“Don’t let it be forgot that once there was a spot
For one brief shining moment
That was known as Camelot.”
Lyrics by Alan Lerner
Sitting around the table at the Alamosa Senior Center, steaming cups of coffee (and, occasionally, donuts) before us, the conversation frequently turns to how things were when we grew up and how they are today. Most of us were offspring of “The Greatest Generation,” the last to remember the end of WW II when veterans came home and went to college on the G.I. bill, they married, bought homes and started families.
Our generation adopted the values, the ambitions, and the ethics of our parents and we didn’t question that there might be any other way.
We had peace in our time, if short-lived, between the end of one war and the onset of another.
The most serious crime in our community was when someone stole eggs from a duck’s nest by the pond in the middle of town: It made the front page of the local newspaper though the culprits were never revealed.
In summer, kids were “free range,” exploring the canyons and mountains that defined our small town.
I remember that Micki and I would leave the house after breakfast and frequently be gone until the street lights went on, unless we’d not packed peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to go.
Mom would fix lunch if we made a “pit stop” but otherwise, she wasn’t concerned about our welfare.
On Saturday afternoons, we’d walk or ride our bikes to town, a distance of a couple of miles, to go to the “kiddie show,” a movie matinee featuring the usual “cliff hanger” serial where Tarzan was left hanging from a vine, or the Cisco Kid was in pursuit of the railroad bandits.
It cost 10 cents to get into the theater, another 10 for a bag of popcorn, and we’d have five left from our weekly allowance to spend later.
There were no school shootings, no Amber alerts for missing children, no breaking and entering, and no high speed chases. It was a perfect town in a perfect time.
But listening to Harvey and Gatha and Donna and Sandy and a few other “natives” of Alamosa, I realized that the towns in this Valley were very much the same as my home town. They were, for those few years, perfect towns in a perfect time.
I suspect that most small towns throughout America were idyllic for the generation born in the ’40s and ’50s.
I waited tables at Draggon Drug Store; Gatha plied customers with malts and cones at Murray-Crow Drug Store on Main Street in Alamosa.
Almost all soda bars had the table-top “menu” for the jukebox and yes, it played “Blueberry Hill.”
The closest to a swear word we would use was “damn,” and that only was because we thought Rhett Butler said it to Scarlet O’Hara.
I was reminded by my friend, Dimas that last week was the anniversary of the assassination of President John Kennedy. Jackie Kennedy said, in an interview, that he listened to the music from “Camelot” almost every evening. Now, as I look back through my years, I know that once there was a time that was known as “Camelot.”
— Patt is a graduate of Adams State University, a former teacher and long-time director of the SLV Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP).