Because my mother worked and my father didn’t, she had to find places for me to go when she wasn’t at home. When I was young, occasionally on Saturdays she would give me some money and see that I was dropped off at our local theatre for an afternoon double feature. There I decided how real women should look – Doris Day, Susan Hayward, Maureen O’Hara; Jerry Lewis was the funniest guy I’d ever seen [my cousin Richard, also from Hollywood (North, that is) looked just like Jerry but wasn’t ever as funny] and that four hours was too long to sit in one place.Then one Saturday I saw John Wayne in ‘Wings of Eagles’ and I pieced together some idea of what a real man in the late 1950’s might be like – very little about him resembled my dad. I cried when 'Spig' Wead fell down the stairs and was paralyzed; the poignant ending has remained with me, however schmaltzy, these many years since.
Those afternoons in the air conditioned, dark, smelly, big-screened cinema were my best days of summer where I was safe and entertained beyond Milton Berle or anything me and my best friend could come up with. Wrapped in that immense velvet curtain, films were our hovercraft. Neither of us had to endure our separate family dramas but only eat (and throw) popcorn, rest our heads on the prickly seat backs, squirm and feel the freedom that flying above Birch Street
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