Star Wars Memories - Part 1

I was born in 1977, a few months after George Lucas’s follow-up to American Graffiti redefined popular cinema. As far back as I can remember, Star Wars has been a big part of my life. I wouldn’t say that I’m as obcessed as some fans but I definitely think I’m a little bit more fixated on the films than the average bear. This week Episode II: Attack of the Clones brings Lucas’s franchise back to theatres and I’ve decided to devote five days to my favorite memories of these stories of long ago and far away.

On Route 27, in Acton, MA, there is a K-Mart department store and in front of it a McDonalds. For years these two establishments looked the same way they did when I was a child. Only recently have they begun to change their signage to reflect the times. I rarely ever drive by there anymore but when I was young, before elementary school, before a lot of things, I was there quite a lot.

My earliest memories of childhood revolve around that K-Mart and that McDonalds. They are the only memories I have of my Grandma Tebo, who died in January 1982, and coincidentally, they revolve around Star Wars.

Before I turned my allegiance over to Transformers, Star Wars figures were my world. I still have many of the figures from that time, among them a Darth Vader with his cape intact, Luke Skywalker in every outfit he ever wore, and the piece de resistance, an fairly still-together Millenium Falcon. Most of my figures were bought at that K-Mart on trips with my grandmother and later, my aunt Donna.

I remember vividly how it went. My grandparents and my two aunts lived in Littleton, MA, just a little ways away from Acton. Grandma Tebo and whoever else was with us… we would all eat at McDonalds. I got a cheeseburger Happy Meal but I was never content with whatever silly toy was inside. I knew the real treat was coming after I finished my lunch. After we ate we walked across the parking lot from McDonalds to K-Mart and Grandma Tebo would let me fish through these huge square wooden bins for a figure I didn’t yet have. I’d grab a figure and they’d take me up to the register and buy it for me and then we’d go home.

It’s one of those memories that puts a smile on my face no matter what kind of mood I’m in. It’s so pleasant and wonderful and full of love. If I close my eyes I can taste the cheeseburger… I can remember just what the bins looked like, overflowing with Lukes, and Hans, and Chewies… I can remember a loving grandmother hovering over me…

Star Wars, for me, as it is for so many others my age, is more than a series of movies. It’s childhood. It’s the great fable, the great myth that we could all buy into, regardless of color, religion, or creed.

Star Wars is just a series of movies… but it is also a series of memories. This one is only the first. Please be sure to come back tomorrow for another.