On Sunday at The San Gabriel Mission Playhouse I saw a silent film that had an organ accompanist. Your probably wondering why I’m writing about it now? Because the humor hasn’t left me. Every time I tell someone about it the words don’t come out because I’m full of snorts, cackles and tears. So I’ll share the story-line and what made it special.
The 1928 film Speedy stars Harold Lloyd who plays Speedy. He can’t seem to hold down a job. Because of his love of baseball, he gets fired from his job as a soda-jerk, then spends the following day and all of his money with his girl at Coney Island. On Monday he becomes a cab driver and delivers Babe Ruth to Yankee Stadium, where he stays to see the game. There he overhears of a plot by a railroad executive who plans to hire thugs from a gang to try to run the last horse-drawn trolley (operated by his girl’s grandfather) out of business. Speedy organizes the neighborhood old-timers who play cards with Grandpa to thwart their scheme. But it’s their shenanigans and how they go about it that’s hysterical and pure slapstick.
There’s a blacksmith who throws horse rings around the thugs necks and stops them in their tracks. The cobbler uses his hammer to bruise fingers. But it was the Chinese launderer that comes out with a steam iron to smooth out a few bottoms that had me in stitches. Now I have to admit I liked the Three Stooges, I know they were a little rough, with their face slapping and eye poking but I enjoyed their antics. But watching Speedy I didn’t identify with the Stooges but my own slapstick tactics growing up.
One summer when I was ten two cousins came to visit. One was male, 4 years older than my brother. The other was female, 6 years older than me. Our days were consumed with fun and trips to the plunge, water balloon fights, bike rides, games of kick the can, a trip to the beach on public transportation that was an adventure and of course, Disneyland. We even set up tents in the backyard, boys against girls.
Every evening we ended our days with a good pillow fight. Knowing they could wipe us out, I had to think quick and was determined, we had to win. I wasn’t going to go down like a good little girl or a scaredy cat. I knew all we needed was one good hit so I suggested that we each stuff one of my father’s wing tips into each pillow. My cousin obliged and seeing stars and a black eye ensued. I was grounded for thinking up the scheme but laughed all the way to my punishment sentence.
What outrageous schemes did you pull as a kid that can still make you laugh now?