The swift passage of strong northwesterly winds and ten-minutes of heavy rain highlighted the last day of the Wayne County Fair. The weather bureau called it a cold front on the leading edge of a high pressure zone. By mid afternoon the air temperature had dropped from 98 degrees Fahrenheit to 71. People felt chilled but weren’t tempted to slip into jackets or warmer clothing. Folks were wearing broad smiles and children’s laughter had returned.
The boss at the radio station wasn’t pleased. The rain had spotted the fresh wax job on his brand new dark blue Firebird Trans-Am. He busied himself right away with a chamois and polishing cloth.
The last day of the county fair was more or less just a formality. Aside from the demolition derby, the main event was an ecumenical church service. I didn’t know anyone who actually attended the religious event, but plenty of my cohorts watched the crashing of old cars at the grandstand. Neither event merited coverage by the radio station, so most of us staffers were free to enjoy our Sunday afternoon.
As for myself, I had just completed the early Sunday morning shift. All the staff, including the boss, hated early Sunday morning radio. This was the time slot that everything that passed for public affairs programming was aired. Never mind that little or none of the programs “in the public interest” was of any interest at all. Most of it was a half-hearted effort to conform to Federal Communications Commission licencing requirements to devote a certain percentage of airtime to public affairs issues. Nearly every radio and television station followed the same practice of cramming the lackluster material into Sunday morning time slots.
Every Sunday was exactly the same. Sign on the station. Play a canned wrap-up of important national news stories. Track two LPs of gospel music then play the first religious programming tape. That was followed by something from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Next was an overzealous blowhard with a rant from the “Liberty Lobby”. They didn’t care about anybody else’s view of liberty, only the blowhard’s narrow definition of it. When that was finished, we tracked some more gospel vinyl until it was time for the live broadcast of the worship service from the Presbyterian church.
The early Sunday shift ended after a half-hour news, markets and sports report that I read. That was topped off with the tape recorded weather report from the Norfolk Weather Bureau Office.
That particular August afternoon, I started the first secular music of the day, something from the Swedish pop group ABBA, then turned over the control room to our college intern.
I’m often amazed that all that exposure to extreme conservative political programming and fundamentalist Christian preaching never took hold of my brain. How I turned out to be a liberal Buddhist still stumps me.
I walked to the trailer for something to eat. Dirk had some leftover cold pizza from the Pizza Hut on the table. I sat down and joined him in his impromptu lunch. We got around to moping about the loss of “our” kitten, Kitch the Kommercial Kat, during her public debut at the county fair. We agreed that both of us had become very attached to her in less than a month’s time. We also agreed that full responsibility of the incident should be laid at the boss’s feet.
After the pizza, Dirk talked me into a game of Frisbee tossing. There was a large patch of land behind the radio station where the antenna tower stood. It made a fun place for us to let off steam. We only needed to avoid running into the guy wires that braced up the tower.
Somehow we almost managed to catch about half of each other’s tosses of the flying disk. It didn’t matter, we nearly passed out with loud laughter. Our bodies were soaked with sweat.
Suddenly a large, bright blue spark arced from halfway up one of the guy wires to the ground near Dirk. The sizzle and crackling noises were instantaneous. We were not prepared for lightning because the sky was completely clear of clouds. Two more largesparks crackled in succession from another guy wire. Dirk and I ran back to the shelter of the trailer.
Evidently the atmosphere was charged with an abundance of electricity. The tower provided a place to discharge some of the energy.
An hour later, the high pressure zone passed over us. We had a good laugh about the guy wire sparks. It was time to drive into town to watch the matinee at the “Gay Theatre”.
The Blue Jay of Happiness explains that the “Gay Theatre” was simply the name of the town’s movie house. It didn’t feature porn of either the gay or straight variety at all. What were you thinking?