Just 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.
These 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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