The Good Old Days

By Georgie Bright Kunkel

In an age of texting and roaring excitement at the Kingdome there is still a venue that brings back the old days of vaudeville and the silent movies. My fellow invited me to return to those days by going to our local entertainment venue at Kenyon Hall in West Seattle. The mixed crowd from tots to oldies were enthralled by the Wurlitzer organ player accompanying a twenties style singer who really looked the part as she sweetly sang songs reminiscent of the days of Theda Bara and Charlie Chaplin. Since silent film actors could not be heard and their words were only printed on the screen their expressions had to say it all.

What a down home experience of sipping a root beer float while the comedy mayhem captured our attention completely. I felt like a kid again laughing up a storm at Buster Keaton, the master of pantomime. He scared us with near disasters as he sailed along on a bicycle that carried him into the most impossible situations. Little girls in their Sunday best dresses ate popcorn and also sipped root beer floats as people put their names into the hat for a drawing. And whose name was called? My fellow’s name and he rushed up to claim his two tickets to a later show saying, “I have never won anything in my life.” It was one of our first nights out after his knee operation so he needed to exercise at intermission to keep his knee flexible.

I happened to mention to a woman sitting next to me that I would be going on the comedy stage in May to do a ten minute standup to start the show at the Rendezvous in Belltown. Believe it or not she looked up the Rendezvous on her cell phone and said, “I’ll see you there.” After a health downturn recently I hadn’t ventured onto the comedy stage for a while so the thought of hearing laughter from an audience gave me a boost.

The antics on the screen reminded me of my childhood when I learned to ride on a boy’s bicycle, once falling off and ending up with a scar on my left knee that is still faintly visible. My little friend used a pole to navigate a raft when the river overflowed its banks and he also taught me to pick up snakes after he caught one and held it by the head for me to grasp. There was always excitement on every special day—putting May baskets on front door handles or catching pollywogs in the flooded field across the alley after the first spring flood.

There wasn’t a Saturday that I didn’t go to the ten cent matinee and I really got my money’s worth by staying to see the movie twice. Needless to say, when my fellow and I visited Hollywood recently we couldn’t wait to walk along the boulevard where the famous stars have their names engraved for posterity. Hollywood has brought stories to life for generations and I was certainly one of those youngsters who delighted in movies.

If I had lived anywhere near Hollywood in my childhood I know I would have tried out for the movies. As it was I took part in plays in school and later on sang in a church sponsored opera. As everyone knows I still go on stage to do comedy and will never retire. People ask me how I manage to stay so active and I reply, “I get out into the world and never even consider that I will have to stop being involved.” In fact I joke about never ever dying. Just because other people die doesn’t mean that I will die, right?
Oh, oh. Someone heard me say this and reminded me that if no one died the world would really get overcrowded. Darn, always a down side to immortality.

Georgie Bright Kunkel is a freelance writer who can be reached at HYPERLINK "mailto:gnkunkel@comcast.net" gnkunkel@comcast.net or 206-935-8663.

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