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Matinee Memories [Jun. 22nd, 2012|03:56 pm]
Summer of 1960 may have been the best time of my life. I had completed the Second Grade! I discovered Robert Heinlein juvenile novels, along with a number of other favorites. I was in that blissful human condition so rare in life; there was nothing I wanted to do that I did not have permission and means to do. 

We lived in Cushing, Oklahoma, about 2 blocks from my Grandparents. I could walk to the swimming pool, the library, or go back behind the house a block and mess about in the creek, or dig clay to make (very bad) Indian pots and bowls.... bliss.

But especially there was the Duncan Theater and their Saturday afternoon matinee for kids. Usually a double feature, with newsreel, a half a dozen cartoons, and even an old serial--Commando Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen is the one I remember best. Weissmuller Tarzan movies, Japanese monster movies... Bliss.  Admission was 25 cents, a medium  "suicide" drink 10 cents, and a "Guess What" 5 cents. (A "Guess What" was a small box of taffy type candy with a prize in it--press-on tattoos, 6 page comics, plastic animals (including the rare dinosaur), and --prize of all prizes!--a thin nail with a half circle bent into the middle accompanied by a length of gauze stained with red ink, so you could go around all afternoon with a fake bloody nail stuck through your finger.

When you had emptied the Guess What box you tore the flaps off one end and blew into the box, which became a squawker of strained and melancholy resonance, until the cardboard got too damp to groan any more. This was saved for any points in the western  or other feature where the hero and the heroine embraced or even-- heaven forbid--kissed! Or for when the bad guy had the upper hand. Or when you just couldn't stand being quiet any more.
for a picture of the box. I always went for the flying saucer when I could--the woman at the candy counter was not prone to indulging kid requests for a particular box, bout on occasion she'd relent and grant a pitiable request.

It was a summertime thing; a kind of deal between the theater and the town's parents to get the kids out of the house for a few hours parental peace and quiet for the weekend. 50 cents brought you all that with a dime left over for a comic book afterwards, purchased at Brownlee's corner store, which also featured (illegal) punchboards under the counter, a butcher's counter instead of prepackaged display cases, and ancient wooden shelves filled with both ordinary cans and sundries  beside mysterious stuff you never saw at the supermarket. 

During school months the matinee was a single feature, and everything else was cut back too, I think. Hard to remember for sure. But I sure do remember the movies and that awful, wonderful serial (which I now have on DVD!) I so wanted to be Rocketman (the alternative name for the serial).

I wonder now why I never never acquired those old Weissmuller movies on DVD? Probably because I know better than to revisit them.

I was always surprised coming out of the theater at the end of the afternoon to find the sun still up, and daylight still ruling.

Happy Days.  Good times. Sweet memories.