I’ve noticed that the older we get, the more we wonder about what happened to some of those people we grew up with. I think we are curious to know how many of them are still with us ... if we won the race, so to speak, or if we should have a reunion do we need to reserve more than one table.
“Whatever happened to old what’s his name,” becomes sort of a theme when those of us who are still topside get together.
Just the other night, right in the middle of some boiled peanuts and an Andy Griffith episode, I wondered about my childhood friend Ray Watson. One day he just wasn’t there anymore. I don’t even remember the transition from him being there and not being there.
Some people find their old classmates and childhood friends via Facebook. I don’t do Facebook so that leaves me out of that process. I wondered if Ray is still living, if he went to Vietnam, if he is the president of some big company or if he made a fortune selling used ash trays on eBay.
There was one particular instance along about the fifth grade where a childhood friend just went away, and I didn’t see him again until I went for my military physical. During most of that day I wondered if it was him, and he wondered if it was me. What I mean is, when you’re walking around all day in your flip flops and underwear, you just don’t go up to some guy and ask, “Hey, don’t I know you?”
It was at the end of the day when we put our britches back on that we finally spoke and had a few minutes to reminisce. And I haven’t seen him since.
Just for the record, I didn’t grow up with any people who became congressmen. They would not fit in this scenario because we don’t have term limits and they don’t just go away. They are exceptions to all of this.
Of course these kinds of occurrences are not just about people but about things as well.
Speaking of things, when I was a teenager, there was a hot new fishing lure that came on the market called “The Thing.” It was a spinner bait that the stores couldn’t keep in stock. Then one day, it went away. I never heard of it again.
So my thoughts were, did the fish get wise to it and spread the word? How is a fishing lure red hot for a year and then you never hear of it again? Maybe it wasn’t ever hot. Maybe the power of suggestion was embraced as a marketing ploy and then a lot of lies were told about it. Fishermen may be the world’s worst in remembering stuff that never happened.
And what about Billy the Big Mouth Bass? Do you recall a few years back that some company was selling a bass wall mount that sang songs? Even Queen Elizabeth got one. Apparently it was quite a lucrative product.
But then it went away as quickly as it came on the scene. Maybe when it couldn’t burp the alphabet, the novelty of it tanked.
I got to wondering the other day how much longer it might have been around if its inventor had teamed with those guys who sell “golden oldies” on television in the wee hours of the morning ... you know, the infomercials where they have all the songs ever recorded on a set of 10 CDs. You can’t buy them at the store. You can only buy them by calling the number on the screen, or by meeting some guy in a van at the first crossroads south of Opp, Ala.
Imagine what kind of sales these people could have had if you poked the button on Billy the Bass and could hear the Everly Brothers singing “Wake Up Little Susie” or The Platters singing, “Great Pretender.”
So Ray, if you’re out there somewhere and read this, give me a call. And was it you who invented Billy the Bass?
Walden is editor/publisher of The Moultrie Observer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.