One’s 15th year of life is particularly fraught with change. Childhood dreams give way to adult realities. Adolescent collections such as baseball cards, coins, and comics sadly fall out of style – better left to tweens and those still trapped by out-of-fashion obsessions. Jobs and college take center stage. College prep means growing loads of homework and a heightened seriousness about school. Grades play a more prominent, but still minor role in high school hierarchies.
If you’re of average athletic ability, competitive sports are increasingly past tense. Pickup games with friends are fading options as those holding driver’s licenses abandon the glory of sporting fields for cruising in cars. In Enumclaw, they called it posing – driving up and down Griffin Ave, from east to west and back again waiting for something to happen. That September, we were sophomores all without driver’s licenses. Without a license or car, we principally relied on parents, friends, or sometimes a special older sibling.
Girls grew progressively more attractive, though self-doubts played havoc with one’s desirability. Acne pops up at all the wrong times and in all the wrong places. Growth spurts (or lack thereof) pit short boys against tall men, who share the same birth year. Somerset Maugham didn’t miss the mark by much when noting the world is an entirely different place for a man of 5’7” to one of 6’2”.
In 1968, Chris Coppin had just moved back to Enumclaw following a five-year absence. I’d first met Chris eight years earlier at Kibler Elementary. There we’d shared a second-grade teacher, Mrs. Stobbs. But an earlier introduction came through his younger brother, Ed whose pet turtles inhabited a two-gallon glass jar with rocks, and a skiff of water. I made repeated turtle visits to the Coppin home. Chris and I were friends until 4th grade when their family moved to the Bay Area, where Mr. Coppin, a flight engineer for Pan Am was transferred.
At that young age, it isn’t long before friendships are forgotten. In junior high, out of sight means out of mind. In short order, Chris was a faded memory. But like so many mysteries of youth, the Coppins moved back and Chris resurfaced. We were soon again fast friends, meeting at their stately white house at Griffin and Franklin, built in 1922 by a local timber baron, Axel Hanson of the White River Lumber Company. It was the biggest home in Enumclaw and had a front parlor, fashioned as a billiards room where we played pool after school. The Coppin digs were ground zero during our high years.
With twelve kids, their household was a beehive of activity. Mrs. Coppin was unflappable, often in the kitchen but always ready for a short chat that included a kind word and light-hearted banter. When home, Mr. Coppin was typically puttering away with something. His was of a quieter manner, still willing to engage in probing conversation, the better to pry us from our shells. As for the cluster of Chris’ younger siblings, mostly girls, it was a constant case of asking, “Which one is that?”
His four older brothers were different, distinctive, and spirited. Dan was the most inviting. He was four or five years older than us. And during that magical year, Dan was our ticket to ride to the movies. I’m not talking about the Enumclaw Roxy, and later the Chalet. Dan packed us in his car and off we’d drive to Seattle, destined most often for the UA-70 and UA-150 theaters at 6th and Lenora.
In 1969, they were brand new, state-of-the-art movie houses for the masses – their massive screens nearly outdone by amazing sound systems. The Cinema 70 screen was equipped for 70mm films and UA-150 once showcased “Star Wars” for an entire year. On occasion, we’d go to the Cinerama, another theater capable of projecting 70-millimeter films on its huge curved screen.
Each was magnificent. And for a bunch of teenagers from Enumclaw, they were a taste of sophistication – plus exposure us to films that wouldn’t play back home for another six months, if ever.
The outings were usually spontaneous. We’d be hanging around the pool table Saturday afternoon listening to records, when Dan wandered in asking, “You guys want to see a movie?” He normally had one in mind. Phone calls were made and a couple of hours later we piled into Dan’s car for the trip to Seattle.
How I wish our conversations had been recorded – the shouts, giggles, chitchat, and nonsense. We purchased our $1.50 tickets, double the price at the Roxy. Someone bought popcorn. I have no idea how many times Dan took us, but these movies jump to mind: “2001, A Space Odyssey,” “True Grit,” “Midnight Cowboy,” “The Sterile Cukoo,” and “If.”
It was truly a golden age, not just for movies but being alive to changes experienced during a time when fashion and culture were turned upside down. Most discrete memories of the specific movie outings are gone, and only formless feelings remain. But what I remember well were the books we read and movies we saw those years.
There . . . caught in the rye of Holden Caulfield’s world of phonies, with a growing awareness that we were living under the suspicious eye of George Orwell’s Big Brother. All the while, transfixed within gorgeous romances like Franco Zeffirelli’s “Romeo and Juliet,” seen weeks after reading the play in Mrs. Galvin and Ms. Thompson’s joint English class.
