Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Here's a tidbit from Mowabb, Eutaw, circa 1955 or 1956. In my little mining camp where I lived for seven years, (Cal Uranium), near Moab, Utah, we had power from a big ol' generator. For the first year I was there, we actually had lights, but no plumbing. The mine managers and engineers made a wrong turn in a tunnel and actually missed the uranium vein. The company went broke and we soon found ourselves the only residents in a cabin in an abandoned mining camp. The manager asked my dad to stay on and look after the place for free rent plus $150.00 per month. I was the only kid on a deserted plateau near a huge red cliff. Life was lonely but not so bad. Seven years total, living among the lizards. not so bad.

Anyway, let's get to my tidbit. When Mom, Eddie and I first arrived to join Dad, (Dec, 1953), the camp was bustling with people. Jack, Margie and little Jacqui lived in the first cabin, Curt Moran lived in the second one, we had the third one and Bob Brady had the fourth one. Everyone else lived in trailer houses scattered about. One trailer was occupied by Jan, aged eleven. I was twelve. Jan was one of these extreme "hypers". Blonde, cute, and always on the move. She took a big figurative bag of energy, controversy and contention with her everywhere she went. But she was fun.

When the mine closed, Jan moved to Moab, 35 miles away. I saw her from time to time, but she was always in one frenzied situation or another. Fast-forward about 2 years. Now I'm fourteen or so and she's 12. (My memory is tricking me.) I'm sure I was 2 years older, but who's counting? Somehow, I nonchalantly asked her if she would like to go to a movie. {Yes, Mowabb had a movie theater in 1955. Sheesh.}

We no sooner got seated when a group of four or five boys her age sat down right behind us. Ugh! Well, they started right in, pulling her hair, giggling, whispering too loudly and taunting her. She would twist in her seat and tell them what a bunch of morons they were. Their noise level kept rising. I was afraid that we were all going to be thrown out. Other patrons kept staring at us in disgust. This stuff went on for at least a half hour. My patience ran out. I worried about their incredible offense to the people around us, but I was also concerned about the complete lack of respect they were showing for Jan. She was a real fireball. She held her own quite well. Finally, I turned to them and said, "hey, can you guys hold it down a little bit?" They immediately froze in their tracks. Well, in their seats. Not a peep out of them.

We sat in silence for ten minutes or so. I was beginning to pick up on the movie. Suddenly, Jan got up and stepped out. Bathroom call? Candy bar time? Oh, no. After five more minutes the manager was standing over me, asking me to step out into the lobby. {Yes, that theater even had a lobby.} With question marks plastered all over my face, {okay, figuratively}, I followed him out. I wondered how he even knew who I was. He was angry. He told me that Jan had walked out crying. As she passed him she said, "Gene Burton has just humiliated me in front of my friends." Then, she was gone into the night.

I was understandably shocked. I told him my side of the story. He went over and filled two bags of popcorn, one for him and one for me. We talked about everything under the sun. He was easy to talk to because he was my age. His dad owned the theater. (Yes, they had popcorn in 1955.) I never did get back to the movie. But I did stay after and help him sweep up all of the mess. In those extremely ancient days people threw all of their containers and wrappers on the floor. What a chore!

He and I became such good friends that I, uh I... uh... uh can't remember his name.

Epilogue: I found out later that her mom jumped all over her. "Gene was your first real date! And you treat him like this! You should be ashamed!" etc. etc.


Redhoodoos said...

Wow - never heard that story! I know teenage girls nowadays who would act the same way. Sheesh = ya never know how some girls will react! At least you got free popcorn out of the down. No wonder you helped sweep up after though - I've seen you eat popcorn. ;)

Cabin Fever said...

I love yer stories! Specially
if I haven't heard it before.
Mayberry is here and we are wait-
ing for the bird to cook. I will
see you all tomorrow. Amanda is sad they have to stay home.

Brian said...

They had movie theaters in Mowabb in 1953? Oh wait, you already answered that.