The Dimension of Imagination
October 4, 2022
By the late 1950’s television programming experienced an explosion of creativity. New and innovative shows were being introduced. It was the first week of October, 1959, when one such show debuted. It went on to leave a huge cultural impact. The show: The Twilight Zone.
The Infallible Wikipedia explains that it “is an American science fiction horror anthology television series created and presented by Rod Serling, which ran for five seasons on CBS from October 2, 1959, to June 19, 1964. Each episode presents a stand-alone story in which characters find themselves dealing with often disturbing or unusual events, an experience described as entering ‘the Twilight Zone,’ often with a surprise ending and a moral. Although predominantly science-fiction, the show’s paranormal and Kafkaesque events leaned the show towards fantasy and horror. The phrase ‘twilight zone,’ inspired by the series, is used to describe surreal experiences.”
The show was truly groundbreaking and, since I was a very small child at the time and my mother forbid us from watching anything on TV she felt we could not handle, I never saw the show live, only a few reruns years later.
But even then, many of the episodes were disturbing. I present for your consideration the case of “Talking Tina,” a doll who seems to come to life. It’s a very creepy episode with a creepy doll. There’s just something about dolls which make them a rich target for horror.
Despite the often macabre nature of The Twilight Zone, it was highly successful and impactful. Also from the Infallible Wikipedia:
“The Twilight Zone is widely regarded as one of the greatest television series of all time. In 2002, the series was ranked No. 26 on TV Guide‘s 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time. In 2004, it was ranked No. 8 on TV Guide’s Top Cult Shows Ever, moving to No. 9 three years later. In 2013, the Writers Guild of America ranked it as the third best-written TV series and TV Guide ranked it as the fourth greatest drama, the second greatest sci-fi show and the fifth greatest show of all time. In 2016, the series was ranked No. 7 on Rolling Stone‘s list of the 100 greatest shows of all time and was ranked No. 12 in 2022.”
One day, in the summer of 2003, I was in Yakima for the Rainbow Girls annual convention. On a whim, I decided to drive by the house where I grew up: 406 South 31st Avenue. I had done this from time to time out of interest as to how the house and neighborhood might look. Now most of us think that the place where we grew up will never change. But on that warm June afternoon I discovered things had changed.
I turned right onto 31st off Tieton Drive. I looked for the Osteopathic hospital where we’d ridden our bikes as kids; the small brick church next door; the Winterringer’s mid-century modern house across the street on the left.
At first, all seemed normal. But then, as I looked right again, something was off. The duplex where Mrs. Shaw lived wasn’t quite how I recalled it. I drove on and looked left. The house I grew up in was similar enough to how it had been when I was a kid to bring me comfort.
But across the street where the Shockley, and then the Goodhue, families lived, was a place I did not recognize. The house – which I had looked at nearly everyday from the time we moved there in 1961 until I moved away in the fall of 1977 – was still there but now it was perched on boards, lifted above the ground by several feet. The yard and plants, which Mr. Goodhue took meticulous care of, were gone. In their place were dirt and a backhoe.
I stopped the car and stared up and down the right side of the street. House after house was in a similar condition: up on boards sitting askew. It continued this way the entire block. The Dohrman’s house. The Bluhm’s. Everything on the right was in a state of disarray. Everything on the left was how I remembered.
Yes, the thought which dominated was that I had, in fact, entered the Twilight Zone. I was in a place I knew, but similar to a dream, the details were wrong. I continued my slow roll up the street and, although still shaken, drove on to my parent’s house where I was meeting them, my sister, my nieces and daughter for swim time.
Only then did I learn that Memorial Hospital, a block to the east, had purchased all of the houses on the right side of the street and that they were being moved, as a group, to a new part of Yakima. I had happened upon the project in the midst of extracting the houses just prior to when the move was to take place.
It took some digging, but I did find photographic evidence of the event in the Yakima Herald Republic newspaper which confirmed that this took place in the summer of 2003. Today, the right side of the street is adorned with an attractive fence and lovely trees and foliage.
Except for those of us who, unsuspecting, happened upon it in the summer of 2003, it seems perfectly normal. But I know better. I know that it was once a part of the Twilight Zone.
A few links:
https://youtu.be/If3SXJeZzMQ (Twilight Zone Opening monologue)
One of my all-time favorite shows. Was the theme song playing in your head as you drove down that street? 😵💫