Pairings/Characters (this chapter): Mary Ellen Walton, Jason Walton, John-Boy Walton, Sarah Simmons, Evelyn Bradford, Zarabeth Hanover, Robert Cavendish, Randall White
Fandom: The Waltons
Genres: Drama, Holiday, Slice-Of-Life
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: Waltons Mountain meets Harvard and Vassar.
Date Of Completion: October 14, 2018
Date Of Posting: October 13, 2019
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, Lorimar Productions does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 1646
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Author’s Note: All chapters can be found here.
Dusk was falling rapidly as Mary Ellen, Jason and I waited out on the front porch for Sarah to pick us up. We had coats on and shuffled our feet to keep warm. Mary Ellen had grumbled about wearing a dress but she’d chosen a blue print with a white Peter Pan collar that looked pretty on her. Jason and I wore crisp, white shirts and our good pants. Not quite church-best, but hopefully fittin’.
“Well, was I right?”
I looked at Mary Ellen. She was smirking as the toe of her saddle shoe scuffed the porch.
Jason chuckled. “Ben sure pitched a fit.”
“Erin wasn’t so bad herself.” Mary Ellen almost looked proud of her sister.
“Best we wait out here,” Jason said.
Mary Ellen and I nodded in agreement.
The moon was about three-quarters full, which was good for a week before Halloween. There were clouds scudding across the sky, but they didn’t look like rain clouds.
“Good thing Grandpa smoothed things over about us going out after the movies,” Mary Ellen said.
“Yeah, now we can nosh on ice cream sodas,” Jason laughed.
I liked the sound of that. Behind the glow of the shades in the living room, I could see shadowed silhouettes moving around. No one except Grandpa approved of this outing. Grandma was especially livid. She distrusted Hollywood in general, and horror movies were the worst of a bad lot, in her opinion.
“They’ve got questionable films like that One Night thing with an unmarried couple sharing a cabin!” she had said as she’d made her case after Sarah had left.
“But they did have the Wall of Jericho,” Grandpa pointed out with a sparkle in his eyes.
“Blasphemy! And that Clark Whatsis had no undershirt!”
“What are you smilin’ about?” Mary Ellen asked.
“You.” She nudged my foot with her shoe. “What are you smilin’ about?” A sly look came into her eyes. “Grandma’s rantings?”
I pointed a finger at her. “Watch your mouth, sister dear.”
Headlights caught our attention. Sarah drove up in her convertible roadster and waved.
“Hi, Sarah.” Mary Ellen hopped into the front seat. “Where’s your students?”
“They’ll meet us in Charlottesville. This is a roomy car, but eight people would be a tight squeeze. Get in, boys.”
Jason and I got into the back seat. I could hear the screen door squeak.
“All set for a Halloween adventure?” Sarah asked jovially.
“Yes!” we all shouted.
Sarah took off but didn’t peel rubber, for which I was grateful. I didn’t want anyone in the house to think she was a reckless driver. I looked back and saw Grandpa watching us and waved to him and got a wave back with a big smile.
We bounced along the country roads while the night air was a little chilly. Sarah was wearing a rust-gold knit cloche and matching cardigan sweater over a leaf print dress that was red, yellow and orange. A gold charm bracelet jangled at her wrist.
“That’s pretty,” Mary Ellen said of the bracelet.
Mary Ellen took a close look. “It’s all sports stuff!”
“That’s right. I’ve got a baseball, football, hockey stick, basketball, golf club, soccer ball, and badminton racket.”
“Not a tennis racket?” I asked curiously.
“You could call it that. I play both but prefer badminton.”
“Do you play the other sports, too?” Jason asked.
“Not all, but some.” Sarah slowed down as the road grew more rutted. “Not only men should play sports. It’s good to be healthy for both sexes.”
The word ‘sexes’ was a little titillating. We didn’t use language like that at home.
Suddenly I was worried. We were going to meet sophisticated Harvard and Vassar students. We really were country bumpkins compared to them.
I looked at Sarah and relaxed. She would make sure everything was all right.
On a Friday night, even a sleepy burg like Charlottesville was jumpin’. Sarah found a good parking space only a few blocks from the theater. We walked briskly and she waved to a group waiting by the movie posters.
“Hi, guys.” Sarah introduced us and then made the introductions of her students.
Evelyn Bradford was a short brunette who wore a burgundy cloche and matching coat and pleated skirt. She wore a white silk blouse and ruby brooch at the frilled collar. She gave us a nod and glanced at the other girl in the group.
