49. Matinee Idol

Was just talking with daughter Lisa about going to see a movie (“Never Let Me Go”).  It’s a good book by Kazuo Ishiguro – maybe a good movie too.

I watch a few hundred movies every year but not in the movie theaters.  Last one I saw in a movie theater was “Inception”. Before that it was “Avatar”.  It’s hard to believe how movies have changed since the Stone Age when I first started seeing them.

When my siblings and I were growing up in Cedar Rapids, my idea of a swoon-filled dreamy Saturday afternoon was going to a movie matinee.

Whenever my mother said we could go, she’d give me and my brothers Jimmy and Leo  each a quarter and off we’d go. Each quarter covered the two nickels for the bus fare to and from the Times movie theater, a dime for the ticket of admission, and a nickel for popcorn. We never knew what was playing till we got there, but I always prayed it would be my favorite — Hopalong Cassidy.

I was sure that Hopalong and his white horse Topper were the finest movie stars the world would ever know.  Except for the Lone Ranger on radio, Hopalong was the only cowboy star I ever fervently worshipped.

He wasn’t the usual grade school heart throb.  Hopalong was called that because he limped from a gunshot wound early in his career, and he had white hair because he was Really Old.  At least I think his hair was white.  All 66 of his movies were in black-and-white, so who knew?

I thought Gene Autry and Roy Rogers were corn-balls.  Real cowboys didn’t play guitars and burst into song and have their horses do stupid pet tricks.  But Hopalong – he was a real cowboy. He tried to avoid gunfights but with or without them, he always won bravely and fairly.  And he always wore black – which proved that good guys with sense didn’t wear white hats on the dusty prairie. And before he saved everyone, he always applied some thought and planning to it.  And he smiled real smiles and made jokes.

Oh, yeah.  They don’t make ‘em like they usta.  Check it out as it was in those thrilling days of yesteryear . . .

Fashion note: my brothers and I are wearing new overalls in the photo of us above. They were the first pair of pants I or my sister Joan had ever owned or even tried on.  Mine were light blue and I thought they were the cat’s meow, the bee’s knees, posh, swanky, hip – you name it.  Girls in our town only wore dresses till I was eleven.  We can thank the movies for changing that. The actress, Kathryn Hepburn, made pants respectable for the “ladies”.  And for cowboy wannabes.







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One Response to 49. Matinee Idol

  1. keytimer says:

    You were lucky to be able to go by yourself Saturday afternoons on the bus. My sister and I were never allowed to ever go with friends. We had to ALWAYS go with my parents. We were lucky if they bought one tiny bag of popcorn. However, Mom always gave us 1/4 of a piece of Black Jack gum. At least it tasted like licorace. Two movies, a news reel, one or two cartoons and an ad for Coke a Cola and popcorn.
    I never knew that’s why Hop a Long was named that. He was a bit before my time. :o)
    Loved your skirt to pants story. Yes, we even changed from school clothes to play clothes that were dresses. Girls were taught to always keep their legs together and carry a hankie. Kleenex had not been invented, nor had plastic baggies or Saran Wrap.

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