Saturday, January 12, 2008

Going to the Movies

[Sunday Scribblings prompts us this week to write about "The Date." I found my thoughts wandering about, thinking of things one might do on a date and when I thought of going to the movie theater, this true story about my mom came to mind.]



My mom grew up in the Depression. She says that they didn't know they were poor because pretty much everyone in town was in the same condition. In those days most fun and entertainment had to be homegrown and cheap. But somehow Mom scraped up enough money to go to the movies nearly every weekend. There was one movie theater downtown (keep in mind that this town had only about 5500 people in it, so it wasn't a big place) and the marquee announced the movies to be shown each week. There were usually two afternoon shows (matinees) and then evening showings as well.

The theater often held special events to attract audiences. They would have door prize give-aways, and sometimes they let people buy chinaware place settings very cheaply with each movie ticket purchased. It was not just entertainment; it was a social event. Even if you weren't going into the theater, you might go to chat with other people who were around because that's where everyone was.

Mom retells going to the early show and staying for the second showing. She watched pretty much whatever was on, since it was only one screen and the good only way besides newspapers to get a glimpse of worlds outside her own.

But over time my mom fell out of the practice of going to the movies. By the time I was a kid, we went to very few, and by the time I was old enough to go on my own, she wasn't interested any more. She said they were too loud, too violent, or too indecent.

There was one occasion, however, when friends talked my parents into going to the movies with them. It was to be a grown-up night out, three couples out to the movies while babysitters watched the kids. The movie that night was an action flick.

Now these adults liked drinking beer better than soda, but the movie theater only sold soda. They decided to bring some anyway. Some of them would put a can of beer in their pocket or purse to sneak it in. And while they were sneaking stuff in, they decided to bring their own popcorn. Why pay movie theater prices, they thought, when we can pop our own at home? So the adults met at our house and Mom popped popcorn with her new hot air popper. They divided the popcorn into little plastic baggies, twist-tied the tops and dumped all the bags into my mom's large, slouchy, leather purse, which she had emptied for the occasion.

Off they went, buying tickets, bypassing the concession stand, and finding seats in the back row. By previous agreement, they waited until the movie's first gunfight before opening the cans of beer. The noise of he gunfire covered the popping of the tops. They were pretty pleased with themselves and I imagine them grinning like little kids.

Now for the popcorn. My mom unzipped her leather bag and reached in for a baggie of popcorn to hand down the row. It was then she discovered a flaw in their plan. The heat from the freshly-popped corn had melted the seam on the little bags and all the popcorn has spilled loose inside the large, floppy bag.

They didn't let that slow them down -- they just passed the whole purse back and forth among the six of them instead. Not what they planned, but it worked!

As for the movie, well, Mom hated it. She said it was too loud and too violent. I think Mom has been to the movie theater maybe 5 times since 1975 and I'm pretty sure she only liked it once. But the movies that she saw as a kid she still loves. She'll find one showing on a cable TV channel and settle in for a good time.



25 comments:

Robin said...

*smiling*

(kid trying to fall asleep on lap - can't type)

sister AE said...

thanks, Robin. (*smiling back*)

xoxolat said...

Hello, Michele sent me. ;-)

Tammy said...

The movies were much more of a social event then...how cool! Now it's all about money and sound...sad. Cute story.

sister AE said...

Hi, xoxolat.

Thanks, Tammy.

MissMeliss said...

Oh, great story. It reminds me very much of the trips to the movies my mother and I would make with her friend Mitzi, when we lived in Georgetown, Co. The theater, then, was fifteen minutes away in Idaho Springs, you had to bring a blanket to stay warm and the (drunk, stoned, or merely clueless) projectionist would often let the film burn, but no matter what was on, we always had fun. -- MissMeliss

keith hillman said...

How things have changed! A lovely story

sister AE said...

Hello, MissMeliss, and thanks. I'm glad this evoked some happy memories.

Hi, keith, and thanks.

tumblewords said...

Oh, I love this! I sent popcorn through a motel shower cap once - lacked a bowl, of course. I pretty much agree with your mom about movies.

Lucy said...

times seem so nice back in your moms day. this was a lovely little story. thanks! :)

sister AE said...

Hi, tumblewords. Thanks. Every once in a while we try out a DVD on Mom when we visit, but most are thumbs-down!

Hello, Lucy. Thanks.

Redness said...

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gautami tripathy said...

Blogger ate my previous comment. I had mad such a long one too. The gist of it was there are still places like that in India where movies are the only entertainment. Recently I was in one such place.

Thanks for your post! I loved this.

Stacy said...

Next time the folks want a theater with beer, invite them to my town. We have a 1930s era theater that has been re-formulated as a family theater, with food (from the bar next door) and tables. They serve beer (because nothing says fun like kids movies + beer).

I loved this post!

sister AE said...

Thanks, Redness. I'll come over and take a look.

Hello, Gautami. I hate it when that happens! I'm glad there are still places like that. They tend to carry the flavor of a place because it is about the people - not about the neon and plastic.

Hi, Stacy. Now that I think of it, there are at least a couple movies that would have been better had I been drinking... LOL.

Linda said...

You tell a captivating story! Your mom's character is so nicely dveloped.

sister AE said...

thanks, Linda.

ana said...

aw what a lovely story, I can almost visualize them passing a bagful of popcorn to and fro and grinning to themselves...

Penelope Anne said...

I absolutely love this, because it takes us from childhood to adulthood with mom....I love the bringing in own beer and popcorn....think my parents did that too.

Penelope Anne
http://wannabeawritersomeday.blogspot.com/2008/01/sunday-scribblings-date.html

sister AE said...

Thanks, Ana and Penelope.

Brian said...

Michele sent me to see the movies. Really enjoyed the trip back in time. Seems like everything is louder and faster these days.

sister AE said...

Hello, Brian. Exactly so, but things like the Internet open up the world to us a bit more.

Maria said...

When I was a kid, my parents would only take us to Catholic approved movies. My father loved anything with John Wayne in it, so we always saw those. We saw The Sound of Music and Camelot. My father was incensed at Camelot's plot of adultery and made us leave in the middle of it. I was heartbroken and it is still one of my favorite movies today....

susan said...

Enjoyed it not only for the content but your delivery. A story is memorable when well written.

sister AE said...

Hi, Maria. I remember (parts of) The Sound of Music from that little ancient theater, but that's about the only one I remember from early childhood. But music from that, and Camelot, and Fiddler on the Roof were records we played over and over and some of the first songs I learned (right after itsy-bitsy spider)!

Hello, Susan. Thank you very much.