stuff: souvenir programs, maps, old postcards I collected, items from my four years at Friday Mountain Boys Camp near Austin (used targets, woodcrafts), cartoons I drew and sent to cartoon studios, toys I won through the back of cereal boxes, McDonald’s chatchkis (yes, sorry..you have no idea the joy of each and every “opening” in those days), my dad’s souvenirs from his days in various organizations…usually gags and plaques, photos and photos and photos I memorized over the years of my treasured visits with family: Aunt Fan and her extended clan in Austin; Uncle Bob and family in Waco, Uncle Jim and his family in Ponca City. Items of note from myriad trips to Port Aransas, Nuevo Laredo, Junction (one of my grandmothers) and our myriad Grand Canyon/Las Vegas trips. Plus all my report cards and accolades (yes, there were those) from two years at Lanark Daycare Center, two years at a private Catholic school, St Thomas More (I was the only non-Catholic in the entire school save Mrs. Wolf), one year at the military academ San Antonio Academy. and then the lake years: McQueeney Elementary, AJB middle school (Seguin). Plus lots of school clippings of my fun years in drama and speech activities at Seguin High School. There is a subsection of stuff from my four years at Southwest Texas State University mostly including materials related to my activities in Alpha Kappa Psi, a co-ed business fraternity. And lots of “love” letters from unrequited loves over the years: Farrah-maned cheerleaders (I wish), South African transfer students (a long-distrance treat), and cute sales clerks from my first job at Montgomery Ward at Windsor Park Mall. My first autographs are in there: Iron Eyes Cody, Myron Floren, Forrest Tucker and the cast of Johnny Be Good (my first film…pizza boy number two…number one was John Hawkes himself!)
2. The next trunk has all the comic books I bought from the late 1960’s through the early 80’s. I cannot describe the joy of walking into those convenience stores and picking a comic….or going to a flea market and finding an older one for CENTS I tell you. I have since bought the same comics online for twenty dollars each or more. And reading them at taverns while Dad knocked back a few. In retrospect, that was pretty damn cool. At first I got Gold Key and Charlton, some Dell…..TV and cartoon tie-ins were huge. I spent most of my time in front of a TV…mostly Saturday morning cartoons. In the seventies, it was a wonderful time for TV….the best sitcoms (I watched most of them); the most LSD inspired kids shows (Krofftt: Sesame Street started on my watch), action and Sci-Fi unparalleled (Charlie’s Angels and Six Million Dollar Man); variety and game shows which were basically cocktail parties; and the reruns consisted of the best from the “innocent” 60’s--in living color (Star Trek, Wild Wild West, Brady Bunch, Hooterville and Mayberry). Back to comics: later I started getting DC, Marvel, Harvey and Archie titles….especially weirder ones like Plop (DC) and Mad House (Archie). And flea markets provided a treasure trove of Dells which I had no idea existed outside of my 1976 overstreet. I have every comic I bought in this trunk and they smell great. I have all of the Hanna Barbera comics catalogued and organized in bags, boards and boxes.
21/2: This is a heaven for cartoon freaks...my Hanna Barbera collection....toys, records, Viewmasters, dolls, coloring books, Golden books, Big Little Books, Kenner Give-A-Show projector slides, frame tray puzzles, models.....everything Hanna Barbera. I have no idea why I kept or started collecting this stuff. Since I was a kid, I drew the HB characters...Flintstones, Yogi Bear, Jetsons etc....and something about the simplicity of these guys really spoke to me. The promo tie-ins, the Hoyt Curtin music, the schtick. Rather than waxing on the theatrical classics from WB, MGM, Famous, Lantz or Disney, I was charmed by the "TV toons"....even Jay Ward counts here. I can't explain the joy of those cheesy TV themes and lines....I wasn't looking for quality, just familiarity. And my family came from Cahuenga Boulevard in Hollywood.
