JT's Blog

Things that interest me, things that happened to me, things that I like, even some things that I don't like...

The One Where I Saw Moby Dick

I’ll never forget the time I saw the movie Moby Dick.

There was a guy with tattoos all over his face, and Gregory Peck had a wooden leg, and they were out at sea for the longest time. And Robert Shaw got eaten by this great white shark. No, wait…I think that was Jaws…yes, that was definitely Jaws. But a big white whale did jump over their ship and destroy everything, and Gregory Peck either went down with his ship or was eaten by the whale, I forget which. And Ishmael got away on a raft, but Leonardo DiCaprio froze. No, that was Titanic.

Anyway, that’s not why it was so memorable.

A scene from the movie Moby Dick

I can’t pinpoint the date, but it must have been sometime in February of 1957. Remember that, because that’s important. So we were still living on the farm. Thus, we would have driven to Richland to visit my grandparents, my mother’s folks, Tillie and Harry Zellers on South Race Street.

Then while my folks and my two and half year old sister stayed at my grandparents house, Reed, my uncle who was three years older than I was, making him about 11 at this time, and I, a couple months shy of my 8th birthday, went to the Neptune Theatre to see Moby Dick.

It was only three or four blocks, so we walked, and it should have been an uneventful walk except as we neared the corner of Race and Main Streets, Reed decided to take a “short cut” through the yard of the large house on the corner. I think Mrs. Tyson lived there.

And even that might have been fine except he started running, and I followed suit. When we emerged on the other side of the yard there was a driveway at the apartment building next door. At this time that building also housed the Richland Post Office.

Well, Reed was in the lead, and he successfully made it across the driveway, and he turned around as I reached it. Later he claimed that he was going to warn me about the big sheet of black ice that covered the driveway, but apparently I reached it before he could do so. And without any warning or Reed’s superior athletic skills, I skidded on the ice and fell flat on my back.


I couldn’t find an ad for the Neptune Theatre’s showing of Moby Dick, but this ad of February 16, 1957 for the Palmyra movie house would have been around the same time

So hard that for what seemed like an eternity but was probably just a few seconds, I couldn’t breathe. Even after I got to my feet, I was gasping for breath.

Meanwhile, Reed was laughing and saying that I had just had the wind knocked out of me.

Happily, I regained the ability to breathe after a little bit, and apparently no serious harm was done.

But I’ll never forget the night I went to see Moby Dick.