Last week we looked at the "Book of Hours" that was popular in medieval times and set about establishing our own "Southern Book of Hours. So if you need to know what you should be doing at any hour of the day you can just check this list. We continue with:
• Kiddie Hour: It wasn't so long ago there were only a few channels on television. Even with cable TV around here there were only a few networks and a couple of oddball stations. There was "local television" programming, something that's almost completely gone with the exception of local news. These days there are a bunch of kids' channels that play just for kids and even focus on different ages. Some for little kids, some for 'tweens, some for boys and some for girls. And the shows change so often that older siblings may not even be familiar with shows the younger ones are watching. But a generation or so back we all came home and watched the same shows. And much of the programming was stuff our parents and even grandparents had watched. There were reruns of "The Little Rascals" and "The Three Stooges" that dated way back to the 1930s. There were newer shows like "Speed Racer" and "Ultraman" (both from Japan) and if you could get an Atlanta station there might even be afternoon movies. I say bring back Kiddie Hour, a common experience that helped us bond with each other and with our parents.
• Rush Hour: Rush hour seems almost continuous during daylight hours in a big city like Atlanta, but even in a small town like ours we have a significant (and growing it seems) rush hour. This isn't a particularly Southern thing, but we do have one all our own. We know the main arteries that get clogged: Walnut Avenue, the bypass, Cleveland Highway and any road that feeds into them. When I was a kid my grandfather would get off at 4 p.m. from his job and would try and get my grandmother to the grocery store by 4:30 so he could sit in the parking lot and read the newspaper while rush hour passed by. Back then it only lasted from about 4:30 to 5:30. Ah, the good old days.
• Porch Hour: Ah, the cool of the evening. In summer it's still pretty warm at this time but this is usually when that first breeze starts up and the temperature starts down. If it's fall or spring it's a good time to watch the sun go down, especially if it's sweater weather. And in winter, it's the time you can feed the dogs on the porch and see if they need to sleep inside because of the cold. Any time of year, 6 is a good time to take a break and a deep breath from a crazy day.
• Play Ball Hour: A lot of the Atlanta Braves games have the first pitch at 7:10 or 7:30 so this is when you should start flipping channels to find the game. During the week you can sometimes get away with watching "Wheel of Fortune" at 7 and then turning on the ball game. And with the season so long, 7 as Play Ball Hour works for months. Once baseball season finally winds down this is a pretty good time to start looking for the Atlanta Hawks basketball games. Either way, you've got a home team to root for so don't be late.
• Kick the Can Hour: It's dusky in the summer and dark in the winter at 8 and just the time to play kick the can, hide-and-seek or tag if you're a kid. Too many kids sit around inside these days and don't get enough action in their day, so maybe you parents and grandparents can help get them back out there in the neighborhood and having fun. The darker it got the closer to home we had to stay, but darkness never shut our games down before the call of parents for dinner or bath-time did. We would have probably played till midnight if they had let us.
• Movie Hour: For a proper date night it's dinner and a movie. In a small town like Dalton you're running the risk of missing dinner at your favorite restaurant if you do movie and then dinner as some of the movies don't let out till pretty late now, especially with all the commercials up front. So make sure you get to dinner in plenty of time and then mosey over to the theater for the second shows which start between 9 and 10. You're probably OK not to even check the start times before going as it's a pretty safe bet this is when they are going to start. Bring plenty of money for popcorn and soda pop and you'll have a dandy time with some of Hollywood's brightest. Unless it's one of those scary movies ...
• TV Hour: They actually say the average American watches five hours of TV per day(!). If you're a grownup and the kids are in bed, this is a pretty good hour to watch some TV. They have those hour-long dramas about cops and lawyers and first responders and doctors and such. Pretty entertaining if you don't fall asleep ... zzzzzzz.
• Local News Hour: Well, if you've got to watch news make it the local version. That national and world news will just get you down. At least with the local news they talk about stuff that might actually impact you, hopefully in a positive way. There seems to be more good news features on local news, that's for sure. Of course, watching night after night you get to "know" the local newscasters and you can figure out which meteorologist you trust the most and which sportscaster covers your favorite teams the best. Local news is personal and that's what makes it good.
• Midnight Monster Movie Hour: Let's say you're a teenager. Let's say you don't have a Saturday night date to the movies. Well, you can have a date WITH a movie! (Any resemblance to the author's own youth is purely coincidental). Although the network stations don't run movies like they used to, there are still specialty channels like SyFy and TCM that are likely to run a monster movie late at night. When I was young, there used to be "Shock Theater" with Dr. Shock and Dingbat on Saturday nights starting at 11:30 after the news. Friday nights would frequently have some monster movies as well on various channels. And sometimes there was an afternoon movie that would feature Godzilla or some such creature. And if you like scares, sometimes they're even scarier at home than at the theater.
• Krystal Hour: You're finished with the evening's fun. You need to head home but it's been hours since supper. You're not ready for bed yet. Two words: Krystal drive-thru.
• You Kids Shut Up In There Hour: I went to plenty of sleepovers or backyard campouts as a kid. The parents were pretty lenient. Sometimes you lucked up and there was a basement a couple of floors away from the parental bedroom and they couldn't hear you. But as the goofing off ebbed and flowed there was always the chance that things would settle down but then some wiseacre would crack a joke and get the hubub started all over again. The absolute limit I ever found for parental patience was 2 a.m. It usually came earlier but it was always the same: "You kids shut up in there!"
• Barking Dog Hour: Unlike big cities we still have enough countryside to be able to have yard dogs sleeping outside. And by sleep I mean nap between noises in the woods that rouse them to guardian status where they bark. I've had to get up many times and go to the back door to shush the dogs barking. Luckily we live far enough from the neighbors across the road that I don't think it's a bother to them, but since the back porch is next to my bedroom window it's a bother to me. You dogs shut up out there!
• Waffle House Hour: Are you up all night? Are you up before the crack of dawn? Thank goodness for Waffle House. At 4 a.m. it's a refuge of sorts. If you think about it, the folks in there that time of the morning are kind of like refugees. I think Waffle House's coffee tends to be a little weak, but those waffles never let you down!
• Morning Person Hour: Since I'm not a morning person I don't know much about 5 a.m., but I've heard stories from people who are up then. They're getting ready for work, out walking the dog, going for an early morning run or some other activity that I normally save until about five hours later if I can. I think it's been scientifically proven that morning people succeed more in life than ... well, non-morning people like me. And in case you're wondering, no, I'm not writing this column at 5 in the morning.
Mark Hannah, a Dalton native, works in video and film production.