by Gene Benedict

January 13, 2018

           “Stand By Me.” There was a song by that name in the ‘50’s, a slow one that was good to dance to when those wild emotions of youth grab you and run rampant for a while. Rob Reiner made a film with the same name. It was a story that centered around a group of boys 11, 12, 13 years old in the ‘50’s in a small town in Oregon, who stood by each other through a couple of turbulent days. It could be a small town anywhere. For me, it was a town in the Midwest, population 525.

           Here in Cedar Key, which, too, is small, you can see the groups of early teens; some mixed, some not, wandering about usually on an adventure or in the process of making one. Or shooting baskets in the park, or eating ice cream from the candy store. Or maybe at the spit, walking the boulders, poking at the sand, the crabs, the fiddlers. Or maybe even fishing.

           Times are different now. There are a hundred channels on TV, there are computers, there are video games, all vying for the young people’s time. Back then, TV was a treat and your time watching it, if you had a TV, was restricted. There were no computers, no video games. So young people then spent more time outside and with each other in more social type settings in rec. centers, sockhops, playing pool, Ping-Pong or somesuch.

           So, back to the film, “Stand By Me.” I first saw it when it was released in the mid ‘80’s. A piece of nostalgia stirred, and I saw it again as much for the music as for the nostalgia. Then I took Melanie, my daughter, to see it to show her a piece of the life and times I lived through. When we saw it together, she was in that same early teen stage depicted in the movie. She was impressed. She and a group of her friends went to see it. She bought the sound track for her and one for me.

           I remember those times, those ‘50’s well. They may have been the best. There was Rosalie, Les, Billy, Lloyd, all in the same family being raised by Grandma. And the two Jims and Ray and Claude and Nancy and …and … One day Les, Billy, Lloyd and I were jumping ramps with our bikes. Lloyd was the littlest and we wouldn’t let him jump at first but he was insistent and so we let him. His bike was smaller, 24”, and as he went off the end of the ramp, lifting his handlebars into the air, the front wheel came out of the forks and kept rolling on ahead.

           The look on Lloyd’s face was wonder, amazement and terror, all in one. As if in slow motion, his rear wheel hit the ground and just after, the forks came down and buried themselves in the soft earth. And, you guessed it, over the handlebars went Lloyd sailing a long way through the air, landing, finally, on his head, sort of on his back and rolled as if in a somersault. His pride was hurt, his ego was destroyed, and we lay on the ground rolling in laughter as kids that age will do.

           There are many, many stories to be told someday, but let’s get back to now. A week ago, my birthday week, we went to Mom and Dad’s for dinner. We took along a video of “Stand By Me” given to me not that many years back by Melanie. I thought they might enjoy reliving their early teens in the ‘30’s, and also reliving the times when they were parents of “those ruffians”, me and my friends, in the ‘50’s. As the video played, we laughed, we cried, we were close. It worked. Together we relived that period of the very early teens.

Thanks for letting me share a piece of that birthday week with you. Perhaps it stirred a few feelings from the past. Now it’s time to be out there creating Trouble in Cedar Key.

Copyright © by Gene Benedict 13 January 2018