Saturday, April 26, 2014

"If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun." ~ Katharine Hepburn

In Culver City, California when I was young, Saturdays meant going to the movies. You'd think that the movie theater would be sitting in the shadow of MGM Studios, wouldn't you... but it wasn't. Nope! We went to the Palms Theater in the neighboring town. Mom would pile my brother, Jackie, and his buddies into the backseat, which meant that my friends and I would have to sit on each others' laps in the front seat. Then, off we'd go.

At The Palms Theater there would be a long line of cars on Saturday mornings, full of Moms dumping their kids onto the sidewalk with quarters clutched in their hands. Mom would hand me my 2 quarters, and then stuff 2 quarters into my brother's back pocket so he wouldn't lose them. We'd all tumble out of the car and run to stand in line with the other kids.

The movies cost 25 cents if you were 12 or under. But here is a shocker for you reading this today: "The Movies" consisted of 5-6 "Loonie Tunes" cartoons, a newsreel of the world's happenings, a 15-minute serialized Western ("to be continued..." it always said, just as the hero fell off the cliff...), and THEN came the movie!

But there was even more! After the feature movie came the intermission. Of course, no one had any money left to buy anything edible, but it was a busy time, just the same. The boys needed to go to the lobby to get more handfuls of straws. The girls would be streaming into the bathroom, just because they were girls and had to primp and do some more talking! 

Then the lights would go out in the theater, and then, the coming attractions. After that, came a second movie... the "B" movie. Yes, we kids would be in that theater on Saturdays from 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Now you understand how popular the Saturday movies were with the Moms and Dads. Nearly every single Saturday parents had a carefree, kid-free afternoon!

When you'd finally reach the ticket window, you'd hand the lady-in-the-window a quarter, and she'd shove a ticket at you, through the slit at the bottom of her glass. That was your ticket to the lobby! That's where you'd get your Coke for a nickel, a big container of popcorn for a dime, and you'd get to pick out 2 of your most favorite, enormous candy bars, at a nickel a piece. You were broke, then... penniless, but very, very happy!

Inside the theater there was a strict regimental seating policy. I'm not sure the management knew about this policy, but we kids never broke that order. The front 10 or 12 rows were for the boys. That way they could reach the movie-screen when they blew the paper off their straws. Only THEN could they dunk their naked straws into their large cups and squirt Coke at each other!

The middle rows were for the girls of all ages, chattering with their friends above the roar of the boys' laughter and yelling in the front. Sometimes, a boy would turn around, aim his straw at one of the girls, and, if he had good aim, the straw paper would hit the girl right in the cheek. It was The Palms Theater's "Saturday language of love," and all the kids over 10 years of age knew it!

The last rows of The Palms were specially reserved for the 13 - 15 year-olds. If a boy in that age group was "in love," he'd plan to meet her in one of those rows so they could "make-out." Yes, it's true! Love did bloom in that raucuous, paper-straw-filled, popcorn-smelling, sticky-floored movie theater. There was another rule that we all knew... if we had to run back up the aisle to the bathroom in the lobby, we were NOT supposed to look at anyone in those back rows! But if we couldn't resist, we were supposed to peek discretely at the lovers' knots that had formed back there.

The Palms Theater had a few rules of its own, too. Every Saturday the manager would make his apearance before the movies started. Straight-backed, determined but forelorn, he would march down the aisle, dodging paper straws and sprays of Coke or root beer or 7-Up. There, in front of the dark movie screen, he would make the same announcement every Saturday: "Please, ladies and gentlemen! PLEASE! Be quiet! PLEASE BE QUIET!" Of course, no one would. In fact, I always wondered why he thought that about 2 or 3 hundred kids would stop having such fun and listen to a grown-up who wasn't even their teacher or their Dad...

He would doggedly keep on going with his request, though. "Please pick up your straw papers! Please don't blow those papers all over this theater. It makes such a mess! Please be quiet and consider that your neighbor might want to actually hear the movie...  PLEEEEEZE..." And then he would trudge up the other aisle and go back where he came from. No one would bother us again until the lights inside the theater went back on at about 5:00PM. By then, havoc was wreaked... we all had tummy-aches, headaches, sore throats from yelling over the rest of the 200 or 300 kids, and our Dads were waiting in their cars to take us back home.

Those were the days... I'm off, now, to the movies with my husband. It's not nearly as fun, though, being quiet and grown-up. But, if Richard buys me a Coke tonight, and if he turns his head, I'll blow the paper off my straw just for you!  :} 


  1. This brings back lots of memories. I remember all the Elvis movies, oh and Gidget! I loved those.

    1. Me, too! It was soooo much fun, and now I understand how much the parents must have liked us oing to the movies. But, that poor, poor movie manager... :\