The Movies in 1930s Marlin
by George Lester
Separating parents and children
in Falls County was easier than you'd think. While the Great Depression had no
cure - symptoms were lessened by ground beef and cola - taken orally and digested
in the dark. - Editor
It is almost impossible for youth of today to imagine what life was like for youngsters
of the 30s. Rather than lecture on how tough we had it, I'll simply present a
slice of life in a different era.
My brother Sam and I lived on a farm
in north central Texas about 10 miles east of Marlin.
In those days most kids had chores to do. It was taken for granted. It was just
the way things were then and we didn't question it.
In the spring we
chopped miles of cotton rows, clearing the
weeds between the stalks. Later, when the cotton
matured it had to be picked. We didn't have machinery to do it and we didn't just
pull bolls and all. We had to painstakingly pull the fluffy white fibers out of
the prickly bolls. After a while our fingers were sore and bleeding, but they
later became as tough as shoe leather.
Palace Theater & Palace Café |
Hamburgers at the Café were a nickel
or a dime - depending on who was eating them.
TE photo, 2003
It was in the heart of the depression and although we always had plenty to eat
we had very little spending money.
Our dad gave us each a quarter to
spend on our big "Saturday-go-to-town" day. With that quarter I got two
hamburgers, an R.C. Cola and still had a dime left over. There was a café right
next to the Palace Theatre that sold hamburgers to kids for a nickel but the grown-ups
had to pay a dime for them. I have never tasted any kind of gourmet food that
could compare with the sensation of a biting into a Palace Cafe hamburger and
washing it down with a swallow of "R.C.".
Strand Theater building today|
TE photo, 2003
in the Palace
Even though we had dined right next door to the Palace Theatre, Sam and I never
considered seeing a movie there. The Palace featured those grownup romance-type
films - the kind no kid would be caught dead watching.
and Stranded Kids
Instead, my brother
and I ran the few blocks to the Strand Theatre where the "Shoot 'em up" westerns
were playing. I can still feel the tingle of excitement waiting in the darkened
room for the movie to start. When that first flicker of light came across the
screen the place went wild. The western stars of those days were Buck Jones,
Hopalong Cassidy, Ken Maynard, Hoot Gibson, and Tom Mix
among others. When the movie was over we would meet mother and dad coming out
of the Palace theatre.
On the trip back home the stark reality sank
in that we were about to face another six days of labor. But for a short time
there in the darkness of the Strand theatre we were lifted far above everyday
life - enjoying Western adventure with a tummy full of nickel hamburgers and R.C.
© George Lester
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