We attended different schools and churches, so the only places we came together was the swimming hole during the summer and the motion picture theater.
Against parents’ wishes, we divided up and played baseball on abandoned lots. We got along well, and the only argument I recall was over a pitch.
What kids of both races had in common was a love for Saturday movies.
Nobody cared if a kid paid at the window and spent the afternoon in a darkened theater watching a double-feature, or the single feature twice or more.
We had favored seats. Couples sat pretty far back in the darkest rear seats; my choice was somewhere about mid-theater on the left.
Bicycles were left in no particular order, usually in a tangled pile of pedals and handlebars in spokes.
When I turned 12, my ticket went from a dime to a quarter.
The price increase required a raise in my weekly “allowance” and a corresponding widening of chores to include dish washing, car washing and other jobs my parents wanted to move to me, but I was resistant.
The answer was to begin a short career as a newspaper delivery boy hauling copies of the “Waycross Journal-Herald” six days a week.
When you balance the time and effort of hauling newspapers to washing dishes, it looks like a no-brainier in favor of dishes. The deal-maker was that I was my own boss on the route, and I didn’t have my mother standing, hands-on-hips, in the kitchen waiting.
Kids today don’t spend the afternoon at the movies.
I don’t know what they do, but they have television and video games; very few ride bicycles.
Westerns are a curiosity today, and there are no stars who are singularly associated with them.
Not all films were cowboy movies, but on Saturdays, B-Westerns were staples.
Remember these stars? Rex Allen, “Wild Bill” Elliott, Charles Starrett (“Durango Kid”), William Boyd (“Hop-a-long Cassidy”), Johnny Mack Brown, Duncan Realdo (“The Cisco Kid”), Tex Ritter, John Wayne, Lash LaRue.
I can’t leave out Gene Autry and Roy Rogers.
Do you remember the horses? Champion, Topper, Rebel, Loco, Joker.
Tom Mix probably defined the character of a cowboy star, but most of his films came before talkies. The town of Dewey, Okla., claims and celebrates him with the “Tom Mix Museum,” but he was only in Dewey for a short time.
It was a less complicated time.
The only danger was that someone might thump you on the ear.
Joe Phillips writes his “Dear me” columns for several small newspapers. He has many connections to Walker County, including his grandfather, former superintendent Waymond Morgan. He can be reached at email@example.com.