Sunday, January 20, 2013

Hanky, Godzilla, and Me

Once upon a summer evening, I was hanging upside down from the backyard trapeze when my mother called, “Sara! Telephone!” This in itself was an extraordinary event—in 1962 in Randolph, Vermont, children did not normally receive phone calls. “It’s Hanky Buermann,” said Mom. “He wants to invite you to the movies.” What? No boy had ever invited me to the movies before. Timidly, I picked up the heavy black receiver of our rotary phone and said in a tiny little voice, “Hello?” A few minutes later, Hanky’s mother drove the two of us to the movie theater in downtown Randolph, where we saw King Kong versus Godzilla, a classic (believe me, the trailer above is well worth viewing). Hanky said he liked me because I was the smartest girl in the class. Fifty years later, I still have the arrowhead-and-rawhide necklace he gave me, but many of our childhood haunts have vanished—the old playground where we swam in the river, the Rudelle where we slurped ice-cream "custards," the cow pasture where we learned to ski. But the Playhouse is still there, a miracle. This week several of my Randolph neighbors posted on Facebook that the theater needs a digital projector and I could donate here. I chipped in, not because I care about small towns and old buildings and cultural heritage and all that (although I do). I gave out of sheer sentimentality, and because when I was raising money for the Randolph Senior Center's memoir-writing project, people gave. Not just from Randolph but from all over the country. My turn. PS: After school, Hanky started a company that makes little doodads out of plastic. He owns a couple of planes, a bunch of motorcycles, and I don’t know how many classic cars. He likes to hunt, and spends part of the year in Saskatchewan. And the smartest girl in the class? I’m pretty sure she wasn’t me.

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