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FOND MEMORIES OF IMITATION BUTTER

Does anybody remember the movie "Ernest Saves Christmas"? It featured the late Jim Varney (star of those "hey, vern!" Pine State Milk Company commercials in the 80's). Well, here's a memory for you...

One chilly Saturday afternoon, I was disking land. Actually, we always called it "disting" back home for some unknown reason. Anyway, I must have been about 12 years old. I had been driving tractors by myself for sometime. As I made a pass at the end of the field, dad came walking up and flagged me down to give a few instructions. I pulled over, and he opened the cab & stepped inside.

He was in a really good mood that day, and I had been wanting to see "Ernest Saves Christmas" for some time. It was nearly winter, so our workdays were not quite as hectic as the summer months. I figured that now was as good a time as any to ask, so I mentioned that "Ernest" was playing at the movie theater. With a knowing smile, Dad looked at me and said "well, how would you like to go see it?" He didn't have to ask twice.

That night, the whole family went to the old Litchfield United Artists Theater. Even as a kid, I loved the movies (a trait I still carry today, as many of you know). I remember walking into the lobby and smelling that warm popcorn. Dad bought me a 10 gallon bucket, and covered it with a buttery substance that looked for all the world like pure Penzoil. It was wonderful. We all thought the movie was great- I don't think I've ever laughed so hard in my life.

Last Christmas, Kevin Wuzzardo bought me a copy of "Ernest Saves Christmas" on DVD. My wife fell asleep ten minutes after the titles started, but I sat there on the couch, contently recalling childhood memories. But something really caught my eye this time around. In nearly every scene of the film, the actors appear to be sweating profusely. Curious, I went online and looked-up the production facts. Apparently, this Christmas-themed movie was originally shot in the dead middle of summer (in Florida, no less).

It's interesting that we associate Christmas with snow, especially here in the south. In my entire life, I've only seen one "white Christmas". The vast majority of my Christmases were filled with sunshine and warm temperatures. Here in Wilmington, there have been at least three years in which temperatures were in the 80's the week of Christmas. In 1998, Wilmington temperatures reached the 80's no less than 5 times in December. Record-setting temperatures are often accompanied by severe weather. I remember sitting in the Weather Lab tracking severe thunderstorms on Christmas morning 2005, and tornado watches were issued in our viewing area on Christmas day of 2006.

Here's hoping for quieter days this year. Know what I mean?

(SEND COMMENTS TO JERRY AT jjackson@wwaytv3.com)

By: Jerry Jackson