Zarabeth Hanover was a cool cookie. Her brown hair was fashionably short, like Evelyn’s. Her cloche was white with a brown band and her coat was brown leather, which looked to be high quality. She wore a tailored white shirt and a pair of brown trousers with brown hiking boots, and looked bored.
Robert Cavendish was a husky blond dressed in gray slacks and blue suspenders over a crisp white shirt. His black loafers were shiny with gray socks. He slipped on a smart gray coat and nodded pleasantly to us.
Randall White was taller than Robert, his silky black hair slicked back with pomade. His stance was very casual as he stood behind Zarabeth, who was sitting on a bench by the wall. His suit was dark-blue and very well-tailored with black oxfords and a white shirt. Robert held a gray newsboy cap while Randall wore a jaunty dark-blue fedora. His dark eyes regarded us coolly. I was acutely aware that all their clothes were expensive and suddenly felt shabby.
“Zarabeth?” Mary Ellen cocked her head.
“Yes. I like to be a little different.”
“I like it.”
The students were amused and I had to wonder if they were making fun of my sister.
“C’mon, let’s go in. I want to hit the snack bar,” said Sarah. She went to the box office and ordered eight tickets.
I was a little nervous about this. Sarah had assured me that she was taking care of expenses, which was good, because my siblings and I didn’t have much money on us.
We waited in the concession line and the students paid for their snacks. Sarah smiled and said, “You’re our guests. What’ll you have?”
Mary Ellen said, “Jujubes and Good ‘N’ Plenty.”
“Popcorn for me,” said Jason.
“Same for me.” I added Raisinets.
“Cokes all around?” Sarah asked. We all nodded yes.
The theater had seen better days, but it wasn’t too surprising, considering that we were stuck in a Depression. A big one.
Zarabeth said, “I thought I read that movie theaters were one of the few things doing well theses days. The place needs a renovation.”
“Well,” I said, disliking her tone, “Charlottesville isn’t exactly Boston. They don’t get enough customers to have enough money to fix this place up.”
“The crowd’s good tonight,” Mary Ellen said as she popped a Good ‘N’ Plenty in her mouth.
“Yeah, they might get a full house tonight.”
Despite the larger-than-normal crowd, we got good seats, in the middle and almost three-quarters down the aisle. I was surprised that it might be a sell-out. Our part of the country was not known for being movie enthusiasts. There’s a streak of Bible Belt here, and very religious people usually don’t approve of Hollywood, and definitely not horror movies.
We all settled in and watched a Merrie Melodies cartoon, enjoying the nuttiness. We chuckled and even Zarabeth cracked a smile.
The next feature was a Three Stooges short, Men In Black. I was sitting next to Sarah and Jason was on my left side. Mary Ellen insisted on sitting on the end so she sat next to Jason. All of Sarah’s students were sitting to Sarah’s right.
The Three Stooges were a new comedy team, and Sarah whispered to me, “They’re spoofing Men In White pretty good.”
I had to take her word for it. I hadn’t seen the movie. I knew Clark Gable was in it, because I’d read a review in the newspaper. Gable had hit stardom in It Happened One Night and was capitalizing on it. All the girls were ga-ga over Gable.
The Movietone News was next. We saw some shots of the Capitol in Washington, D.C., and President Roosevelt was shown speaking about the latest New Deal push. Next they cut to his wife’s latest jaunt.
“Now we see Mrs. Roosevelt at a square dance in Wheeling, West Virginia, enjoying the party with the local residents.”
“Go, Eleanor,” said Sarah. She chomped on some popcorn.
“She sure is different.”
“She’s groundbreaking.” Sarah took a sip of Coke. “First Lady will never be the same again.”
“Not sure the Presidency will ever be the same again, either.”
“Good observation. You’d do well in PolySci class.”
I wasn’t sure what that was but felt proud all the same. I’d study on it for awhile.
Movietone switched to international news. There were plenty of shots of Germans sieg heiling. Germans made good visuals, I guess.
It was kind of weird to see all those people doing and saying the same thing. Over here you’d be lucky to get a consensus on anything, but over there everyone got all excited to hear Hitler speak. FDR never shouted, and he preferred what he called Fireside Chats on the radio to big stadiums full of screaming people. The only time he played to a raucous crowd at the level of a Nuremberg rally was during a campaign.
Thankfully, the News moved on to London. There were shots of Buckingham Palace and the King, and I started to get restless for Dracula to start.
The Coming Attractions were more interesting. I recognized Joan Blondell and some other stars but didn’t get too invested, since it was unlikely I’d see any of these pictures.
Finally, Dracula was about to begin.
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