• Terry Groves

B.R.A.T.S. The Summer Hollywood Came to Clinton

It was the summer of '67 or '68 and we were living in the PMQs at CFB Clinton. I guess my older brothers, Mark and Robin, were feeling especially creative we decided to put on some entertainment for our friends.

Our first venture was setting up a haunted house theme in our basement. We came up with lots of ideas for the displays we imagined but, since we were going to be traipsing a herd of kids through our house, we decided we better let Mom and Dad in on our plan. It was probably more that Mom saw us making arrangements and asked what we were up to than any particular sense of duty to advise.

"And popcorn." I recall saying, "we are going to sell popcorn."

"And just where are you going to get popcorn from?" Mom responded, "Pull it out of thin air?"

I remember thinking, 'you can do that?' and picturing me standing behind the counter we had in the basement, collecting nickels from my friends and then reaching into thin air and coming up with buttery, oh so wonderful smelling boxes of popcorn (in the theater it came in boxes that, once empty and folded flat, could be tossed, Frisbee style long before Frisbees became popular, at the screen). Mark kicked me or punched me, which told me any popcorn we were going to be selling would be made in the electric popper we had.

Regardless of our lack o insight, Mom allowed us to put on our show. I recall only a couple of the exhibits we created. One was a hand that would come out of the floor drain. It was a glove fastened to a length of an old shirt sleeve. All stuffed with rags to fill them out. We attached some fishing line to one of the glove fingers and to the drain cover so one of us, hiding under Dad's workbench could make it look like the hand was emerging from the drain. I thought it was quite ingenious.

We dyed a sponge red, put it on top of a banana box (that had a hole in bottom for someone to reach up from underneath and give it regular squeezes. instant 'living heart'.

One of us, Mark I think, was set up in the cold room, as though he had been hung. When anyone opened the door, he would moan and yell and scare them.

We also had lots of spiders, snakes and creepy bugs from our toybox that we arranged in strategic locations. There were more things as well but they have faded from my memory.

We put on our show, advertising and talking it up at school. I don't recall how many kids attended but we were quite happy with our earnings. At least one kid was so scared that he cried. I don't think we did the popcorn thing, having to actually do work instead of the thin air extraction thing put a damper on that for me. All in all it was a good day, and good fun.

We then decided to put on a play. We practiced and rehearsed and set up the basement for an audience. I don't recall the play but it was likely a series of skits from our Cub and Scout meetings. Perhaps some enterprising young man who would wind up doing a bit of writing in his later years wrote a play. I had written some new skits for Cubs and Scouts. I don't recall that particular detail.

Anyway, again, our presentation was a hit with the kids, but not with Mom. Any future plays would have to be done outside. That made ensuring the entire audience paid more difficult but we went ahead anyway. The next play was a bit of ad-libbing. We agreed it would be a western and we came up with a bit of a story line but actual lines of dialogue were not planned out. I recall at one point, sneaking up on another actor and telling him 'pretend you don't see me.' It was THAT ad-libbed.

We didn't get rich but I felt enriched by the experience.

Interesting too, in my later years I wrote and directed a short movie. Have a look and let me know what you think. Rocket Candy

Do you recall anything creative that you and your friends or siblings did to keep yourselves entertained, perhaps attract the attention of a Hollywood director or studio?

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