You could ask how I know, how I remember something that far back, and my answer is I do not know. There isn’t any way for me to prove to you, or to me, or to anyone, that day in time existed, but I do know the town, Blakely, did and does exist. I can tell you there was once a convenience store called “Suwanee Swifty “ and I can tell you there was a coin laundry right next to the store. We, my mother and two sisters and I, would got there when it rained because no one owned a dryer back then. Those were the days before time began to be important to us. I had not started school, was only four or so, and everything was still very new. It was raining. I loved the rain. We were always told if we got in the rain we would get sick but we already knew that wasn’t true. To keep us quiet, and to give herself some peace, my mother bought each of us one toy from the Suwanee Swifty.
You might think the toy selection from a convenience store might be the very pits but this was in a world of scarcity. A toy just because it was raining and we were there and life was suddenly so totally good it seemed to drown out the rain, oh the rain. I wonder how parents view the selection process, and I wonder if they watch and have already guessed what their children will pick out. I have no idea what my older sister wanted, and my younger sister was still an infant, but by fate or by chance, I went with a plastic sealed packaged that had a rubber alligator in it, along with some other creature.
Because he was black I named him Blackie. Blackie had three body segment, a pair of legs for each segment, a pair of stabbing forelegs, and along with the legs on his last segment, he had a pair if giant pinchers. Blackie was also covered with tiny spines which were, of course, filled with venom. Al the Alligator may have had a wicked smile but Blackie was lethal to a degree no earthly creature could have been. The Army men back at home had no idea what was about to befall them, and quite frankly, neither did anyone in my family.
The number of creatures grew, and each one was more disturbing than the next. My parents were appalled at my very vivid description was to which appendage what to unsuspecting human victims and it was a very bizarre collection to say the least. Some were lost to time, or made poorly, and fell apart, but each one that survived was kept close to me, and what friend I did have wondered why I was so attached to these things. But attached to them I was, and it made my parents very nervous.
They tried to buy me normal toys, and in particular my father always knew what I wanted, even when what he wanted me to want wasn’t what I wanted. In his mind, it was a perfect thing to want, so who wouldn’t want it, so I should have wanted it, and there was no reason for me not to want it, so I wanted it, right? Most of the toys he bought me were for kids either five years older than I or five sizes larger. To this day I like baggy clothes because that was what I was used to wearing. But for one birthday my father scored the perfect gift for me, even if he never realized it. It was a two story parking lot/garage replete with an elevator that was hand cranked, and a grease pit. The gas pumps were hard plastic and I broke one of them trying to get Tab A into Slot B, but I was used to that by now, also. But this was great. All my creatures now had a place to ambush unsuspecting motorists, and Calvin-Like with a pack of rubberized Hobbes, I played with that thing for hours.
Okay, it was morbid, I admit that that, setting up some sort of Bates Motel full of creatures that attacked human beings, but let’s look at what was on television at that time, even the cartoons for kids, and lots of violence was to be had. Yet in this, each creature has some unique talent in the strategy up to and including a giant lizard that would change colors and blend into the scenery as a spy, and a giant fly that acted as a spy satellite, and a creature with a suction cup on his bottom so he hung upside down over doorways. There were creature who could get smashed flat and life, others that were fireproof, some that bullets would not hurt, and others that ate metal to survive. Each and every one had their own ability and in some way, made the plan come together. Is it any surprise I would go one to reach myself chess, and come in second at the post tournament at Fort Stewart in 1984?
Because I was a poor student I was frequently on “restriction” or “grounded” and spent many hours in my bedroom which became my world. My books were there, my creatures were there, and the outside world slowly but surely became more and more alien to me. In monster movies I always hoped in some way the monster would win, escape, and find a world where the monster were not a monster at all, but a creature whose abilities would be welcomed as part of a plan, something needed, and valued. I never saw that movie, but in the end, I did help write it. I must at this point, thank you for being in that movie. For you see, I did escape, and I found that world. It is here, and it is now, and you are the ones who have made me feel as if I am needed and valued.
Thank you for this world,