Are you tired of COVID-19 and, in particular, arguing and worrying over it?
Are you tired of politics, politicians, democrats, republicans, lawyers, foreigners, non foreigners, FaceBook meanies, FaceBook whiners, FaceBook censors, and just about everything else?
Well, I have the answer for you!
I've created THE Escape place.
Read and, if you're not so fortunate as to have grown up where I did, fill in your own hometown, your own friends, your own loved ones as you "visit" a place named:
“M E R E I W O O D”
I've decided to build the perfect theme park, and I can hardly wait to finalize the plans.
I'm going to build it on arid land in Southwest Texas, and the geography is going to look just like well, Del Rio, Texas - my birthplace and hometown of so long ago. Except for the Sunset Limited and the Kerrville and Painter bus lines that bring park visitors to and from, there will be no rides.
So what is it?
Well, just simmer down, and I'll explain.
See, I want a park that recreates all the wonderful sights, sounds, smells and feelings of my childhood - before I had to grow up - before all of the tragic losses. I want my hometown back, and I'm willing to share it with you, the residents, and with any nice visitors who wish to come.
I'm bringing back parking meters and, along with them, Otis Crenshaw will be there to put a nickel in the meter whenever anyone accidently overstays their time.
I'm putting movies back in the Rita Theater - especially “Godzilla”, “Swiss Family Robinson”, and John Wayne's “The Alamo”. They'll have nickel candy, hot fresh popcorn and giant dill pickles, too!
The post office will go back in the old post office building where it belongs, and I'll be able to pick up Pappy's mail for him right there. Letters will arrive and go out with three cent stamps applied.
The Neisener's lunch counter will once again serve "Chili Con Carne with Meat" - for only $0.45!
Ross Drug store will be filling Pappy's prescriptions, but Jim Sanders will keep on serving banana splits whenever I want them.
Seeger's bakery will once again be cranking out the best doughnuts and cream puffs in the history of Earth, and all the old gang will happily work there as they greet each hungry customer with giant smiles.
The Dairy Kreme will be in business on Avenue F, and it will be THE place for a great burger. Mr. 15 Center will be just up the street and all the Meme's Klean Kitchens will offer their standard fare - along with delicious grill smells that will be smelled for blocks.
Green's Drive In Restaurant will once again be serving their famous hamburgers WITH homemade fries and a beautiful little cherry pepper on the side.
The Gay 90 drive-in theater will be open nightly - a dollar a car load - and it'll be ok to stuff the trunk with all your friends. You won’t even have to close it.
Thrifty Drug Store on Avenue F (near Sam Pasley’s appliance store) will be open 24-hours a day, six days a week so my friends and I can buy nickel rubber bands for our sling shots whenever we want. (We can’t use the real name for sling shots anymore and probably never should have in the first place.)
There won't be a lock on any door on any home in town because they won't be needed - ever.
Evans Grocery Store will be back, and Bruce Massey's dad will once again lovingly and professionally manage it. Double Green Stamps on Wednesdays. Bruce will work as a cashier on Saturdays, but don’t ask him about Kleenex tissues. They won't stock them anymore. The only tears in town will be happy tears, and who wants to wipe THOSE away?
Star Park will have grass again, and I'll have that star-shaped hedge reinstalled so I can play in it. The new branches will never break.
Speaking of playing, Sterling and Butch will be back in our remade neighborhood. I’ll once again have a baby brother and a big brother – full time and forever.
Flip and Shirley Perry will once again live at 301 East 5th Street – RIGHT across from our house on Avenue D - so that little Carolyn and Joe can play with us and with Donny Turk and William Herzog at or near that same corner. In my spare time, I’ll continue to help Flip rebuild that old tanker truck and its pumps so he gets his high-pressure web-worm spraying service up and running again. This time, he’ll save every pecan tree in town!
The cemeteries will all have green grass and tall trees. It’ll always be peaceful there, and God’s presence will be felt on those hallowed grounds like nowhere else.
Starr Hamilton will be gracing our world once again, and she’ll be welcome to work wherever she wants.
Johnny Riggs will give me and you a ride in his pickup truck whenever I want, and you can either ride in the front or in the back. Take your pick. We don’t need seat belts or even doors since traffic accidents simply don’t happen anymore. You need to understand, though, besides loving Johnny’s company, I like to ride in his truck just to smell his cigar smoke, past, present and future! Sometimes, JR, Pam, Sylvia and Fancy will also ride with us. I love them all so much, and you will, too!
Ms. Russel will once again teach piano in her home, and she’ll take care of whichever library she wants. She'll have an unlimited book budget and when "2002 A Space Oddity" plays again at the Rita, she'll stand out on the front sidewalk and provide a much better explanation than she did the first time. (It made NO sense to me or anyone else.)
We'll drain Lake Amistad and bring back the Devils River, Lake Walk and Devils Lake. Then, if anyone so desires, we’ll refill Amistad and enjoy it too.
Sam Swinson and Bubba Dodson never died. Just WATCH how much they both accomplish!
John L. Dodson didn't die either. He'll be building roads and flying his Bonanza whenever he wants. His coworkers didn't die either, dang it!
Joe Walts AND Milton Bradford will both preach at the First Baptist Church - which will never split. Joe will play golf whenever he wants, and Milton will hunt deer year-round.
Homer Rothe and Richard Latham will keep us safe at the bridge to Acuña, and the drug cartels won't even know where we are - much less invade us and terrorize our citizenry. Beth won’t ever again have to grow up missing her daddy. Sherry and Linda will have Homer forever, too.
Sherry's mom will forever forget how to spank children…completely.
