August 7, 2012 9:55:10 AM



I suppose that I grew-up in an age of innocence. I was born in 1950 and grew in my naiveté through the years. It was a time when you walked to school and rode the bus to downtown Columbus. Children of my age could go anywhere alone and there would be, surely, someone along the way that knew you or your family and could get you home if you needed their help.  


Who would have thought that in today's times that we would not board a plane without checking out all those fellow passengers at the gate or that now, we will always look at the Exit sign in the "Show" in an entirely different way?  


Not only did I love summer vacation for not having to get-up early and doing homework but I loved our Tuesday mornings at the theater. On Tuesdays all of us kids would be at the Princess Theater for the morning matinee, getting in with six Pepsi Cola bottle tops. I have never been a grand winner but on one of those early mornings, yes, I won a watermelon and another time, a six pack of Pepsis. It was that important - I still remember to this day.  


We did not see any horror shows or violence. I doubt any of us even knew what an arsenal was or what one might need with bullet-proof vest. I believe that those that strive to keep us away from harm do need such things today but how sad it is. No one pushed or said a "bad" word during the movie or stole our bottle tops. In fact, most of us brought extra "caps" just in case, someone came without the required number to be admitted to that wonderfully cool, dark theater on a summer morning. The bus would be waiting down by Woolworth's to take us back to our houses where, no doubt, our mothers would have a vegetable lunch cooking and when we opened the door, boy, would it smell oh so good. 


I remember how very important it was to go the Varsity Theater on Christmas Day night. Everyone would show up in their new Christmas duds and couldn't wait to show them off. One Christmas, "the thing" was to wear bells on your shoes and I can recall so well how much fun it was to go back and forth, up and down, the aisles of the Varsity, ringing. We loved it when our parents were late picking us up - we could stand out front or run up and down the sidewalks and talk and laugh and make memories that we are still talking about today.  


I did not travel on a plane until I was much older. However, my mother and father would take me to the airport on Highway 69 to see the planes arriving and taking off. We likely went to get an ice cream cone at The Mug and Cone and sat and ate it as we watched those massive birds disappear in the sky. It was a miracle. The passengers were dressed "to the nines." Flying away from Columbus was reserved for the rich folks and you could sure tell by their fancy dress and Samsonite luggage (remember the hard, one handle type, with your initials on either side of the lock?). Not once did any of us think of that plane full of dreams, taking off, as a weapon.  


Even, today, I am still in awe of 9/11/01. I can't imagine, I just can't imagine.  


And now, I can't believe that my enjoyment of a cool theater, with friends and popcorn, has been destroyed by the movie massacre in Aurora, Col., two weeks ago. I will never have that comfort again when I am in a dark movie row with an Exit sign shining out to me, down at the front of the theater. Who could have thought of such a thing? Oh, the chaos for those folks and the first responders - but like 9/11, I guess, we shall prepare again for just such a thing. Will we be going through metal detectors to see the next Disney production with our grandchildren? Or will a stranger want to see what is inside my purse before entering? All of this will be lost to me now, going up in a smoke of tear gas in a dark movie theater, miles away, in a state I have never even visited.  


I suppose, it is great to be sophisticated and well-traveled, trusting that the world is good. However, my innocence is gone. I try every day to believe in the goodness of good, that people feel like I do, that they would help me like I would them. I want to wake-up in an innocent world again. I want to "fly" away from home, not worrying who is sitting next to me. I want to open my mother's back door and smell the peas and cornbread, returning from a show that I did not even know needed an exit door. My mother will hear the bells on my shoes, of course.