Pairings/Characters (this chapter): John-Boy Walton, Ike Godsey, Sarah Simmons
Genres: Drama, Holiday
Rating (this chapter): G
Spoilers: For Dracula (1931) and Frankenstein (1931)
General Summary: Professor Sarah Simmons takes John-Boy, Mary Ellen, and Jason to see the classic horror films Dracula and Frankenstein in Charlottesville.
Chapter Summary: John-Boy receives an invitation from Sarah Simmons.
Date Of Completion: September 19, 2018
Date Of Posting: September 21, 2019
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, Lorimar Productions does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 1014
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Author’s Note: All chapters can be found here.
‘Boss’ Clayborn Tweedle
In the autumn of 1934, my sister Mary Ellen and my brother Jason and I would learn that even people from privileged backgrounds were just people. You just had to look beneath the fancy airs and, in some cases, snobbery.
It had all started two weeks before Halloween with my meeting Professor Sarah Simmons.
You meet all kinds of people at Ike Godsey’s store. I was there picking out some penny candy when the tiny bells jingled over the door as a visitor walked in. Ike and I were shootin’ the breeze as I contemplated the variety of drops and candies in the crystal jar.
I turned and could feel my eyes light up. “Professor Simmons!”
“In the flesh.” She smiled at Ike. “Hello, Mr. Godsey.”
“Hello, Miss, um, Professor Simmons.”
Sarah Simmons was a Harvard professor in an era when female professors were rare outside of women’s colleges. She had come to the Blue Ridge last year to study our local folklore and had talked with many people. Grandpa was a favorite source of tales, tall and otherwise. She had returned to Boston but obviously had come back for a visit.
“You’re alone, John. I almost didn’t recognize you without a retinue of siblings trailing behind you.”
I grinned, as it was all too true. Ike laughed.
“That’s true, Miss Simmons. Is that Harvard talk?”
“Harvard talk?” asked Sarah with a smile.
“That there ‘retinue’.”
“Oh, yes, I suppose it is.” She seemed delighted at Ike’s comment. “I’d like some tonic and an apple, if you please.”
“Tonic?” Ike frowned. “The only hair tonic I have is for men.”
Sarah laughed. “I’m sorry, ‘tonic’ is the word for ‘pop’ up where I’m from.”
“Wow, that’s a new one,” I said.
Ike grinned. “Choose a bottle from the cooler.” He pointed to it by the doorway.
Sarah chose a Coke and a shiny, red apple from the barrel. She paid and walked outside with me.
The air was crisp and cool with some of the trees nice and colorful. Sarah gestured at a copse of shimmering gold aspen trees.
“We like it, though I suppose it’s kind of tame compared to what you’re used to seeing this time of year.”
“That’s true. Colors are rather muted here.”
“So why are you down here?” I popped a peppermint candy into my mouth.
She smiled. She was real pretty. Her blond hair was stylishly short, and she wore a blue knit beret. Her Navy pea coat matched her pants, and she wore an orange pullover sweater and blue saddle shoes. The pants were unusual, but then, Sarah Simmons was an unusual woman.
“I have a proposition for you.”
“Yep. How would you like to see a double feature in Charlottesville?”
“I’m always up for the movies. We going to see The Thin Man or a Western? I don’t think Momma and Daddy would allow us to see gangster pictures.”
Sarah’s smile turned rueful. “How do they feel about horror pictures?”
“I’m talking Dracula and Frankenstein.”
My jaw dropped. “What?”
“Universal is re-releasing both 1931 flicks for Halloween Week. Since Halloween’s on a Wednesday this year, the movies will be shown starting Friday, October 26th, and end on Sunday, November 4th. Charlottesville’s Bijou is running both.”
“Gee, Professor, I’d love to go, but I don’t think my parents would let me.”
“You let me worry about that. Now do you think your sister Mary Ellen would be interested? Check that, I know she would, because she’s one tough cookie.”
“She’s not afraid of anything, that’s sure enough right.”
Sarah’s blue eyes sparkled. “Now, what about Jason? He’s pretty sensitive.”
“He is.” I offered Sarah a peppermint. She accepted and we continued ambling down the road. “But he’s a lot stronger than you’d think.”
“Good. Listen, you ask them if they want to go. Better to know for sure if they do before I make my pitch. Oh, and I left out Erin and Ben because they’re too young. These movies are pretty intense.”
“Because they’re about a vampire and monster?”
“They’re about the undead and a creature stitched together with corpses’ body parts, so, yeah, pretty intense.”
I swallowed hard. I’d heard that the movies were so disturbing that women had fainted, especially when they got their first glimpse of the Frankenstein Monster, played by Boris Karloff.
“You’ve read both novels that inspired the films. It’s a great chance for you to tell the difference between film and literary works.”
“I’d really like that chance.”
“Good. And your brother and sister can bring fresh eyes to the material since they haven’t read the books. When would be the best time to drop by tomorrow?”
“How about lunchtime? Daddy will come in for lunch from the sawmill and Grandpa should be around, too. Momma and Grandma will be there, of course.”
“Your grandfather will be an ally, I’m sure.”
“He thinks you’re the cat’s pajamas.” At Sarah’s laugh, I added, “Corny, but that was the slang back in Grandpa’s day.”
“He’s a doll. Okay, I plan on taking you into Charlottesville this Friday so it won’t be a school night. And some of my students from my English Lit class will be with me.”
Sarah smiled gently. “Don’t worry, John, college students don’t bite. They’re down here helping me with a continuation of my folklore project this week. They also take my American Lit class.”
“Well, sure. How’s that project going?”
“Very well. Crosses over quite nicely into m American History course. Your family has been a big help.”
“Good to hear. Come by around noon. Daddy and Grandpa will just about be finishing eating by then. You can catch them well-fed and happy.”
Sarah laughed. “Tell them I’ll be by then.” She squeezed my arm. “I’ll do my best.” She waved and turned back to Ike’s to pick up her car.
Now I had to scheme a way to be home for lunch tomorrow.
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