1524 Dorchester Avenue,
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When I was growing up I usually went to the Dorchester Theater. A noisy darkened “zoo” with sticky floors, nasty ushers, and uncomfortable seats, but I loved it. The Dorchester Theatre was located on the corner of Park Street and Dorchester Avenue in the Fields Corner district of Dorchester, Massachusetts.
Later, however, we also went to the Fields Corner, Codman Square and Adams Theaters.
These chaotic matinees cost twelve cents on Saturdays and twenty-five cents on Sundays and were packed with a huge assortment of un-chaperoned, undisciplined screaming kids who couldn’t sit still if their life depended on it. And for some strange reason, these demons, excluding myself of course, took great pleasure in running up and down the carpeted aisles; making noise and scaling flattened popcorn boxes at the movie screen. It was fortunate that there was a heavy steel door protecting the unseen projectionist, because occasionally he would have some problem with the projector. Maybe the film would jump the sprocket, or the bulb would blow out or the picture may go out of focus. When anything occurred out of the norm and the matter wasn’t taken care of within seconds, his life would surly be in jeopardy!
Older guys, most of them deranged and acting under the guise of ushers attempted to take control of this bedlam, but usually to no avail. Although every now and then, the side exit door would be suddenly opened and two or three of these culprits would be unceremoniously tossed out into the afternoon sunshine. Of course I was a good conscientious parochial school kid and never involved myself in any of this ill-mannered activity! But I sure did enjoyed watching it!
The movies, shown at those matinees in the forties and fifties, opened up a whole new world for an impressionable lad like myself. Overlooking the turmoil inside the theater, one could watch two full-length movies, a newsreel, a cartoon and whatever other crazy feature the theater owner could think of to draw in more young patrons. On special occasions, I would receive a numbered ticket; one through ten, and this would put me in the running in a crazy zany pre-filmed race. There were ten numbered contestants racing and if the winner represented the number I held, I would go up on the stage and claim my prize. I believe I won a boxing bag once!
My friends and I loved the war movies popular at the time. We especially loved John Wayne in films like “The Flying Tigers”, “The Flying Leathernecks”, and my favorite, “Sands of Iwo Jima” with John Wayne playing the tough Marine sergeant, John Stryker. We also loved the many cowboy movies he starred in, namely “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon”, “The Searchers”, and many others.
Whether it was a war or a cowboy movie, each exciting scene would be reenacted on the way home from the show. If we had come from the Dorchester Theater, the reenactments would take place in the miniature hills of the Town Field. The town field was located across the street from the theatre. Caught up in what they had just experienced in the theater, we would talk in deep voices in an effort to imitate their heroes and create the sound of gunfire by making guttural sounds.
How we all loved John Wayne! After viewing one of these war movies, had they been of age, they would have willingly gone down to the Recruiting Office and immediately enlisted in the Marine Corps! In our young impressionable eyes, John Wayne was invincible a true hero.
In our day we never went to “the movies”, it was always called “the show”.
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