It was still 1981, I was still 7 and when I went home from my Dad’s my Mom and Stepfather had moved us from Star Lake NY (population 800) to East Hartford Connecticut (population 50,000) and my brother went off to the Air Force. We moved into a 4 room apartment on Burnside ave. I remember when my teacher in NY asked me where I was moving and I couldn’t remember Connecticut so I said some place with a long name that I couldn’t remember. She said Schenectady? I said yup that’s it!
When I first got there I was told about cable TV and I was like what?? We got 3 channels in NY with the antenna up on a good day. CBS, NBC and PBS (not even ABC for Christ sakes) so cable TV was beyond my comprehension. The big channel then was called Spotlight (now Showtime I think) and the movie Airplane had just come out on the movie channel and had that image of the twisted plane on the cover of the cable guide. This was very exciting to me! Movies in my house?!? And there were like 36 channels? WTF? I was never going to leave that little apartment.
Then I found out we had a movie theater close by, a mall, bowling alley, arcade – holy shit we moved to a sheltered 7 year old’s heaven. A far cry from the ice-skating rink and a Dairy treat (and the “mountain”) that I had become so accustomed to. I was a pretty good ice skater back in Star Lake. I was in a skit called Grease and the girl I was skating hand in hand with fell half way through it and dragged me down with her. I think that was my first ever bout of embarrassment. It wasn’t because of that fall but because there was so much to do in CT that I never ice-skated again. Back to cable TV. I very quickly learned that the popular movies like Airplane were only on once in a while and during prime time. The rest of the time it was lesser-known or less popular movies but I still watched as much as I could. I swear I saw the movie Popeye with Robin Williams at least 100 times.
The apartment complex we lived in had like 21 doors on each side with a driveway/parking lot in the middle and a very little bit of grass and a couple of trees. There were also quite a few kids that lived in the complex that were right around my age. The first one I met was Mayland who was about a year older than me. His Dad was the superintendent of the apartment complex so they had immediate authoritative cred. He had an older sister Sandy and of course my parents became friends with his parents during the summer before I got there and they lived down on the end on the other side of the complex (we were right in the middle in apt J-1). Mayland was a very pragmatic tell it like it is kind of kid. I still talk to him and to this day he is the same as when I met him when he was 8. His Dad’s name was Mayland too but everyone called him Shorty. He was a short little Frenchman that certainly was a character and there wasn’t a person in that complex – man, woman or child that didn’t know Shorty. All of our parents partied together so by default we ended up hanging out a lot. We only had Spotlight and Mayland had The Movie Channel and HBO too. I remember watching “Humanoids from the Deep” at his house one night and getting the shit scared out of me.