The trouble with today’s youth is they don’t know how good they really have it. Sounds familiar doesn’t it? Well, there’s probably a lot of truth to it, but they were saying the same thing back when I was a kid – and I’m sure they’ll be saying it for generations to come.
Take car pooling for an example. The kids of today seem to think that means how many cars they can pack into the high school parking lot. Even in these days of high-priced gasoline and everyone trying to save money, you still see a string of cars heading for work each day instead of car pooling.
I remember car pooling back when I was a kid. Maybe not the kind of cooperative driving a few of us do today to save money and gasoline, but it was sharing a car. Looking back on it now, I guess one could describe it as “creative car pooling.”
You see, back in the old days when I was growing up, we didn’t have modern conveniences like the boob tube. When we wanted to see a movie, it was a major undertaking. Sure, there were plenty of movie theaters back then, but they all had one thing in common – they were out of town.
No matter how great the movie, we still had to convince someone (of driving age) that he or she was going to enjoy it — or forget ever seeing it. Fortunately my folks were a soft touch. They both enjoyed westerns and detective shows (at least I think they did), so they were always our first target.
Under normal circumstances, they would give in without too much persuasion. When they did, the word would spread like wildfire. Anyone with the dime for a ticket had an open invitation.
Usually our destination was the Iowa Theatre in downtown Madrid. We would pack kids in our 1949 Ford until it was about to burst at the seams. By the time we arrived in Madrid, the visibility was down to nearly zero due to the steam on the inside of the windows from all the body heat.
The employees of the theater would stare in amazement as we piled out of the car. (We later learned that my parents were known as “Ma and Pa Kettle” by the theater workers.)
How can a guy forget those movies? It was back when cowboys looked like cowboys. Today it’s hard to distinguish the hero from the heroine.
It was a time when fistfights were fistfights (they seemed to last 20 minutes). Just when you thought the good guy was down for the count, he’d jump up and knock out every bad guy in the bar.
And the gun fights – what memories they evoke. Roy Rogers would fire the same six-shooter a hundred times without reloading.
It’s hard to believe we could take in action like that for one thin dime. A quarter would get you a ticket, a bottle of pop and a sack of popcorn.
Anyway, by the time the average 11-year-old had sat through all that action, stuffed himself on goodies and pestered the girls sitting in front of him – he was one tired cowboy and ready for the trip home.
There was no stretching out in the back seat (what with six or seven other guys back there). There was no sleeping either – no matter how good the movie had been, it got even better as we relived it on the way home. By the time we hit the city limits, there were as many versions of the movie as there were kids in the car.
One by one, Dad would drop each kid off in front of his home. For each of us it had been a long night but an exciting one. Looking back at it now, I don’t know which I enjoyed more – the movie or the trip over and back.
Ed Rood is the former publisher of the Tri-County Times. He and his wife, Sharon, live near Cambridge.