The tale of Christian Long, his parents’ 1980 attempt to watch Coal Miner’s Daughter, an angry poodle, a visit to Sherman Hospital and a career choice.

Some time in 1980, my parents tried to see Coal Miner’s Daughter at what was then the Meadowdale Cinema.

Babysitters were located – the Pauli family lived not even a block away. They had a daughter my sister Megan’s age and another daughter my age. They also had two dogs, a 90-pound German shepherd and an eight-pound toy poodle mix. So Mom and Dad walked us up to the Paulis and drove off to the early night show (7:00 or so) of Coal Miner’s Daughter. It’s best not to dwell on why the dog bit me – it involves holding out potato chips but not giving them to the dog – but I got bit in the face by one of the Pauli dogs. In 1980 you could call Meadowdale Cinema’s human phone line – it’s probably still the same number for C12, 847-428-6277 – and the Pauli parents, faced with little Christian minus a chunk of his face, felt it wise to let my parents deal with my idiocy. The message given to my parents: The dog bit Christian’s face. They left in the middle of the movie, convinced it was the German Shepherd and that I would be lucky to live. They were, I would guess, happy to be wrong when she saw that the poodle had simply taken a poodle-sized piece out of my lower lip. Off to Sherman Hospital we went for the five stitches that left one of about ten scars I have on my face.

Enter Charles Fort. First, the not terrifically Fortean bit: Meadowdale Cinema was sold and became Cinema 5 which begat Cinema 12 (if building new auditoria qualifies as begetting), which begat my job from 1992 through 2001. Ten years’ access to free movies, not to mention the example of Frank Ward, led me to my academic specialization. Thanks to that lapse in judgment, I find myself watching any 1970-1981 film set in the south because I’m convinced that Burt Reynolds’ stardom was historically and geographically necessary. Which brings me back to Coal Miner’s Daughter, especially the part my parents never got to see: the end credits in all their Fortean resonance. The end credits are custom-designed for the World Atlas of American Cinema 1945-2010, in that they reiterate the significant locations of Loretta Lynn’s life. In the four minutes of the end credits, to a medly of Loretta Lynn tunes, we see Butcher Hollow KY, their house in western Washington, the Grand Ole Opry, a tour bus, and Loretta’s Hurricane Mills TN home, encapsulating the what and who of the film by reference to the where.

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