This is not going to sound like an analog story, but it is. One of the first real things for humans was, I argue, other humans. Real things, as I have said before, excite the senses, stir memory, and give life to the heart. The first, most fundamental, and the basis (IMO) for all other real things is quite simply, your company, the people in your life. When we enjoy things, especially analog things, we want to share them with our friends, family, the people whose company we enjoy.
I started to write this the other night, and now I have had to start over to make the appropriate changes. When I started it, the man who is at the heart of it would probably have gotten a kick out of the fact that I wrote about him. I never entertained the idea that he would not get to read it, or to know that I wrote about him, but now that is the reality.
Just because I run an analog page does not mean that I exclusively enjoy analog things. The Savage happens to be a film junkie, especially for those which are deeply rooted in my life, those that are so deeply ingrained that to remove them would most likely cause some form of withdrawal. Halloween movies are where I would say an easy quarter of these types of favorite live for me. We love Halloween, almost nothing better in the world. This past Saturday I took the boys to the local pop up of Spirit Halloween to acquire a costume for the toddler. This particular Spirit is built into a mall as it turns out, and we went on the right day to wander into a Halloween fair. Between Spirit and the Halloween fair I came back considerably relieved of some of my spending money. I love to support people who make things, if the thing they make is worth buying, like these.
These are amazing, but the winner of the day was the licensed Hocus Pocus merchandise from Spirt
These wonderful items required me to reflect on this film and how I came to love it. That took me back to 1994 in Soddy Daisy, Tennessee. I was seven years old, attending Allen Elementary school. This movie had been a rave at theaters, and the fact that it was going to come out on video (VHS) was heavy buzz at the time. Some cousins of ours owned a video store, if you come from Soddy Daisy, you may remember Volunteer Video. It was in the same building as the Soddy Daisy Bi-Lo, on the side, next to the tanning bed. My mother would let us hang out in there since it was our family that owned it, while she shopped. I want to put out a disclaimer now, this is being remembered from the perspective of a child, and most of it took place at least 15 years ago or more, I am not clear on exactly who owned what or when, but I am also not writing a history of the Bledsoes and Leffews.
Anyhow, the waiting list for a copy of Hocus Pocus at this mom and pop video store where they used rubber bands and paper tags to mark cases where the movie was all rented out was forever long. Everyone wanted a copy and had gotten on the list well in advance. The people I remember being there were our cousins (who to this day I call aunt and uncle) Kim and Terry, and Terry’s parents Felix and Loretta. Later, in some combination of dates, they would all live in the small house built by my great grandfather, Eugene, parent to my grandfather and the before mentioned Loretta. There were three houses on that plot of land where my first memories come from and where my family had lived since what I understand was just after World War II.
My mother still took me to the video store, which was alway fun despite the movie you were after being booked. Felix was behind the counter (remember they were all family and any weekend spent with my Grandfather or Uncle Fred was partially spent with Kim, Terry, Felix, and Loretta as we were playing with Kim and Terry’s children too) and when he asked what it would be, if I wanted The Nightmare Before Christmas again (he knew my common rentals) I said yes. He asked if I was sure, and when I gave the affirmative again, he reached under the counter and pulled out a copy of Hocus Pocus with my name on a sticky note asking if I would rather have that. I could not believe it. There it was. Just for me. Plenty of people wanting that movie and there was this copy held for me. Plenty of people may have been involved from Terry to my Mother having called ahead, but it was the warm face of Felix who handed it across the counter to me. I never forgot that. I had always liked Felix, but from then on I felt like he and I were really friends, and it is now twenty-three years on and I wear that movie thin every October.
Felix always had a kind word, a smoke, and a polo shirt. We were always welcome in that house, we ran in and out all day every season the weekends that we were all together, and none of them ever complained at us. Felix would happily let you sit and watch the Tennessee Volunteers game or whatever movie was on with him. He was not a perfect man I am sure, and I probably knew him least of all the people who remember him well, but I knew him well enough to know that he was a good man, and that is more than the belief of a child. Later he would get a Facebook and we would share a word here and there, not as much as my memory of him indicates, and he would like just about anything I posted, especially pictures of my kids and such. I think the last time I may have seen him for more than ten minutes in person was 2008, and we were on leave from Iraq. I do wish I had taken more time for him. I read that he was having surgery and offered a comment, but really it barely registered. I should have done the real thing. I should have picked up the phone. At least I should have messaged him and had a ten minute chat with him. I am not full of regret, but Felix did not come back after that heart surgery to tell us he was doing well. He passed away.
I believe there are many measures to a person, but the ones that are most important to me are how you treat those who are smaller than you, and how good the stories are that are told about you. Felix has excelled at both. Felix, I was already in the process of telling the Hocus Pocus story, but now I have gotten to write more, ironically, because you are not here to read it, and you had a positive influence on a seven year old cousin who grew up to share this film with his friends, family, and especially children. If I am wrong, and there is any sort of afterlife, then that place is certainly better as of last night, and this world is just a little more time. Thank you Felix.