I remember the night my whole family went to see Charlton Heston in Ben Hur at the drive-in theater. I have often wondered why this memory has clung to me given I was barely 4 years old at the time. I often can’t remember a movie I saw last week. Why does Charlton Heston and Ben Hur remain as one of my earliest childhood memories?
Today as we remember the life and times of an actor most of us have known our entire lives, I would like to take a moment to bow my head in tribute to Charlton Heston. It just dawned on me why this memory is so important to me. We loaded up the car with our own home made snacks, Mom and Dad, five children at the time. There would later be 7 children, but no more trips to the drive-in theater.
Shortly after our family saw Ben Hur, my sister was stricken with spinal menengitis. She was paralyzed for awhile, and my mother’s life became one of constantly caring for Mindy, which she does to this day. Our family would never be the same as that night. Perhaps that is why I remember the scene shown. Charlton Heston in the galley working up a sweat vs. some of his more magnificent achievements in the movie.
I think it is time for me to rent Ben Hur and go back to that time and remember Charlton Heston, Ben Hur and my family. Bow my head and say “thanks for the memories” to a man whom I have known most of my life, though he knew me not. Had he not starred in one of the greatest movies of all time back in 1959, my family might not have loaded up that beat up chevy station wagon, and had our first and last trip as a family out for some fun.
Charlton Heston: October 4, 1924 to April 5, 2008