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The Picture Show


A bath and Sunday dress up clothes was a requisite to attending The Picture Show. Not that the other kids dressed like that, but my mother wanted me to look presentable at all times and she considered going to the show as a dress up occasion.

Judy Garland's uncle, Mr. Gumm owned the Brea Picture Show and for a small town, the décor was rather ornate. All red and gold and of course I thought the gold was real! Actually, Judy's name was Judy Gumm ... her first singing act was called the Gumm Sisters. There was a very large poster sized picture of Judy in the lobby by the popcorn machine.

Mother occasionally allowed me to see a Shirley Temple movie there, because her films were seen by everyone. Even Baptist's could go see Shirley Temple. Bluebird of Happiness was one picture I remember seeing, and Heidi ... but of course I'd already read the book. Little Miss Marker and Curly Top. I wish I had a collection of those films today because I never tired of seeing her.

I remember the heady feeling I got being at the Saturday matinee with all the screaming school kids. There was a real organist down in front and she must have had to pull out all the stops to drown out the din of boys whistling through their fingers, wrestling or throwing spit wads on the front row.

First we got to see cartoons. Then the Movietone News and another cartoon plus a double feature. Plus a chapter of some on-going western continued story. And all for a dime. The continued story was to keep you coming back every week, but that ploy did not budge my mother unless Shirley Temple was included!

As for popcorn or Milk Duds. Forget it. During the Great Depression there was barely money to feed and clothe us, much less have treats at The Picture Show.

Ten cents was hard to come by in those days and I knew it.

I just savored the flavor of all that entertainment and hoped there'd be another Shirley Temple movie very soon.

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