The best day of the week when you're twelve.
You generally started making plans on the previous Saturday
when the "Previews of Coming Attractions" flashed on the
movie screen. Plans were finalized on Fridays on the long
walk home from school. There was the unheard of luxury
of three, count 'em, three movie theatres in my little home
town from which to choose the days entertainment.
Children's admission, up to the grand old age of twelve, was
pegged at the magnificent sum of twelve cents! Bars and boxes
of gummy, chewy, chocolately tooth decay were purchased for
a nickel each. I don't recall the popcorn and soda prices cause
you only had to buy that stuff for girls. And, no self-respecting
twelve year old would be caught dead with a girl, at the movies,
on a Saturday afternoon. That time was strictly reserved for sharing
with your buddies, pals, schoolmates, none of which included "those"
of the opposite sex.
The movies started at 12:00 sharp, which meant leaving the house
no later then 11:00, if you expected to be seated at the anointed time
in your chosen seat. For the princely total of seventeen cents, mothers
and fathers all over the city were paroled for about six hours every
Saturday afternoon. If the children of the 50's were to count backwards
from their birthdays, chances are a lot of birthdays, minus nine months,
would turn out to be a SATURDAY!
For the uninformed, the Saturday movies were the morality plays
of the times. The good guys always came out on top. The "Previews
of Coming Attractions" served to whet your appetite for next weeks
offerings. You were treated to a newsreel of current events for the
second fifteen minutes followed by three cartoons of about forty-five
minutes. Next, a continuing weekly serial, "Flash Gordon vs. The Moon
People," occupied your attention for another thirty minutes and then,
finally the good stuff. An hour and a half western followed by a war
movie of similar time constraints. If you were on time, your entrance
into the theater was just before noon and you emerged, sun-blinded,
about four and a half hours later.
The way home was usually impeded by a trip through the alleyways
separating the "Monkey Wards" store and several other city businesses.
No telling what treasures were to be found in the trash bins behind
every store. Long-tubed fluorescent bulbs were speared through the
air to land with an explosive bang; much like the bazookas and hand
grenades, tossed and fired just moments before by the Marines led
by John Wayne; taking one more distant island stronghold from the enemy.
Super large cardboard boxes were next on the list of most sought
after prizes to be captured from the enemy trash bins. If it was
wintertime, they could be used as sleds on "Martin's Hill." Flattened
out they were even better, cause the whole gang could then pile on
at the same time. Those that got the choice flaps for seats were on
their own when it came to the snow packed jumps we had previously
constructed. Summertime saw the worthy boxes pressed into service
as forts to be defended; linings for underground secret hideaways and
all other manner of structures - to be defended to the death, or suppertime,
which ever came first!
Saturday nights held all manner of possibilities. The streetlight
in front of my house was the post for hide and seek, the south
goal for night football, the meeting place to count your loot from
Halloween, first base for baseball under the lights and the place
where family and neighbors could see at a glance, who was
unaccounted for, from their front porches.
Saturdays were magical when I was twelve.
And Tom Wolfe was wrong.
You can "go home again."
But, Saturday isn't there anymore. ~ Richard A. (Dick) Taylor