The fall and winter of 1966 spark interesting memories.
On the cold nights I stayed indoors watching great TV, or playing in my room. Our kitchen was a wonderful place; steam on the windows from Mom's cooking, the old yellow wall phone with its long coiled cord dangling, and the sounds of pans clanging and kitchen cupboards closing are all wonderful memories. In moments of creativity I could creep down the darkened hallway seeking out enemy soldiers.
In moments of absolute boredom I could hand-squeegee the windows leaving interesting streaks with the ball of my closed fist. I recall how impressed I was with myself when I learned how to make "baby footprints" on the glass by stamping the wet glass with the edge of my closed fist.
Indoor discoveries were the best, and often, I found many unique ways to while away my winter-indoor-hours. At this point I also had lots of overnight friends on the weekends. Army men were still as popular as ever, as was G.I. Joe. I still played army outside, but finding rugged kids to play outside with on the cold days became more difficult. I was attending Joseph Lane School at the time and have great memories of sixth grade at that school. I met my best friend Jim at that time, but in the fall and winter I acquired two more great friends, Larry and Terry, who were identical twins.
New taste treats were also great, and I immediately fell in love with Bugles. The horn-shaped cracker reminded me more of the horn of plenty than a bugle, but I assumed that food design hadn't yet reached its apex. There were many more that came out around the same time, but Bugles were my favorite. Quisp cereal was whacky enough to appeal to my sense of humor. The zany commercials on TV were enough for me to make a request on mom's grocery shopping list. Quake was another one I had to try.
Toys were still great, and one of the newest that interested me-even though it was a bit idiotic-was Gumby and his faithful cohort Pokey. This bendable figure was successful due to his TV ad campaigns, but after a short while, the allure quickly faded.
During that winter the twins Larry and Terry spent almost every weekend at our house. The three of us soon developed a voracious appetite for playing with a Ouija Board.
To us it was just a harmless game where we pretended to contact otherworldly spirits and ghosts. It was fun pretending that we were not moving the pointer on the board; it was fun believing a spirit was doing it, but deep down we knew better. Eventually the board got tiresome until a real life scare persuaded me to put it away altogether.
Television was one of my peak interests during the colder months, and some of the shows of 1966 were truly outstanding. On Friday nights after dad got home and I got my allowance, I'd head over to the B & F Market, our neighborhood store, and load up on candy for the evening's shows. Dots and Jujyfruits were my favorites because they lasted so long. "The Time Tunnel" was a favorite, but it conflicted with another favorite "Tarzan". By this time, Tarzan was such a hero to me that I tolerated the incredibly inferior TV show simply because TV Tarzan was better than no Tarzan.
Both Tarzan and The Time Tunnel aired on Friday nights. Tarzan came on at 7:30 on channel 8 (NBC) and "The Time Tunnel" came on at 8:0 pm on channel 2 (ABC). "Lost in Space" was also a great show, and "The Invaders" was to me the ultimate thrill: UFO's on TV. The show however, didn't excite me as much as I hoped it would, but I still liked it. The plots were interesting but just didn't seem as compelling as other shows.
"Honey West" was a show I became interested in once a friend of my dad's was visiting and insisted on watching it. At first I thought it would be stupid, but I loved her judo and her pet ocelot. Honey was a charming, albeit, gun-toting martial arts expert for hire.
Soon the idea of a female private detective was rather interesting since she could dupe the bad guys into making romantic moves, then flip them to the ground. The delightful Anne Francis starred as Honey who was referred to on her first appearance on an episode of "Burke's Law" as a "private eyefull".
"The Virginian" was a great show that my parents watched. It was even better in color. We got our first color set in the fall of 1966. Cartoons came to vivid life! I still loved "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and Combat!.
The great comic western "Laredo"soon became another favorite as two of the Texas Rangers-Chad and Joe Riley-were always outwitting the slow-witted Reese. Television certainly provided some great viewing back then. Though the shows weren't as many, nor litter the cable channels as today, but they certainly were much much better.
The Hardy Boys books were really an excellent discovery in the school library. My first one was "The Haunted Fort" followed almost immediately by "The Secret of the Old Mill" The book covers were as enticing as the box art creations for the Aurora monster models. "The Secret of Skull Mountain" followed. Once The Hardy Boys TV show came out much later in life, I wish it could have been a show during the 60's. I'm sure it would have been a major success.
I couldn't get enough of mystery and adventure, and The Hardy Boys seemed to have had more than they could handle. What I wouldn't have given to investigate a haunted fort, or ascend a place called "Skull Mountain"! These books still have a very special place in my heart.
Turtles became an interest of mine since they were so easy to take care of, and were so much fun. What I hadn't counted on - after buying four of five of them - was their desire to escape the bowl. One day I came home from school, went into my room to feed them, and several were missing. I checked everywhere, found a couple under my bed, and one heading for the closet. I couldn't figure out how they could climb over the tall sides of the bowl. Then one day, I witnessed yet another escape attempt; they were stacking on top of each other and climbing over! How ingenious these turtles were.
One super cold winter Saturday evening we'd gone to our local Fred Meyer store on Southeast 82nd and Foster where I purchased a new model kit from Aurora called "The Forgotten Prisoner of Castel-Mare". This was an amazing model, and again, the box art was top notch. From the box art, I tried to imagine just how creepy this kit would be, and couldn't wait to get home to plow into it.
It had a really cool dungeon wall with a small jail door at the bottom. As per the Aurora usual, the kit also had the obligatory rats, spider, and skull to add to the wall and base. Painting it was a sticky procedure as I used a gloss white enamel. (I should have used a matte white, but I was a kid).
That same night I tuned into a late night movie called "Mr. Sardonicus". This was creep-fest at its absolute best. The movie scared and revolted me, and needless to say, stayed with me forever. Even now as I write this, I can recall the circumstances. I had a small black and white TV in my room (this was pretty hot stuff having my own TV). I didn't even care if it was in color or not, just so I could be alone without parents telling me 'not to slouch' while watching. On this particular night, I slipped into bed and the sheets were ice cold, and took for what felt like forever to warm up.
Naturally the movie contained all the right elements: fog, cold, a creepy castle, and of course, a graveyard. I remember that "Mr. Sardonicus" terrified me, and made actor Oskar Homolka, (the evil assistant Kral). the creepiest guy I'd ever seen in a long, long time.
The colder days of the year certainly were some of the best times I ever had, and those glorious days of growing up in the sixties, are among my most cherished of memories.