Saturday, December 11, 2010

Saturday Night at the Movies

My oldest brother and I were lucky for on Saturday nights our grandparents would take us into town to the movie theatre complete wih a balcony and ushers with flashlights. There were always two movies showing. Between the first one ending and the second one starting a news reel featuring real news not opinion and black and white promos of coming attractions played. Then the fun started. It was time to play bingo. After paying to get in the attenda
nt would give each of us a bingo card. Everyone in the theatre played bingo while eating popcon smothered in butter. There was never talk about needing a license or protests over kids playing bingo. It was simply fun; part of a Saturday night at the movies.

A short man in a suit stood up on the stage and out of what seemed like a giant fish bowl pulled numbers painted on round discs one at a time; yelling the numbers so loudly until someone stood and yelled back, "Bingo"! The cards were perforated so as a number was called that matched your card all you had to do was push the number in and down. I'm not sure but I think the prize was free tickets. I don't remember any of us winning. It didn't matter. We were sharing time.

After the movies we'd go next door to a local diner; the sort of place with a countertop where see-through holders on pedestals displaying homemade pies and donuts sitting on doilies sat. In front of the countertop stationary stools that swivelled all around were bolted to the floor. These were usually occupied by the regulars-prime property where they could read the papers and watch who was coming and going. Booths lined the walls and ran up and down the center with an aisle on each side.

It was crowded after the movies. People gathered to talk about what was shown. We always tried for a booth near one of the windows. I'd sit on one side with my grandmother and my brother would be with my grandfather on the other side. When the movie had been a western my grandfather went on and on. Grampie loved westerns. He loved to read, especially Saturday Evening Posts and Zane Grey novels. Although we went thought the ritual of the waitress coming to the table with a menu covered in plastic and her small pad of paper in hand and a pencil behind her ear we always ordered the same thing-a hamburger with a pickle and a coke in a real coke glass with chopped-up ice and a straw. This was the only time we ever had soft drink so every last drop was enjoyed. Our grandparents were never in a rush to get back to the country. Dressed up to the point of even wearing hats they'd sit with us as locals came and went and the theatre sat in wait for the next Saturday night and more bingo and even more popcorn smothered in popcorn.

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