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January 25, 2014

Looking Back: Fond memories of movie nights in suburban Jersey

Not too long ago, we were shopping on Southside when I glanced up at the movie marquee. They were showing 10 movies at the same time. Imagine that. For back in my youth, the theaters showed perhaps a double feature along with a few shorts — but 10 all in the same place?

How times have changed since “yesteryear” when we teenagers went to the movies. It was in the 1940s … and a lot less dough-ray-me along with the student ticket. I lived in suburbia New Jersey. The shops and stores lined up on the main drag, side-by-side, along with two multi-level department stores. We even had a branch of the famous Macy’s called Bambergers. (Amazing what I can recall.) 

The four movie theaters were sandwiched in between the shops with brightly colored marquees flashing to advertise the latest entertainment.

Back then, a weekly movie was a real treat. There was no TV, so it was either on a Friday night or a Saturday that you would find a group of us teenagers downtown at one of those four theaters. We usually attended the Strand, since it seemed to be “higher class” and in a better section of the Main Street. The names of all the movies were always advertised early in the week in our local newspaper so we could make our plans on where to attend.

A few of us would meet and gather up in the balcony with the rest of our peers. There was the double feature, a cartoon and always the showing of the news with a large crowing rooster in black and white to announce that, and then a pair of binoculars would zero in on us with “The Eyes and Ears of the World” full screen.

As we would settle down, changing the seating arrangement ever so often, we visited and chatted as we ate buttered popcorn. Too much talking called for the usher to appear with flashlight and a rebuke.

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