Saturday, January 17, 2009

Saturday Matinees

I've been working on a piece about attending the Saturday matinee at the Nova Theatre in Edson, Alberta (the late Tom Fowler, proprietor). Growing up this was the highlight of our week. Here is what I remember...

We would stuff our gobs and bulge our pockets with candy and chocolate, purchased with the 75 cents our Moms would supply us with.

The lights in the theater would give just a hint of dimming and instantly several hundred pre-pubescent voices would scream at the top of their lungs...

Popcorn boxes would be flung into the air by the dozen, almost completely blocking the screen (which was the point of course). Shortly thereafter the weird kids who sat in the very front row would be dazed and senseless from getting beaned by all the popcorn boxes being flung their way. Which was also the intent.

Poor Tommy Fowler would wander the aisles with his trusty flashlight, uselessly shining its beam into the faces of some miscreant who had his feet up on the back of the seat or some other heinous crime. His famous line was "Settle down!" as he'd attempt to shush the audience who were madly hurling Goobers at the Three Stooges then playing.

Or we would repair to the 'Cry Room' - an enclosed room at the back of the joint, where supposedly nursing mothers would go to keep their wailing brats from disturbing the rest of us wailing, older brats.

In truth, I think most of the illicit drug deals done in the town were transacted in this room. More than one virginity was lost there too as I recall - not that we knew or understood what was going on. We just heard the thrashing and giggled in the dark. I probably threw some Goobers then too. Might have been Hot Tamales. Whatever.

It kind of amazes me how quaint the whole scene is today. Way back when, the same movie would play for a month in a row. The same movie for one month. 4 Saturdays. No wonder we went mental.

I also learned some valuable lessons in petty larceny too. Mr Fowler would pay a penny a flyer to deliver the monthly movie schedule. Which was kind of hilarious. The entire month would say "Chitti Chitti Bang Bang" or something. Every day. But anyway - he would get us kids to hand deliver these flyers to every house in town.

It didn't take us long to figure out we should just deliver about 10 or so, then dump the rest and head back to the theater for our cash. I think it worked once. Damn him and his spot checks.

I can remember peeing with laughter at listening to a marble or 'boulder' rolling slowly from the back of the theater, through everyones feet, to the front of the theater, then back down into the concave portion of the floor. What a heroic toss that was. From then on marble rolling was rampant and care had to be exercised when exiting your row if you were sitting in the 'dip'.

My dear sister also enjoys reminding me of the time I went to my first night time movie. She told me that at night all the grown-ups always yell really loud when their movies start - just like at matinees. Naturally, being a twit of a boy, I believed the conniving bag of dirt and stood up and yelled my guts out as the lights went dim.

I stood and yelled alone of course.

I think I melted into the concrete floor from embarrassment.

1 comment:

Andy Stanton said...

I was thinking of Tom Fowler. I wondered how old he was when he died. The Google search came up with your writings. It was an accurate memory of the times. I was remembering .25 cent matinees. .05 for the candy. If you had an extra .05 you ate like a candy King. We went to the Elvis movies. I wonder if Elvis ever told Tom thank you, thank you very much.