|Like most familes, we existed, during those depression years. I was 6 years old, that summer of the 'life altering experience'. Country kids who stayed home and played with each other, we never lacked for playmates, for there were a passel of us. Kin-folk for Sunday dinner, often, which meant catching and killing several chickens.|
As I said, we HAD company.. but WE were never the company. Mama didn't impose her brood on the kin. We also never went to town, which was 7 miles away. Daddy did the shopping, and I am sure Mama went years between town visits, her choice. I think I recall one visit to town before THE MOVIE, but THIS DAY may have been the first.
Old Aunt Annie, that rare female realtives with full time job outside the home or fields, was on her annual summer visit from Omaha. We loved hearing her tell stories.. places she'd worked.. people she'd met.. city life. She told of going to see a new movie, and my brother asked, 'What's a MOVIE?'
Aunt Annie was surprised.. we'd never seen a MOVIE? Nope! She commenced to tell us of the magic of the silver screen .. the beautiful people acting out stories. We took it in, wide-eyed and open mouthed! She mentioned a 'hamburger', and we asked what THAT was? She jumped to her feet.
Off to one side, she and Mama had a whispered conference.. Auntie then announced she'd be taking us all to town on Saturday evening! We would see a movie and eat a hamburger! Excited? You bet! But since all our aunts and uncles loved practical jokes, we weren't quite sure if this was really going to happen!
Finally, Saturday evening came, and after baths in the #3, we loaded into the old raggedy family car and headed to town. Excitement built.. as we sped along at reckless speeds up to 30 mph! At last, we were pulling into the little town, maybe 3,000/4,000 strong, at that time. Daddy found a parking place in the alley, for every Main Street parking space was filled. Ladies wearing hats and bonnets sat in the cars, visiting, as though in fine portable parlours! Holding hands, we sidled along, catching snatches of conversation.. holding our breaths.
The town's-people, farmers, their families, and hundreds of cowboys from the surrounding ranches were standing along the walks, or leaning against buildings, visiting. It was as if we'd been transported to an alien planet!
Aunt Annie pointed out the beautiful lighted sign of the Palace Theater, standing high above the building, and we were all but hypnotized at the rotating lights! Now, the smell of popcorn was drifting toward us and we were salivating! I still thought it might be a joke, but sure enough, we turned into the theater lobby!
Aunt Annie was smiling, as she bought popcorn, & paid for our tickets. Then, we silently entered the darkened hallway, where a ticket-taker tore the tickets, and an usher used his flashlight to show us to seats. I recall we were about 3/4 of the way back, and seated on the right, for we needed considerable space.
We took most of 2 short rows, and somehow, I wound up in an aisle seat, with my brother Huck next to me. He was totally quiet and whispered to me that he hated this place. I told him not to talk, Annie SAID!
Then.. coming attractions ended.. shoot-em-up-western came on. It was b/w, of course, and LOUD! Shortly, the bad guys rode up ready to take the trail herd away from the good guys. First off, stampede the cattle! Shooting commenced!
I stuck my fingers in my ears, but my brother, Huck, (about 4 years old) dropped to the floor, and hid under his seat! I envied him, but was afraid if I got down there, the cattle would pour into the theater and we would be trampled to death! Huck raised up far enough to see the cattle veer around and come right at the screen, and this time when he hit the floor, he ran under my legs, saying, 'I'm getting out of here, THE COWS ARE COMING!' I desperately wanted to follow him, for I had the same idea, but remembered my parent's warning, 'Do not leave your seat for ANY reason!'
He'd probably been gone less than a minute, when my older sister peeked around and whispered, 'Where is Huck?' I whispered back that he ran out so the cows wouldn't kill him, and she quickly told my mom and aunt. They stood and hurried up the aisle, with me on their heels. On the sidewalk, we looked both ways and couldn't see Huck, anywhere.
We hurried down the street and I got pushed toward the curb by a shopper, and that's when I caught sight of Huck, running lickity-split, nearly 2 blocks ahead! I yelled, 'Yonder he is!' and was sent to catch him, since both the ladies wore heels, and I lit a shuck! I was a pretty good runner, back then, and had sense enough to stay to the edge of the side-walk, and finally caught Huck. When I grabbed him, the fight was on! We were about the same size, and of similiar strength, but I was able to get a fist full of over-all gallus, and nothing would have jarred me loose! The adults caught us, and they finally calmed him down. My aunt was laughing so hard, she could hardly talk. Finally, she convinced him the cows weren't real, and lured him back to the theater, but it wasn't easy!
This time, my mom took the aisle seat, and was able to keep Huck relatively calm through the rest of the western, the cartoon, the second show, and the Buck Rogers serial! All of us kids were like scared mice, that day, but stayed quiet for fear of teasing.
Afterward, we came out to find that night had fallen, with the darkness chased away by electirc lights. Magical! The crowd had thinned, and my aunt now led us to a very small cafe and we went in and took up all the counter stools. (There were no booths or tables.)
She ordered a hamburger and glass of water for each of us, and then sat back and enjoyed the sight of us consuming those enormous, greasy, delicious hamburgers!
That's my memory of going to town, seeing a movie, and dining in style... and I wouldn't take nothin' for the memory!
J B, from TX, entered 2004-05-23