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Speeding Up Christmas

Story ID:8526
Written by:Charles Dishno (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:Dillon Montana USA
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Speeding Up ChristmasÖ
By Chuck Dishno

The year was December 1958. I was stationed at Fort Lee, Virginia. I had been drafted into the Army and this was my first duty assignment. I was assigned to the entertainment branch and the Army/Air Force Motion Picture Service. Because of my earlier years as a projectionist while in High School and College I fit right in the job. My duties were to maintain the three post theater projection rooms and train projectionists. My office was in the main post theater, a 1000 seat facility.

This was really great duty and I had lots of free time on my hands. I didnít even have to wear a Class A uniform if I didnít want and usually came dressed in my fatigues. I had no one in particular to report to as long as I was doing my job. I lived off base in near by Petersburg with my wife, Marge and our soon to be born, daughter.

It was a week before Christmas and the entire base was getting into the festive mood with Christmas decorations on every building and corner. The main theater was located in the center of the base surrounded by a Quartermaster museum, library, finance offices, PX, Officer and NCO clubs and a group of training buildings all showing their Holiday decorations. It was a very active location. The theater looked rather drab with no decorations to brag about.

It soon dawned on me that I should get into the spirit. I put a small Christmas tree on the roof outside the projection room. I looked great with the lights blinking and above all others. I still felt the need to be more festive and at my disposal was a large reel-to-reel tape recorder. I went over to the library and borrowed a bunch of records of Christmas music. I then borrowed a record player and spent a full day transferring the music to the tape player. I had set the speed to record at slow as possible. I then figured out how to loop the tape in order for it to play continually for several hours. I put he recorder/player just inside the projection room and hooked up two large loud speakers on the roof near the Christmas tree. Since it was the middle of the afternoon and I had no one that I needed to report to, I connected the entire apparatus, including the lights to a timer that I set to turn of at dusk. I then drove the 10 miles to my apartment in Petersburg. I didnít have to be back at the theater until 6:30 PM to open up the building and get the nights movies ready to run.

When I drove on to the post and toward the theater I could see a bunch of flashing lights down the street. I soon realized that they were all coming from the front of the theater. As soon as I got out of my VW I realized what was happening. The speakers were going at full blast with the Christmas music almost un-recognizable. Apparently I had recorded the tapes at the slowest possible speed but had forgotten the player and it was playing it at the highest speed and also at full blast. The MPís were trying to get into the theater but I had the only key and they were just about to call the post fire department to get onto the roof to cut the speaker wires. Workers were lining the street with their hands on their ears. This was about the time that the Chipmunks were popular but my music sounded nothing like those cute chipmunks. My goof put them to shame. I soon had the theater unlocked and the player shut off and things were back to normal

The next day the Special Service officer called me into his office and complimented me for stirring up all those civilian employees who were in earshot of my mistake. We had a good laugh but told me not to do it again. He said he wished he had been there to witness the chaos.

A week later on Christmas Day, I was presented with the best present a guy could have, the birth of my daughter, Lura. When Lura was 3 months old my hitch was about up and we headed back to Fresno, much to the relief to those who witnessed the day Christmas moved into high gear. Sound wise, that is.

My next duty will be in Godís Army. I hope they donít put me in charge of the Heavenly Christmas recordings. Chipmunks, eat your hearts out.