Sunday, January 10, 2010

Al Shottelkotte, Alfred Hitchcock, Mom and Me

Last night I spent a couple hours on Netflix watching "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" season 1. I was so surprised to see it was made in 1955.

When I was little girl in the 70's my mother used to let me stay up late in the summer and watch "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" - if I remember correctly the re-runs came on after the 11:00 news. We lived in Reading Ohio at the time, a small suburb of Cincinnati.  I can still hear the announcer's voice for the local news. He had a strong voice that drew out the name of the Anchor - sort of like Ed McMahon announcing Johnny Carson - It went something like this: It's Eeeeleven O'clock and time forrrrr Alllll Shottelkotte Al Shottlekotte was none as the "Voice of Cincinnati" Back then, the dinosaurs days before cable, we only got about 3 channels through our "rabbit ears" antenna. I think it was channel 9 where we got our news form Al. I'm not sure if Hitch was broadcast on the same station or if we had to change channels, but that was our summer nightly routine -my Mom and I would stay up late and watch Al and then Hitch.

The news doesn't interest a child of six or seven much, but even at that tender age I could appreciate a good mystery and a dry sense of ironic humor. Mom and me loved being scared and pulling the covers over our heads or rolling our eyes when Hitch made one of his dry jokes often directed at his sponsors. I guess that is where my love for the work of this Iconic director first began. As I grew, I watched his movies Psycho, The Birds, Suspicion, and Vertigo, to name just a few of my favorites (of which I never tire - thanks to the genius of Hitch)  and read many of the books he presented;  some of my favorites were - "Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators" and  "Alfred Hitchcock presents Stories NOT for the Nervous". The latter book contained a short story entitled "Don't Look Behind You" by Fredric Brown, a story that scared the pants off of my eleven year old self! Unlike the previous title series meant for young readers, this was a book for adult readers and was probably a little too scary for an eleven year old - but I loved it! I wouldn't want to spoil it for anyone, but if you can find this out of print book or have it on your shelf somewhere, you won't want to miss reading this story.

I treasured this book as a child, but when we moved to Florida I found that I couldn't take it with me. Being a poor business girl, at the ripe old age of 12, I sold it to my best friend, Kandy for 10 cents. Years later, when I was say 18 or 19,  I regretted selling it and asked Kandy if she would be willing to sell it back - for a profit of course - say 25 cents? No way - was her reply, not for any price. She too treasured the book and afterall it was out of print. For years I searched second hand bookstores and thrift shops searching, searching for this book. One day a man called my work. This was probably around 1987. He said he had a resource that could find out of print books and I immediately asked him to begin a search for "Alfred Hitchcock presents Stories NOT for the Nervous". He called me back a few weeks later and sadly relayed that he had not had any luck at all - the book had been out of print for too long. The copyright date was 1965 - a year before I had been born. Even so, I did not end my search there, determined to find another copy I continued scanning those second hand bookstores and thrift shops until one day I entered a little thrift shop, just a few odds and ends, here and there, and there it was, I could hardly believe it! It was sitting benignly on a shelf with only four of five other books. It's red cover standing our like a Ruby among glass.  I grabbed it at once,  and clutched it to my chest. I looked around me nervously, first to my right then to my left, making sure no-one was watching my purchase, (you'll understand once you read "Don't Look Behind You") then I ran to the counter and paid the full 50 cents. So, I had lost 40 cents and years of reading pleasure, but now it was mine, all mine again. I have since read and re-read the story many times and others in the book as well.  It holds a prominent spot on my bookshelf today. Of course, dramatic as my finding it was then, with the internet today, there are probably dozens of copies available on line somewhere to purchase, but I for one, will never part with mine again!

I have many fond memories of those days of Al and Hitch and Mom and Me; they will forever will be linked in my mind and brought back to memory every time I watch "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" which I intend to do again tonight.

And as Hitch would say..."Good Evening".

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