Tuesday, May 26, 2015

My Flintstone Birthday Party

Not sure exactly when my love of the Flintstones started but I remember it being one of my favorite shows as a little boy.  The Flintstones was so imaginative and clever. I loved the theme song, “Meet the Flintstones” and I knew all the words. The dinosaur-powered contraptions and household appliances they featured were so imaginative and wacky. The array of guest stars that appeared on the show; Ann-Margrock, Stony Curtis, Rock Pile, Cary Granite, Alfred Brickrock, etc, was dazzling.
So when May came around and my mother asked me what kind of a birthday party I wanted for my seventh birthday, I told her a Flintstones birthday party!

My mom bought a tablecloth, paper plates, napkins and cups with Fred, Barney, Wilma, Betty and Dino at Thrifty’s Drug store and ordered the cake from the local Cuban bakery. All week long, I daydreamed about the terrific party we were going to have and when Saturday finally arrived, I was beside myself with excitement.

My mom and I went to pick up my cousins; Bruno and Mimi then went to pick up the cake. We got back with the cake and refreshments then put them in the fridge.  The birthday cake was awesome. It was rectangular with green frosting hills, light blue cave houses, plastic palm trees and those weird, speckled candy ‘rocks’ stuck all over it. Best of all was the little plastic Flintstone gang gathered around the bridge over the transparent blue icing ‘lake’ standing next to words, “Feliz Cumpleanos Oscarito”.

When more of the guests arrived, my mom took the cake out and set it in the middle of the party table in the kitchen. We followed her into the kitchen. Bruno and I stared at the fantastic cake for a long time then I told Bruno that the lake was made of real water. He said, “Nu-uhh” then I said, “Un-huh!” I dared Bruno to touch the lake, then climbed up on the chair and pretended to touch it. Bruno climbed up on the chair. He leaned over and balancing with the other hand, reached out to touch the lake. Just then, the leg of the fold out table snapped into place and his little hand sunk into the lake. He started to cry and I knew we were in big trouble! My mom ran into the kitchen to see what the commotion was about.  My mom squawked when she saw the cake, swatted both of us then threatened to call off the party and take Bruno home. She took Bruno to the sink and washed off his hands. She then said to me, “Me la vas a pagar! “(You're going to pay for this!) She went back to the cake, picked up the little bridge and plopped it over the hole in the cake.  She moved some of the candy rocks from around the sides to fill it in further and spread the icing around with a knife. She then said I was punished and couldn’t watch TV or the Flintstones for a week. Oh well, at least she didn't end the party!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Earthquake: An Event!

When the movie, “Earthquake” debuted in 1974, my best friend, Jimmy and I went crazy! We were already gigantic, ‘disaster’ movie fiends starting with “Airport” in 1970, “The Poseidon Adventure” in 1972, and “The Towering Inferno” also in 1974. For a twelve-year old, seeing all of the wild special FX, thrilling stunts and special effects make-up was everything a kid could want in a movie. We saw the movie in “Sensurround” at the Paramount Theater in Hollywood for weeks! That year, we spent nearly the entire summer playing ‘disaster’ which consisted of throwing broken pieces of Styrofoam, crumpled paper, packing peanuts and empty cardboard boxes on one another from the balcony of Jimmy’s apartment and going to Universal Studios.

Early Saturday morning, I would hop on the “No.  4” RTD bus into Hollywood and meet Jimmy at Hollywood and Highland. We would then transfer onto the Cahuenga bus that would leave us right at the main entrance of Universal Studios. In those days, it was free to get into the upper lot (for shopping and picture taking) and only cost .50 to ride the “Glamour Tram” and tour the lower lot. The lower lot featured so many of the iconic homes on television and films; the Munsters house, the “Leave it to Beaver” residence, the Bates Motel and ‘Psycho’ house, the Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys houses, Marcus Welby’s home. 

The Backlot was incredible because nearly all of the streets were still dressed in full “Earthquake” damage mode, which for us was a dream come true! Jimmy took tons of photos with his Kodak Instamatic of the rubble and debris on ‘New York’ streets and ‘Colonial’ square. We were in ‘disaster movie’ paradise! When we got back to the area called, “Props Plaza”, they had a set up with giant foam rocks and boulders for guests to toss around and take pictures among. In the Studio Store, they sold foam bricks with Universal Studios stamped on the side along with big chunks of foam concrete for $2.00 as mementos of your visit. Delighted to find such a score, we each bought a foam brick and a foam rock. By now it was 4:00 pm and Universal Studios was closing for the day. Jimmy and I got on the bus then rode home with our terrific souvenirs.

The next day, I called Jimmy to ask if I could come over and play. He said, “Sure” and I rode the bus to his house.  I brought my foam brick and my foam rock for extra realism to our adventure.  I got to Jimmy’s apartment, said ‘hi’ to his mom and went up to his room. Jimmy’s younger sister was jumping rope below on the patio.  Jimmy thought it would be funny to drop a box of trash on his sister below. We started to load up the cardboard boxes with ‘prop’ debris, walked onto the balcony and we were just about launch it over the side when we heard a low rumble, that got louder. Then, suddenly there was a violent shake that lasted for a few seconds. It was an actual tremor and wow, was it scary! I think that was the last time we played ‘disaster movie’ but we did go back to see “Earthquake” a bunch more times before the engagement ended for the summer.