Greetings, dear readers. Tonight, I’d like to share a story with you all that is one that may seem as a bit sappy and a whole lot irrelevant to few but me. But it is one that I think many toy collectors can relate to when it comes to why we do what we do in our collecting: Reclaiming the heart of why we do what we do and how certain memories are tied to toys of our past and for some of us, connect to our present day lives and experiences…
This evening found me stumbling down memory lane by way of a genealogy lesson of sorts with my daughter. I was showing her some photos of some of those that are a part of her that she didn’t realize and may never really know. In this exploration, I came across a photo that featured my grandfather on my dad’s side that was a group shot with all his siblings. My grandfather Charlie was grouped with his sisters Lee, Bea and Marilyn and his brothers Herbert, Lonnie and Joe. These folks are the bedrock of who I am today. Now this of course is in no way a slight to their parents, Jody and Willie, my great grandparents. (Grandma Willie is actually the one who named me back in 1973; James Edward, and my apologies to her for all of this ‘Jim’ nonsense, but it is what it is).
In looking at the pic and telling Kaitlynn some of the memories of these loving forefathers and foremothers, it triggered a wonderful toy memory as well as a sudden surreal moment in my grown up life. It’s not often I share these really personal thoughts and insights but tonight, there’s an inclination I can;t fight to do so, so bear with me. Perhaps this is a story you need to reflect on too. Let me paint the picture…
As a little ‘James’ I would go with my mom and dad down to my Aunt Bea and Uncle Roy’s house for a game of penny ante poker. A game where seven cards were dealt and if anyone offered up a nickle as a bet, well they were simply trying to hustle the assemblage. It was actually quite well known that the taboo action would lead to mighty colorful discourses between anyone there and Uncle Lonnie’s wife Edna. To the ill informed it might seem hateful. To the rest of us it was merely a fantastic exchange that led to Aunt Edna losing another nickle. But I digress.
For this particular memory the two action figure companions that come to mind are Bo and Luke Duke. Man did I love those guys (even if the older generation found it peculiar that Harold’s only boy was playing with dolls), they were my pals. I’d watch the show, grasping Bo and Luke in my hands, all the while making sure I didn’t untuck their shirts. For the record, I wasn’t OCD or anything, I just liked them just as they were and didn’t want to goof ’em up. There’s some funny reflections in there where I had to explain myself to my Uncle Roy ( my Aunt Bea’s husband) and those are the conversations that led to this writing.
On those nights I would normally sit alone in the living room, hanging out with the toys that I had brought to play with. Considering the time frame (1978 – 1982), the normal companions would be the 8 inch action figures from Mego that made up the majority of my playtime (the love for those toys make a bit more sense now doesn’t it? 😉 )
You see, dear reader, my great Uncle Roy was a character I always observed as interesting. He was always a nice enough guy for sure but he appeared to enjoy messing with little bitty Jim. Not in a mean way but instead a poking / joking manner. Anyway… he never got me and my “dolls” and I never really cared, I just went back to watching the Dukes as he listened to his CB scanner and avoid getting back into the game where Aunt Edna was on a nickle betting tear. And then tonight, it all came rushing back from then to now and how I can only ponder what Uncle Roy would think about how Harold’s boy actually produced a live-stream concert for one of those Duke boys.
I’ve shared a little bit about this in the past, when the concert actually happened. You can read that reflection in the moment HERE. But tonight it all came flooding back. How amazing that opportunity was considering my childhood memories and connection, as well as the recent headlines and events involving John to which now, I feel and take some personal stock in. He’s a good man simply making his way the only way he knows how; by making movies and music despite the system he’s fighting like a true modern day Robin Hood. And then add to that in that sense, he is also working with some other folks from the old Dukes show to help make a memory for them. I’m speaking specifically about one person, that one being Byron Cherry aka Coy Duke. And that’s the ironic part about this particular memory that I’m sharing in regards to Uncle Roy’s jabs. The particular episode at the time of this reflection did indeed feature Coy and Vance and Uncle Roy pointed out that my “doll” looked nothing like him. Of course the actual Mego Bo Duke looked nothing like John but that’s a whole other story. Anyway, back to the present…
In the past couple of days, Mr. Cherry has reached out to me via Facebook letting me know about his inclusion in this years
“40th Year Dukes of Hazzard Reunion in the World”, which starts on April 13th in Bakersfield , California”. I know there is no way my schedule is going to allow for me and mine to attend, but I sure as shootin’ want to help promote it out of gratitude for the memories all them Hazzard County residents made for me beyond the small screen. Perhaps he and I may get the chance to connect before then for an interview to promote the event even more. I hope so at least. I’ll keep you posted.
Seeing as this has gotten to be a rather lengthy post, I think it’s best to wrap it all up with these final thoughts and thanks:
First off, thank you to my forefathers who made me who I am, one fantastic story at a time. Next, to John Schneider and the folks at the Starlight Theatre in Branson, Missouri for the chance to offer up my skills in making the benefit concert’s live-stream happen. Yes, I’m bragging about that. It was a hit and did a lot of good. Another shout out to Entertainment Earth for serendipitously tapping me to do a review for their exclusive figure set from Figures Toy Company. And finally to Mr. Cherry,who unbeknownst to him helped bring forward all of these memories and the hopes of helping him and all others involved in promoting this fantastic, 40 year anniversary. And to them and you dear readers for indulging me, I say THANK YOU for your attention and time spent bending your ear.
Now, Go Play!