And equally enthralled by all-night showings at the just-opened, Big E drive-in of Sergio Leone’s trilogy of Clint Eastwood spaghetti westerns: “Fistful of Dollars,” “For a Few Dollars More,” and “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.” Or sometimes down to Auburn for the Valley 6 Drive-in.
The novel, “Wuthering Heights” was difficult to absorb. Perhaps just as well, for it was the ‘best of times and the worst of times,’ the opening line we memorized from Dicken’s “Tale of Two Cities.” Our senior year with Mr. Bill Hawk (who every girl loved and every boy envied) was pure joy as he read out loud to us the entirety of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” and “Macbeth.”
And what to make of the curious worlds described in “A Separate Peace” and “Lord of the Flies,” for there was something in that youth-filled air. Change was everywhere, within us and without us. One summer night Dad and I walked to see, “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.” It was one of the few times I remember going to the movies with Dad.
To this day, I remain ever thankful to Dan Coppin, Chris’ older brother who asked us if we wanted to see a movie. For, he was our chauffeur through a tiny part of those precious high school years. And more than 50 years later, the lyrics from one of the movie songs still play in my head:
“Come Saturday morning, just I and my friends,
We’ll travel for miles in our Saturday smiles,
And then we’ll move on.
But we will remember, long after Saturday’s gone.”
“Come Saturday Morning” was the soundtrack theme song from “The Sterile Cukoo” and a minor hit single for the Sandpipers.
6 replies on “Come Saturday Morning”
Finally, an essay that includes one of my favorite 1971 Enumclaw High School grads, Chris Coppin. The Coppin house was iconic for sure. I remember going to the Cinerama with a group of girls to see Romeo and Juliet. Oh, the heartbreak! Of course, we weren’t as cool as you so had to be driven by one of our moms. Studying Shakespeare in Bill Hawk’s class had a life-long impact on me. I took two semesters of Shakespeare in college and have been to many Shakespeare plays in Ashland and other places. My love of Shakespeare started in his class.
Jennie – Thank you for weighing in. I remember seeing Franco Zefferelli’s “Romeo and Juliet” at a special showing at the Roxy, shortly after we’d studied the play in Mrs. Galvin and Miss Thompson’s joint junior English class. Or has my memory failed? I recall it being a weekday night primary for EHS students. As to Shakespeare, I still love Macbeth and Hamlet, as well as Romeo & Juliet and just recently read Bill Bryson’s biography, not once but twice. I tagged you in my review if you’re interested. And I’m currently reading (i.e. listening to audiobook) Charles and Mary Lamb’s “Shakespeare for Children” for when it comes to Shakespeare, I am really only a child. Ashland is on my bucket list so thanks for the prod.
Thank you for this beautifully written, incredibly nostalgic story Bill. I did not grow up in Enumclaw, but my high school years in Auburn was close enough to make your reminiscings especially poignant and impactful. I also did not know the Coppins until recently when Ann and Ron bought their new home in Manchester just two doors down. In fact I’ve only met Ann so far as Ron was still in Montana during move in. I understand that Ron’s current cancer treatments have concluded and that, fingers crossed, they may both be back here soon. I’ve reread your story a couple times and love it so much I’m forwarding it on to friends and family. Thanks again for making my Saturday morning coffee hour just delightful! Streaming Come Saturday Morning (again!) on my stereo and being steeped in the precious memories of half a century ago. 🥰
Linda – Thank you so much for your effusive praise. As you well noticed, Enumclaw was a wonderful town to grow up in. In fact, most of my best friends are those I went to elementary school, junior and senior high with. In fact, this coming Friday, eight or nine of us are getting together at our twice or thrice-yearly Pokerque (i.e. playing penny-ante poker and a BBQ at one of the still-in-Enumclaw friends). Chris Coppin often flies up from Texas just to attend the pokerque, but he never tells us if he’s coming or not, so it’s always a surprise. Our town was a great place to grow up and our family’s home was two blocks from the Coppins. We walked to school, to playgrounds, to church, to downtown, and rode are bikes everywhere else without fear. If you’re interested I’ve written other Enumclaw-flavored articles at my website, BillBored.org. If you like Come Saturday Morning, you may enjoy Epistle for Mr. McGreen; Tom Colvin and the Summer of 1966, Giving Thanks to Mr. Hanson, among others. It was nice to meet you by way of keyboard – who knows, one day we may run into each other in Enumclaw (though I now live in Black Diamond, we often visit).
The writing is so warm and full of heart that it makes me feel like I lived right along side of the experience! Nice job!
Thank you Mary for your kind words. Growing up in Enumclaw was a blessing I’m thankful for to this day.