Friday, May 11, 2012

Bones and Pennies

OK, let’s go back to 1945. I was but a wee little 10 year old. And I realize this might be construed as a departure from my usual film production musings, but you’ll notice a hint of “movie mania” featured in this posting.

My friend, Lloyd, and I would stroll down Main St. every Saturday to the Tivoli Theater to watch our hero, Wild Bill Elliott in a ½ hour cliffhanger serial followed by either a Three Stooges or a Laurel and Hardy or a Leon Errol comedy short. We’d have to pay a whopping 9 cents for the "picture show" (that's what everyone called a movie back then -- a picture show) and a nickel for a bag of popcorn.  From the 15 cents our moms would give to each of us we’d be left with a penny each after the show. That penny would be destined for a horrifying fate.

The Tivoli was adjacent to the old frame-structured Goudchaux’s Department store across from St. Joseph’s Cemetery. 

When the picture show would let out, Lloyd and I would cut through St. Joseph’s Cemetery to gain quicker access to North St. for our trek back home. If it was not too dark, we would often collect human bones that were strewn near washed out graves. The object of this collection was to add to the “make-shift” little pet skeleton we had been assembling over a period of several weeks. Sadly I have no pictures of our “Frankenstein” critter which consisted of a rib cage, 2 miss-matched legs, one arm, and no skull (at least not yet). We hid our osteo creature in an old abandoned shed that was situated behind my house. This was an area that adults seldom ever frequented, thus providing us some measure of privacy.

Our very last such excursion ended one weekend when we were caught red-handed. That was not a good day. I realized that day was not going to be a good day when the Tivoli insisted on charging me fourteen cents for the movie. I told the ticketeer I was under 12, but he didn’t believe me. This meant that I would have to mooch popcorn from Lloyd.  Needless to say I was teed off.

After the movie we made our usual trek through St. Joseph’s, then home. As we resumed our skeletal assembly, my mother suddenly appeared and said “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” Lloyd and I both nearly jumped out of our skins (hey, this would have provided us with 2 complete skeletons). Anyway mom repeated her inquisition. I couldn’t lie. I said “We’re building a skeleton.” She asked “Where did those bones comes from?” I told her and she demanded “You and Lloyd take those back right now!” “But Mom…” “RIGHT NOW!” Our masterpiece had been uncovered (or more appropriately “unearthed”)!. Darn! Discovered by a perturbed and disturbed parent. Darn!

It was getting dark, so Lloyd and I dutifully gathered up our precious collection and made our way back to St. Joseph’s cemetery. We dropped the bones just inside the fence. No way were we going back in there after dark. Gloomily and sadly we trudged back home while fantasizing over other projects we might want to consider launching. SAAAY! How about pennies on the railroad track!? Not quite as adventurous as “grave-robbing”, but nonetheless quite compelling. And weeks later my mother would be heard saying “You and Lloyd did WHAT?”

Hmmm! Young minds! Youthful innocence! As Mark Twain so artfully characterized it: “Too bad that youth is wasted on the young”. But, Mr. Twain, I have to take issue with your reasoning. What good are the fruits of youth if they are only to endure over one's few, diminishing years?

1 comment:

  1. Aaahh, yes, I remember the Tivoli. Very youthful days and fun times. So glad to see you made the plunge and are blogging these wonderful stories about films. Now I have to check and see what stories I might have missed.