Saturday afternoon movie matinees

Not too long ago I happened to drive through the intersection of West 1st Ave. and Knox Court. After driving through the intersection I pulled over to the curb and reminisced for a while. I was remembering how this intersection looked like in the late forties and early fifties. On the southwest corner were a small drug store and few small shops. Today the buildings are still there but the drug store and original shops are long gone. On the northwest corner a filling station and a Piggly Wiggly grocery store filled that corner. I think there was a small hardware store on the northeast corner. I do remember the Saturday auctions held by a Japanese auctioneer dressed in a pair of coveralls. The building that had the most memories for me was on the southeast corner and that was the Comet Theatre.

The Saturday afternoon matinees were the big event through the summer months. The entire neighborhood kids would go to this weekly big event. We would try to get there an hour before the movie opened. The line became quite long before the theatre finally opened. Finally the movie opened and it was mass chaos rushing in and getting our favorite seats. Yes, the theatre would be jammed packed.

The concession room was jammed and full with all these kids trying to get their treats before the movie started. Screaming yelling and waving hands to get the attention of the concession attendant was the norm. No lines here, you just got up to the counter and hoped you could be served quickly.

It was finally movie time. There was always a cartoon and a serial before the movie. Oh, those serials they were the greatest. You had to be sure and come back the next Saturday and find out how the dramatic highlight ended. This was our first exposure to science fiction with Buster Crabb and his space adventures. The graphics in those times were really bad. You could actually see the string holding the space ship in front of the painted wall of outer space. The serials were the best attraction of these matinees. If the movie was bad we would leave early. We could not miss the serial though.

This brought memories of another theatre in our younger years. This was the Webber Theatre on Broadway just north of Alameda Ave a couple of blocks. Their attraction was a birthday club and a drawing every Saturday for a prize. When you had a birthday in the week the Webber Theatre would give you a cake from Volmer’s Bakery. They would call out your name, you would go up on the stage, receive your cake and the audience would sing happy birthday.

One time my brother won the Saturday drawing. It was a single shot BB gun. You would cock the gun and then drop a single BB down the barrel. If you happen to lower the barrel, the BB would roll out. Oh well, it was free and it was won. My parents were not too happy when this BB gun came home. They did not take it away from my brother though.

I don’t have any pictures of these enjoyable days. All I have are the memories stored in the back of my brain.

As time went by we grew up and our interests changed. The Comet Theatre closed and after a period of time being empty and unused the building blew up one night. The report was a natural gas leak. Today The Webber Theatre is now a porn theatre. I don’t know what happened to Vollmer’s Bakery.

Now is so much different than then. I am different now than what I was then. Memories of then continue to crop up now. However, memories bring back good and enjoyable times of the past.

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