The 14th Street Fire Station will be right where it should be, at the intersection of Avenue E and 14th. Red Tyler, Flip Perry and Mr. Koog will be keeping us safe from fires - when they're not playing practical jokes on each other.
The Moore Park swimming pool will be heated in the winter and naturally cold in the summer, but it’ll always have the clearest spring water on Earth! You can swim whenever you want, and the lifeguards won’t even make you stop running. Heck, when the cotton candy’s ready, you just HAVE to run, don’t you!?
Don’t forget to head upstream a bit, too. Blue Hole won’t have any lifeguards, but the older guys who like to dive off the high posts at the end of the bridge will be happy to save anyone who ever gets into trouble. They know we’re all related and therefore Worth saving.
The old Sacred Heart church will once again welcome parishioners to worship God while enjoying that pipe organ and the beautiful stained-glass windows.
Ed's and Robin Anne's dad will once again play the pipe organ at the First United Methodist Church AND the big green trees will be back – also forever.
We'll have no racial tension in town - None! PERIOD.
The Vietnam War won't ever get started and will never get a chance to take any of our young men.
Penny and Belle Stone will be back in town with all nine lovely daughters, and I'll get to watch every one of them grow up all over again. Penny will always smell of motor oil, Go-Jo, hard work and sunshine. On Sundays, he’ll smell of soap and Old Spice. Belle will smell of coffee, baked bread, fresh laundry dried on the clothes line and of cookies.
Just for kicks, all three high schools will be running with no lack of funding anywhere. You'll be able to pick your school and even switch at will. Oh – “Three high schools?”, you ask. Yeah, three! San Felipe, Old Del Rio and New Del Rio. The Wildcats and Mustangs will play again, and they'll never lose! From time to time, they'll share their best players, but for those games, they'll be the mighty Del Rio Rams.
North Heights will be back in service just like I remember it. And OH YEAH - the Halloween carnival will be back except it will provide our entertainment every night of every Autumn - not just one night a year in October.
Speaking of entertainment, we'll just have black and white television sets with only four channels. Grass between our toes is healthier and far more entertaining anyway. KDLK will be happy to play our dedications after dark, but don't ask for Rap music. They won't have it, and it isn't music anyway.
When the weather's nice, I'll walk to North Heights for my school day. I think I'll just stay in the fifth grade, but every morning when my dad wakes us up, I'll be able to choose which grade I want to be in that day. I'll dress appropriately (sometimes in hand-me-downs from Butch), and I’ll only be obligated to that grade for that day. Of course, I may call Arturo Paniagua and ask him which grade he's choosing so I can hang out with him some more. Mr. Mooney will be principal of any school I choose to attend – Always.
Your school situation will work the same way. Just choose a grade level and stick with it for the day. Don't worry, there'll be no bullying, and your grades are already all A's. So, have fun!
I'm bringing back my grandparents! Pappy will never retire, but, as senior doctor once again, he'll open his office right next to Daddy's on the fourth floor of the Mereiwood National Bank building. There, he'll see patients every now and then, but he'll mainly visit with them about whatever happens to be interesting that day. No one is going to ever get sick. So, the idea of having an "office visit" will take on a whole new meaning. Every kid who comes in will get a shiny new quarter just like we did in the old days. No shots, though, especially not penicillin!
Mama and Pappy will once again live at 408 East 6th, and she'll go back to baking Alma Gluck chocolate birthday cakes for me; but not just on my birthday. Who needs restraint when it comes to Mama's cooking? Heck! Cake every single day for me!
Oh yeah! George Paul will ride again! He'll put on daily bull riding demonstrations and teach anyone who wants to learn. The bulls will all be good natured and safe, and if you like your bull enough, you may hug and kiss him right after your eight seconds. Bulls need love too, ya know!
I'm gonna have a jet-black horse, and I'll learn to rope a calf. Then, I'll become the most handsome Cowboy Billy anyone can imagine. Why not? It's MY theme park!
And I'll move us toward the end of these thoughts with my home address,
“604 Avenue D”
I'll have all Six of us back home again. Mother, Daddy, Sterling, Butch, Linda and I will all live there just like we did in the 1960s. Sterling won't be spoiled. Butch will never try his first cigarette or take his first drink. Linda won't be the least bit embarrassed when Bo Hutto picks her up for a Saturday night date in his pickup truck, and she’ll never again be rebellious. None of us will. I'll also have better materials and tools for use in inventing my next “breakthrough” technological wonder.
Almost finally, Daddy will NEVER AGAIN be depressed. He'll go to the office 5 days per week, fish and hunt and visit the airport or Air Force Base with me and Penny Stone on Saturdays and be in Church on Sundays. He'll smile a lot.
I can't bring back my birth mother AS my mother because that's Mickey's place. Besides, I wouldn't know how to imagine that life. So, the beautiful Miss Annabel Ware will be everybody's favorite music teacher in whichever school I choose to attend. I will, of course, be her pet and her star student. Also, I'll be thrilled to see that my dad is somewhat "sweet" on her - and vice versa.
And what about Poochie? Well, he'll be my fulltime sidekick, and he'll stay busy making sure everyone in town is happy. When he sees someone frowning even a little bit, he'll lick their ankles until they laugh. Works every time!
So, all in all, Mereiwood is a place where we get to relive all the best parts of our childhoods. We can have everything exactly the way we either remember it OR exactly the way we WANT to remember it.
All I need now is your input for the park plans. Tell me what and who you want added or removed.
And hurry. We'll be starting construction next week, and we need to get these plans finalized soon!
William Richard Meredith