I used to like professional wrestling.
It all started when Daddy practically lost a foot in a fork-truck accident at work. He loved wrestling and boxing as far back as I can remember, and I guess with so much time on his hands while he was off work, he needed some sort of recreation. We went to St. Joseph, Missouri, one Friday night and took in the wrestling matches. We were hooked, all of us.
Looking back, I don't know how anything so fake could have seemed so real. I think maybe it's a little like Santa Claus... you just WANT to believe, so you do.
After my dad was healed up and back to work, Mother and I started going to the wrestling twice a week: Memorial Hall in Kansas City, Kansas, on Thursdays, and the Municipal Auditorium in St. Joe on Fridays. Every couple of months some really big-name wrestlers like Dick the Bruiser came to wrestle at KC Municipal Auditorium, and we went to those, too. Yeah, three times a week. To watch wrestling.
I took my camera and collected pictures and autographs of my favorites. I recall names like Sonny Myers (who was the Buchanan County sheriff for a while and ended up a Walmart greeter); Cowboy Bob Ellis; Taro Myaki; Bobo Brazil, whose head-butt knocked his opponents out cold. There were, of course, the "good guys" and the "bad guys"; midget wrestlers and lady wrestlers. And lady midget wrestlers!
My mom was into wrestling every bit as much as I was. I recall her swinging her purse one time to hit an evil wrestler on the head. At Christmas she'd make pounds of fudge and other Christmas goodies and take a small package of cookies and candy to every single wrestler we liked, as well as to Gust Karras, the promoter in St. Joe.
Good grief, we were lower-middle-class at best. I just realized what a huge portion of my parents' income must have gone into this craze!
There were a couple of white-haired ladies, identical twins: Mertie and Gertie Hite. They were at every match we attended, dressed to the nines. I googled them and found this tidbit of information: "Television captured it all. Some ringside fans were seen so often that they became celebrities in their own right. Two of the most recognized were Mertie and Gertie Hite. The seventy-five year-old twin sisters invariably occupied ringside seats, where, dressed exactly alike, they usually sat calmly, the picture of rectitude. When some mysterious force moved within them, however, they would leap to their feet and race screaming to the edge of the ring, where they would pound wildly on the canvas and curse like drunken sailors."
I found this picture of them, much younger than I knew them.
So there you have it. We all have shameful secrets in our pasts. Now you know one of mine. While other girls my age were dating and flirting and worrying about going to the prom, I was going to wrestling matches. With my mom.
What a loser.