We started off as youngsters with many options for movies. In the very early 50's Waxahachie boasted of 3 movie Theaters and a Drive-in Theater. There was the RITZ Theater on the Southeast corner of the square. It generally catered to showing "B" movies and lots of westerns. It could get pretty rowdy at times, so my fols wouldn't let us go there but afew times. Then on the Southwest corner of the square was the Imperial Theater. I never went to it, but remember it being there. The Imperial, as the Ritz would later, fell victim to that new machine called the television. Later, drive-in theaters became the big thing as entire families could go together and of course Waxahachie got one. This was still at the end of the Golden Era for movies as television was well beyond even the wealthiest of families.
Some of my fondest early memories were of going to the Texas Theater with my brother and two older sisters. Downtown Waxahachie was in it's hay day in the early 50's. Saturday was shopping day for the family and every business in Waxahachie was located downtown and on Saturdays everything stayed open until 9:00 PM. Mom and Dad would drop us kid's off at the Texas while they went grocery shopping or just strolling through downtown and "window shop", as every downtown business decorated their store windows with displays of their wares. These displays were changed each week so it was always an adventure to see what was available... especially beautiful and exciting at Christmas!.
They'd drop us off at the Texas and give each of us a dime. You could get into the theater for 9 cents each, which gave you a penny left over for the gumball or peanut machine. At 9:00 pm, after the infamous "News Reel", we'd go stand in front of the theater and watch the autos circling the square to make sure we didn't miss Mom and Dad. If it was fall, we might have to wait 5 or 10 minutes up to our ankles in crickets that would be drawn to the outside theater lights. I can still hear them crunching as we ran out into the street to get in the car. My folks would stop in front of the theater to pick us up... stopping all traffic at that point. Since all us kids got out at the same time and every car stopped to pick someone up, it might take half and hour of waiting to catch your ride.
If my brother and I were good during the week, ...seldom.. as I recall, Mom would take us to the Saturday afternoon kid's shows. Usually these were a showing of an episode of a serial show (Best Remembered: Last of the Mohicans (1932) starring Harry Carey) followed by a "B" western (Starring unknowns like John Wayne, Bob Steele, Lash LaRue, etc. and then end in a cartoon (Tom and Jerry Popeye, Woody Woodpecker, etc.). Occassionally, a "biggie" would show.. starring Lone Ranger, Gen Autrey, Roy Rogers, etc.. Then the theater would be packed with screaming kids.
Later, as we grew older, we started noticing these strange acting beings called ....girls... and our movie going changed forever. The Texas Theater is probably responsible for more 1st Kisses than.... But it took all our courage to ask a girl to go sit "In the Balconey", but you could still retain your manhood by throwing a box of popcorn onto those "kids" siiting below.
But somewhere in there I did learn that some movies are much better than others and that you could occassionally go to the movies to actually see the show. The 50's and early 60's had their share of good ones as the movies tried to show television that it didn't stand a chance against the big studios. Most of the ways we looked, how we dressed, how we acted, what we said is directly attributable to the movies and their stars that we watched.
Now we'll look at what the Hollywood scene provided us.