By Junior Johnson
The year was 1963 and our Country was inspired by President Kennedy’s concerns about physical fitness. New programs to help keep Americans get fit were a big part of John F. Kennedy’s administration.
One of the most popular areas of his fitness programs was the 50 mile hike. I was 15-years-old at the time and a great admirer of Kennedy. To make him proud I decided to make a 25 mile walk from my home in Cloutierville to Natchitoches.
I had an aunt who lived in Natchitoches and worked at the Don Theater. She said that if I made the walk she would treat me to a movie and food from the concession stand. I thought this was a wonderful idea since it was nearing Halloween and we did not do much Trick or Treating in the rural area where I lived. My aunt told me there was one of those “slasher and splatter” films called Blood Feast being featured at the theater.
On the morning of my adventure I rode with my dad to the main highway going to Natchitoches. This was about a mile from my house. He dropped me off at 5 a.m. on his way to work in the logging woods.
My mom had made me sandwiches, banana pudding, and kool-aid to snack on along the way, along with a canteen of water. I stored this all in a backpack along with a fresh suit of clothes to wear that night at the movie theater. This will be important to remember later in the story.
As I began my walk along the side of the road in the dark watching the lights of my dad’s truck disappear I was excited. I knew that I had to pace myself for the 25 miles ahead of me but it was hard to do. Soon I was putting miles behind me, but was slowed from time to time by cars who would stop to offer me a ride. I was proudly wearing my Cloutierville FFA Jacket so a lot of the locals were eager to help me. I would thank the driver and explain what I was doing for my President and would be on my way.
I completed my journey in nine hours. When I arrived in Natchitoches I called my aunt and she picked me up and we drove back to her apartment. She told me how proud she was. It was around 4 p.m. and the movie was to begin at 7 p.m. I quickly took a hot bath and changed clothes.
The plans were for me to take the 10 p.m. Greyhound Bus back home. I would walk the mile back to my house from the main highway. We stopped by the Bus Station to purchase my ticket on the way to the movie theater.
True to her word my Aunt had a free pass to see the horror movie Blood Feast. After loading up with hot dogs and popcorn from the concession stand I took a seat in the dark theater anxiously awaiting the Blood and Gore.
The movie was everything I imagined it would be and more. I realize the graphics today are better than in 1963 but I was on the edge of my seat throughout the movie with the realism of what I was seeing. Every time the blood would splatter I would cringe. Other people in the audience would scream every time the slasher would take another victim. This was certainly better than any Trick or Treating…
When the movie finally ended I thanked my aunt and walked the short distance to the Bus Station to await my ride back home.
It was nearing 10 p.m. when I stepped off the bus for the final leg of my journey. It had been a long day but I was still pumped up from the excitement of Blood Feast.
The night was quiet as clouds passed across the moon allowing just enough light for me to see the road. I set out for home.
As I walked along images of blood and gore began going through my mind. I quickened my pace and became a little scared. I did not believe in ghosts and goblins but images of all that blood would not leave my mind.
As I walked along in the darkness I began hearing a noise like someone was walking beside me. I would stop and look around but could neither hear or see anyone. I could only think of that slasher.
I began my pace again a bit quicker this time and again I could hear something near me. I was really scared now and began to run. The faster I ran the closer the sound was. I was only half way home and just knew that I was not going to make it. The slasher was going to get me.
Tired and out of breath I collapsed on the side of the road. As I did so the sounds stopped. It was then that I realized where the sound had been coming from.
The pants that I was wearing were made of corduroy and the lose material on the legs were rubbing together creating a noise as I walked. I howled at the moon in laughter at my observation. I was no longer tired or scared as I made my way home and collapsed in my bed. It had been a grand adventure.
Less than a month later, on Nov. 22, 1963 at 12:30 p.m. President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States was assassinated in Dallas. I wept with the rest of the Country.