Behind the Stage Door
Welcome to Twilight Junction. Population 8,005...according to the latest census. It's a small town nestled snugly between here and there and a little more than half-way between the way things were and the way we would like them to be. It sits in the foothills of the nearby mountains, where the commuter rail line ends and the freight line begins. It's home to a little bit of yesterday, a fair amount of today and a few glimpses of tomorrow.
When we last visited (ATPM 3.08), Amy Schoengrun, a Twilight Junction second grader, made a compelling presentation t o the school board supporting the continued use of Macintosh computers in the town's schools. Amy's presentation and the board's debate on the issue of which computer platform to use were well-timed. Attendees loved Amy's multi-media presentation and the school board members were relieved that the computer's manufacturer recently received significant support from its largest rival. The decision to continue using Macs was unanimous with one abstention.
Today we will meet two of Twilight Junction's younger citizens. A pair of kids growing up in a town full of history. They are about to learn an important lesson about friendship and themselves...
It was close to sundown on this early January day. Andrea and James were riding their bikes around the place residents of Twilight Junction call "Old Towne." Built sometime in the late 1920's, it includes the town's original freight yard, the public library and what's now known as the Old Towne Theatre. The library and theatre building stand side-by-side and are adjacent to the town hall and history center.
Twilight Junction's history center is open on weekends for the benefit of tourists and the town's children. It houses two dormant steam locomotives, three red fire engines (each from different eras in Twilight Junction's past), an old horse-drawn milk cart and several pieces of timber hauling and rail building equipment. Children are encouraged to explore the exhibits. Admission is free, but the center gladly takes donations. A small hospitality stand offers tourists a chance to buy postcards, banners, soft drinks and candy. Other items such as miniature train whistles and children's conductor hats can be found at Curly's, the town's "five and dime" (ATPM 3.04).
The Old Towne Theatre occupies a unique place in Twilight Junction's past. The town didn't have a motion picture theatre until sometime in the 1940's. During the Great Depression and the times leading up to WW II, the Old Towne Theatre was the social gathering place for people in town. Local students and an amateur theatre troupe performed plays and skits for the benefit of the town's people.
The one road leading to and from Twilight Junction was designed to carry only slow moving trucks that carried equipment to help build the rails. It wasn't until the late-1950's that the road to Sobriquet City was paved and expanded to carry more than one lane of traffic in each direction. During the 30's, 40's and early 50's, few would regularly take the journey to Sobriquet City by car. This meant that Twilight Junction had a "captive audience" for its unique blend of activities and gatherings.
During World War II, the Old Towne Theatre was the place for war bond rallies. Following the war, it hosted the ill-fated Miss Twilight Junction pageant. The pageant was discontinued soon after its debut because rivalries among the contestants in this small town caused more commotion than the war!
From the time it opened to the present, the Old Towne Theatre has offered summertime puppet shows and other outdoor entertainment for children. The children sit and watch the shows performed on a small stage which sits behind large wooden doors that open to outside. These summertime shows help link Twilight Junction's present with its past. It's quite common to see many of the town's senior citizens watching the shows alongside the children.
Andrea and Jimmy live a few doors down from one another and a bit less than half a mile from the theatre. They have been best friends since before they can remember. They are only a few months apart in age, but their birthdays fall so that Andrea is in fifth grade and James is in fourth grade. Andrea's birthday is a week after Labor Day, while James' is about ten days before Christmas.
Although separated by grade, Andrea and Jimmy love to ride bikes and play together during the summertime. They are pretty much inseparable. Today, it is winter break and the weather has turned harsh, but their plan is to recapture a bit of summertime fun.
Old Towne isn't the only place where Andrea and Jimmy spend their summer days. They often play by Mill Creek and run along the abandoned rail tracks that once took tourists to snow-capped mountains and picturesque hills.
The two friends had spent most of the day making up stories on James' Macintosh and playing a few computer games. Their stories were similar to ones performed by puppets at the summertime shows. After shutting down the Mac, Andrea and James decided to take a long bike ride to Curly's for a root beer float, a favorite summer ritual. On the way home from Curly's they decided to ride by the Old Towne Theatre.
Riding a bike from one end of Twilight Junction to the other can take a little bit of time, but James and Andrea didn't care. They were together and having fun. Arriving at the Old Towne Theatre, Andrea and James took a few moments to catch their breath and gaze at the large wooden doors. Although they had spent countless summer days watching the theatre's outdoor shows, they had never seen the inside of the stage. They often wondered what went on behind the large wooden doors. Wooden doors secured only by a small metal chain.
Slowly, they got off their bikes and walked toward the imposing wooden doors. As if sharing one mind, they both wondered aloud if the doors could be opened. The closer they got to the doors, the more curious they became about what might be inside.
At the doors, James stretches his arms in an effort to unhook the chain. Unable to grab the chain with his arms fully extended, James tries leaping to reach the two sections of chain that meet in the middle of the door. Unsuccessful in his efforts, he walks dejectedly back to his bike. He pauses for a moment, thinks of a better plan and asks Andrea to meet him at his house after dinner and after dark...
Next Episode: A Twilight Junction Surprise!
"Twilight Junction" is ©1998 by H. M. Fog, <HMFog@atpm.com>.