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Reflections: The Picture Show

Enjoy our “Reflections” post — one of many vignettes and stories featuring memories of days gone by. This installment is from Dottie Dewberry of Maben, Mississippi, as seen in “The Oxford So & So.”
If you would like to contribute your own Reflections story, send it, along with photos, to hottytoddynews@gmail.com.

During the 1950s on Friday night or a Saturday night the Sam Maxey family would load up in whatever truck had gas in it and off we would go to the “picture show.” Sometimes there might be seven people in the cab of the truck for a short three-mile trip to Artesia, Mississippi.

If it was in the summertime we kids rode in the back of the truck in the bed. If it got cold we all sat up against the cab hugging the quilt Mama would bring for the trip home. On the way down, when it was still warm, we would sit up on the side or sit on the tailgate. Today our parents would be fined or even arrested for letting us do such. None of us, fortunately, ever fell out or off.
We would park on Front Street in front of the picture show. It was next to Mcllwain’s Hardware Store. Nothing was ever locked; for that matter the keys were probably left in the ignition. For 15 cents you could watch the first show. The second show would cost you another 15 cents. We only got to watch the first one. Snow cones, popcorn and fountain cokes (remember: All drinks were called “coke”) were a nickel each.
There was no such thing as stadium seating; just rows of wooden seats all connected together. This way nobody could move them out of line. It really wasn’t a big place, but we had two sides with rows and rows of seats for all of us squirmy kids to sit in and watch the big screen. One side was for the white people and the other side was for the colored people. They could see us just like we could see them. No intermingling. We might have known some of them from our farm or from the Oak Ridge Grocery Store.
In the back (where you came in) was the movie reel up on a stand above our heads. Sometimes the reel’s film strip would break and the picture show lady had to put it back together. I guess she used tape. This is when we all liked to make a big racket; just what she needed. Basically we were all good kids and still are good adults, but back then we liked to whistle and holler. The picture show lady would threaten to put us out because all of us though we could make a Woody Wood Pecker sound, Tarzan yells (Johnny Weissmuller) or Leo the Lion roar. We would all practice our yells and hollers, but not for long though because DID NOT want to be put out. We did not do this all the time – only for Tarzan movies or for Woody Woodpecker. LOL.
We were just a bunch of country kids at the picture show, but it really is a wonder that she did not throw us all out. Yep, those WERE the “good ole days.”
Our favorite movies were all of them! We really liked Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Tarzan, Gene Autry, Johnny Mack Brown, The Lone Ranger, Hopalong Cassidy, Wild Bill Elliott, Randolph Scott and John Wayne.
When we went back to school in the fall we always got the tablets (paper) with our favorite characters on the front. Sometimes we were lucky enough tot get a book satchel and a movie star on the from. A book satchel would be called a book bag today. Ours had a neat little handle at the top – it reminds you of an attache case (brief case).
At the beginning of the show there was always a comedy: Woody Woodpecker, Daffy Duck, Wiley Coyote and Beep Beep, the Road Runner, Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd, Fog Horn the White Leghorn. Those were the best.
One year in Artesia, Mississippi they had a special treat for us. George Francis “Gabby” Hayes (May 7, 1885 – February 9, 1969) who was an American radio, film, and television actor (or someone dressed up like him – what did we know?) came and talked to us. Hayes, in real life, was an intelligent, well-groomed and articulate man who was cast as a grizzled old codger who uttered phrases like “concern it,” “yet durn tootin,” “dadgummit,” “durn persnickety female” and “young whippersnapper.” From 1935-1939 Hayes played the part of the sidekick to Hopalong Cassidy (William Boyd). We all thought he was fabulous. Soon we were all using his expressions. Dadgummit!!
It was sad when the picture show place closed; we had to start going up to West Point to the movies. Yep, were up town then. It was a nice long, cold ride back home in the bed of the truck. We all hunkered down under the quilt or in our coats and up against each other. It cost more at the movies but those were the good ole days in the South.

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