Calling All Extras

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The Way We Were


Watching the Academy Awards tonight I was reminded by the amount of extras it takes to make an award winning movie. This is a story about my wives Grandfather. Everyone called him Pap. I met him when I was about ten years old. Around the same time I met my wife to be. He was her Grandfather on her Mothers side and would arrive at their home on holidays and sometimes weekends. He was sixty nine years old and already retired when I would see them pull in with their new sixty-three white bare bones Ford Falcon. Having endured the Great Depression they lived frugal lives. He had dozens of side jobs he did for the church and others. He had a boyscout troop and was well liked by all. With a full head of white thick hair his favorite comment ,even when he was in his late nineties was to ask you” How old do you think I am?” Most people guessed much younger than he was to his delight. In 1974 his wife of sixty years lost her battle with cancer to cancer and his adult grown daughter my wives aunt moved in to help him. He had a cottage he and his brother and cousin built in Wisconsin and every year he would go up for the summer. For the last eight years of his life we would drive him up the last part of May ,spend a week come home and pick him back up in October spend another week and drive home. We both lived in Indianapolis and the family did not want him to drive the six hundred miles by himself. We would talk for hours about the changes. I really miss that.

In 1988 Hollywood came to Indianapolis to film a movie. Eight Men Out was about the 1919 World Series scandal. Pap loved baseball and would go anytime to see the Indianapolis Indians the local farm club team. Tickets at that time cost little or nothing and that was in his price range. The movie was being made at their stadium because it was old style and close to what the real stadium looked like. A friend from church ask him if he wanted to go down and watch them film. Of course the answer was yes. It wasn't long before they were approached by someone telling them if they wanted a job to sit in the stands they would pay the seventy five dollars a day. I sure he would have done it fore twenty. The kicker was he didn't have to go to wardrobe he looked the part. We found out about it watching the news when they interviewed a man who had been to the actual game. It was Pap in all his glory.

Many times movies are made that really are not that interesting like Eight Men Out. He talked about the world before cars and electricity. He told stories about when they did get a car they would load it up and go camping somewhere. The changes he seen amazed me at the time. I almost longed for those days. If only they would interview the extras sometimes they might come up with a better movie or at least a story to hold your attention.

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