Oscars ‘Foster’ fond memories

You don’t forget a name like Foster Ritchie.
And I am lucky enough to have two of them to not forget.
I met Foster Sr. first. He showed up in my backyard the very day I moved into a home in Forty Fort in 1983, telling me “You got yourself a well built house there, son,” and offering to loan me any type of tool any time I needed it. He had no way of knowing how tool challenged I am.
One day he invited me over to his garage where a tarp covered what could only be an automobile. “Ever hear of an Edsel?” he asked as he pulled off the tarp.
“Yep,” he continued before I could answer, “I was one of the fools who bought one of these babies in ’58. But I wasn’t foolish enough to sell it.”
By then a real-live, showroom condition turquoise Edsel stood before me.
“I get offered 20, 30 grand all the time,” he said. “But no dice. I’m hangin’ on to it.”
But it was Foster Jr., the son, who was on my mind Sunday night and most of the day Monday. The Academy Awards are to blame. Foster Ritchie Jr. knew his movies.
The Oscars reminded me how much I miss him (he died way too young) and his business, a little video rental place in the Midway Shopping Center in Wyoming that was my regular Friday night stop in the late ’80s. There and Victory Pig Pizza.
Foster was in on the ground floor of the video rental game. He was up and running long before anyone around here even heard of Blockbuster.
The great thing about Foster was you could ask him any movie question and get a straight, honest, informed answer. I popped in one Friday evening and asked him to recommend something the kids would like. No brainer, he said, get “Closed Circuit.”
I did and we all loved it, although we never called it by its real name. The movie was “Five Alive” to us, and if you saw it you know why.
Foster had another recommendation that same night, something for the adults in the house, he said.
I had never before heard of “It Happened One Night,” and felt a little embarrassed when Foster told me it won Best Picture, Best Actor (Clark Gable), Best Actress (Claudette Colbert) and two other Oscars in 1935. Later that night I found out why.
I would hesitate to recommend the movie today. It has no sex, no nudity, and no foul language. Just excellent acting. And who wants that in 2015?
But Foster Ritchie did not hesitate. And I was the beneficiary.
One last note on that movie. There’s a scene in which Clark Gable takes off his dress shirt to reveal he is wearing no undershirt. So popular was he, and so powerful were the movies in those days that men’s undershirt sales quickly fell by 40 to 50 percent.
Makes me wonder what effect “Fifty Shades of Grey” might have on society.
And what Foster Ritchie Jr. would have thought of it.

Ed Ackerman