Editor’s Note: Palos Hills historian Donald C. White took a break from his usual research of subjects such as the Civil War and the Gettysburg Address to take a trip down memory lane of the pleasures of going to the movies.
Let’s all go to the movies.
As a young lad growing up in Peoria, I lived and breathed reading, movies and radio.
There were no televisions, no iPods or IPads, no Kindles or any high-tech devices that now give instant gratification to the user. We were blessed with a great school library, movies almost every Saturday or Sunday and sometimes both days. Then I had radio every afternoon and evening after school. What more could a boy want?
On Saturdays, a couple of the second tier theatres would show two movies, a newsreel, a cartoon, previews of coming attractions and an ongoing serial that had me hanging on the edge of my seat each week. The cost for this pure childhood joy was only 9 cents.
Do any of you remember those good old days? If I was fortunate enough to have money left over I could go to another movie on Sunday. The only thing missing was the serial.
When I first started going to the movies with my buddies, we were all about 10 to 12 years old. We rode the bus downtown to Peoria and many times one or all of us would spend our return bus fare at the theatre, so we all walked home. Well, we were just growing boys and we really needed our junk food. Of course back then we didn’t know it was junk food; it just tasted good and went well with our day on the town.
I think at the age of 12 the movie price was 25 cents but it was still a bargain. The truth be told, I think I stayed 11 years old for a while after my 12th birthday. I don’t remember all the prices for sure, but I know that candy bars were 5 cents, popcorn was 10 cents and I don’t remember the cost of a soda. Maybe I didn’t drink back then. Well, I still don’t yet today.
They weren’t called the good old days for nothing. This would have been during the late 40s and early 50s. So it was after WWII and at the beginning of the Korean War. There were a lot of war movies and, of course, westerns to fill our minds. After the movie we would come home and play either cowboys or Indians or fight another war. Yes, I had a BB gun, just not as fancy as Ralphie’s in “A Christmas Story.” No, I never shot my eye out or any of my buddies either. And none of us ever stuck our tongue to a flag pole in the dead of winter.
Fast forward to the early 1990s and the birth of my first grandchild and the joy that accompanies an event like that. Her name is Athena and she is my Georgia Peach. The fact that she lived in Georgia presented logistical problems for us going to the movies. We were able to visit her in Georgia and she came for visits to Illinois so we went to as many movies as we could.
We then purchased the movie as soon as it came out on video and later DVDs.
Now in 2013, Athena is in college and there is not much time for watching movies with her.
I miss that, but don’t worry as I have two grandsons that live close by, so I still get to see many of the children’s movies when they hit the theatres. Grandsons Nikola and Samuel are very good about letting me know when the next movie is about to hit their local theatre.
As I write this, I am remembering going to the movies with my Grandpa Charlie back in the 40s and 50s. We even saw a movie in 3-D way back then.
Listed below are some of the movies I have seen during the past seventeen years or so.
First, of course were the “Winnie the Pooh” videos, then came “Stuart Little”, “Bug’s Life,” “Home Alone,” then all of the old and many of the new Disney movies. Then came “Lion King,” “Harry Potter,” “Toy Story,” “Cars,” “The Bee Movie,” “Monsters University,” “Planes,” and “Ratatouille,” just to name a few. We also enjoyed many of the “Thomas” videos.
Now as the boys get older we are getting more into the super hero movies and then who knows what comes next?
Whatever is in store, I have enjoyed being able to go with the grandkids to see movies on the big screen that I would not have gotten to see without them. We always try to go in the early afternoon to get the best prices. The kids and senior prices are usually the same, in the $5.50 to $8 range. That is if you don’t see it in 3-D.
So, for the wife and I, Nikola and Samuel, a day at the movies, with a treat could cost between $30 to $50. Then we might stop and have dinner after the movie. But you know what? It is always one of the best days of my life to hear the kids laugh and to share a memory maker with them. Life is great for this kid.
I wish Joy and Peace to all of you during this Christmas season.