Picture Shows And BB Gun Fights

Published 10:22 pm Sunday, December 17, 2023

Came across a photograph of Mr. J.E. Williams of Diane Theater fame in Linden, and it got me to thinking, as I often do, about childhood doings, and you just can’t conjure up those reminisces without blurting out PICTURE SHOW!

Most important to us back then, I reckon, was the Saturday afternoon cowboy flick with the serial in front, and, Young Folks, I’m not talking about cereal you eat. They were week to week continued high adventure serials featuring folks like Nioaka, The Jungle Girl (pretty gal dressed up in leopard skin), Rocket Man, and a bunch like that. Always managed to get out of one jam left over from the week before, only to fall into another bad situation for you to ponder on ‘til the following Saturday.

Lash Larue and his sidekick, Fuzzy, came in person to the Diane one night. Big doings. 

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I kinda remember Lash being a little lushy acting, but then he had to find something to quench his thirst on account of folks away from Linden sho couldn’t stomach the bad tasting water we had down at the county seat in those days.

Some of you readers may recall my talking about sitting there in the dark theater, just waiting for it to start, and, then, all of a sudden, somebody in the audience would shout, “Son Sills up!”  That always meant the show was about to start, but for the longest, I didn’t know why. Took a while for somebody to finally explain to my youngster self that they were talking about the movie projector operator, Son Sills, going up in the projection booth. 

Shoot, I was thinking it must have meant some technical goings on required before the picture show could start up.

I remember thinking it was a fairly big deal when I had to start paying 25 cents to get in the show when I got to be twelve. Sorta like the first time Lee Burge, Mr. Chandler or Mr. McClinton decided, for no particular reason, that it was time to shave your neck after a haircut, although there was nothing much more than fuzz on our young necks. Anyhow, you had arrived, and it was even more important if there were a fellow younger than you sitting in the barber shop to witness your passage.

Never will forget when Mr. Williams decided to up his price of admission from a quarter to 35 cents on Sunday evenings, when some of us carried a gal to the show. We talked about a boycott but never got around to that. At least popcorn and cokes stayed at a nickel a piece.

‘Course, it was kinda “big shottie” to cross the Bogue and go up to the Demopolis Marengo Theater on Sunday afternoons. Henry Webb ran a first class picture show.

Well, let’s leave the movies for now and focus on another kind of shooting.   BB gun shooting…at one another…with a twist. We’d unscrew the barrel from a Daisy air rifle, cock the gun, and drop a Chinaberry down in it. Then we’d commence hunting the other fellow who was similarly armed. Somebody got shot, but no reported dead bodies in the neighborhood that I recollect.

You know, we just natural born didn’t have a bunch of sophisticated stuff going on around town in those days, but the thing is, we didn’t know that or care. Seemed like some mighty fine adventures to some of us, and I guarantee those simple things left some fertile memory banking that still sluffs over in this old brain, and I’m figuring on keeping those happy thoughts ‘til it’s time for me to report to the Lord for something even better.

Head ‘em up and move ‘em out, Roy, Gene, Tex and Johnny Mack, and keep your powder (and China berries) dry.