Thursday, June 11, 2009
The movie theatres
When I was in the third grade, Miss Sally Cochran was my teacher and what a teacher she was! She was very strict and made you learn whether you wanted to or not. I never did see them, but she must have had eyes in the back of her head. One day she was writing on the board and all of a sudden she wheeled around and slung the eraser flying through the air at Frances Newsom, who was talking. Frances saw that eraser coming and ducked and the eraser hit Russell Cook right in the face. Everybody thought it was really funny, except Russell and Miss Sally.
Miss Sally gave us an assignment I’ll never forget. She said write and describe every business around the square and it made me cognizant of the uptown businesses.
There were two movie theatres. Mr. Wade owned one where Scott Robinson’s business is today on the north side of the square. In the front he had his drug store with a fountain. My sister, Christine, worked for him. My mother was trying to fatten me up, as plump was the style of the day. If I took an egg up to the drugstore my sister would make me a milkshake for a dime with the egg in it. (It must have worked retroactively!) There was a another movie house on the corner of College and Memphis Street owned by Mr. Parham where the Bryant and Reaves Parts Store is today across from the post office.
Each afternoon each theatre had matinees and they also were open every night except Sunday, never on Sunday. That was the Lord’s Day and we didn’t do much on Sunday except go to Sunday School and church, the B.Y.P.U. and church again in the evening.
Back to the movies. Admission was a dime a show, even at night, except Wednesday afternoon, admission was a nickel. Competition was fierce. I went every afternoon after school. All the movies were great and all were for general audiences. All the family could enjoy each movie. Newsreels were how we learned the news and it was always a short before the movie.
I knew all the movie stars by name. I wrote them and sent them a dime and they would send me back an 8x10 glossy autographed by the star. I had a collection but now I don’t. At each theatre a movie was on Monday and Tuesday, then Wednesday a movie plus a serial, then Thursday and Friday was a different movie, and on Saturday, there was always a serial and a western movie (Hop Along Cassidy, Gene Autry. etc., etc.) Movies were our way of life and it was definitely entertaining.
Someone tried an outdoor movie (only in summer of course) on the lot on College Avenue where the Bank of Holly Springs has a new drive-in now.
When I was eight I had a birthday party that was a “picture-show party.” I invited eight boys and seven girls and we walked as couples from my house on College Avenue to the movie matinee on the square where “Alice In Wonderland” was showing. The show is now a classic and is still showing. It was written by Lewis Carroll who first dreamed it, then wrote it down, then made it into a movie.
Chesley Smith said that the first movie house was on the south side of the square, upstairs over what is now Nancy Hutchens’s Century 21 Realty. It was silent movies and Miss Janie McLyon played the piano for it. She could really play that piano and keep right up with the action on the screen. She could go slow, fast, loud, whatever the scene called for. She lived in the house behind the Presbyterian Church.
The first movie was invented in 1895. They were silent but conversation was written on the bottom of the screen. Most movies were shot on location in California because the climate was so perfect for it. In 1927, “talkies” were invented and from then on, movies came with voices.
In 1937, the shooting of “Gone With The Wind” began in Atlanta.
It was one of the first in color and the first to have a cuss word in it, which was Clark Gable saying “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn!” and it shocked America.
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