Summer of Love

The Reluctant Astronaut is on. Some channel is having a Don Knotts marathon. (The Ghost and Mr. Chicken is next, but I’m not in the mood for gothic horror.) I remember seeing The Reluctant Astronaut at a Saturday matinée in Woodbury, New Jersey.  And I remember thinking it wasn’t the most exciting science fiction movie I’d ever seen, but at ten, perhaps I was already too sophisticated. This was the same theater where a couple months later Son of Flubber caused a riot. Perhaps the kids knew it wasn’t a first run picture in that Summer of Love in 1967. Perhaps we were just blowing off steam. Perhaps we just wanted to die before we got old. Whatever, it sure pissed off the manager. He turned off the projector, turned on the house lights and stormed on down to the front of the theater and glared at us. If we didn’t stop running and shrieking and throwing popcorn he’d kick us all out and there would be hell to pay when our parents came to pick us up. The place grew quiet, the hail of popcorn subsided. That’s better, he said, and the lights came down, the film came on, and there was Fred MacMurray again, Professor Ned Brainard, turning people on to flubber, and everyone was bouncing and floating and high as a kite. Feed your head, Ned said, feed your head, and the kids laughed and shrieked and the popcorn came down like rain.

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