Funny Things from Yesterday: Movies were a nickel

Robert N. Tidwell, Sr.

When I was in grammar school at East Elementary, movies cost a nickel on Friday afternoon at the Lyric Theatre. It seemed like half the children in school went to the Friday matinees. I guess this gave a lot of mothers an extra two hours of rest before the hungry children got home.

At the sound of the last bell at school, every child that was a proud possessor of a nickel would hit the hall in a brisk walk. You were lucky if you didn’t get trampled in the stampede as the children poured out the doors and headed across the schoolyard. Once you hit the street, it was every man for himself. All the shortcuts known were used to help get ahead of the crowd.

The Lyric Theatre at that time was in the middle of the first block on the east side of the railroad viaduct on Highway 278 East. If you were late arriving at the theater, you had to stand in a line that stretched around the end of the block toward the Duchess Bakery. I’m glad the bakery is still there so you can tell where the theater was.

I can remember running so hard my tongue would almost be hanging out by the time I reached the theater. But it was worth it, to be able to avoid standing in a long line. We youngsters must have been in good physical condition or half of us would have died of a heart attack after that strenuous run.

You really got your money’s worth at the movie. There was always a cartoon, a news reel, a cracker-jack of a western and a serial. The serial was always last and left you worrying about the predicament the hero was in until you returned the next week.

One time I carried my cap pistol to the movie with me. When the chase scene got exciting, I decided to help the good guys in the white hats shoot the bad guys in the black hats. The theater usher must have been wearing a black hat for it wasn’t long before he held me up and took my gun.  This was embarrassing, as well as a source of worry through the rest of the movie. I was afraid I might not get my cap pistol back. Toys in those days were few and far between, and I didn’t want to lose this one. But I was able to recover it and breathed a sigh of relief when I had it back in my pocket.

One other good feature about the Friday afternoon movie- if you had another nickel you could get a big bag of popcorn.