The Lost World
During the early hours of the morning, I sometimes wake up feeling as though I have just visited a lost world, a world that no longer exists in our reality. How can that be? I think. It seems so real. Often, the scenes I see are as clear as a crisp fall day, but they are just as likely to be so hazy that it’s hard to tell where I am.
Just this morning, I woke up at 3 a.m., and I could clearly remember my trip to this lost world. My ten-year-old self was sitting in the living room chair my mother had purchased at Levin’s on Kensington Avenue. My grandmother was talking to my mother.
My grandmother asked, “Floss, are you sure it’s safe?”
“Mom, yes,” my mother replied. “It’s been tested. It works. Oh my God, anything that can protect the kids from polio is a miracle.”
“Suddenly, Dr. Kochmann was looming over me with a syringe in his hand. I recognized him because he always wore wrinkled white shirts. I felt a slight sting, and then my mother and I were leaving the doctor’s office. We walked west on Allegheny Avenue past the Wishart Movie Theater. I glimpsed a poster by the entrance that showed a fishlike man carrying a woman. The movie’s name was The Creature From the Black Lagoon. I made a mental note to ask my Mom for 25 cents to see the movie on Saturday. That would leave me 10 cents for candy.
We crossed Front Street and waved at my grandfather, who was hanging around outside a bar with bubbles on its sign. My mother blew a kiss to her father, and then we headed south on Front Street, passed Nan’s candy store, and then west on Wishart Street. I saw a couple of guys from the “gang” hanging out on Billy’s steps, so I ran ahead of my mother to join them.
Georgie had an older model portable vacuum tube radio, and the guys were listening to a song by a new group called Bill Haley and His Comets. It was one of those songs that got the girls dancing. I was really starting to like this new wave of music called Rock and Roll.
The guys asked me where I had been. “Getting the polio vaccine,” I told them.
“Did it hurt?” Georgie asked.
“Nah,” I replied. “You haven’t had it yet?”
Georgie shook his head.
“I did,” said Billy. “It was no big deal.”
“Sally got polio, and now she has to wear braces,” I said.
“Yeah,” Billy replied, “I heard she got it from eating chewing gum off the street.”
“I never saw her do that. My mom said she might have gotten polio from swimming in a dirty pool.”, I said.
We were all quiet for a minute. Then, I broke the silence. “I’m glad I got the needle. Let’s play wire ball.”
That’s when I woke up at 3 a.m. I shook the cobwebs out of my head and walked over to my office. Using my computer, I made two appointments. One was for a yearly flu shot, and the other, a week later, was for my COVID-19 booster shot. Like my dad always said, “Better safe than sorry.”
He also said, “Memories are like a time machine,” so I guess my dreams are not visions of lost worlds, but rather just visits to the past.
From a post first posted on Kensington Neighborhood Alumni https://www.facebook.com/groups/KensingtonAlumnae