Those Saturday Matinees

eliz-child-frm2.jpgJust in case you haven’t figured it out, I’m older than dirt.  I’m so old that I grew up without television.  Not that it hadn’t been invented—the problem was, we lived in a small town surrounded by mountains that cut off the signal.  By the time somebody put a relay tower on a nearby peak, I was a senior in high school.

What was it like growing up without TV?  In a word, it was wonderful.  And one of the best things about being a kid was the Saturday matinees.Every Saturday afternoon at 2:00 we’d congregate at the local cinema.  I usually went with my cousin Millie, who was a year older and looked out for me. Those of us who were under twelve could get in for 14 cents.  That meant we could show up with a quarter, buy a ticket, a 10 cent bag of popcorn and a piece of penny candy and be set for the afternoon.

The show always started with a cartoon—Bugs Bunny was our favorite, along with Donald Duck and maybe Tom & Jerry.Next to come on the screen was the newsreel.  Mostly we thought it was boring, but it was the only time we got to see footage of important events that were happening in the world.  Looking back, we saw some amazing things and people—Churchill, Gandhi, Eisenhower, Stalin, Eleanor Roosevelt, the young Princess Elizabeth, and so many others of that era.

Then came the 30 minute serial—most of these were westerns, with stars like Gene Autry and Hopalong Cassidy.  There were also a few superheroes thrown in, as well as Tarzan and a character named Jungle Jim. 

hrides.jpgThese episodes all had one thing in common—the cliffhanger endings that kept us coming back week after week to see if the hero—or the girl—really survived.  Watching them, I now realize, I was already picking up some of the skills that would make me an author.It was at those Saturday matinees, basking in those wonderful, corny old movies, that my love of romance and adventure was born.  That I’m able to share that love in the stories I create today is one of the luckiest things that ever happened to me.

Do you have a favorite old movie or childhood experience to share with us?  Why are you a romance reader, or writer, today?  Please feel free to let us know.

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I'm an internationally published romance author, coming up on 40 novels and novellas. Most of my stories have been Westerns for Harlequin Historicals, but I set stories in other times and places as well. I'll also be writing contemporary stories for Harlequin Desire, with the first release in January 2013. You can learn more on my web site.

24 thoughts on “Those Saturday Matinees”

  1. My mom allowed me to start reading romance novels, Harlequins and Silohettes, when I was a preteen. I would spend hours laying on my bed reading book after book, getting lost in a story like a dream. And though they’re not the first movies I ever saw, but I have a thing for Sandra Dee movies that my mom grew up on and got me into. “Tammy’s” need for acceptance and love got me every time.

    I read romance because I’ve always been a romantic at heart, always looking and hoping for the HEAs. Fairytales helped that along. But writing romance was something that always tugged at me, wanting to share stories of two hearts that find each other, that though they may struggle to get there, do find their HEA in the mix of tragedy and regular life.

  2. What a great comment, Taryn. There’s something in all of us that wants true love to win out. Maybe that’s why reading and writing romance stories can be so satisfying. I was into fairytales, too. And the old Hollywood musicals. When I was very young I thought that people who were in love actually danced and sang.

  3. Elizabeth, you can’t be all that much older than me. Maybe you’ll remember the Mickey Mouse Club–and who could forget Annette Funicello and her oh-so-subtle attraction to (dang! I can’t remember his name) but that attraction kept me hanging on show after show just hoping they’ll finally KISS!

  4. I thought so too Elizabeth. An example of mine…I thought that high school sweethearts were meant to be and always sang their emotions just like in Grease and Grease 2.

    One of my all-time favorites was Audrey Hepburn as Gigi. Ah yes…I remember it well! LOL

  5. Elizabeth, You don’t look so old in your pix, but you and I must be of similar age (I’m not that old either, LOL).

    I grew up in the age of 3 TV channels that you had to get up to change. Even though I grew up in a major Michigan city, we didn’t have TV in our house until I was in 9th or 10th grade so when I did watch MM Club, I was almost too old to enjoy it (the operative word here is ‘almost’). I remember those Saturday afternoons at the movies with a Bo-Kay ice cream cone as a special treat after the movie maybe once or twice a month.

    I have always been a reader since early childhood and started reading romance novels in the early ’60s but didn’t become an avid reader of historicals until the ’70s. I treat books like my right arm…I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have a book in my hand. I prefer reading over TV any day,,,even now with more than 3 channels!!

  6. Hey, Karen, I remember 3-channels. And our TV was black and white. I remember watching this wonderful very old movie called Random Harvest with my tribe of cousins, and all of us sitting there bawling, even the boys (it’s about a man who has amnesia and can’t remember his wife). And the Loretta Young show, where she did these lovely romantic shorts. When it comes to romance, I’m a true believer–as are most of us, I suspect.

