In the years of the thirties and forties, going to the Saturday ‘Arvo flicks’ was the most popular event of the week. My brother and I had sixpence each for admission and threepence to spend. Sixpence gave us seat downstairs. Sometimes Dad was generous and we got a shilling each. We then spent ninepence to go upstairs (like royalty!) and still kept our sweet money.
We got mini concerts added in with the value of the movies; free bags of lollies, ice creams and lucky dip prizes. Once, my brother won a soft Humpty Dumpty toy which he was to love for years to come.
We screamed with anxiety at Flash Gordon and The Green Archer series.
We were subdued with Fitzpatrick Travel Talks. We roared with delight at Popeye, Tom and Jerry and Donald Duck. We loved Robert Benchley and Pete Smith Specialties.
We hissed and booed villains; cheered our cowboy heroes Roy Rogers and Hopalong Cassidy; got terribly restless in sad movies; laughed outrageously at Laurel & Hardy, Abbott & Costello, Jerry Lewis.
We liked Shirley Temple, Judy Garland and the Andy Hardy films with Mickey Rooney.
If a movie broke down, hysteria ripped through the theatre. Stamping feet made the cinema seem as if it were going through an earthquake. Once the film was respliced and the house lights dimmed, there was clapping and cheering. After the quietening, you could hear the rustle of potato chips and someone’s dropped lollies go rolling down the wooden floor.
The candy boy roamed the aisles at interval calling “Chocs, sweets, ice, Peter’s Ice!” The candy box with the shoulder straps seemed to be heavy and the candy boy always walked with a backward tilt! I can remember the lovely Smiths Crisps with the little blue bag of salt inside which you sprinkled over the chips yourself.
There is nothing, just nothing, like a little taste of memory of those good old “flick” days!
Elizabeth Porter (nee Wood)
NOTE: If you enjoyed your Saturday Arvos at the flicks, why not join us at the museum for our own Wednesday Arvo at the Flicks – 20th March at 2:00 pm sharp. Admission FREE, but donations are always welcome. We’ll be showing a little bit of history and a little bit of humour. Although it is our event for Seniors’ Week it’s open to anyone who would like to come.