This story came out of a chain of events. On Facebook, several of us were talking about the late Mac Wiseman and how his voice was so unique and that led me to think about Texas songwriter Guy Clark, who also had a unique and warm voice. I then went to YouTube and came upon a video of Clark singing “The Cape.” The lyrics of Clark’s song brought back a memory of Tom Rambo and several of us neighborhood kids reenacting something we’d seen in a movie serial.
There was a Saturday matinee serial featuring some guys who flew around in phony looking spaceships wearing something that resembled a two-gallon bucket on their heads and capes that attached to their necks and ran down their backs attaching to the wrists and ankles. When they saw something bad happening on the ground they zoom down in their rocket, open the side door, and leap into the air with their arms and legs spread out akin to a flying squirrel. They’d then swoop onto the bad guys, subdue them, and save the day.
Tom Rambo lived next to the Elliott Hotel and in the rear, there was a two-story fire escape. Fresh from the matinee we decided this flying cape think was doable. So, Rambo got an old army blanket out of his dad’s footlocker and with some string we tied the blanket around his neck, wrists, and ankles. We then climbed the fire escape and Tom daringly leaped into the air. But, before he could spread his cape and take flight he hit the ground with a loud thud and a puff of dust. Didn’t take the rest of us long to figure out that idea may have worked in the movies but it wasn’t going to work on Mirabeau Street.
After all these years I still remember it and have always had it pictured like a scene from The Roadrunner. That classic scene where Wylie Coyote chases the roadrunner off a cliff and then realizes there is nothing beneath his feet. All the viewer sees is Wylie get increasingly smaller as descends deeper into the canyon with a puff of dust marking the end of that scene.