3. The next trunk is all the stuff that came with working with my Dad in his promotional products business. He was one of the pioneers in the business in San Antonio and had damn fine accounts (mostly financial institutions)….He did a lot of cool chatskis for Lone Star Beer (I have great memories of being at the brewery…King William area…and putting together packets for the distributors). Various samples of koozies, key tags, Quill pens etc which gathered dust in our “showroom” in Monte Vista are present in these bins as well as the FIRST orders placed with my accounts. I hated sales but my clients turned out to be great friends….that’s why it worked! Lesson to be learned there. Plus all his desk items which he obsessive-compulsory touched before he left the office that day. Any neurosis I have he gladly handed them to me and in my old age I say, “Thanks, Dad” because he loved me and in hindsight I realized what a great man he was. The stuff includes the Greater SA Chamber of Commerce newsletters which sometimes included some tidbit about my meager contributions to promoting business….other than wisecracks.
4. There are my parents memories in another trunk. My dear mother’s items from her years in Waco, Washington DC (during the war) and San Antonio (as an independent career woman in insurance). Photos of our days at the lake, all the cocktail parties (I think they were called “Attitude Adjustment”)…real interesting folk from this place in the middle of Lake McQueeney called Treasure Island. They all ran businesses of some sort…a very eclectic and interesting crew of older (hell, my age) people that had one thing in common: a good time and polyester. Plus I kept most of the books my mom and dad collected over the years…except the reader’s digest condensed books.
5. Another trunk is all theater. Every program and review from every play I did from 1987 until 1997 in San Antonio. STAGE at Bulverde, Harlequin Dinner Theater, San Antonio Little Theater (now San Pedro Playhouse), Alamo Street Church, tours with Spear Productions, Actor’s Theater of SA, Josephine Theater, Steven Stoli Playhouse, and the Jump Start with the Firelight Players. Also, programs of every play I ever saw during those years. Those were some of the most productive and creative years of my life….and lifelong friends were made. When you look at the mess I am today, you would not believe how confident and talented I was then….getting a date was not a problem. That I can (or will) remember! Hah.
6. Finally, the Austin trunk. When I decided to pursue my dream and become a filmmaker on the Third Coast I fell in love with the Austin independent film scene that was less than ten years forward from “Slacker.” In Austin Filmworks, I met more lifelong friends and co-produced a feature (the director has made quite a name for herself!). Gripping, pulling cords, still some acting, script supervision, scheduling, producing and writing….Every piece of paper related to every film I worked on is in there….storyboards I drew, call sheets I “minimized”, headshots that are presumed thrown away (hmmmm…)…SXSW and AFF programs…the film festivals were incredible and fresh. And Alamo Drafthouse guides and Austin Film Society ephemera from the most wonderful self-education in the history of cinema provided by a myriad of special screenings: foreign flicks, documentaries, indies that will never be seen again, old classics I never saw and those revisited (mostly at the Paramount). Used videotapes bought at Vulcan Video and Waterloo that were probably viewed by the filmmakers themselves. The other “half” of my Austin trunk is related to another family: those I worked for in a public relations firm….articles and clippings about those incredible people I came in contact with…some great friends….some of the biggest movers and shakers in Texas….my education in TX politics became part and parcel of my love for Austin…the other part of Austin….which led to my four year long journey through a screenplay melding the world of TX politics and Indie film. It all came together.
And there are stacks of books and videotapes…all the dvd’s are at home on my wall….
The POINT is…..yes, my life is in that unit….and when I look at the world now, changes I cannot (or maybe will not) keep up with in technology and culture, when business practices are micromangaged to nonsensical proportions for lawsuit-avoidance, when entertainment is not so much dumbed down but trashed out by overt crudity and shock, when politics has turned into the worst form of divisive bile in history (thanks in part to social media) and all the progress I saw in the seventies in terms of civil rights and democratic ideals--in the face of utter disappointment (Watergate, Vietnam), yes…turn into a level of out and out hate that I see now…when I look at this world now….I don’t see that storage unit as a crutch but as strength….as that hope that will return…if we let it.