Bill Kennedy at the Movies

Godzilla Raids Again (1955) Godzilla vs Anguirus
Toho Company Ltd., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

I remember my father, after the day shift, coming home in his dark teal pants and matching button-down shirt and that empty look assembly line workers get cracking a beer, and sitting on our worn-out brown sofa. He would turn on the television, have another beer, and watch Bill Kennedy at the Movies on the local Detroit CBS affiliate. We never sat with him in his cloud of metallic, musty, exotic factory fumes (mingled with, and eventually overpowered by, the familiar smell of lager) as Bill introduced movies and told old Hollywood stories.

***

I remember Bill Kennedy, a local celebrity. When my father was on afternoon or night shifts, I would pick up my younger sister from the neighbors’, and we’d watch hours and hours of sitcoms, cartoons, and game shows. But we watched Bill Kennedy at the Movies when Bill hosted Monster Week. Godzilla. Mothra. Ghidorah. Rodan. Hedorah. Destroyah. Thrilling to see them all big and loud and breaking everything.

***

I remember my father loved Western Week (and so did Bill) because he had speaking roles—he was not just background talent, and even wore one of his movies' cowboy hats. On a Friday, after my father had had his fourth or sixth beer, he decided that he and my sister were the good-guy cowboys going after me, a bad-guy cattle thief. They chased me around and around all the rooms in the house. I finally hid under my bed, but the cover it provided was temporary; soon I was pulled out from under it. Our floors were shiny, slippery wood. I climbed on the bed and the chenille of the bedspread burned my knees. My sister got on top of me, and my father held my hands behind my back like in the movies when they caught the thief; I laughed so hard because my father never played with us. I jerked away and landed on the floor and broke my right front tooth in a perfect diagonal.

***

I remember I landed on my teeth because my mouth was wide open from laughing. I remember that rare joy cut off so sharply; television sounds filling the vacuum.

***

I remember I covered my mouth with my hand whenever I spoke.

I remember I stopped smiling.

I remember Bill Kennedy in his cowboy hat.

I remember my father never played with us again.

I remember rubbing my tongue on my severed tooth, on that part never meant to be exposed, that sharp eruption, tasting it with my tongue over and over again.

I remember the monsters.

Scroll to Top