I love being a father because I am reminded everyday what it was like to be a kid. I love the experiences that God has brought or allowed into my life. I have even learned to appreciate many of the more difficult experiences I have encountered. It all comes down to instant replay. My son will do something or say something or I will just start watching him and then all of the sudden I am flying back in time reliving a special moment flooded with special memories from my childhood. What happens next is what I always refer to as the Magic Of The Moment. Maybe I could say this is where I hope we are creating a memory for my son to someday share with his children.
Monday I picked Aidan up from school and took him to basketball practice as I normally do this time of year. We were leaving the gym and the western sky was red and purple and there were dark, gray and silver clouds sporadically scattered across the horizon . The sky was beautiful especially because there were at least 9 jets in the sky with long white streams following behind each one. Looking West we were about 3 miles from the 99 Free Way. All of the sudden I started telling my boy a story. I told him that we moved up and down California until I was about 10 settling in a small farming town in Northern California. In the early 60ties Northern Ca. was connected to southern Ca. by a two lane Highway called he 99 that stopped at every stop light in every small town or city. The 99 was lined wth hamburger and hotdog stands of every kind on both sides of the road and gas and food were cheap even for poor people. I am sure many of you remember in those days there was an attitude about driving. I am quoting from the first ”Cars” movie where one of the Cars said ”in the old days people didn’t drive to make time they drove to have a good time.” Well that’s what we did and one of the few things I remember we did as a family. My father would work all week and once in a while take a Saturday off. We would get up about 3 in the morning and leave Lodi and drive to McFarland driving the entire way on the two lane 99 Highway. If we were lucky we got to stop and buy food at one of those Hamburger/Hotdog stands that was shaped like an Orange. There was millions of those stands on each side of the highway. We would always come back late at night and again we would travel down the center of so many towns and small cities.
The night time was an adventure for two small boys. One of the other sights that is really no longer with us is the Drive-in thereaters. There were Driven-ins scattered all along the Highway and as the Orange Hotdog stands have all but gone, the Drive-ins have all but vanished. For anyone interested there is still a working large orange hamburger stand about 30 minutes north of Fresno and there is a smaller stand located in San Jose on East Santa Clara St. toward the 101 Freeway. Once in a while I can catch a glipmes of an old Drive-in screen from the 99 Freeway when driving past Delano. I spent many a Friday night watching animated movies like Bambi and Peter Pan at that Drive-in. Again traveling like this was an adventure and my imagenation would run wild. One night we were coming home and I must have fallen asleep and when I awoke I looked out the window and I could see rockets or flying saucers or possibly metoers on fire falling or landing on earth. It was so real. I was able to watch for such a long time since we were traveling about 45 miles per hour. I was terrified. This envasion was the Movie, ”War of the Worlds” and it was being shown at a Drive-in situated right along the 99 Highway.
As we stood outside the gym I looked West with my son and I listened to his description and interpretation of the sights and sounds from the jets, sky and Freeway. He talked about how these commercial jets might be rockets or UFOs or even a meteor shower disguised to look like jets. As my son entertained me with his description of what he felt and witnessed I remembered the movie, War of the Worlds and I remembered my fear and excitement and those experiences I had some 50 years ago. When he ended his thoughts I told him the story of traveling up and down the 99 Highway and I told him about the flying saucers and rockets I watched some 50 years ago. I waited a while to tell him the punch line that I was watching a movie while driving along the 99. As we talked over each other, we added a little bit more to our story. Aidan tamped into his imagination and easily built on the story and as I talked I realized there was just as much excitement in my voice and just as much imagination as there was a half century ago as we enjoy the ”magic of the moment.” Corky Riley