Growing up, going to the movies was a big deal.
Namely because it was long before the days of Netflix, Hulu, and the like. Heck, VHS and Beta weren’t common fixtures either.
I was a teenager before we could rent movies and you had better get to the Curtis Mathes early, as the good releases were gone quickly. Depending on what the rental was, you may have to take a sick day or get checked out early from school so you could get it.
Of course, if you didn’t take it back in time, the late fee was $298.54.
Maybe the reason the wall of rentals at Curtis Mathes seemed so alluring was because our sole little two-screen movie theater had closed down years before so a Walmart could take its place. I was heartbroken.
I had so many memories of that place — there was the time Mama took me to see “Gone With the Wind,” and when she refused to get me more Junior Mints during the burning of Atlanta, I immediately hopped up on the chair, flipped my little dress up over my head, and mooned the audience.
When we stepped from our shame and into the daylight, hot air balloons were up high in the sky, making me almost as happy as a tiny chocolate mint drop.
Once Bobby went with me and Mama to see some movie and proceeded to eat all of my popcorn and candy, which distracted from my joy that he actually went somewhere with us. Our cousin, Peggy, worked at the movie theater, and that was the closest to a celebrity you could get. I mean, she was right there with the popcorn machine after all.
That was also the night that Mama somehow drove over the concrete post in the parking lot and when my uncle lifted her Monte Carlo up and off of it, I thought he was secretly Superman.
Lots and lots of happy memories there.
Until, there was one not so happy memory.
I had been waiting for “Lady and the Tramp” for months.
Back then, you could get the album with a book to read along with as you listened, and every morning before school, that’s what I did.
I’d get up early just to put that album on and I wanted to see some real live cartoon dogs on the big screen.
Problem was, movies were only there for a limited time. If you missed it, you missed it.
Mama couldn’t take me because of her work schedule, so I begged Granny daily.
“Alright, alright,” she said exasperated. “I will take you this weekend.”
“You better call and make sure it’s still playing,” my grandfather cautioned.
For once, the old gal listened to someone else’s advice and called, assuring me it was still there.
However, when Friday rolled around, Granny was exhausted after a hard week’s work, going to the grocery store, and then coming home to put a bucket of chicken on the plates of us ungrateful heathens.
“Are you taking me?” I asked. I wasn’t even wanting to eat. I was so ready to see the pups on screen, I was turning down fried chicken.
She sighed. “I can’t tonight. I will take you tomorrow.”
“You’ll say it’s too late tomorrow and you don’t want to be late for church.”
Granny thought if she did anything on Saturday past 7:30 p.m., it may interfere with church the following day.
“I’ll take you,” she promised.
I didn’t like it, not one bit, but there was chicken to eat after all.
The next day, I excitedly readied my little plastic purse, my black patent Mary Janes, because shoes were important even then, and my stuffed Lady toy and was ready for our big Saturday night at the movie theater.
Granny made our way to the ticket booth.
“Lady and the Tramp’s gone,” the man said.
“What do you mean?” Granny said. “I called Tuesday and it was still playing!”
“Last night was it.”
“What took its place?”
“Coal Miner’s Daughter.”
Granny took a long, deep breath, knowing she had a decision to make.
She loved Loretta Lynn. In her mind, she probably thought of herself, Loretta Lynn, and Dolly Parton as some country holy trinity that just hadn’t all met yet.
“Alright, give me an adult and child’s ticket for that.”
“I don’t wanna see the Coal Miner’s Daughter!” I cried as Granny ushered me through the doors.
“You getting to see a movie at the theater,” she reasoned with me. “And I will get you a big popcorn. With a Coke.”
“With extra butter,” I added. “And some peanut M&M’s.”
I am not sure what the other movie playing was, but I think it was a horror movie. And the old gal had promised me a movie.
However, Granny found herself covering my eyes and ears on occasion throughout it.
My grandfather was mortified when he found out what we saw.
“Helen, are you out of your ever-loving mind?” he asked. “That is not appropriate for a child!”
“I covered her eyes!” Granny argued.
“Doesn’t matter. She doesn’t need to see that kind of stuff.”
“You watch worse with your Knot’s Landing and Alexis and Krystal,” Granny said.
She had a point, but so did he.
My grandfather looked at me solemnly. “I hope you didn’t see nothing you weren’t supposed to.”
“I just want to sing, Doo,” I said and headed to bed.
The movie flicked across the selections as we scrolled through the options the other night.
“Coal Miner’s Daughter. That’s a great flick,” Lamar commented, pausing on it briefly. “Ever seen it?”
I laughed. “Parts of it, but it’s been a while.”
Sudie Crouch is an award-winning humor columnist residing in the North Georgia Mountains among the bears, deer, and possibly Sasquatch. You can connect with her on Facebook at Mama Said: A Collection of Wit, Humor, and Deep-Fried Wisdom. Her recently published book, ‘Mama Said: A Collection of Wit, Wisdom, and Deep-Fried Humor’ is available in paperback and Kindle download on Amazon.