Saturday, July 4, 2009

The glorious 4th/ John Updike

Thinking back to ca.1930 when I was about 6, I remember going out of the house early with a fistful of chinese firecracker packs and waking up the neighborhood with the stuttering bang bang, Today I didn't hear one firecracker until 9:30 PM. Things have come to a pretty pass.
For a year or so I went to Shillington (Pa) High School, where Updike's father taught. The son was always a person of interest, since his roots were so near where we later lived. A few minutes away in the next county was the little country crossroad village of Plowville, where the Updikes lived. And his early novels (and at least one of the later ones) took place in and around Reading, just down the road. When the first novel was made into a
movie, part of it was filmed in an empty store that had been a market, on Penn Streetr in downtown Reading.
At one point we participated in a book fair in Salem, Mass., and the star attraction was John Updike. When he made the rounds, ever so obliging and polite, we presented him with a 6-pack of Old Reading beer. He seemed to get a kick out of this. Tonight on C-SPAN there were a half dozen eulogisers lamenting his death and remembering their association with Updike and it seemed to me that each one had a precious little piece of him to call their own, but none of them had the whole man, even his daughter by his first marriage. Will the real John Updike please stand up ?

1 comment:

  1. Interesting post, Norman. I remember those Chinese Firecrackers, too, but it was 25 years later in northern NY, north of Watertown. I recall buying them for 5 cents and wondering if my purchase was wise since my total weekly allowance was 10 cents. I'd often decide to buy "caps" instead (a box of 3 rolls for the same 5 cents) and use a rock to make big noise! Thank you for the memories.