My Movie Memories
Our moving to Lake Street, next door to Ralph and Claire Green and their daughter Lois was a bonanza for both Lois and for me. Claire was a weaver at Florence Mill working the second shift, and Ralph was a livestock trader. Lois loved going to the movies, but even though she was 12 years old and Forest City was then a very safe place, her parents would not allow her to go to an evening movie unless someone went with her. When we moved next door, I became the perfect solution to her problem. Since I was 5 years old when we moved next door, I was admitted to the movies free. The regular 5 cents admission for children was not charged until the child became six years old. I could be her little chaperon when she wanted to see a movie, at no additional cost. In return, I got to see at least a couple of movies each week. There were two movie theaters in Forest City. They were the Romina and the Grace, which was the name given the old Pastime Theater after it was remodeled following a fire. Lois and I always went to the Romina, the newer of the two, because the newer movies were shown there. Most of the movies were in black and white then, but more and more were made in color a few years later. There were several different kinds of color, each a little different from the other. I recall that I liked Technicolor best, since it was brighter and more colorful than the others. Musicals were quite popular in the 1940’s.
Lois and I would stop beneath the large windows of the mill that opened onto the Depot Street side of the Florence Mill Building. Claire worked in the weave room just beyond those windows, and we had to check in with her both going to and coming from our movie outings. She knew about when to expect us, and would usually soon come and tilt out the big window to talk with us. If she did not come soon, Lois would throw small pieces of gravel against the window, or if it was summer and the windows were slightly open, would whistle loudly. I was totally awed by and envious of the loud piercing whistle Lois could produce.
When I became six years old in November, the dividing line between free and five cents admission passed right by without a nod of recognition from either Lois or me. I am not sure how long I was fraudulently five, but one evening the ticket lady asked how old I was, and I proudly announced that I was six years old, not realizing I was cutting off my constant source of free entertainment. My having to pay admission probably cost us our popcorn money that night. The Saturday Morning “Continueds” there was, of course, entirely separate from the evening movies, and would become Jerry’s and my favorite weekend activity a couple of years later.
Saturday Morning Serial Movies – “Continueds”
The Saturday “cliff-hanger” serial movies that we called “Continueds” were not to be missed under any circumstances. They left you right at the most exciting moment, not sure your hero could survive the tight spot into which the villain had placed him or her. Missing even one episode was impossible to imagine.
Mama and Daddy did their shopping on Saturday mornings, and would buy our weekly supply of groceries at Horn’s, on the corner a couple of doors down from the Romina Theater. Daddy would take us to the theater and buy our tickets, go in with us to get us settled in our seats, and then go to help Mama shop. He knew we wouldn’t stir as long as the movie screen was filled with images. We always looked forward to Saturday mornings and it was convenient for Mama and Daddy in keeping us out of the way while they shopped. Many times when Daddy came for us, their shopping finished, we were so engrossed in the movie that we begged to stay a little longer, even though we had already seen everything through once. Many of the children would spend the day there, sitting through several showings of the movies, but Mama and Daddy would never allow us to do this.