A Saturday matinee cost ten cents for kids under twelve, a candy bar was a nickel and a bag of popcorn, a dime. I showed up every Saturday unless I had chicken pox, measles or mumps. My folks loved it because the show started at noon and lasted until 5 o’clock. The matinees my brother and I usually attended featured cowboy stars like Rocky Lane, The Durango Kid, Hopalong Cassidy, Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, The Lone Ranger and Tonto, Johnny Mack Brown, Rex Allen, Lash LaRue and Tom Mix.

My hometown of Orangeburg, South Carolina boasted two movie theaters, the Carolina and the Edisto. For a mere 10 cents, we saw a newsreel, cartoons, a chapter from a serial, a short subject with Laurel and Hardy, sometimes a documentary, and then, best of all, the feature.

I was allowed to spend an entire quarter so I bought a Tootsie Roll since it could last me until I went to college. I bought candy, a large bag of popcorn, a large Coke and that took care of my quarter.

After finding a seat, I settled in for an afternoon of magic. I watched Movietone News and that fool rooster crowing his head off, and then footage of the President or the war or something current. A glimpse of the latest Paris fashion was shown and maybe a candid visit with Betty Grable, Bette Davis or Errol Flynn. During most of the newsreel portion, however, I talked and giggled with my friends.

Then it was Looney Toons: Donald Duck and Tweety Bird. After cartoons came a comedy featuring Ma and Pa Kettle or The Three Stooges, and then it was time for a continuing serial like Buck Rogers (my brothers fave) or the one I liked best, Blondie. (With the exception of Bubblehead Blondie, there was a serious lack of serial heroines although much later in the century TV soap operas would make up for the deficit.)

In cowboy movies, the good guys always prevailed and got the girl; the bad guys always got caught. After the gunfights were over, our hero stood next to the bar in a cowboy saloon drinking sarsaparilla with his sidekick, someone like Smiley Burnett who talked funny.

My brother and his friends booed and hissed if and when a cowboy kissed someone other than his mother or his horse.

Every now and then a cowboy gave a live performance at the Carolina Theater. I had a crush on Lash LaRue who cracked his whip, KAPOW! and made my eyes grow as big as salad plates. He was one slick, sexy dude dressed head-to-toe all in black, a good guy even though he never wore a white hat.

My heroes have now all gone up to that big roundup in the sky, but I can't forget the good times I experienced on Saturdays for twenty-five cents.

                                          An Ode to Cowboys
I miss ol' Hopalong Cassidy. I coulda sworn I saw him yestiddy. 
I ’spose I must be wrong, ’Cause I heard his git-along-song
When he pranced off on his horse into history.

Buster Crabbe made Westerns, too. You remember him, at least you ought to.
He was a white hat cowboy in his prime,
He could turn his horse round on a dime.
But with a name like Buster Crabbe, he had to.

Will someone tell me where did Lash Larue go
With that black hat of his cocked real low?
When he snapped that bullwhip my stomach did a flop-flip.
His smile was mighty sexy, also.

Do you ever ponder about Tom Mix and 
wonder how he did those gun tricks? 
He was quickest on the draw, could shoot holes in a straw,
Then use 'em over again for toothpicks.

Where oh where could all my heroes be?
Those matinee cowboys I so loved to see. 
I ‘spose I could be wrong,
But did I hear their git-along-song

When Calvin Klein pranced into history?