Okay. So last weekend Sharon and I watched this bad 1973 B-movie called "Steelyard Blues," with the likes of such revered thespians as Donald Sutherland, Jane Fonda, Peter Boyle, and Howard Hesseman.
This is the first movie Sharon and I have watched together for ages. I'm sorry but I just haven't been into films lately. Sharon humored me by watching it because (to my memory at least) it had a memorable scene in which I remembered them mucking about in an airplane junkyard (Wrong! it was a naval base, must have been some other bad movie) and I really wanted to see that particular scene again.
Well, the film was BAD with a capital B, at least by today's standards, and worse than I remembered when I watched it with my dad many years ago on "Friday Night at the Movies" on WDIO Channel 10.
I regretted putting Shar through it, and appreciate her not leaving me.
Interesting thing, the scene shown above is highlighted on the lobby card, but I don't remember it being in the film, and Jane Fonda is about to light an acetylene torch while pointing it at her hand with no gloves on...
Be that as it may, the premise of the film was that Donald Sutherland's character "Valdini" (lifelong loser, slacker, anti-authority figure, and career demolition-derby car driver)'s sole goal in life was to derby-crash into a 1950 Studebaker, as he "had crashed every American car EVER made EXCEPT a '50 Studie." So finally his buddies get him to the demo-derby as a spectator, (he's on parole with his licence revoked after doing jail time for stealing to pay for his demo-derby habit) and out on the derby track is, of course, his much anticipated '50 Studie, butt-ugly as ever with the funky cone-shaped grille and armor-plated '40's architecture.
His buddies egg him to crash into it using their ancient rebuilt ambulance, which of course he does, and all is wine and roses, we are the champions my friend.
So how's this for synchronicity... today I'm driving down to the East Lake Library to return said VHS copy of "Steelyard Blues" (Inter-library loan you know, these classics are hard to find), and I decide at the VERY LAST MINUTE to continue down 34th Avenue instead of turning right at the parkway light as I normally would, say 99.99 % of the time. The ONLY other time I go that far down 34th is on my bike, and I haven't biked in a LONG while.
After making the decision, what do I see coming down the road towards me not a block away...? That's right, a '50 Studebaker. I kid you not.
59 years old. The one in the film was white-washed and had a pink circle around the distinctive grille, and was all noisy and beat up.
This one was also all noisy and beat up, except it had a nappy flat-black house paint job with white trim that looked like it was painted with a house-paint brush, butt ugly as ever with the round grille in the center. And no, Donald Sutherland wasn't driving it. The driver did look a bit like a pissed off Peter Boyle though.
But if I had turned down the parkway, as I "always" do, I NEVER WOULD HAVE SEEN IT.
I don't believe in co-incidence.
Outcomes are determined by our choices.
I questioned my normal routine, made a last minute choice to deviate from the norm, and ended up in an alternate universe...
Make a different choice today and see what happens. Could be fun...
Sharon gasped audibly as we walked across the field towards the V.A. in the warm August sun.
We all stopped.
"It's not there...!" she exclaimed with shock in her voice.
Alas, the tall stump that had once held the magical hinged door we knew as the "Elf Door" was not on our short horizon.
The 'we' was Sharon, our friend Tom and his daughter Laura, our dog Happy and myself. We solemnly walked over to the dishevelled remains of what had been the 'Elf Door Tree'.
Laura wasn't sure what we were supposed to be seeing, but she could tell something was not right. Sharon explained that this was once a magical tree with a little compartment inside where people would "leave things." That it had a little door for the elves to use, and that you never knew what you would find when you opened it. Now the whole tree was gone. All that remained was a sawn stump of what was once an ancient hollow oak tree, broken-off to about ten feet tall in recent years.
We all postulated as to what had happened. The Elf Tree had been chainsawed into a low stump and there was a lot of charred wood and bark strewn about.
Perhaps vandals started a fire? Perhaps the tall rotten stump became so unsteady or insect-ridden it had to be brought down, and the charred pieces were the remnants of an original lightning strike that had burned out the center and created the Elf Door Tree so many years ago? Maybe the young Burr Oak pushing up from its base finally won over and began toppling it's grandparent. Maybe it was purposely burnt to sterilize it before the sawyers brought it down. Maybe it was struck by lightning a second time!
We can only guess.
This was August 1st, 2009, and it seemed as though the cutting was not very fresh. No tire prints remained on the turf. The Elf Tree had been down for some time.
Left was a sad Tupperware box holding a blue Teddy bear and odd bits of paper and plastic.
One might find a fake nose, spider stickers, messages, alms, coins, philosophic writings, bus transfers, gum wrappers, super-heroes, snowmen, or any manner of well-wishes, or slanderous oaths.
The first time I opened it's door I felt so 'third-person.' I was thinking "Who is watching me do this...? Will it explode...? Where's the camera...?"
I'd always wanted to take a picture of my camera with the flash going off and stand the photo inside of the little compartment with a string so it popped up when you opened the door, and you felt like you were getting your picture taken.
I regret not doing that.
Once someone left their very detailed and beautifully drawn map sharing their directions to the "Treasure Tree" a.k.a. "The Elf Door."
One day you might find a menagerie of stuffed animals imaging peace, and then a total vacancy the next. Life is like that, I guess.
Fare thee well, Elf Door. We'll always have your memories.
Maybe someday the young Burr Oak can learn your trade.