Saturday Matinee Movies
Saturday mornings were movie time for kids in the 1950s, and our local theater carried all the popular kid flicks; Hopalong Cassidy, Roy Rodgers, Lash LaRue, Abbott & Costello, to mention a few. A cartoon, a newsreel about world events, and a cliffhanger serial from some older movie, such as Buck Rogers, usually preceded each movie. We’d get there early in hopes of getting good seats and to be first in line at the snack bar. The cost for a movie was ten cents for children, twelve and under, increasing to twenty-five cents by the late ’50s. Fifteen cents would buy popcorn and a drink, and if you felt rich, you could buy most candy selections for a nickel.
Indian Cigars & the Secret Place
Mouth’s older brother had told him about Indian Cigars, and he enthusiastically shared this information with us. When his brother was our age, he and his friends would pick the green pods from a Catalpa (Indian cigar) tree during the summer and put them on a shed or carport roof to dry. When dried, they became dark brown, and when lit, they burned slowly. His brother and friends would smoke them, pretending they were smoking real cigars.
“How cool,” I thought as I listened to him tell us about them. In the 1950s it was cool to smoke. Our dads smoked, and smokers inundated the movies and TV, so of course, we all wanted to be cool like the people we admired.
By 1962 the dress fads made popular by the movies of the ’50s were gone. A new fad from colleges on the east coast was the rage. It was called the Ivy League style. There were many different options of clothing available, but the most popular for guys at our school was the madras shirt with button-down collar, dress slacks, and Weejuns or penny loafers with no socks. We wore our hair short; a clean-cut look that pleased my mom. If you looked Ivy League, you were cool. Most of our parents would fork out a few bucks for replacement clothing each new school year, but none of them were inclined to replace a whole wardrobe even if they could afford to do so. My mom bought a few basic things for me, but I bought the rest with my own money. Girls had many more cool dress options available, but the coolest look to me was a fitted dress or skirt with a belt, blouse (madras) with buttondown collar, and of course, nylons with Weejuns or penny loafers. The most popular girls’ hairstyle was long and straight, like Mary Travis of Peter, Paul and Mary fame. In our new style clothes and hairdos, we were cool to look at, but guys needed their own transportation to be really cool.