  7. Oh, it was such a treat to go to my uncle’s house (he was a dentist; unfortunately that meant my teeth needing drilling) but he had a color TV. And that made Bonanza to die for!…probably my favorite childhood movie, not a Western but definitely a romance, was Hayley Mills’ Moonspinners. Ah, sat through it and the double feature at least twice. I’ve love romances ever since the Fifty Greatest Fairy Tales book my folks gave me when I was about eight…and I remember always scrimping as a newlywed so I could buy a paperback romance when I did the grocery shopping…(Oh I did love the Mouseteers too…am still a Disney fanatic…)

  8. I remember Hopalong Cassidy! I hadn’t thought about that show in years!! Remember the matinees when they showed 2 movies? Oh my goodness, I can barely sit through one movie now but I remember Intermission, where I’d get to buy candy for the second movie. Four to five hours at the movie theatre. Didn’t you all feel cheated when the theatres starting showing only one movie? Like, hey, it’s the same price, but I didn’t get the second movie!

  9. Great comments. And I do miss those double features!
    I always wanted the Lone Ranger to fall in love and kiss somebody. He never did. Neither did Hoppy. At least Roy Rogers had Dale Evans…

  10. Ha, I think we could’ve been sisters! I’m so old dirt wasn’t invented when I was born. 🙂 And remember I lived in a tent for the early part of my life so we sure didn’t have anything like a TV. I was about ten years old the first time I saw one and it was in a store window. The people who owned the store would leave it on for a while at night and a bunch of us would go down and watch through the window. Even though I couldn’t hear it, I thought it was the grandest thing. I never went to the movies and didn’t even know anything about them. Maybe our town didn’t have a walk-in theater I don’t know. We did have a drive-in though and I remember going when I was about ten or twelve years old. They charged a dollar for a whole car load. We crammed people in the trunk and everywhere. We were a thrifty lot.

    But I read. A lot. My sister and I always won a prize at the library for the most books read for the summer. Shoot, I think we must’ve read every book in there and some twice. But that’s where my love of romances was born. I loved books with happy endings, books that made me laugh and cry. It seemed to make all the bad things in the world go away if only for a while. By the way, I’m not sure but I think the cute guy who played opposite Annette Funicello in the beach blanket movies was Frankie Avalon. At least that’s the name that comes to mind.

  11. What an unbelievable childhood you had, Linda. There must be a lot of stories in you just from experiencing the life you had. Thank heaven for the gift of libraries and books. And thanks for sharing in such a beautiful way.

  12. I don’t remember our family’s first tv but my sister, one year older, does. I think I was about four.
    We had occasional Saturday matinees but very rare for us to go…we were pretty much penniless adn, with eight kids, scraping together … I think it was a dollar by this time … wasn’t happening.
    They did have an occasional FREE matinee though, Yogi Bear or something, and we’d go to them.
    I remember it being a huge event when it happened.

  13. The first movie I remember seeing at the theater was Spencer’s Mountain. My much older brother had a job as an usher at a theater and he gave me two passes every week. My girlfriend and I (who is now my sister-in-law) would take the bus downtown to see a movie. I adored the Moonspinners! I made a Hayley Mills scapbook with pics cut out of teen magazines. Remember Summer Magic?

    My favorite part of the Mickey Mouse club was Spin and Marty! I can’t remember the name of the ranch, though.

    We had three channels in black and white and I watched the Lone Ranger on Saturday mornings.

  14. What a great blog. I remember these matinees, as well, Elizabeth. Am I showing my age, as well? I loved Gene Autry — my favorite — Roy Rogers and Hop-along Cassidy. Loved them all.

    I remember the matinees being a nichol, as well — of course, I, too, grew up in the country — but imagine that — a movie for 5 Cents. Of course that was when a dollar bought 1/2 gallon of milk, eggs and bread. I remember that, as well.

    Oh, yes, and of course I remember the Mickey Mouse club as well with Spin and Marty and of course Annette — my favorite.

    Great post, Elizabeth.

  15. One of my favorite child hood memories was at my Grandmothers house they were still living behind times a little i remember when my mother took me to the outhouse which was a bathroom i couldn’t belive i had to go outside to a little house in the cold to use the bathroom but i remember when they got a bathroom built onto their house i was so proud of them and when they got their phone but best of all was the natural spring they had out in the woods that did not get modernized it had cold clean water that ran threw and she had a silver laddle that hung on a tree limb we would go out there just to drink the water. My Grandmother has long been gone I’m 42 and was 12 when she past away but i also have a quilt her and some women that got together i watched them make they used tobacco sticks to hold the material as they hand stitched the pieces to the quilt. These are all wonderful childhood memories that my children will never experience and they are so dear to me.

  16. Thanks for sharing that delightful memory, Lori. My one set of grandparents had an outhouse, too, but no stream. I feel kind of sorry for kids today in this sanitized, mechanized, very scary world.

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