I watched the white sheers wave gently back and forth in the windows of the living room as the breeze eased its way into the house. It was an extraordinarily hot day. By mid morning the coolness gained in the previous night had given way to the demands of the sun making everyone glisten in anticipation for the afternoon that would change all of us into a cross between a drenched cat and a swimmer climbing out of the deep spot in the creek. That is except for the woman folk whose glistening would be fought off by the thick application of scented powder on face, arms, and torso. When the heat was so extreme, I often thought the ladies in my neighborhood carried a powder puff with them everywhere they went. When there was no breeze and absolutely no chance of finding relief by a stroll by the creek of sitting in the shade of a massive oak, the ladies would gather up the young folks and load us into station wagons and away we would be whisked for an afternoon of looking and feeling at Woolworth’s, J.C. Penney’s or Rich’s which all had the tremendous advancement of air conditioning. If we were lucky that might materialize into a visit to an air conditioned theater to watch a movie carrying us through the heat of the day so that by suppertime, we would be able to gather in the breeze on the porch or in the yards. It is amazing how the heat never really bothered me much as a kid. I knew it was hot but that was just the way it was and we did what we wanted to creating adventures around the neighborhood. We built forts out of down tree limbs, gathered pine cones storing them up for massive battles between each other. We ran, rode our bicycles, played baseball, football, kick ball, dodge ball, whatever brought us together and created activities allowing us to engage with one another. I was at a disadvantage in much of these activities due to my health but despite limitations, I tried allowing me to win sometimes, fail sometimes and build the initial experiences upon which my life would be built. The street lights would come on and after supper, most of the kids would gather in the street for a game of baseball as the parents and neighbors sat in chairs on porches, stoops or under trees cheering us on as we gave it our all. I can still see myself wearing a pumpkin colored short sleeve shirt half buttoned up with burgundy colored shorts standing in the middle of the street playing outfielder with my older brother’s baseball give. I would try to catch the next pop fly that Bruce, Jennifer, Charlotte, Art or Bubba might hit and then coming up to bat only to be out as I rounded the man hole cover, which was second base, as Kay or Charles tagged me. Eventually as the darkness enveloped us, we each would hear the calling home of one of our parents and we would give in, relinquishing another day to powers beyond our control. As we reached the doors, we looked like we had a bath and often smelled like we needed one. For many of us that was shortly our next stop before a few minutes of TV and then off to bed until the sun summoned our rise again as it sent its rays through the holes in the window sheers making a funny design on our faces and pillow. The smell of bacon cooking would draw us to wipe the sleep from our eyes, hurriedly throw on some clothes and move us towards the kitchen to begin another odyssey of adventure among our family and friends. The sound of the slamming of the screen door, and the heat of the day often beckons such sweet memories that are seared into my memory when life was not as comfortable but each day held such opportunities.
Actor/entertainer Randall Franks is best known as “Officer Randy Goode” from TV’s “In the Heat of the Night,” a role he performed on NBC and CBS from 1988-1993 and now on MeTV and other channels. He was part of cast of three other TV Series including Robert Townsend’s “Musical Theater of Hope” which aired on UPtv (Gospel Music Channel). His latest film is “The Crickets Dance.” In the film “Broken,” he stars with Soren Fulton, Felix Ryan, Bailey Borders and Joe Stevens. In another film “Lukewarm,” he starred with John Schneider, Nicole Gale Anderson, Bill Cobbs, Jenna von Oy and Jeremy Jones. He starred with Natalie Grant and Billy Dean in the teen drama “Decision“ and in “The Solomon Bunch,” a children’s adventure, Randall does a comedic cameo. He is also friends with Courier publisher Jim Clark.