Later, when Dad had a family and was living in the city, taking Mom and me to the show was a sacred weekly ritual. The aircraft business still worked a five-and-a-half day week and Saturday afternoons were spent on the golf course, but Friday nights were devoted the movies from the time I was an infant. As soon as we finished eating, we would walk to the theatre and plunk ourselves down in front of what was usually a silver screen. We might arrive at any point in the first film of the double-header. When that point was reached again, hours later, we got up and left.
It didn't strike me until years later that this was an unusual practise. I was on the phone with a boy while we looked at the movie listings in the newspapers. We agreed on a likely show and Bill asked, "What time does it start?" I replied, "What difference does that make?" A long pause ensued. Turned out that mostly everybody else began at the beginning and ended at the end. Who knew? And what was the fun of figuring out what might happen next if you already had all of the foreshadowing clues. Conventional patrons didn't know how much mystery they sacrificed to custom.
Of course there were some challenging sections. The film about Martin Luther was a bit of a stretch for a five-year-old but the theatre walls referenced a three-dimensional North African city complete with balconies and indoor lights so I could pretend what might be happening there. Despite the helpful surroundings at the Uptown, however, my absolutely favourite theatre was The Park, which boasted a crying room with piped-in sound, a plate-glass viewing window and big comfortable chairs. I sometimes brought the dog and he and I enjoyed many a movie together there.
I don't think I'll be in many more film theatres. Willing to walk on broken glass to see Benedict Cumberbatch's Hamlet, I bought a ticket for a simulcast and went early for a good seat. The theatre was sold out. Benedict was brilliant. I was less dazzled by whoever brought the tuna sandwich or the woman who sat beside me, crackling plastic as she tried to sneak candy out of her purse, or the person behind me with the bronchial cough. As usual, the volume was ear-splitting; I have a theory that the sound levels are set by young guys who have already rendered themselves prematurely deaf. So next time, we shall stream, rent or watch at home; dogs welcome!