“When we had come in the front, the revolving door had been moving so I thought it went automatically. When I stepped into the door on the way out, I started moving but it stood still. I got a crack on my noggin that made me understand I was supposed to push, and I did. We had to walk back to the car (two or three blocks) and try to find the municipal auditorium. We got caught in two or three traffic jams and finally stopped at a gas station to ask directions. He said we’d passed it. We tried to turn around and go back. Several cars got crossed and it seemed ages until we arrived at the place. I was a knot of anxiety but Daddy never once lost patience.
“There were crowds all out in front. Another age passed before we found a parking place and then Pop had to drive in several times before he had the lizzie fixed right. We walked three blocks back to the auditorium and went inside. I looked around at all those young men in tuxedoes and the women in evening gowns. We finally found a line in front of the ticket window. After standing there for fifteen minutes, inching up to the window the woman said, ‘Gallery tickets outside around the corner.’ When we got around there we had to stand in another line but I finally clutched the green ticket in my hand. Pop left and I scooted up about fifteen flights of stairs, presented my ticket at the door, and began searching for a seat. I had begun to think I wouldn’t find one but in the very last row there were several. All the while before it started I watched the young ladies below (miles below!) flirting around (also old ladies) in their long slinky evening gowns.
"We finally found a line in front of the ticket window. ... I clutched the green ticket in my hand ... and began searching for a seat. ... in a few minutes Nelson Eddy himself strode out on the stage."
“Soon after we got there, I went out to the car and crawled under the overcoats on the back seat. [About eleven] I went back in the office and stayed until one or two o’clock. Then I went out and slept until I nearly froze and went back in. I listened to the dispatcher’s phone and slept a while on the table, until the telegraph instruments woke me, and I crawled back in the car again. The car was parked between two railroad tracks and if there was not a train going by on one, rooting, tooting, bong-bong, spew-spew, racket-racket, there was a train on the other. And when they were not there, the planing mill next door was letting off steam. At six o’clock I ate a dried beef and lettuce sandwich-mmmmmmgood. Agent MacBride came in at 7:30 and we left about an hour later."
Now more than seventy-five years afterward, I realize how much more I got out of my fifty cents than just a movie star.
Tuscaloosa County native Aileen Kilgore Henderson is an educator and award-winning author of children's literature. In addition to her novels for young readers, Henderson has published two memoirs. She won literary awards for The Summer of the Bonepile Monster and Hard Times for Jake. Her most recent publications are essays, "In the Shadow of the Long Leaf Pines" (University of Missouri New Letters) and "Two Old Ladies and One Big Snake" (University of Tampa Review).