Looking back at our early childhood, I can’t get over the different phases we went through. They all led to our development. One phase that still stands out in my mind are the times we played cowboys and Indians.
Western movies were popular back in the 1930s. There were many famous actors who took the part of a cowboy. The one I admired the most was Tom Mix. He was my idol and so to many of my friends. He was what we called a “straight shooter.” He was as straight as an arrow, a real tough hombre. All us kids wanted to be just like him. I sent away and received a Tom Mix ring. It was a horseshoe nail bent around to make a ring. I wore that proudly.
In those Western movies, they all had a good moral lesson. Good guys always win and bad guys always lose. We all wanted to be good guys just like our heroes. Not a bad goal for a youngster!
During the summer, the Premier Theatre ran cowboy serials on Saturday mornings. They continued on each Saturday. For those who don’t know, the theater was on the corner of Pleasant Street and Prince Place in downtown Newburyport. At that time it was our only theater. It ran up Prince Place to where the parking lot is today.
Saturday mornings the theater would be filled with kids all about my age. It only cost 10 cents to get in. Don’t think that was easy to do, raising 10 cents. I asked my dad for the money once and he said, “Go out and play, son. It’s much better for you.”
We had the entire week to raise the money. We all scoured the neighborhood to find empty bottles. A large bottle brought in 5 cents, smaller ones 2 cents, I believe. Anyway, by week’s end we had the dime for the matinee. The movie was in the morning and would be over by 11:00.