Outrunning an Elephant

by kfrego

Our family temporarily moved to Potlatch Idaho during a long strike at Kaiser Aluminum. Dad took a mechanic job at the local Chevrolet dealer. Potlatch was located  about eighty miles south of Spokane  near the Washington border. It was originally a company town of the Potlatch Corp. In the early 1900’s  Potlatch was the largest white pine lumber mill in the world. In the early 1950’s the Potlatch Corp. relinquished ownership of the town homes and businesses to local residents. ( The company towns produced profits for the corporations, but by the early 50’s costs of goods and labor turned town ownership into a burden)

Potlatch was a great place to be a nine year old. Small enough so you could walk everywhere. Big enough to provide everything a family needed close at hand. Lots of wide open spaces adjacent to town. Potlatch had a movie theater. We had never lived close to a theater before. My first opportunity to see a movie, along with my sister Sharon, was a big deal. We eagerly looked forward to the evening show. It was a special night for sure as we walked with friends to the theater.

We bought our tickets, passed the concession area, and found excellent seats near the front of the theater. The lights dimmed and highlights of the latest news was the first item on the screen. The screen was huge and the sound was very loud. This was our introduction to a movie theater. Lowell Thomas spent several minutes explaining short news clips about places and things which we knew nothing about, but being our first movie experience we didn’t miss a second of it. Following the news were clips of upcoming movies for the theater. The theater went completely dark for several minutes before the nights movie started. When the screen came to life it was filled with a  huge wild bull elephant screaming and charging straight at us. The charging huge elephant and overwhelming noise was much more movie than this kid wanted to see. My reaction was fueled by fear as my seat was vacated. Out of the theater on a dead run, and up the street for home as fast as my legs could get me there.  It had only been about thirty minutes from the time we left home until throwing open the front door and charging into the living room. By then the elephant was far behind me.

So much for the movies in Potlatch. My first movie was a not so great adventure…….and you’ll never see me show interest in a movie about Africa.

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