Down Memory Lane
By Joyce Caughron Rhodes
Isn’t it strange how even dreams can make a trail, in your pathway Down Memory Lane? My mind was drifting down this lane, wandering from one thing to another and I thought of the different movie theaters I had been in. I remember the one in St. Louis. I was visiting my grandmother, for a month, this particular summer.
She and I had gone to the movie theater before, but this time, she let me go by myself. She even let me ride the streetcar by myself.
I remember walking up the steps of the streetcar and dropping my coins into the box, walking past the turntable and sitting down. I really felt grown up as I stepped down from the streetcar, near the theater, and entered into another world. I walked up plush carpeted stairs into a grand lobby. I mean this was a huge lobby. The first thing to catch my attention was the giant chandelier, so many lights, twinkling like stars. It almost took my breath away, on each side were full-length velvet curtains between gold gilded carved woodwork.
After buying popcorn and drink, I entered the main room. When you enter, the sconces on each side of the walls eliminated a very soft glow. The seats were padded and very comfortable.
As I sat down, the stage caught my attention, such a large stage and behind the stage, gorgeous red curtains. When these curtains parted, the movie began.
Now, in contrast, the ‘picture show’ in Obion was located downtown in a building, probably built in the late Eighteen Hundreds. It was a large two-story building with a balcony built all around.
You see this type of building in all the old westerns.
There were other businesses in this building, as well as apartments. When you enter the lobby, it’s a very small room with a ticket booth. You can purchase popcorn, drinks, candy bars and other refreshments before entering.
The room is pretty dark, with a few lights. The seats are not very comfortable, but they did flip up so you can let someone pass.
The lady, Ms. Tidwell, very stern, would walk up and down the aisles with her flashlight. If you talked too loud or laughed too much, she would shine the light in your eyes and say “Let’s get quite.” Once, I walked into the lobby with my skates and she said, “You’ll have to leave your skates here, they make too much noise.” Mostly, the kids went to the movies on Saturdays and this was the busiest day. Sometimes while watching Tarzan, a horror movie or a western, you would see large rats running cross the stage or up and down the aisles. I remember many times while watching the movie, I would see flames of fire on the screen. We all knew the film had caught fire and we ran out of the building. It wasn’t long before we would get the “All clear!” and everyone would re-enter and watch the rest of the movie. I have to admit, even with all the flaws, we were proud we had a ‘picture show’.
Back to the beginning. I remember coming home one night, I thought I heard someone real close behind me. I started running faster and it sounded like this person was running faster. I glanced behind me and all I could see was someone in dark clothing, running to catch up with me. I ran off the sidewalk, down through the middle of the street and ran like the wind, so glad to see my house. Years later, I wondered, “Did this really happen or did I dream it?” Was this a dream so vivid that I believed it to be true? This is how dreams become a part of our memories. If it did or didn’t happen, this memory is down my ‘Memory Lane.’