Friday, November 13, 2009
Salem's Lot Flashback
I'm a book on CD junkie and just finished listening to Salem's Lot, a Steven King book about vampires settling in a small Maine town. I read the book years ago, when it was first published in 1975. It scared the crap out of me then. Thirty-four years have passed and guess what? It scared the crap out of me again.
Actually, it may have been worse this time around, since I wasn't the one reading the book. An actor with a very convincing voice was reading it to me...in my car...when I was alone....driving in the dark...in the little town of Irmo's Lot, S.C.
Aside from the fright factor, it was interesting to note how much society has changed in 34 years.
First of all, there were no cell phones in 1975. If fact Salem's lot had a 'party line' system, which sounds much more exciting than it really is. A party line is where neighbors share a telephone line and can basically listen in to each others' conversations. We had one for a few years when I was a kid growing up in Western New York. But sadly, we didn't live on Wysteria Lane (the setting for Desperate Housewives) and the available conversations were about as entertaining as a reruns of test-patterns on television. (e.g. "What time does Bingo start in Bergholz tonight?")
With that said, cell phones would have really come in handy in Salem's Lot. Seriously, can you think of an example of when a cell phone would be more helpful? (Your phone lines are cut...vampires are chasing you around your home....)
Another societal change that I noted is that they did not have 911 service back in the 70s..at least not in Salem's Lot. When the teacher had a heart attack after facing a vampire, he gave Susan his doctor's phone number to call (before passing out).
And, of course, doctors made house calls in 1975 (in Salem's Lot.) When the people in town started dropping like flies (thanks to the vampires), the doctor was running from house to house like a marble in a pinball machine. I don't know what is more unlikely in 2009: vampires or doctors making house calls.
Cigarette smoking was also prevalent in the book. After every vampire attack, Ben and his friends would pull out cigarettes to calm their nerves. But then again, I don't think any of the characters lived long enough in Salem's Lot (thanks to afore-mentioned vampires) to suffer the effects of cancer.
I know that the Twilight series has been a phenomenal success. I've read a couple of the books and enjoyed them. But if you want to read the ORIGINAL vampire book (not counting Dracula), check out Salem's Lot. It should scare the crap out of you.
If nothing else you'll learn about life in the olden days of the '70s.