Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .



Sunday, November 25, 2012

Fifty Cents


Fifty cents used to be a lot of money.
And gave you the ability to do amazing things.
Let me explain . . .
Saturday.
That wonderful day of the week when one didn't have to dive frantically from their beds, feverishly dash through a morning routine, and drive frantically to catch the school bus.
No.
On Saturday, one could leisurely climb out of bed.
Enjoy a healthy breakfast.
And spend the morning . . . diverting.
Okay, well I don't know about the rest of the family (ie. Mom), but I could.
And the best part of Saturday?
Talking Dad into taking me and my siblings into town for the movies.
Remember, we lived twenty miles away.
On sketchy 'gravelled' roads.
Sometimes, it took a great deal of talking.
When we were successful, he would pull up to the theatre, hand each of us fifty cents, and wave as we scrambled for the door.
The smell of freshly popped and popping corn would wash over me the instant I stepped inside. Clutching my money, I made a dash for the admissions counter and handed over half of my precious coins.
Then I took up a post in front of the all-important concession and eyed the limitless possibilities.
After several moments of tempting myself with mouth-watering indecision, I made my choice.
Inevitably, Grape Crush and a bag of popcorn.
With a nickle for a package of red licorice.
Then, clutching my booty and my ticket, I would approach that magical doorway to infinite worlds and possibilities.
The door-keeper would tear my precious ticket in half with a grin and an, “Enjoy the show!” and I was inside.
The curtains, deep green velvet, would be tightly closed.
Hiding the magic behind them.
Reverently, eyes glued to them, I would slowly make my way down the sloping, creaking wooden floor to my chosen seat.
Somewhere near the front.
Preferably in the first two rows.
Then, one hand stuffing popcorn into my mouth, and the other clutching my precious bottle of pop, I would settle back.
Waiting for the magic.
Waiting to be transported to another place and time.
Suddenly, the house lights would dim and a bright beam would shoot through the air and snare the green curtains in a noose of light.
They would slowly begin to part.
I should mention here that, for years, I thought that the thick, heavy curtains actually became opaque.
And that the beam of light was shining through them from the back.
Yeah. So, an Einstein, I wasn't.
Moving on . . .
For the next two hours, I was somewhere else.
Watching the lives and/or exploits of someone else.
It was magic.
Occasionally, reality would intrude for precious seconds.
Especially if the projectionist was a bit slow in starting the second and/or third reels.
But mostly, my immersion was happy and complete.
Another world.
Another time.
Another life.
Complete with yummy snacks.
All opened to me for the paltry sum of fifty cents.

5 comments:

  1. Fifty cents was a lot of money in the day.

    ReplyDelete
  2. That was back in the time when they showed cartoons and news reels. I remember many times when those (and the community bulletin board) were better than the feature film.

    Oh, and I can't forget when the second reel was wound upside down and Stan had to change it before we could proceed. Fun days...

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi Diane:

    I watched a John Wayne movie on t.v. late last night where a motorcycle and 2 model T Fords were introduced into the movie ! Must have been quite the stretch for the producer ! And dear John was actually aging ! Yes, our favorite good cowboy still rode his trusty steed and even had a dog ! But oh was it ever violent ! Obviously I wiped that part out of my recollections :-). The movie still produced a smile.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Ha ha! I know the movie described by Porcupine ^ very well. It is Big Jake, a favourite of mine. I own it on DVD and watch it a few times a year. :)

    I remember going to the movies when I was 11-12, it cost us a shilling admission and we always had a shilling to spend. I always got a box of Maltesers, and sometimes a choc-top icecream or I would save the extra pennies for a milkshake on the way home. We lived in town so we walked and in summer we would detour to the beach for a swim on the way home. Fresh popped popcorn didn't come to our cinemas until much later, I think in the 80s.

    ReplyDelete
  5. My sisters and I have these wonderful memories in the 70's when it cost about 2.00, well worth every penny:)

    ReplyDelete

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